Taubes - Chapter 05 - Why Me? Why There? Why Then?

- POSTED ON: Jan 01, 2011

Taubes says

“Where on our bodies we get fat,
and even when it happens,
are important questions”

He says we’ve known since the 1930s
that there is a large genetic component in obesity,
That body types run in families.
similarities in body types between parents, children, and siblings
are
"as striking as facial resemblance".

Taubes gives examples to show that genes that determine relative adiposity
don’t have to do with appetite or physical activity,
but rather, what the body does with its calories.
He points out how men and women fatten differently.

“when boys become men, they become taller, more muscular, and leaner
…when a girl enters puberty as slender as a boy, and leaves it with the
shapely figure of a woman, it’s not because of overeating or inactivity,
even though it’s mostly the fat she’s acquired that gives her that womanly
shape and she had to eat more calories than she expended to accommodate that fat.”

Taubes talks about how animals are bred for different fat content.
He talks about a disorder known as Lipodystrophy, where a person’s fat distribution
moves over time. Like thin on top half and obese on bottom half.
He says they didn’t lose fat on their upper bodies because they underate,
or gain fat on their lower half because they underate,
and asks:

“But why is it that when fat loss and fat gain are localized like this—
--when the obesity or extreme leanness covers only half the body,
or only a part and not all—they clearly have nothing to do with how much
the person ate or exercised; yet when the whole body becomes obese or lean,
the difference between calories consumed and expended supposedly explains it? “

Taubes talks about how HIV drugs cause a loss of fat in some body areas
and a gain of fat in other body areas, and says

“If we can’t blame..(this)…on calories-in/calories-out,
maybe we shouldn’t blame ours, either.”

 I think most everyone knows Genetics is involved in obesity, and
body types running in families is something I’ve observed all my life.

I hadn’t really tried to connect the puberty issue with the obesity issue, although .
of course I realized sex hormones are responsible for the different fat distributions
that occur then.

The extremely thin on top and extremely fat on bottom, and the HIV drug
changing fat distribution was interesting,
and I think that it is Obvious that no one could really blame
calories-in/calories-out for the specific examples Taubes uses in his chapter.

Comparing those examples with ordinary obesity is interesting,
and is a different way to think about those issues.

I am content with the way my fat is distributed on my own body,
I would just like to have less of it.
That is also how I felt when I was fat
I like my personal body shape, I like my small waist and larger hips.
I never wanted to be tall and willowy, or have big breasts and small hips.
I just wanted to keep my same basic hourglass shape….without the fat,
and preferably get my bottom half to be able to wear the same size as my top half…
This is something, by the way…that I have achieved
...and that I work to maintain.

Taubes’ point seems to be that genetics plays a large part
in how much Fat we have, and the places where our Fat is distributed.
Also that hormones play a large part in where and when Fat is
distributed on males and females at puberty.

This IS the norm for everyone.

Taubes also discusses the fact that there are diseases and treatments of diseases
that also influence how much fat one has and where it is distributed on one’s body.

Pretty much all morbidly obese people ---like on the Biggest Loser --
look similar, when they are that fat.
But what I’ve observed is that fat people do carry their weight in different places,
for example some fat women have almost skinny legs and arms
with barrel chests and shoulders; some have enormous round bellies
with smaller chests and hips,
and some have large breasts and small hips, and others have large hips and small breasts,
Others have a giant hourglass shape, some top heavy, and some bottom heavy.

All of these body types can be very fat,
but with fat distributed differently on their bodies.
The way this fat is distributed is due to their genetics.

I think here Taubes is trying to get us to think about the fact that fat accumulation
is influenced by more factors than just what we eat and how much we exercise.

 


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Existing Comments:

On Feb 18, 2011 wrote:
This chapter reminded me of the Rockefeller University study of leptin deficiency and how excited the scientists were and -- what did they find -- one girl in England and two cousins in India (as I recall) who benefited from leptin deficiency. I think it's better to stick with the norm. There are plenty of run of the mill obese people who don't have any sort of abnormal fat distribution, and I'm one of them………………………………..I agree that fat distribution can be very different. I was the hourglass figure that became the hourglass obese. I would be a pear more than an apple. Taubes, however, focused on examples that were not within the norm -- like the woman who looked to be of normal weight above her waist only………………………………………………….. Fat distribution is more genetic, buy I do think physical activity affects shape, and it's not all genetics. Fat accumulation has some degree of choice to it, since caloric restriction can alter the amount of fat accumulation. Fat distribution seems to be more genetic, but I think that fat accumulation may be more a matter of our eating habits. The fact that fat accumulation has occurred so suddenly in the last 30 years leads me to believe the obesity epidemic should not be attributed to genetics………………………………. Focusing on calories can make a person feel like they are starving all the time. Is there an alternate?........................................................................ Personally, I think this chapter was more of a filler for his book. Interesting but not very relevant. I don't think my body is out of the norm. I think what got screwed up were my eating habits because my Dad hounded me to lose weight when I was a teen and I got into some bad calorie counting habits that led to binge eating.


On Feb 18, 2011 wrote:
Perhaps the location of body fat might be a bit more important than I first thought. When I was single and about 132 or so, I had a 24" waist. I still have a bright blue silk skirt and matching top from back then hanging in my closet. If I were to drop to 132, would I be able to have a 24" waist again? Doubtful. Also, it was really annoying to get belts with dresses and have to pin them because the belts were so darn long. I'd have to pin them because they would wrap so far around. I didn't quite realize just how unusually small a waist I had. Why was my waist so small? Was it just my weight? No. I wasn't particularly thin. Of course, the most obvious example of differences in fat distribution in women is in the size of the breast. I would say that there has to be a genetic component to all of this. It's not just calories in and calories out. It's not just exercise. It's not even just age. It's also not just the unusual cases cited in Taubes' book.


On Feb 19, 2011 Karen925 wrote:
In my fair city, I have ample opportunity to see these variations in fat distribution. It is a relevation of sorts after reading this and other books seeing how fat distributes itself and wonder if the person can really understand this as it is usually in the posterior and other hard to see places. There are mirrors to be sure, but those can be avoided and still seeing ourselves in a mirror (2 Dimension) is not the same as seeing with our own eyes in 3 dimensions.

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