Taubes - Chapter 10 - History of Lipophilia

- POSTED ON: Jan 01, 2011

 Taubes begins by talking about how pre-World War II scientists
studied genetics and endocrinology and developed the theories
that he presents in this book.

He cites 1908 German scientist Von Bergmann who first
used the term “lipophilia” which means “love of fat”.

Von Bergmann considered obesity a disorder of fat accumulation,
and worked to learn about how fat tissue was regulated.

 Von Bergmann said this is different from tissue-to-tissue and person-to-person.
Just as some parts of the body tend to grow hair and some don’t,
some people are hairier than others; and some people are fatter;
and these people fatten easily, and it often seems
that there’s nothing they can do about it.
Other people are lean and have trouble gaining weight.

Taubes says that in the 1920s Bauer, a genetics and endocrinology scientist,
adopted Von Bergmann’s ideas. At that time it was a new idea that
genes could give characteristics and a predisposition for diseases to people.

Bauer said that fat tissue in obesity is like malignant tumors….

In those who are predisposed to grow obese,
fat tissue is driven to grow, to expand with fat,
and it will accomplish this goal, just as the tumor does,
with little concern about what the rest of the body might be doing.

The abnormal…fat loving…tissue seizes on food-stuffs,
even in the case of undernutrition…
It maintains its stock, and may increase it
independent of the requirements of the organism.
A sort of anarchy exists; the fat tissue lives for itself
and does not fit into the precisely regulated
management of the whole organism”

Taubes says that by the late 1930s the concepts of these German Scientists
were accepted in Europe and were catching on in the U.S.
but within 10 years, because of World War II, they vanished.

Germans and Austrians had founded and done most of the research
in nutrition, metabolism, endocrinology, and genetics,
which are all the fields relevant to obesity. 
 But World War II interfered with their studies,
and after WWII, anti-German sentiment in the U.S. resulted in authorities
treating the German medical literature as though it didn’t exist.
Taubes states:

“Once the psychologists took over in the 1960s
and obesity officially became an eating disorder
--a character defect but in kinder words—
any hope that authorities would pay attention
to how the fat tissue was regulated effectively vanished.”

Taubes says that after World War II
only a few researchers continued with the genetic line of thought.
Endocrinologist, Astwood, was one of them.

 In 1962 Astwood states that many enzymes and hormones
have been indentified that influence fat accumulation.
Some of those liberate fat, others put it there.
Ultimately, these competing regulatory forces
will determine the amount of fat to be stored in any single person
or at any single location on the human body.

What if something went wrong it one of these regulatory processes?
Astwood said

Suppose that the release of fat or its combustion
(burning for fuel) was somewhat impeded,
or that the deposition or synthesis of fat was promoted;
what would happen?

Lack of food is the cause of hunger,
and to most of the body (fat) is the food;
it is easy to imagine that a minor derangement
could be responsible for a voracious appetite.

It seems likely to me that hunger in the obese
might be so ravaging and ravenous
that skinny physicians do not understand it.

This theory would explain why dieting is so seldom effective
and why most fat people are miserable when they fast.[/b]
It would also take care of our friends, the psychiatrists,
who find all kinds of preoccupation with food,
which pervades dreams among patients who are obese.

Which of us would not be preoccupied with thoughts of food
if we were suffering from internal starvation?
Hunger is such an awful thing
that it is classically cited with pestilence and war
as one of our three worst burdens.

Add to the physical discomfort the emotional stresses of being fat,
the taunts and teasing from the thin, the constant criticism,
the accusations of gluttony and lack of “willpower”,
and the constant guilt feelings,
and we have reasons enough for the emotional disturbances
which preoccupy the psychiatrists.”

 Taubes believes we need to understand what Astwood understood,
and what the Obesity Experts before World War II accepted.
Taubes says

“Both gluttony (overeating) and sloth (sedentary behavior)
will be the side effects of any regulatory derangement, minor as it may be,
that diverts too many calories into fat tissue for storage.”

This concept is extremely interesting to me, and, upon reflection,
I can see how it does align with my own experience.

It’s a bit scary to think that in certain instances,
my Fat, even when I’m starving, could work to protect itself,
and might even work toward increasing itself,
taking away energy/calories that the rest of my body needs.

However, this idea is the only Theory I’ve come across
that might explain to me what has actually been happening
with my own body during the past 2 years of my 5 years of maintenance.
Calories-in/calories-out simply doesn’t explain it.

In my current experiment, I am basing my eating Behavior
on the possibility that this Theory could be true.
An interest in my Results motivates me to follow through…day-by-day.


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Existing Comments:

On Feb 18, 2011 wrote:
Here is the Astwood quote I think was most interesting:………………………………. "Which of us would not be preoccupied with thoughts of food if we were suffering from internal starvation?" …………………………………………………Exactly. …………….Something is certainly amiss if we are obese and feel like we are starving. The overeating, the binge behavior -- I have concluded, at least, that this is not anything other than some sort of survival instinct, the same instinct that drove me to get to the surface of the water when my brother was holding me underwater in some sort of game. ………………………….Astwood is simply speculating on the cause of that voracious appetite as being a "minor derangement" in "the release of fat or its combustion." ……………. From personal experience, I am 100% behind the theory that there is a physical cause, but I don't think Taubes has provided any evidence here for what that physical cause might be. He's just quoted someone who has speculated that it has to do with fat.


On Feb 19, 2011 Karen925 wrote:
It’s a bit scary to think that in certain instances, my Fat, even when I’m starving, could work to protect itself, and might even work toward increasing itself, taking away energy/calories that the rest of my body needs. **** I think the analogy to cancer tumors was most helpful.


On Feb 22, 2011 TexArk wrote:
To rebute the comment about Taubes not providing evidence, remember WWGF is not as detailed as GCBC. If you want more scientific evidence and documentation from Taubes please read Good Calories Bad Calories especially the chapter on The Carbohydrate Hypothesis. Here is a link from a diabetic online journal discussing this part of GCBC and the carbohydrate, insulin, hunger, weight gain issue. http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/18362/eating-make-hungry/pf/ I am convinced from reading from many sources (not just Taubes) that there is indeed an insulin effect. The blood glucose youtube videos are also great at explaining how your hunger is directly related to carbohydrate foods and insulin production. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RE4cXeX7Po&NR=1

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