May 31 2011

Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It – Rebroadcast

why we get fatThese days obesity and its related health problems are a national obsession for doctors, politicians, and public health officials. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. in recent years, with obesity rates sharply increasing for children as young as six months old. With higher obesity rates more prevalent among poorer Americans, obesity, and all the public health consequences of it, becomes an issue of social and economic justice. Now, a new book by science journalist Gary Taubes synthesizes ten years of research into the reasons behind obesity. The book is simply called Why We Get Fat. In it, Taubes makes a damning case about how the science linking dietary fat to heart disease and obesity was seriously misreported, leading to government agencies prescribing a low-fat, and in-effect, high-carbohydrate diet, that is precisely the recipe for obesity and its related diseases. Thirty years of increasing obesity rates, coinciding with pushing such a diet, is a testament to a public health policy gone horribly wrong. Taubes asserts that it is the tendency among health professionals and health reporters to link obesity to individual failings that has perverted the interpretation of the existing science. “We don’t get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we’re getting fat,” says Taubes.

GUEST: Gary Taubes, award winning science journalist, contributing correspondent for Science Magazine, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Research at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health.

18 responses so far

18 Responses to “Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It – Rebroadcast”

  1. Bradon 31 May 2011 at 10:03 pm

    His science is good, his conclusions are faulty. There are several scintific based critiques online you should read before drinking his “Koolaid”.
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/why-we-get-fat/
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/11-01-05/

  2. Avonon 01 Jun 2011 at 12:43 am

    Heart disease and diabetes are reversed with a low fat vegan diet (whole plant foods). That would not be the case if what he says were true.
    Only vegans are, on average, not overweight – SDA study in US .

  3. KarmaPoliceon 01 Jun 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Vegans are not overweight because their diet(religion) consists of tasteless food.

    I would loose weight too if I were to live in a state of perpetual penance.

  4. Menion 01 Jun 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I hear the vegans, I trust Gary. What I see? processed foods/sugar are the culprits. Whats wrong with lean protein sources from animals, veggies, nuts, berries and some fruit, whats wrong with that diet? sounds vegan except for the animals.

    plus vegans are skinnier because that diet is low calories, how many calories can you get in veggies???? 500 and your stuffed to the gills

  5. Angeluson 01 Jun 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Vegetarianism: Ancient Indian word for Bad Hunter

  6. Lorinon 02 Jun 2011 at 9:31 am

    I became obese (just tipped the 30 mark on the BMI) from a low fat vegan diet. I ate whole plant foods, fruit, etc. and never had soda or fried food unless it was a very rare occasion. I continued limiting what I ate because of the weight gain until my vegan diet became the McDougall diet, and I was forced to live on potatoes, rice, and beans. After four vegan years and 70 added pounds McDougall seemed like my only hope. I lost some weight after a few weeks, but began bruising, my hair fell out, and I felt completely depressed. I stopped the madness and became a high fat, low carbohydrate pescetarian. In two months I lost 20 lbs, that took me years as a vegan to accumulate. I miss being able to say I’m a vegan, but carbohydrates, and especially sugar (even from fruit), make some people fat. Now I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

  7. antoineon 02 Jun 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Eat bacon. Lose weight. Live the Dream!

  8. robpaulsonon 02 Jun 2011 at 10:34 pm

    There’s plenty of fat vegans. I say screw that cult and be true to your caveman origins and eat meat.

  9. Lizon 03 Jun 2011 at 7:07 am

    Sonali, Thank you for this intelligent interview. Breath of fresh air.

  10. paleosisteron 05 Jun 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much for taking Gary’s research seriously. I was a vega*n for over a decade and suffered terrible fatigue and depression because of my lack of animal food. (And no, I was not a “junk food vegan” either). Interestingly, protein deprivation is actually a strategy used by some cults and abusers. I am just grateful I figured out the cause of my suffering.

  11. Angieon 13 Jun 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Your body craves what you are used to. He sells books telling you what you want to hear. The science is overwhelmingly against his theory.
    the McDougall diet is not potatoes rice and beans and you can eat as much as you want.

  12. Hunton 23 Jun 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Taubes’ claim is that if you’re fat, it’s because of the carbs in your diet (after all, you need carbs to store fat). From this you cannot conclude that anyone who eats carbs will get fat–that is a logical mistake. So pointing out people who eat carbs but are not fat is not a proper counterexample. A true counterexample would be people who eat tons of fat and no carbs, but are still fat. I dare you to even try doing that to yourself–you’ll be way too full to eat enough to get fat or stay fat.

    Furthermore, vegans usually eat a low-glycemic diet. (It’s rare for a vegan to be someone who drinks cola and eats poptarts etc…) And, people who are not vegans and who eat a high-fat diet are typically eating the fat infused with tons of sugar. Americans simply don’t eat fatty meats, sugar-free yogurts and cheese for their primary sources of fat (like, say, a someone living in siberia). (In fact, most yogurt I see is low/no-fat and high-sugar.) But they do eat a ton of french fries and desserts, not to mention soda, juice and sugary breakfast cereals. Whenever you say that people who eat high-fat diets are fatter, you have to beware of confounding variables–it’s probably not the fat but rather the sugar and high glycemic carbs.

  13. Jeffon 12 Jul 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Well said, Hunt.

    I think some are criticizing Mr. Taubes without having read his book(s). I was very skeptical but was won over while reading it. I was surprised that there wasn’t a mountain of evidence to support the low fat, high carb diet that has been pushed by the medical establishment for so long.

    I had gradually been putting on the weight over the years and had started gravitating towards a vegetarian diet, but my weight seemed to go up even faster. Going on intensive exercise regimen seemed to help a little bit, but only for a short while as I couldn’t really keep it up consistently with 4 young kids and a business to tend to.

    I had heard of the Atkins Diet a few years ago and thought it was preposterous and dangerous as well. I thought the same thing when I saw the first bits on Mr. Taubes’ book and decided to see if it was at our library. It was, but some 6 or 7 copies were all out. I waited until an electronic copy was available & checked it out. I was amazed at some of the things he was saying and the evidence to back it up.

    I tried it and was even more amazed when my weight dropped rapidly when I switched from a very high fiber, low fat, high carb diet of whole grains, fruits & veggies – admittedly with some fast food meals mixed in, to eating bacon and eggs for breakfast for the first time in many years and my weight started dropping rapidly. I couldn’t believe it. I was doing the exact opposite of everything I thought I was supposed to be doing (other than avoiding sodas & other sugary foods which almost any diet recommends) and everything seemed to work effortlessly.

    I’m only a few weeks into it, however, and the weight loss seems to have leveled off 10 to 20 lbs above where I would like, but I also started doing some weight bearing exercises which may be adding some muscle mass, so maybe some of the fat is still coming off, or maybe just quite a bit more slowly than had earlier been the case.

    But the bottom line, I think, is that people really should read what he has to say. He’s not just some crackpot making stuff up to sell a new diet plan or even his book. He comes across as passionate, makes a good case, I think, and has convinced some doctors and scientists to take his info seriously as well. In fact, he states that what he’s saying isn’t really new and revolutionary for the most part, but rather was conventional wisdom in many medical circles prior to the 1960s, and the changes in governmental food recommendations were political and quite controversial at the time and weren’t backed up by solid research.

    Read his book, “Why We are Fat & What to do about it” if you are a lay person, or “Good Calories, Bad Calories” if you are a doctor or more scientifically inclined. At least give him a fair reading before cavalierly tossing out his ideas just because they go against the grain of (current) conventional wisdom.

  14. Marcella Hernandezon 03 Aug 2011 at 5:40 pm

    This was a real eye opener! I am testing the findings that Mr. Taubes describes; meat, fat OK, cut carbs and sugar. It is not hard to do. Thank you for an excellent hour of information that I can use!

  15. Paulaon 14 Aug 2011 at 1:26 am

    I’m 56 (55 at the time of first two lipid results), female, 5’8”

    MY NUMBERS AS THEY IMPROVED (gist of the #s that matter: TGs went from 105 to 48; HDL from 52 to 67. Weight from 168 to 150)

    Jan2010 labs (pre-low carb high fat – WEIGHT 168)
    HDL=52; LDL=156; TRI=105

    March2010 READ GCBC COVER TO COVER, HUBBY & I WENT FROM S.A.D. TO LCHF WITH A VENGEANCE; he lost 25 lbs in 4 mos without exercise, I lost 20, without exercise, as Taubes says happens (full compliance, except for a number of months we still ignorantly ate white stuff in the form of “low-carb” wraps and bought “CarbQuik” instead of Bisquik; but this turned out to transitional because ultimately you don’t want the white stuff since your body stops craving it, and the more you read, the worse you find out this white stuff is, no matter how labeled as low carb; I’m of course including in the “white stuff” we gave up (which included rice), the “yellow stuff” made with corn, such as chips… Also ditched ‘whole grain’ since grain in whatever form is major buddies, as in BFF, with insulin, not to mention the leaky-gut issues. Also look up William Davis, M.D. about wheat!)

    Sept2010 labs (post-low carb high fat – WEIGHT 152)
    HDL=65; LDL=159; TRI=54; (didn’t test for VLDL but Apo B was 98 with reference range 50-130)

    July2011 labs (post-low carb high fat – WEIGHT 152)
    HDL=67; LDL=158; TRI=48

    See p. 172 of Good Calories Bad Calories about why Total Cholesterol and LDL don’t matter. What matters is the SIZE of the subparticles of LDL. My apoB score is great, so no worries there.

    For a further education on this and also how to get your blood tested by a private late for $100 and less for the lipid results that matter, see Chris Kresser http://www.thehealthyskeptic.org Special Reports>Heart Disease/Cholesterol>Healthy Skeptic Videos>I Have High Cholesterol and I Don’t Care

  16. Paulaon 14 Aug 2011 at 1:28 am

    Oops, typo, I meant “private lab”

  17. Tom Bon 02 Nov 2011 at 10:35 am

    Vegetarian diets can be low carb or high carb.

    If your diet is bananas, orange juice, bagels, muffins, cereal, pasta and tomato sauce, sugared yogurt and vegetarian burritos, almost anybody will gain weight and many will be on the path to diabetes. Sad thing is, a lot of people think that is a healthy diet.

    If you’re primarily eating non-starchy veggies, leaves, nuts, oils, cheeses, you’re eating low carb and your weight will almost certainly stay in check.

    You can definitely stay thin on a vegan diet if you limit your sugar (watch the sugary fruit!), starch and cereal grains. Problem is most vegans don’t have discipline to do that.

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