Bloggingheads Community

Bloggingheads Community (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/index.php)
-   Diavlog comments (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=9)
-   -   Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=6686)

stephanie 05-02-2011 04:47 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 206828)
I don't have a big problem with Taubes major thesis: carbs make you fat. He isn't saying carbs necessarily make you fat, he is saying that if you are fat, it was the carbs that did it.

But what does that even mean? It's possible to overeat even if you don't overdo the carbs, and despite Taubes' "calories don't matter" thing, I think that if you are prone to gain weight and overeat, you will gain weight, whatever the combination of macronutrients. But it sounds like you would say that even if I get fat eating more fats and protein, it would still be the carbs which make me fat. That seems circular.

Quote:

I do have a problem with Taubes statements that exercise doesn't work. It boils down to null hypos and while I can accept his null hypo wrt carbs I can't really accept his null hypo wrt exercise.
Not sure what the null hypo is here.

IMO, this part is easier to buy, simply because if you don't change your diet and just exercise more, it's good for you in lots of ways, but you are unlikely to lose much weight. (Obviously, there are exceptions, but it's also common for people training for a marathon to just eat more without thinking of it to compensate for exercising more and thus not lose weight at all.)

themightypuck 05-02-2011 06:18 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 206831)
But what does that even mean? It's possible to overeat even if you don't overdo the carbs, and despite Taubes' "calories don't matter" thing, I think that if you are prone to gain weight and overeat, you will gain weight, whatever the combination of macronutrients. But it sounds like you would say that even if I get fat eating more fats and protein, it would still be the carbs which make me fat. That seems circular.

I haven't read any of Taubes books so I'm just basing this on my understanding of the dvlog and the NYT article and a Youtube video of Taubes lecturing at some conference somewhere. My sense is that Taubes is saying exactly that you won't get fat eating more fat and protein. You might stay fat eating just fat and protein but you won't get fat that way.

As for my fast and loose use of the term "null hypo" I plead guilty. I guess what I mean is that I find it easy to accept that the burden should be on the low fat people and harder to accept that the burden should be on the exercise crowd. My suspicion is that our evolutionary environment was high in exercise and relatively low in carbs and so lacking any evidence it seems fair to me that that is a good place to start (since you have to start somewhere).

stephanie 05-02-2011 06:40 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 206851)
I haven't read any of Taubes books so I'm just basing this on my understanding of the dvlog and the NYT article and a Youtube video of Taubes lecturing at some conference somewhere. My sense is that Taubes is saying exactly that you won't get fat eating more fat and protein. You might stay fat eating just fat and protein but you won't get fat that way.

Well, no one eats just fat and protein, and if you pay enough attention to your eating to get your carbs down really low, it's likely (one of my problems with the whole thesis) that your calories are down too. So I guess I'm skeptical of the notion that it's only the carbs I'm eating that can make me fat. If I dine on pizza and only pizza, day after day, there are lots of carbs, but I see no reason to assume that the oil and cheese and the like aren't contributing to my likely weight gain.

It's this kind of "bacon can't make you fat!" or "the only problem with a bacon cheeseburger is the bun!" that I find unbelieveable about the Taubes/Atkins people. I think there are plenty of reasons why watching carbs can help someone lose weight and why carbs (especially carbs of the sort most common in the American diet) can have an effect beyond the calories alone (i.e., triggering overeating and blood sugar spikes and so on), without saying calories are irrelevant, which just seems implausible.

Quote:

I guess what I mean is that I find it easy to accept that the burden should be on the low fat people and harder to accept that the burden should be on the exercise crowd. My suspicion is that our evolutionary environment was high in exercise and relatively low in carbs and so lacking any evidence it seems fair to me that that is a good place to start (since you have to start somewhere).
I think if you go back to evolution, you have to keep in mind that an ability to gain weigh easily and resistence to losing weight would probably have been a good thing. But people ate lots of carbs (the staple of most cuisines in some way -- bread is the staff of life and all) for ages and ages without the kinds of problems we have, probably in large part because getting enough calories was the struggle. If you want cheap calories even now, carbs are the easy choice (and specifically the rice, grain, legume, starch carbs).

themightypuck 05-02-2011 08:47 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
I don't think Taubes is saying calories are irrelevant. He is saying looking at calories is ass backwards. He also admits that carbs don't necessarily make you fat (as I stated above). He sees fat as a pathology and offers the hypothesis that it is carbs that causes the pathology. Like smoking is to lung cancer so carbs are to obesity. Clearly this hypothesis is not proven but compare it to the other hypotheses (toxic fast food environment, sedentary lifestyles). It is not without its problems but it is the most compelling hypothesis I've heard so far. I don't see it as saying all carbs are bad but rather that fat is caused by too many carbs. He sees this as the traditional hypothesis with centuries of support (I suppose the book has sources) while the modern hypothesis that only calories matter has no scientific support and is really just a kneejerk way to escape the conundrum that if fat causes heart disease (something Taubes disputes) we need to eat high carb diets to be healthy. The narrower view (expressed in the NYT piece) that fructose is the problem is also very interesting. The problem is, what is the null hypothesis? We all need to eat.

Hume's Bastard 05-03-2011 03:26 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Taubes also did an interview with the Skepticality podcast.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/skepticali...epticality.mp3

John Horgan does a better job asking questions than Swoopy. But I would ask Taubes to expand on corporate pressure, such as the sugar lobby's influence.

Physics, nutrition, lobbying, the art of science writing...sounds like a field theory of scientific living!

Hume's Bastard 05-03-2011 03:35 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
If I recall, Taubes takes up the sedentary issue a little more in the Skepticality interview.

http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpo...63&postcount=5

Hume's Bastard 05-03-2011 03:50 AM

Re: Science Saturday:Why we get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
I'm interested in comparing Koreans and Americans, and their diets. What follows is anecdotal. Since I have lived in Korea since 1997 (2 years in the US Army, the rest in Busan), I have observed a veritable explosion of western foods available in Busan. It's a joke that Koreans consider coffeee its own food group, but coffee shops are ubiquitous. Can someone tell me if Americans nowadays buy four or five half-dozen boxes of Krispy Kreme's? My family used to buy a dozen donuts, but not a shopping bag of 20+ donuts, and hand them out as gifts. Soda, coffee, and juice drinks are more prevalent. Koreans have recreated pizza in their own imagination: sweet potato and corn, anyone? Outback, McDonald's, Burger King are status symbols for families and college students, and have locally-owned clones. (I'm sure everyone's heard of that Meat Monster burger in Japan, BTW). And, it also seems that younger-gen Koreans are taller and fatter than their parents. I've seen more than a few TV programs instructing parents about proper diet for fat kids - and the solution usually involves some sort of old-fashioned Korean food.

Is an American high-sugar, high-carbs diet ruining Korean kids' health?

mikerpiker 05-03-2011 11:40 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Listening to this diavlog made me angry.

It should be a Law of Bloggingheads that if (1) the interviewee is advocating a controversial position then (2) the interviewer should be a person who strongly disagrees with that position.

Was nothing learned from the Behe debacle?

Florian 05-03-2011 12:05 PM

Re: Science Saturday:Why we get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hume's Bastard (Post 206966)
Is an American high-sugar, high-carbs diet ruining Korean kids' health?

In a word, yes. It always astonishes me that American fast food, so rich in carbohydrates, sugars and fat, somehow wins over young people in countries which have superior, or at least healthier, culinary traditions. Perhaps it's the price. McDos, as they are called in France, are quite popular among young people and quite cheap in comparison to the typical restaurant or bistro.

All my life I have heard that carbohydrates in excess are fattening, and to be consumed in moderation. It seems to be folk wisdom in France. It is good to know that nutrition science is catching up with the folk.

stephanie 05-03-2011 02:37 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 206895)
I don't think Taubes is saying calories are irrelevant.

Well, I went ahead and downloaded Good Calories, Bad Calories, so I guess I'll find out. A quick skim of the relevant portions of the book seemed to suggest that he mostly was, which is what I find most problematic about his position, but I'll have to read more carefully to understand the argument.

He seemed to be claiming that people who gain weight don't eat more than those who don't, and that eating fewer calories doesn't work, but he didn't give convincing evidence that I saw (again, I may change my mind) for the former assertion. For the latter, he talked about the problems with semi-starvation diets, but that's easier to explain without asserting something as counter to the accepted wisdom as "calories are irrelevant."

He also seemed to be (1) arguing that fat doesn't make you fat, which I think is not the conventional wisdom at all (calories, not macronutrient, would be the conventional wisdom); and (2) arguing that refined carbs, largely white flour and sugar, are the problem, which seems to be to be the conventional wisdom. My problem with the disciples on the amazon review section and Atkins people isn't that sugar and white flour are too present in the American diet (obviously), but that carbs across the board are bad. Basically, that I'm eating badly because I like quinoa and brown rice and fruit, etc.

Quote:

He is saying looking at calories is ass backwards.
Like I said, I don't know what this means. Almost always people who need to lose weight eat more calories than they realize. In large part this is because they eat processed carbs that have lots of calories and little nutrient value, sure, and which may also provoke hunger. But if you reduce carbs, most people end up cutting calories, so to say it's not calories just seems wrong or at least not the whole story. This is relevant, because I'd say one reason reducing carbs is a good way to lose weight is because it's an easy way to eat fewer calories without missing them. But going fully low carb for many people does not work as a long-term diet, so that seems to counter the reasons why I think lowering carbs works, because calories do matter.

But like I said, I'm open-minded enough to read his book and think about it. (I do wish that John had raised more of the questions I'd like to ask Taubes.)

Quote:

He sees fat as a pathology and offers the hypothesis that it is carbs that causes the pathology. Like smoking is to lung cancer so carbs are to obesity.
But it's really hard to cut out carbs entirely, so you need some good evidence, and I have yet to see it. The book seems to mostly talk about traditional diets (which is problematic as evidence and as much social science as science) and, like I said, processed carbs. If you are maintaining that abundance and fast food and so on aren't an issue, but quinoa is, I think there needs to be more evidence. So far, I'm not convinced that eating lentils is something I should avoid the way I avoid smoking.

Quote:

It is not without its problems but it is the most compelling hypothesis I've heard so far. I don't see it as saying all carbs are bad but rather that fat is caused by too many carbs. He sees this as the traditional hypothesis with centuries of support (I suppose the book has sources) while the modern hypothesis that only calories matter has no scientific support and is really just a kneejerk way to escape the conundrum that if fat causes heart disease (something Taubes disputes) we need to eat high carb diets to be healthy.
I am interested to see how Taubes responds to the effects of low fat on certain heart disease patients, and would also like to see a debate between him and the guy who promotes the China study.

For the record, I think it's pretty well accepted that cholesterol is an issue only for certain people who are sensitive to dietary cholesterol, so he seems with that to be arguing against something that's more widely accepted than he seems to acknowledge. Also, it's interesting that his side (the anti-carb people) are quick to point out that the cholesterol concerns apply only to some, but anxious to act as if we are mostly all gluten intolerant. (Similarly, anti-fat or vegan types often act as if we are all latose intolerant, which is bizarre too.)

themightypuck 05-03-2011 07:18 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
I really should read the book as well. I'm very skeptical of the 30% fat diet promoted by the powers that be (because, of course, that diet doesn't work for me) and I've never read anything convincing by them as to why they promote this diet. I also agree with Taubes that calories in calories out is meaningless triviality. I doubt anyone is disputing the laws of physics. The question is why do fat people eat more and exercise less. Our moral guardians seem to think it is because people are weak, stupid, or lazy but that doesn't seem very scientific to me. In fact, it raises red flags. The health morality connection comes up again and again in history and I just don't buy it. I agree with you that carbohydrates are probably not as horrible as Taubes suggests, but when I look for support for the standard position all I get are appeals to authority and cherry picking. If anything is true it is that more study is needed. Absent such study I'm not sure why the 30% fat diet gets to be the default and indeed it looks like even the powers that be are slowly upping the fat.

stephanie 05-03-2011 10:53 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 207111)
I really should read the book as well. I'm very skeptical of the 30% fat diet promoted by the powers that be (because, of course, that diet doesn't work for me) and I've never read anything convincing by them as to why they promote this diet. I also agree with Taubes that calories in calories out is meaningless triviality. I doubt anyone is disputing the laws of physics.

Well, I listened to a YouTube of Taubes and Ornish, and it was much clearer than from my skimming of the book that he wasn't actually disputing the calories thing or claiming that you couldn't get fat eating basically any mix, so that has resolved one of my major skepticisms about him. I still find him somewhat uncritical of the points against his own position, but like I said I will read the book.

Quote:

The question is why do fat people eat more and exercise less. Our moral guardians seem to think it is because people are weak, stupid, or lazy but that doesn't seem very scientific to me.
Hmm, I don't think that's the "scientific" answer, although it's definitely part of our cultural hangups about diet, no question at all. What bugs me about Taubes on this is that he seems to suggest that there's some need for an answer here (one that ends up supporting some rather extreme claims, although I admit that may be his followers and not his fault), when it strikes me that the answer to this is not so difficult. Eating is pleasurable, and we have a lot of foods that have more calories than they are filling. Exercise, on the other hand, especially when one is not fit, is not appealing to many people (and plus you can exercise and still not lose weight, as we discussed). Also, the connection between what one eats and what's in it has been lost for many, because so many people don't cook or cook from pre-packaged stuff. (I'm not moralizing, but commenting on our culture.)

There are studies that show that people's weight tends to be influenced by their social circles (if you hang out with thin people you tend to lose weight and the reverse). That seems to me true, simply because if you eat and spend a lot of time with people, you tend to adjust habits accordingly, somewhat. (I have found this to be true in my own life at times, and I think it also reflects something going on in the US more broadly, as there's not a consistent way we eat that would serve the function of a more ritualized traditional diet. It's also consistent with some studies about culture and alcohol and how people who might become alcoholics in some cultures don't in others, because drinking is far more ritualized and controlled by social patterns.) All this also relates to portion size and the fact that the weight issue in the US has a class element (there's a lot more to this, but I don't find it plausible that it's because wealthier people have more meat, because that doesn't, IMO, reflect at all the reasons, not for women, at least).

In addition, I'm skeptical of the idea that the primary reason people overeat in US culture is personal hunger. I'm not convinced actual hunger plays all that much of a role, in that for many humans the hunger signals are screwed up or just overruled by other things. To a certain extent I buy into the Taubes idea (and others, this part seems less unconventional than he seems to think) that simple, refined carbs cause blood sugar to spike and crash and plays into a pattern of overeating. But I also think we don't get the signals we are full soon enough if we eat fast, and that a lot of people disinterpret other signals as hunger, and a lot eat mindlessly and not so much as a result of hunger at all, but being tired or for emotional satisfaction or just because it looks good. Probably lots of people don't, but of those who tend to become overweight, I'd bet plenty.

Personally, like I said, I'm not much convinced that there's some basis to any of the ideal percentages of macronutrients, and am open to more study. It's mostly just frustrating how certain people are about wildly conflicting information (not just the fat and heart disease thing, but also the China study scare about too much protein is what I'm thinking of here, along with the anti-carb extremism). Like Taubes himself, however, I'm probably too biased by what works for me, and I don't believe I'd eat less if I ate more fat. In fact, I was vegetarian during Lent, and had to struggle to eat as many calories as I normally do and prefer to, without being any more hungry at all, because vegetables and whole-grains are extremely filling, at least in my experience.

Ah, well, I find the theories interesting, and agree with you that more and better studies of some of this would be nice.

themightypuck 05-04-2011 03:32 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Well, I bought the book. Let's see if I can make myself read it (640pp--I got the older one since I hate paying more than 10 bucks for a Kindle book).

stephanie 05-04-2011 04:03 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 207305)
Well, I bought the book. Let's see if I can make myself read it (640pp--I got the older one since I hate paying more than 10 bucks for a Kindle book).

Cool, let's both report back when we have (or if we do). I got the older one too, also on Kindle, mainly because it was supposed to be the overly-sourced one, and I wanted the sources.

bjkeefe 05-07-2011 10:23 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
I'm still talking about this diavlog with some friends (through other channels) and I was reminded of one of my favorite pieces of advice -- dietary guidelines or otherwise -- and the fine essay that followed from it. Probably most of you already know about this one, but just in case not: Michael Pollan: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

themightypuck 05-07-2011 12:36 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
I don't mean to be a jerk and I love Michael Pollan but that advice is 2/3 cute and meaningless. Eat food. Duh. Not too much. Duh, by definition. Mostly plants is debatable as HFCS is made from a plant.

By the way, Crossfit has had this posted on their website for close to 10 years:


Quote:

Originally Posted by Greg Glassman
World-Class Fitness in 100 Words:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.


bjkeefe 05-07-2011 12:49 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 207852)
I don't mean to be a jerk and I love Michael Pollan but that advice is 2/3 cute and meaningless. Eat food. Duh. Not too much. Duh, by definition. Mostly plants is debatable as HFCS is made from a plant.

I strongly disagree.

Your HFCS point is not serious. You might as well say all humans are evil because Hitler.

"Eat food" is actually deeper than it seems. It means to prefer basic, actual, natural foods -- whatever they are -- to Food Products®. The less manufactured the thing that you put in your mouth is, the better, is the point, and it's one I agree with.

"Not too much" is also more significant that it might appear at first glance. The big problem Americans have is their never-ending search for the magic dietary bullet, be it AVOID CARBS!!!1! or COUNT YOUR FAT GRAMS!!!1! or EAT LOTS OF OMEGA-3!!!1! or EAT LOTS OF OAT BRAN!!!1! or EAT LOTS OF ANTI-OXIDANTS!!!1! I remember hearing a delightful interview of Julia Child, on Fresh Air I think, where she laughed at how Americans spend so much time being afraid of food, and I thought she was spot-on. We have highly robust systems that will run well, for a long time, on a variety of fuel sources. The typical person would do well to stop obsessing over what's the perfect food and what's the demon food, and just moderate the intake. Maybe this is obvious to you, but it is not obvious to millions of Americans, and it is certainly the opposite of the message pushed by American advertising and restaurateurs.

themightypuck 05-07-2011 01:51 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Once you start with the idea that people are looking for magic bullets it biases your outlook so that anything that doesn't jibe with the standard model is a magic bullet. This is known as attacking a straw man.

I agree that we should not eat most modern processed foods but it isn't easy to do so as most food is processed (and a lot of processing happens before the crops are planted--see GMO). I like Art Devany's simple advice to never stray from the outside edges of the supermarket.

The second point is very contentious and pretty much a bang head against wall trigger for the Gary Taubes crowd (which I'm a part of wrt this point). Utterly useless advice that seems tied up in moral rather than scientific intuition (beyond the pointless and circular calories in calories out mantra). If obesity isn't a moral failing the end of the world is nigh. Run Awayyyyyy!!!
I've just started to read Taubes book so I'm going to beg off an in depth battle over this one except to acknowledge that there seem to be a lot of very smart people on both sides.

As for demonizing certain foods and beatifying others, I agree. But remember that all sides demonize and beatify. The American Heart Association demonized fat and salt and are slowly walking it back. Moderation is of course good advice if we know what it means. Is a 1950s diet more moderate than a 2000 diet? You can move the goal posts so much that in the crazy world of American politics, Obama's health care plan is considered radical and left wing. As for moderating intake, this is advice that no one needs. People have known for thousands of years not to eat too much. There is even a deadly sin named for it. The problem is that some people don't moderate their intake to the point where they don't gain weight. Why is this? Is it a moral failing. Lack of education? Physiology? Based on my experience it is the latter. Some people shouldn't drink so why not believe some people shouldn't eat sugar, or to push futher, refined grains?

Although I'm inclined to agree with Taubes based on what I've seen of him, I will endeavor to read his book critically. No one is beyond falling in love with a hypothesis and getting a bit crazy.

bjkeefe 05-07-2011 03:09 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 207866)
Once you start with the idea that people are looking for magic bullets it biases your outlook so that anything that doesn't jibe with the standard model is a magic bullet. This is known as attacking a straw man.

I disagree. I would characterize my statement about Americans looking for magic dietary bullets as an observation, maybe even a conclusion, drawn from a lifetime of living in this country and being reasonably familiar with the news, fads, trends, bestsellers, the health section of the NYT, the snake oil aisle and labeling in general in grocery stores, etc.

Quote:

I agree that we should not eat most modern processed foods but it isn't easy to do so as most food is processed (and a lot of processing happens before the crops are planted--see GMO).
If I wanted to get into a long discussion of diet, we would have to clarify what I meant by processed. (Hey, wait. I didn't even use that word.) But I don't. So just briefly, I meant manufactured food items; e.g., ready to eat ("Heat-n-Serve") meals and similar convenience foods, the overwhelming majority of snacks, and so on. Things that are assembled in factories from ingredients that come in 55-gallon drums. Things whose ingredients list has to be rendered in 4-point type to fit it on the package. Like that.

I don't have any strong feelings on GM foods. I am inclined to think that, say, eating an apple from a tree whose genome has been tweaked to make it more bug-resistant is less bad for me than, say, Acme ApplFlavord Enriched Juice Product. But this is another topic I don't have an interest in debating at length.

I don't believe it's all that hard to "Eat food" (in the Pollan sense), assuming one isn't living in a really poor neighborhood and has no transportation. It takes a bit more work, maybe, but as with most things, practice makes it a lot easier. One becomes more efficient in preparation and planning, things that initially seemed like a bit of a chore become trivial or even pleasurable activities, and so on. I'm not saying people should do these things. I'm just saying if they want to, they can, and it really isn't that challenging.

Quote:

I like Art Devany's simple advice to never stray from the outside edges of the supermarket.
That's a good one, yep. But watch those endcaps! ;^)

Quote:

The second point is very contentious and pretty much a bang head against wall trigger for the Gary Taubes crowd (which I'm a part of wrt this point). Utterly useless advice that seems tied up in moral rather than scientific intuition (beyond the pointless and circular calories in calories out mantra). If obesity isn't a moral failing the end of the world is nigh. Run Awayyyyyy!!!
I do from time to time make fun of fat people, I admit, especially if they work for the National Review, but I really was not making any sort of moral judgment regarding "Not too much." That's what works for me, and seems to work for most people who are in typical health, is all I meant.

Quote:

I've just started to read Taubes book so I'm going to beg off an in depth battle over this one except to acknowledge that there seem to be a lot of very smart people on both sides.
If you laid all the dietary specialists in the world end to end, what would you reach, eh? ;^)

Quote:

As for demonizing certain foods and beatifying others, I agree. But remember that all sides demonize and beatify. The American Heart Association demonized fat and salt and are slowly walking it back. Moderation is of course good advice if we know what it means. Is a 1950s diet more moderate than a 2000 diet? You can move the goal posts so much that in the crazy world of American politics, Obama's health care plan is considered radical and left wing. As for moderating intake, this is advice that no one needs. People have known for thousands of years not to eat too much. There is even a deadly sin named for it. The problem is that some people don't moderate their intake to the point where they don't gain weight. Why is this? Is it a moral failing.
I would never say that about anyone except myself.

Quote:

Lack of education?
That's a big part of it, yes.

Quote:

Physiology?
Maybe. For some people, probably. But I think this one is overrated when we're talking about populations.

Quote:

Based on my experience it is the latter. Some people shouldn't drink so why not believe some people shouldn't eat sugar, or to push futher, refined grains?
That could be true for a small number of people, sure. It's not like we're keeping the herd free of individuals with physiological dietary problems by natural selection, after all, so it seems plausible that minor -- and easily managed -- defects could creep into a population over time. But again, I am highly dubious that this applies widely enough to explain why we have so many overweight people in our country.

Quote:

Although I'm inclined to agree with Taubes based on what I've seen of him, I will endeavor to read his book critically. No one is beyond falling in love with a hypothesis and getting a bit crazy.
Hope you enjoy it.

themightypuck 05-07-2011 04:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe
I do from time to time make fun of fat people, I admit, especially if they work for the National Review, but I really was not making any sort of moral judgment regarding "Not too much."

Jonah Goldberg can handle it.

stephanie 05-07-2011 10:13 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 207838)
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I think this gets at the fact that it's both true that it can seem that the "experts" don't agree at all and nothing you do is right and that there is, in fact, a lot of agreement and some pretty basic advice that one call follow if one wants to eat in a healthy fashion, that's not all that affected by the debates.

For example, I think it's generally agreed that it's better not to be significantly overweight (the studies suggesting that we exaggerate the importance of thinness vs. fitness or the fact that BMI means nothing if you are super muscular, etc. don't contradict that). I also think that the following are pretty basic bits of advice on which there's general agreement:

(1) It's better to eat whole foods and to cook much of what you eat (I'm not getting into more complicated question of what is "processed," let alone some of the dumb (IMO) claims by those anti-any-processing (i.e., skim milk is processed and thus it's better to drink whole). I'm just saying what Brendan was, and what I think Pollan also gets at.

(2) If you aren't at a healthy weight (which does not mean the weight that you think you should be to look good, necessarily), then the way to reduce is to burn more calories than you take in. Lots of people don't have a good sense of how these numbers compare, and our bodies don't necessarily tell us when we are at equilibrium.

(3) Eat lots of vegetables. I'm not aware of any nutrition advice worth anything that suggests that eating vegetables is a problem. I'd add to this that fruit is generally good for you and really hard to overeat, so I'm extremely skeptical of those who would be anti-fruit or (especially, although I don't think people generally go this far, vegetables).

(4) It's generally better to be sparing in one's consumption of sugar and simple carbs (contrary to Taubes, I think this is common advice, although sugar is more toxic in his view, more empty calories that may encourage overeating and be a problem for some prone to certain diseases in the views of others).

(5) The average American diet tends to be weak on (3) and overemphasize pre-made foods and sugars and simple carbs. Fix this and the average American would be eating in a healthier way, without getting to the more debated stuff.

(6) Exercise alone generally doesn't cause much weightloss (unless you are more than a little overweight and at least log or otherwise pay attention to calories), but it's good for the health of most people.

(7) Reducing grains and starches tends to be a way of losing weight that works for many, at least in the short term.

(8) Semi starvation diets are a bad idea.

(9) Overfocusing on weight loss when you are already a healthy weight in many has led to dieting in a way that has counterproductive effects on the metabolism and more weight gain in the long term.

More debated stuff (for the record, I do have opinions on a lot of this, though I'm not convinced they are necessarily well-founded), that I don't think should detract from the fact that we actually have agreement on a lot (and probably the most significant matters):

(1) Is fat bad for you and if so how general is this (one of Taubes' big things). If so, does it matter what kind of fat? (I think there's quite a bit of agreement on the latter point, but will see if Taubes says otherwise.)

(2) Is cholesterol bad for you and same (another Taubes thing, and one I have too, given that so far as I can tell my cholesterol levels aren't diet-related (or high), and yet tons of nutrition sites and such still tell people to limit their consumption of, say, egg yolks to levels that I'm skeptical about).

(3) Are we better off eating whole-grains and other less problematic carbs (quinoa, brown rice, legumes, sweet potatoes, even the much maligned potato) or meat? If meat, does it matter if it's chicken breast and fish or are we just as well off with ham and bacon?

(4) Is soy bad for you? Or better than other sources of protein?

(5) Is milk bad for you? What kind of milk? Should we drink almond milk or soy milk (assuming we are satisfied with the answer to (4)) instead?

(6) If I eat meat, how much should I worry about antibiotics or growth hormone? Should I prefer grass-fed beef (see also milk)? How much of a worry is mercury in fish? Should I avoid or limit larger fish?

(7) Is too much protein a worry and risk factor for cancer? (See China Study argument.) Is, to the contrary, it healthier than eating even the healthier (non vegetable -- and you know what what I mean by vegetable) carbs, such as even whole grains?

(8) How important are organics?

So on and so forth. (And this is even without getting into the moral issues, such as re animal treatment and the environment, which I think are more important for many personally, and which Pollan definitely cares about.)

Ocean 05-07-2011 10:45 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
All good points, Stephanie.

Just to add to your comprehensive list, there are also modifications in diet according to age. As we get older, we may need a different combination of foods to maintain optimal health (weight, lipids, bone density, muscle mass).

But I think that the basic principles that you mentioned, lots of fruits and especially vegetables (high fiber diet as tolerated), low to no simple carbs, moderate to low amounts of complex carbs (whole grains), "good" fats, adequate protein from different sources and avoid excessive amounts of over processed foods should do for a reasonable diet.

It's always better to modify one's diet before getting too overweight. Generally speaking, "dieting" means changing one's eating habits to make healthier choices. For a while it may require a slightly lower calorie intake to lose excess weight, but the most important part is to avoid going right back to the previous bad eating habits.

Exercise? Great for those who can get in the discipline and can work it into a regular schedule. Again as we get older, health comes only with greater effort.

The problem with Atkins diet is that for most people it's very difficult to keep. Perhaps when there's considerable weight that needs to be shed it's an option to consider. But I don't think it's a long term solution. Eventually, healthier (lower fat) eating habits may need to be resumed while adding some moderate amounts of carbs, mostly complex.

The worst part is to lose those last ten to fifteen pounds. ;)

themightypuck 05-07-2011 10:58 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 207932)
The worst part is to lose those last ten to fifteen pounds. ;)

I think this is psychology. Once you hit a certain age the motivation to get down to fighting weight is somewhat diminished. When I got divorced I became lean and attractive right quick and later when I broke up with my girlfriend I went from 220 to 190 in 6 months. This is anecdotal of course, but I don't think I'm the only person who gets lean and fit when single and porks out a bit when married or some analogue thereof.

Ocean 05-07-2011 11:04 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by themightypuck (Post 207938)
I think this is psychology. Once you hit a certain age the motivation to get down to fighting weight is somewhat diminished. When I got divorced I became lean and attractive right quick and later when I broke up with my girlfriend I went from 220 to 190 in 6 months. This is anecdotal of course, but I don't think I'm the only person who gets lean and fit when single and porks out a bit when married or some analogue thereof.

Heh, interesting. I know quite a number of women, including me, who only had weight problems during the stressful time of divorce (besides pregnancy related weight gain). There may a different psychology for men and women. But, I'm really talking from personal anecdotal experience.

themightypuck 05-14-2011 04:57 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 207314)
Cool, let's both report back when we have (or if we do). I got the older one too, also on Kindle, mainly because it was supposed to be the overly-sourced one, and I wanted the sources.

I'm halfway through and so far I am very impressed. At this point it is pretty much a survey of the science and some 60 minutes style attacks on bad science.

miceelf 05-16-2011 10:36 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
or there's an individual difference psychology that only roughly corresponds with gender.

I am a stress eater. I know that when I am under stress, I am going to crave carbs more than anything else; when I had a death of someone close to me, in the following 6 months, I literally put on 20 pounds. My wife, on the other hand, is a stress non-eater; she loses weight when she is under stress.

uncle ebeneezer 05-16-2011 02:08 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
I'm with your wife (not literally ;) ). I can't eat a thing when I'm stressed out. I'd be interested to hear if there's been any good research on the stress/apetite connection.

Ocean 05-16-2011 02:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Why We Get Fat (John Horgan & Gary Taubes)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 209155)
or there's an individual difference psychology that only roughly corresponds with gender.

I am a stress eater. I know that when I am under stress, I am going to crave carbs more than anything else; when I had a death of someone close to me, in the following 6 months, I literally put on 20 pounds. My wife, on the other hand, is a stress non-eater; she loses weight when she is under stress.

Yes, there's substantial individual difference. Even within the same individual you may see differences depending on what kind of stress it is. Stressful situations that keep the person busy and active may lead to weight loss (the person forgets to eat, increased level of activity). More chronic forms of stress without increased physical activity, may lead to overeating.


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:12 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.