Saturday, September 17, 2011

"There are thousands of academics and public health specialists for whom this is absolutely boring, bread-and-butter, routine stuff."

Yeah, see, that's exactly the problem - having a "business as usual" that's doing more harm than good, but being unwilling to consider that maybe you're on the wrong track because everyone else is on the same track and how could they all be wrong?

Robyn Toomath is interviewed on Stuff today. She's certainly got one thing right - the increasing obesity rates aren't demonstrating some unexplained decline in willpower across the West, they're to do with the food people are eating.

Toomath, who in her photo on Stuff has the dry, wrinkly skin and lank hair of someone who doesn't get anything like enough fat in their diet, has business-as-usual "expertise" to contribute on the subject of what to do about obesity:

A fat tax, subsidised fruit and veges, school bans on tuckshops selling junk food, advertising regulations – she has backed them all.

Of course, nutritionists and public health professionals have been peddling this eat-less-fat, eat-more-veg message for decades now - as it happens, since around the time the obesity epidemic took off.

Most of these people are aware of the facts around weight gain: that fat metabolism is driven by insulin, and insulin is driven by carbohydrates. However, the academics' and public health specialists' "absolutely boring, bread-and-butter, routine stuff" is that people need to eat less fat, which means they've spent decades now promoting high-carbohydrate diets, and yet can't figure out why people are getting fatter despite consuming fewer calories than they did back when a fatty cut of meat was the cornerstone of the Western diet.

It's called cognitive dissonance:
1. We know that fat metabolism is driven by insulin, which is driven by carbohydrates.
2. Let's recommend a high-carbohydrate diet to make people less fat.

If you can explain it, good luck to you. I suspect it's one of Kuhn's "scientific revolution" things - you can see there's something wrong with the hypothesis, but as long as it's business-as-usual for the big reputations in the field, you'd better assume a lack of understanding on your part.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fats are not the main issue - its carbs and the inappropriate forms in which we eat them. A "healthy" meusli is 60% carbs while a 160gram tin of sardines is 2% carbs. That may explain why my teenage vegeterian step daughter is still overweight. Laziness is not the sole reason.

The food pyramid is a bit crook. My lower carb diet has shed a lot of weight.

MacDoctor said...

Yes, it seem strange that, every time the MacDoctor recommends a low-carb diet to his patient and they stick it it, they lose weight. Has to be just a coincidence...

Anonymous said...

Carbohydrates leads to higher levels of insulin in the blood, which in turn makes you as hungry as a wolf, which makes you eat more etc etc.

It's not rocket science.

Mrs Danvers

Anonymous said...

Agree. I found a low carb diet keeps me slim and all blood work including cholesterol improved. And I enjoy plenty of fat. Our fatnazis are willfully ignorant. Mara.

Psycho Milt said...

I guess the cognitive dissonance will persist until one of Kuhn's scientific revolutions topples the fat-phobics at the top of the academic ladder in the States. Either that, or it will be dismantled one retirement at a time, like a lot of other wrong theories.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Here's a gorgeous, cheap and tasty breakfast.

One frozen fillet smoked South African cod. $10/kg on special.

One slice whole grain bread, toasted, no butter or marg.

Half an onion and one big button mushroom, sliced and sauted.

One small tomato sliced.

Thaw fillet in hot water (fifteen minutes - they each come separately rapped in plastic) and place under grill for four minutes, skin up.

Turn fillet skin down, sprinkle black pepper and lemon juice and grill for four minutes.

Toast bread and cover with thin sliced raw tomato. Tip hot mushies and onion on top of tomato.
Salt and pepper.

Place toast etc on warm large plate
with fillet alongside.

It's the poor man's kipper breakfast but, by hell, it takes a lot of beating.

muzza3 said...

Just yesterday decided to go carb free to lose some weight.Type2 on insulin, fast acting 12 unite, slow 44 units.The main thing I was wondering was brekky , can only eat so many B&Es .So found lo cal noodles , 12% unsweetened yoghurt frozen berries , was going with sardines as well .Thoughts please on breads as a base for the sardines .Any recommended site for low carb diets, I am around 10kg over my lowest weight 0f 79kgs( this was only achieved by playing golf 27 holes per day for a couple of months, although after 1 week I lost 5kgs .Comments welcome.TIA

Psycho Milt said...

If you're a diabetic, then meat, fish, eggs and cheese are your friends. As long as one or more of those is making up the biggest part of the meal, your blood sugar won't give you much trouble.


I've never got sick of bacon and eggs for breakfast so never had to think of anything else for it. But if you want toast, cereal, fruit etc for breakfast, the rule of thumb is the more refining that's gone on, the faster and higher it'll raise blood sugar. So you pick wholegrain instead of white bread, porridge instead of corn flakes, whole fruit instead of juice etc.

Oswald Bastable said...

Low carb got my diabetes under control.

Anonymous said...

I am angry that NZ health/anti-obesity mouthpieces don't help fat people in any meaningful way when they (the desperate fat people) beg for solutions. A Google search will explain where the dietary misconceptions began. A classic case of tell the same lie often enough and it will become the "truth". I see these desperate wobbling victims in supermarkets buying "low-fat", high carb items and it makes me angry that they are being so mislead. mara

Psycho Milt said...

And as a timely illustration, here's Matt McCarten today:

Everyone knows what to do to lose weight. Eat less and exercise. We know that if we get rid of sugar, animal fats and cut back on processed foods our body fat will ease down to a natural happy place.

The fact that everyone believes they "know" this is pretty much the problem. Regulating TV advertising wouldn't help that problem at all.