Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat

Gary Taubes gained prominence in the low-carb diet debate following the publication of his 2002 New York Times Magazine piece,

"What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?"

The article questioned the efficacy and health benefits of low-fat diets, was seen as defending the Atkins diet against the medical establishment and became extremely controversial. Taubes himself has stated "Even though I knew the article would be the most controversial article the Times Magazine ran all year, the reaction still shocked me".

The Center for Science in the Public Interest published a rebuttal to the Times article in their November, 2002, newsletter. According to Taubes, "The CSPI is an advocacy group that has been pushing low-fat diets since the 1970s."  This is a special interest group and has nothing to do with the public interest or traditional dietary advice. 

In 2007, Gary Taubes published his book Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease, (published as The Diet Delusion in the UK.)

Good Calories, Bad Calories examines how a hypothesis became dogma and claims to show how the scientific method was circumvented so a contestable hypothesis could remain unchallenged. The book uses data and studies compiled from dietary research from as early as the 1800s.

Gary Taubes' hypothesis is that the medical community and the federal government have relied upon misinterpreted scientific data on nutrition to build the prevailing paradigm about what constitutes healthful eating. Taubes makes the case that -- contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is refined carbohydrates that are responsible for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and many other maladies of civilization.

Taubes includes information and studies which indicate that physical exercise increases appetite to a degree that makes it an inefficient tool in weight loss. He tracks the origins of commonly accepted dietary advice and aims to show that information that is filtered to the public often contradicts scientific evidence.

On October 19, 2007, Taubes appeared on Larry King Live to discuss his book. Although Taubes has no formal training in nutrition or medicine, his book was praised as "raising interesting and valuable points" by Dr. Andrew Weil, a believer of alternative medicine.

Now this is no easy read. With over 150 reference pages, this 500+ page book is fairly intense. You can imagine of course based on the history Gary had to extrapulate from the mounds of studies.

Gary Tuabes has since written an easier read and follow up to GCBC and the title of that book is "Why We Get Fat".

I think the one point I respect most about Taubes is his continuous reference to science and his obligation to carefully analyze the studies in front of him without monetary gain.

I encourage you to educate yourself with the book Good Calories, Bad Calories or Why We Get Fat to truly understand the mechanism in which the human body stores fat.

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