Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Contest! Why we get fat ...

... Nah, for a change it's not Gary Taubes or Robert Lustig or any of the other usual suspects hailing from the US making sheet up and mangling facts. No, this article comes from the UK ... if you thought the state of science journalism in the US was bad, wait till you get a load of this specimen of health journalism in the UK!  This one was brought to my attention courtesy of Chris Highcock of Conditioning Research blog.
Why our food is making us fat
We are, on average, 3st heavier than we were in the 60s. And not because we're eating more or exercising less – we just unwittingly became sugar addicts
I count at least 15 glaring inaccuracies, contradictions and/or exaggerations bordering on deceit.  Can you find them?  Winners get free Gin It Up & Tonic cocktails and Bologna Roll-ups  tonight at the Asylum Bar & Grill!  And, as always, I'm happy to substitute to meet your dietary needs :D


Tomas said...

"...the science will soon be irrefutable and we may then be just a few years away from the first successful lawsuit."
what science? I find such claims dangerous anyway. Growing up in a communist country we would be often told that the "true communism" we aspire for is only few years away, we only need to believe more. Yea, if you believe anything is possible.

Also the claim about kids moving the same as 50 years ago is a bit hard to believe. Is it the cherry picking season again?

... and that subliminal link to Zoe Harcombe... omg

Manythings said...

Everybody in the UK agrees with this article - see the comments.

bentleyj74 said...

I thought about nitpicking but I haven't got the stomach for it atm. Let's all just agree the devil made us do it [eat more than we need several times over] and all foods are inherently evil. Butter will make you fat, sugar will make you fat, exercise will make you fat, being sedentary will make you fat, refined foods will make you fat, food fixation resulting in orthorexia will make you fat...compulsory all around. Since you can't win you may as well just pick yer poison. Sigh.

Susanne said...

I got distracted by figuring out how many stone I weigh, but I'll give it a try. A lot of it just bad science writing though, combined with attention-getting hyperbolic language. Average weight going up does not mean "we are all – every man, woman and child – three stone heavier than we were in the mid-60s." (Also though I am, personally, at least 7 stone - ha! - heavier than I was in the 1960s seeing as I was a mere rug rat then.)

The article never talks about calories at all — one of the consequences of trading fat for sugar in low-fat foods is that they are often calorically equivalent. The article also slides back and forth between the situation in the US and UK without much distinction. I thought they didn't use HFCS as much in the UK? they specifically mention the different formula for CocaCola. Do they eat as much sugar as in the US or not?

I would really like to read an unbiased version of Ancel Keys' and Yudkin's stories. It's hard to believe, knowing academia, that Keys was really the evil villain he's made out to be. What would he get out of it? And the way they phrase the discussion about Yudkin is interesting: "Much of the criticism [of Yudkin] came from fellow academics"; "Yudkin's colleague at the time, Dr Richard Bruckdorfer at UCL says: "There was a huge lobby from [the food] industry, particularly from the sugar industry, and Yudkin complained bitterly that they were subverting some of his ideas." He doesn't say Yudkin WAS being subverted, he just says he "complained bitterly.: I wonder what that is about.

Manythings said...

In the UK we eat less sugar than in the US and we have less obesity. We don't drink as many soft drinks (soda) as in the US so that probably means less HFCS. We do eat sucrose. We are worried that our diet is getting more like the SAD and we see this as driving our rising obesity rates.

The Guardian is a newspaper but not a science journal - if you would like to read UK science journals, The New Scientist and Nature are quite good.

MM said...

Ugh, only 15? I am oddly comforted to know that bad science journalism is not just purely an American phenomenon, but is also apparently alive and well in the UK. Although, the sources he cites are mostly American. I was surprised to see him reference Taubes. I thought GCBC tanked in the UK. I guess a few of them must have sold.

Hunter Copeland said...

In UK aren't people typically more active and work less also. In other words, maybe you eat less sugar, but you also might walk around more and have less stressful lives. These may also contribute as much as food/sugar.

TWJS said...

Denise Minger did a post on Keys:

I haven't read much about Yudkin:

Eric said...

Gotta love that 90% of the article being, essentially, a "just-so story" that totally ignores actually historical records and facts. I can hardly keep track of the decade switching that goes on during this fictional narrative.

Diana said...

Do you mean that literally? Everybody in the UK agrees with this article - or everyone who was motivated to comment agreed? And...your point is?

Diana said...

I'm having a hard time getting my hands on accurate statistics, so I'm gonna flip this one back at ya: what is the UK's per capita sugar consumption, what is the US's?

I do not believe that there is much difference. Regarding obesity, please, get real, Brits are very nearly as fat as Americans.

They are not more active, either. I think the two countries are roughly parallel, but the US has a different racial demographic. Classwise, the picture is the same: the poorer, the fatter.

OnePointFive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OnePointFive said...

We don't grow much corn. We do grow sugar beet and have favourable tariffs with countries producing cane sugar. Comparatively little food and drink in the UK/Europe has ever been sweetened with High fructose glucose syrup. It's not necessary because there is enough sugar.

"In Europe the main calorie-containing sweetener used in the production of food and drinks is sucrose. As mentioned above, the production of GFS is capped in the European Union by the European Sugar Regime and hence produced quantities are limited. An additional factor in the choice of sugar sources used depends on the availability and the relatively close proximity of the raw material to the end user of the sweetener"
Even Coca-cola and Pepsi are sweetened with sucrose in Europe.
Yudkins ideas (particularly on CVD and sugar) were subject to an investigation by the Medical Research Council; no-one was going to take US ideas without confirmation. Richard Doll and others replicated one of Yudkin's studies but failed to achieve the same results
" A pure and white red herring"
I suspect that is why his views on sugar fell from prominence
(Taubes doesn't mention this, he blames Keys)
This press release is a prologue to a BBC programme on Thursday so by then it will be mainstream and 'fact'

CarbSane said...

You picked out one that hit at this geek! Even if the average is true -- 3 stone heavier = 42 lbs -- it doesn't mean every man, woman and child is that much heavier!

I was glad to see Denise write about Keys. One problem I have with the 7 countries is that even if you put the others back, there's still enough of a correlative trend to question. Naughton in his presentation Science for Smart People (which otherwise makes some good points) looks at a scatter plot and says "see, here's a case of high A, low B ... and here's a case of low A, high B ... and this renders the correlation between A&B moot". Were that how it's done, there would be nothing to work with at all!

CarbSane said...

Welcome Manythings & Hunter! @MT, I can see the concern ... I just don't think over-the-top rhetoric is the way to combat this. If folks really don't know about the "empty calories" in sodas, candies and pastries, I suppose public health campaigns to raise awareness may be warranted, but this sort of thing -- complete with the the-beginning-of-the-end-will-be-with-a-lawsuit -- damages the cause.

You raise an excellent point, however, that cuts to the core of the addiction angle now being touted. In the UK, as in the US, sucrose has always been around. And your country doesn't have the cheap HFCS strawman to point at as the cause. So we have to ask ourselves, is it the sugar/HFCS? I say no. Or my generation would have been just as obese as today's.

CarbSane said...

I'm surprised nobody picked up on the massively (pun!) exaggerated weights used. Perhaps it's the stone, something we Americans are not familiar with, but they did convert the original "fat man" weight from stone to kg that tipped me off. FYI: You can type in a Google search line "53 stone in pounds" (for any unit conversion) and it will do the conversion. The original "fat man" weighed 742 lbs. The author goes on to claim he rode around in a bariatric ambulance that picks up a dozen such cases every week! He then goes on to say that 53 stone is no biggie, they only remark at the over 80 stone = 1120 lbs. Now according to Wiki, that would qualify them for the list of heaviest people (, and yet I don't see any.

Yes ... there are more morbidly obese people now than ever. But no need to "pad" those stats.

Leighan said...

I'm from the UK. The Guardian is a newspaper and they all print such trash on health. I read the health sections in the newspapers over here for a laugh. Although sometimes I just feel like crying.

CarbSane said...

Hey Leighan, Just to clarify, I'm well aware of The Guardian's reputation. In years past nobody would have ever equated it with the venerable New York Times, but times (pun intended) have changed. So we see a bit of over-the-top hyperbole that strikes the right chord with some ... but it is just sickening to me. And yet here in the US, a fairly reasoned piece -- albeit a somewhat defeatist/excusatory one -- by Tara Parker-Pope on the difficulties of long term weight loss garners an international petition spearheaded by Fatman & Glucagon!

CarbSane said...

Thanks for this info!

CarbSane said...

What did I do? LOL

I fear the lawsuits are soon to come. I've yet to get to the episode of Skinny on Obesity where Lustig goes on about the addictive nature of sugar and then one of the sidekicks chimes in with "McDonald's is addictive".

Tomas said...

I did not say you did something, what are you referring to?
all of my remarks are addressing contents of the Guardian article

Post a Comment

Moderation is currently on. Thanks in advance for your patience.