What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie?

A very interesting, indepth article that gives an overview of the key themes shaping the current obesity and nutrition debate, as well as a good basic introduction to the concepts underlying the problem with high-carb/low-fat diets and their metabolic effects.

Of particular note is a little factoid: the oft-cited “95% of all diets fail”. Apparently this “well known fact” came from only 100 patients in one experiment.

Also interestingly is the side note of earlier research by folks like Ancel Keys in the mid-20th century that looked at obesity in populations worldwide. Perhaps belying the notion that Italians are magically lean as whippets despite noshing on piles of pasta, the early researchers noted that working-class Italians with diets replete with bread, rice, and pasta were, in fact, overfat. Additionally, the article claims, up until the 1970s, clinical articles argued that African and Caribbean populations that relied heavily on cereals and starchy roots tended to be overfat as well.

Regardless of where the truth lies (and I think it’s pretty clear where physiological reality leads us — ie. to the fact that our endocrine systems did not evolve to tolerate Ho-Hos), this is an excellent introduction to the field and the ongoing debates.

Full article in the NYT