Taubes - az - Introduction: The Original Sin

- POSTED ON: Jan 01, 2011



Taubes says that Conventional Wisdom is handicapped with a
"flawed belief system" which insists that

"We get fat because we eat too much
and/or move too little,
and so the cure is to do the opposite."

This is the "energy balance" paradigm
which is also known as "calories-in/calories-out.

 I agree with Taubes when he says:

"this way of thinking about our weight is so compelling and pervasive
that it is virtually impossible nowadays NOT to believe it."

"Imagine a murder trial in which one credible witness after another
takes the stand and testifies that the subject was elsewhere
at the time of the killing and so had an airtight alibi,
and yet the jurors keep insisting that the defendant is guilty
because that's what they believed when the trial began."

Taubes says that this "flawed belief" is the "original sin", and says

"we're never going to solve our own weight problems,
let alone the societal problem of obesity and diabetes
and the diseases that accompany them
until we understand this and correct it."

He goes on to say

“the science tells us that obesity is ultimately
the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one --

specifically, the stimulation of insulin secretion
caused by eating easily digestible carbohydrate-rich foods;
refined carbohydrates, including flour and cereal grains,
starchy vegetables such as potatoes,
and sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup.

These carbohydrates literally make us fat,
and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier
and they make us sedentary."

 Taubes says that until the mid 1960s, the conventional wisdom was

"Carbohydrate-rich foods
-- bread, pasta, potatoes, sweets, beer --
were seen to be uniquely fattening,
and if you wanted to avoid being fat,
you didn't eat them."

Taubes divides this book into two parts.
The first part presents the evidence against the calories-in/calories-out hypothesis.
It discusses many of the observations and facts of life, that this concept fails to explain. I
t discusses why we came to believe it anyway, and talks about the resulting mistakes.

The second part presents what the European medical researchers accepted before WWII.
Those medical researches started from the idea that obesity is fundamentally a disorder of
excess fat accumulation. However, due to that war, those researchers weren’t around in the
late 1950s and early 1960s when the question of what regulates fat accumulation was answered.

Taubes advises

“if your goal in reading this book is simply to be told the answer to the question
“What do I do to remain lean or lose the excess fat that I have” then this is it:
stay away from carbohydrate-rich foods, and the sweeter the food or the easier
it is to consume and diguest…the more likely it is to make you fat and the

more you should avoid it.”

Taubes says the social and moral implications of dependance on animal products
are important questions, but those issues don’t have a place in this scientifc
and medical discussion of why we get fat.

“In the more than six decades since the end of the Second World War,
when this question of what causes us to fatten---calories or carbohyrdates--
has been argued, it has often seemed like a religious issue rather than a scientific one.
So many different belief systems enter into the question of what constitutes a healthy diet
that the scientific question--why do we get fat?--has gotten lost along the way.

It's been overshadowed by ethical, moral, and socological considerations
that are valid in themselves and certainly worth discussing
but have nothing to do with the science itself
and arguably no place in a scientific inquiry.”

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Existing Comments:

On Feb 18, 2011 wrote:
Taubes says ----"Over the years, this calories-in/calories-out paradigm of excess fat has proved to be remarkably resistant to any evidence to the contrary." (p.7) Taubes says -----"Iím.. going to argue that this calories-in/calories-out paradigm of adiposity is nonsensical: that we don't get fat because we eat too much and move too little, and that we can't solve the problem or prevent it by consciously doing the opposite. This is the original sin, so to speak, and we're never going to solve our own weight problems... until we understand and correct it." (p.8) I disagree with the author here. I believe it is a matter of calories in and calories out but that direct control over calories leads to failure for most and miserable success for a few. Taubes says----------"Why are we fat?" (p 12) That is the question: Why are we fat? Why, since I was a child, has the rate of obesity exploded? Here is my personal bias: I believe that direct control, what I call "portion control", has caused the explosion in the obesity rate.

On Feb 20, 2011 TexArk wrote:
Calorie Restricted Diets may have been a failure for most obese patients over the years for various reasons. I believe one reason is that hunger eventually overrides the motivation. And many gain more weight when they come off of the low calorie diets. However, that does not mean that the CAUSE of obesity is calorie restriction. Taubes is addressing why we get fat in the first place and builds the argument that there are good calories and then the bad calories which affect fat accumulation. TexArk

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