NYT ran a review today of Gary Taubes’ new book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

I like this quote:

How is a person best advised to lose extra weight and retreat from diabetes and heart disease? Count calories, cut fat and fill up on fruits and vegetables? Or turn instead to a high-protein, high-fat regimen?

The experts point vehemently in all directions. And so in one corner this month we find the chief executive of Weight Watchers of his organization’s new “Plus Points” program, in which fruit can be freely eaten.

In the opposite corner we have Gary Taubes, the science journalist who has thrown in his lot with the high-fat, high-protein crowd, arguing in his new book that the overweight should just put down their apples and walk away: “If we’re predisposed to put on fat, it’s a good bet that most fruit will make the problem worse, not better.”

We’ve got the whole thing backward, he argues. The overweight are not lazy hogs who eat too much and exercise too little. The thin are not virtuous and disciplined. Rather, all of us are fulfilling a fixed biological mandate, just as growing children are. Our bodies have a nonnegotiable agenda, and our behavior evolves to make that agenda happen, he writes: “Eating in moderation and being physically active (literally, having the energy to exercise) are not evidence of moral rectitude. Rather, they’re the metabolic benefits of a body that’s programmed to remain lean.”

It will be interesting to hear the comments on this. I was just reading a Raw foods book which claims the same benefits and points out the dangers of the diet favored by the Taubes research.


Gary Taubes wrote an famous article in the New York Times back in 2002. He was defending Dr. Atkins and his popular diet when others in the medical community were condemning it.

“America has become weirdly polarized on the subject of weight. On the one hand, we've been told with almost religious certainty by everyone from the surgeon general on down, and we have come to believe with almost religious certainty, that obesity is caused by the excessive consumption of fat, and that if we eat less fat we will lose weight and live longer. On the other, we have the ever-resilient message of Atkins and decades' worth of best-selling diet books, including ''The Zone,'' ''Sugar Busters'' and ''Protein Power'' to name a few. All push some variation of what scientists would call the alternative hypothesis: it's not the fat that makes us fat, but the carbohydrates, and if we eat less carbohydrates we will lose weight and live longer.”

Read the whole article: What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?

A good summary of Taubes’ thoughts can be found in this interview he did on Frontline.

Some memorable quotes from the interview:

If you just reduce the amount of calories, you'll lose weight, even though there's not a single study that's ever shown that.

When you read the research articles from the '70s and '80s and '90s, they're fascinating. They'll always start with a introduction that says exercise and physical activity is crucial to weight loss and weight maintenance. Then they'll move into the main part of the paper, where they'll go through study after study after study, where they acknowledge that these studies fail to show that you could actually lose significant weight by exercising or being more active. Then they'll get to the conclusion, and they'll give you a half a dozen techniques by which you can then make exercise part of an important weight loss or weight maintenance program. It's surreal reading these things. The book ended [with] the advice that you have to exercise, but the actual studies show that doesn't do any good.

Read a great review/summary of Why We Get Fat

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