Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Calories In, Calories Out

Not according to this guy. While I believe there is more to our complicated engine, in fact most of the concernes are of second order to calories in calories out. it is one of the few things that can explain the vast difference in obesity between the US, France, Belgium, Germany, etc. Which can hardly be accounted for in terms of carbohydrates, or genetics.

'The natural question is, "What regulates fat accumulation?"' he begins, swivelling gently in his office chair. 'That was actually worked out 50 years ago. We know that the hormone insulin is what puts fat in fat tissue. Raise insulin levels and you accumulate fat; lower insulin levels and you lose fat. And we secrete insulin as a response to carbohydrates in the diet.'We have screwed up the causality of obesity,' he continues. 'Fat people are predisposed to be fat. Genetics determines how we respond to the carbohydrates. Healthy people exercise more than unhealthy people, and we know that lean people exercise more than heavy people - but that doesn't tell us that exercise will make a heavy person lean or an unhealthy person healthy.'

Taubes's defence of a high-fat, low-carb regime sounds suspiciously like the Atkins diet, which proposed that a hefty slab of steak followed by cheese was less fattening than a bagel or a bowl of pasta. The Atkins diet still has many fans, but recently seemed to have been consigned to the reject bin among health warnings and heart-attack alerts (and the news that when Dr Atkins died in 2003 he was a hefty 18½ stone). But in his book Taubes puts forward a compelling case for avoiding a high-carb, low-fat diet. 'I have this problem when I talk to physicians and biologists, ' he says. ' They will say, "OK, I can see that obesity is a disorder of fat accumulation. I acknowledge insulin makes us store fat." Then I say, "Well, that implicates carbohydrates," and they go, "Oh, that's that Atkins crap. It's old news." They shut down and that's the end of the discussion.' In fact, he says there are many respected scientists who do agree with him, but who are reluctant to support him openly.

1 comment:

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