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Why the British are on average 3 stone (42 lbs) heavier than in the 60s
June 15, 2012 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Why our food is making us fat (Guardian article by Jacques Peretti):

Why are we so fat? We have not become greedier as a race. We are not, contrary to popular wisdom, less active – a 12-year study, which began in 2000 at Plymouth hospital, measured children's physical activity and found it the same as 50 years ago. But something has changed: and that something is very simple. It's the food we eat. More specifically, the sheer amount of sugar in that food, sugar we're often unaware of.

Later: The food industry had its eyes on the creation of a new genre of food, something they knew the public would embrace with huge enthusiasm, believing it to be better for their health – "low fat". It promised an immense business opportunity forged from the potential disaster of heart disease. But, says Lustig, there was a problem. "When you take the fat out of a recipe, food tastes like cardboard, and you need to replace it with something – that something being sugar."

Overnight, new products arrived on the shelves that seemed too good to be true. Low-fat yoghurts, spreads, even desserts and biscuits. All with the fat taken out, and replaced with sugar.


Peretti is also responsible for making a 3-part BBC2 documentary entitled the The Men Who Made Us Fat -- unfortunately does not appear to be available outside the UK.
posted by peacheater (146 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
And I have a hunch the "sugar" he's talking about comes predominantly in the form of high fructose corn syrup -- which the corn industry is taking great pains to remind us is "corn sugar, which your body thinks is no different from regular sugar."

They're right, it isn't. That's precisely the point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I have a hunch the "sugar" he's talking about comes predominantly in the form of high fructose corn syrup

Um, yeah, that's what it says in TFA.
posted by desjardins at 8:00 AM on June 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


We have not become greedier as a race.

[citation needed]
posted by Sys Rq at 8:02 AM on June 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


Previously: Sugar: The Bitter Truth; Is Sugar Toxic?

This is just a bit of round-up of recent news?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:02 AM on June 15, 2012


I have heard about these things often enough that I should just do the research myself. Instead I'll just hope one of you can help me to stay fat and lazy. From the outside it seems that we have another boogeyman to blame, oh no, it's not the fat making us fat- it's the sugar. What I do remember though, is that when they did a real (not self reported) assessment of caloric intake, that was pretty informative as to who was fat and who wasn't.
posted by oshburghor at 8:03 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google Sugar Lobby
posted by jeffburdges at 8:06 AM on June 15, 2012


It they didn't use HFCS they'd use some another sweetener so it's not HFCS precisely.
posted by stbalbach at 8:07 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I do remember though, is that when they did a real (not self reported) assessment of caloric intake, that was pretty informative as to who was fat and who wasn't.
Yes, but why is it that people all of a sudden started eating more calories some time in the 1970s? I'd argue that it wasn't just some freak epidemic of mass laziness and greed, but the fact that the foods being promoted by both the government and the industries at the time are uniquely appetite-promoting. Another way of saying this is that while it's obviously true that people who put on weight consumed more calories and expended less of them than those who didn't -- this doesn't tell us much about why this is so. Is there some thing about the kinds of foods those people are eating that encourages deposition of fat tissue? I'd argue, yes.
posted by peacheater at 8:08 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Realizing I've been lied to my whole life: sucks every time.
posted by Neekee at 8:09 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


the corn lobby is insulting our intelligence by insisting HFCS isn't a problem

It isn't. Not directly, at least. The only problem with HFCS is that it's so cheap food producers can add more and more of it in an effort to out-sweeten their competitors.
The crime of the corn lobby is in suppressing and discrediting any study that suggests a high-sugar diet is harmful, and buying off any elected official thinking of regulating sugar content through legislation.
posted by rocket88 at 8:10 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


One problem with this (common) argument is that it focuses on the "food industry" without really acknowledging that phrase as an issue. In other words, the argument focuses on changes that have occurred within the food industry, like replacing fat with sugar and replacing sugar with high-fructose corn syrup, without examining people's reliance on a "food industry."

Every point this article raises is valid. But at the same time, every point this article raises is obviated when people buy "ingredients" instead of "food." (To word-play a bit...) Yes, prepackaged soda and yogurt is less healthy than it may have been several decades ago. It is worth discussing how these processed foods have changed and why, and how we can combat those changes (warning labels). I'm not crazy about having that conversation as if it exists in a vacuum, though. The fact of reliance on processed foods itself needs to be a larger piece of the conversation, especially if you're going to use phrases like, "Then the solution to obesity will become very simple."
posted by cribcage at 8:11 AM on June 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Was at a Target the other day, and for most of the traditionally-fat-containing groceries I was looking for, there wasn't even a "regular fat" option, just reduced fat or fat free. Good luck ever feeling sated.
posted by bendybendy at 8:11 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


and as cribcage points out, it's nothing nefarious on Target's part, they're just stocking what moves.
posted by bendybendy at 8:13 AM on June 15, 2012


The HBO obesity documentary is quite interesting, although it does tend to blame advertisers for marketing sugary crap to kids (as I remarked in another thread, beverages account for 50% of caloric intake).

I have no idea why parents don't just turn off the TV. Cancel cable. Get rid of television advertising altogether in their homes.

There are lots of other societal and structural reasons for the obesity epidemic, but for parents to blame advertisers and making their children fat is just negligent.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:14 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


The crime of the corn lobby is in suppressing and discrediting any study that suggests a high-sugar diet is harmful, and buying off any elected official thinking of regulating sugar content through legislation.

And corn subsidies. If we weren't funneling billions of dollars to the farmers, HFCS wouldn't even be less expensive than sugar, much less so ridiculously dirt-cheap that it costs less than grass.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:14 AM on June 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


It they didn't use HFCS they'd use some another sweetener so it's not HFCS precisely.

And in fact, that's what happens. In Europe, HFCS is subject to quite a strict production quota, so HFCS is pretty rare in foods in the UK and most of Europe... which is where the articles confused me, because our (similar) overuse of sugar is primarily about beet sugar, not HFCS. That's a particular piece of US food history that doesn't really apply here.
posted by pipeski at 8:15 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


i forget if it was Robb Wolf's book or Good Calories, Bad Calories...but anyways the author suggested that i go take a look at the difference in sugar between the low-fat and regular versions of anything.

i was skeptical, thinking it would be few grams, that this sensationalism.

i was quite shocked. i happened to have low-fat and regular versions of some unflavored greek yogurt and i forget what else. i went to the store next day and kept looking...all those snacks etc that are "low fat" are HIGH sugar, many are much higher than their regular-fat counterparts.. who cares if it's HFCS or just cupfuls of sugar in the raw?

i wasn't trying to cut back on fat just to take in more sugar.

i gave up on the "lowfat" stuff and found it much easier to maintain my weight because i felt fuller and more satiated eating less food that had fat in it rather than feeling half starved and jittery because i was trying to eat all that sugar laden low fat stuff. i figured all that sugar made me jittery.

if you're gonna get a cheeseburger sub for lunch everyday, that's a different problem. i think the problem is all these people trying to "eat healthy" and then feeling starved and jittery, so they eat more of this low fat high sugar food and premade snacks rather than something actually.... some fatty avocados on a salad with some fatty cashews and some salmon or chicken and some of that fatty olive oil. that'll do you right. (or some beef jerky and some cranberries and almonds.)
posted by sio42 at 8:15 AM on June 15, 2012 [13 favorites]



More reason to shift to whole foods, and local farms. I was a bit shell-shocked at the prices, but by limiting meals out and doing a lot of cooking at home, I'm feeling that my own food supply is getting better.

It's not perfect and I don't know if it ever can be perfect, but we're eating better.

My idea is that if it's encased in a carboard box, it's probably crap. (citation needed)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:15 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


rocket88: Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. (smile)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 AM on June 15, 2012


It's not just the marketers -- if everyone from doctors and nurses to your friend at office is telling you to cut out fat you'd have to be blind and deaf to not hear this message loud and clear. The unfortunate side-effect is that you'll end up consuming lots of refined carbohydrates and sugar instead.
posted by peacheater at 8:17 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Due to advances in technology - better food science, better transportation, growing techniques - you name it on every front, our food is better, cheaper and more abundant than any time previously. It reflects GDP and overall wealth of the economic system. And naturally results in more fat people.
posted by stbalbach at 8:18 AM on June 15, 2012


It's funny how food that was originally viewed as healthy, like yogurt, is gradually made unhealthier as it's packaged to take advantage of its' original rep. It's like the gourmet drift where 1980s bistro recipes become baslamic-sundried tomato korn krisps.
posted by bendybendy at 8:18 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's not just the marketers -- if everyone from doctors and nurses to your friend at office is telling you to cut out fat you'd have to be blind and deaf to not hear this message loud and clear.

And that's the problem. The "science" is marketing.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:19 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


My idea is that if it's encased in a carboard box, it's probably crap.

I work from a similar rule: "If it's got a social media budget, (probably) don't eat it."
posted by dyobmit at 8:22 AM on June 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


Here's the portrait of Daniel Lambert referenced in the fine article.
posted by Nelson at 8:23 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The economic historian Avner Offer has done some interesting work on the causes of high obesity rates. A recent paper is summarised on this page (the full text is linked on the right). It is quite critical of the argument that obesity rates are primarily increased by the abundant supply of food:

In the past, the rise of obesity in affluent societies has frequently been attributed to the ready supply of cheap, accessible, high-energy, pre-processed food in fast food outlets and supermarkets. This cause is known by researchers as the ‘fast food shock’. Oxford researchers measured the impact of fast food by using a price index, constructed by The Economist magazine, showing the international variation in the cost of the McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger. They found that the availability of fast food may not be as significant as previously thought, as they calculated it had half as much an effect on the prevalence of obesity as the effects of economic insecurity.
posted by mattn at 8:25 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


And that's the problem. The "science" is marketing.

Spot on. The science of message-crafting and manipulation is where the money is. The nutrition science can be (and, sadly, is) complete rubbish, but if the perception of the science is positive, then the job is done.
posted by swordthrower at 8:29 AM on June 15, 2012


I surely hope we're soon at the point when we can all be responsible for what we put in our own (and our children's) mouths.

To the extent these studies and articles just seek to be explanatory, they're terrific. But to the extent they're used to assign responsibility, I get really uncomfortable. We should all be responsible for what we eat.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:30 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know anything at all about Earl Butz.

Except this.

posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:31 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


A wholly unscientific observation of part of the problem is that HFCS is in a whole lot of processed foods we do not normally think of as containing sugar, unless we read the labels, which I never used to do, I must admit. It is easy to think that you do not eat a lot of sugar if you don't eat candy, most desserts, soda with sugar, but combined with too many carbs that the body converts to sugar, we can be getting more than we want in places we do not expect, like spaghetti sauce and other sauces and in many fast and prepared foods.
posted by mermayd at 8:33 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


We should all be responsible for what we eat.

Well, ultimately, we are responsible. But it's interesting to examine the societal factors that lead to where we are right now. Nobody makes choices in a vacuum, when it comes to this and any other issue. Personal responsibility has its limits.

And that's leaving aside the fact that even those people who wanted to "eat healthy" were given precisely the wrong advice, advice that would leave them lethargic and even hungrier than before. There's plenty of blame to go around, really.
posted by peacheater at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. -- Michael Pollan
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, ultimately, we are responsible. But it's interesting to examine the societal factors that lead to where we are right now. Nobody makes choices in a vacuum, when it comes to this and any other issue. Personal responsibility has its limits.

And that's leaving aside the fact that even those people who wanted to "eat healthy" were given precisely the wrong advice, advice that would leave them lethargic and even hungrier than before. There's plenty of blame to go around, really.


I agree that it's interesting. And while I agree that no one makes choices in a vacuum, I'm trying to reconcile the point of view that we can assign much blame to anyone but ourselves with my lifelong intuitive understanding that if it's a whole food it's likely to be healthy and I should eat more of it, and if it's packaged in a cardboard box or plastic bag it's not likely to be healthy and I should eat less of it.

I think what I really want to get a handle on regarding responsibility is how people typically assign it: are we assigning it, like 15% to the individual, 40% to the government, 40% to the manufacturers, and 5% to the ad agencies that produce Saturday morning cereal commercials? Or are we assigning it more like, 60% to the individual and 40% to those other interests somehow?

Understand that I'm not looking for, like, actual percentages, but trying to get my arms around the degree to which people perceive this to be not a matter of personal responsibility, but someone else's fault instead.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2012


Here is a theory in the back of my mind why food is getting more fattening. I'm a researcher, but it is far afield for me, so I haven't gotten around to experiment on it. And, warning in advance, it is kind of complex.

1. The liver prepares certain molecules for excretion into the bile using a process called glucuronidation. This attaches a side-molecule (glucuronide) to another molecule which allows the now combined molecule to become concentrated in the bile.

2. When the molecule goes out in the bile it gets dumped into the intestines. However, the molecule can be reabsorbed after bacteria in the gut break off the glucuronide molecule. The reabsorption is called enterohepatic cycling (entero for guts, hepatic for liver). If the glucuronide molecule does not get broken off, the compound goes out with the feces.

3. One such molecule that undergoes this process is cortisol. This is a natural hormone that, among other things, helps us store up fat. It has many effects on the body, one of which is opposing the action of insulin and increasing blood sugar.

4. If a process encouraged a greater degree of enterohepatic cycling we might have an increased amount of cortisol (among other compounds).

5. When vegetables are gene-modified, along with the target gene (something to make tomatoes grow in colder weather, or whatever) they add a reporter gene. This reporter gene says that the other gene was picked up allowing the scientists to detect successfully transformed plant cells in the laboratory.

6. One of the main reporter genes used in plant gene modification is beta-glucuronidase. This is an enzyme that plants don't naturally have (allowing the modification to be detected). It is also an enzyme that increases enterohepatic cycling. If genetically modified vegetables increase our cortisol, we may well grow fatter.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:48 AM on June 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


And while I agree that no one makes choices in a vacuum, I'm trying to reconcile the point of view that we can assign much blame to anyone but ourselves with my lifelong intuitive understanding that if it's a whole food it's likely to be healthy and I should eat more of it, and if it's packaged in a cardboard box or plastic bag it's not likely to be healthy and I should eat less of it.

Did you come by this intuition out of thin air or is it something your parents or friends told you about? For many people, this is not natural intuition at all, because they've been brought up in environments with poor education and lack of information.

I'm thinking for example, of my ex-boyfriend's mother. She grew up in rural Tennessee and he once told me that at the height of the low-fat craze, she ate gummy bears as snacks because they were advertised as healthy and low-fat. To you and me that sound ridiculous, but she's not college-educated, she just doesn't have the know-how to separate a stupid advertising slogan from actual fact. When I read that Cheerios are supposed to be good for your heart, I scoff. But that's not because I have naturally superior intuition but because my environment has drilled it into me that home-cooked is better.

Yet I would note that when I was 17, I was obese. I followed the US guidelines for losing weight, trying faithfully to eat lower fat foods. Everything was cooked at home. To my dismay my weight crept steadily upwards. So here I was educated about what was supposedly the right way of going about losing weight and had damned little success with it. In my case though, I eventually did figure out how to lose weight (by lowering carbohydrates) and successfully got to and stayed at a normal weight. In my case, if I hadn't figured out how to do this, I'd argue my personal responsibility is greater.

Still, assigning percentages is damned hard, and probably fruitless.
posted by peacheater at 8:58 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


which is where the articles confused me, because our (similar) overuse of sugar is primarily about beet sugar, not HFCS. That's a particular piece of US food history that doesn't really apply here.
posted by pipeski at 11:15 AM on June 15 [+] [!]


unless the American use of HFCS lowered overall world demand for beet sugar and sugar cane sugar, thus lowering the price? / pure speculation
posted by jb at 9:01 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


trying to get my arms around the degree to which people perceive this to be not a matter of personal responsibility, but someone else's fault instead.

I think it depends on which moving part you're looking at. For instance, this article focuses on ingredient substitution by food companies. Those are corporate, institutional decisions. It's difficult to pin that to "personal responsibility," whether you're looking at the persons who made the decisions (who are acting in official capacities, and presumably answerable to shareholders) or at the persons who continue to buy the products (who act in crowds/herds in this respect).

Similarly, Mattn raises a point about how economic insecurity affects food decisions. Individual decisions are part of the landscape, sure, but really we're talking about crowd behavior and societal economy.

If you trace the problem all the way down to the last moving part in the machine, you find a person choosing to buy a prepackaged dinner instead of a chicken breast and a head of lettuce. That is personal responsibility, all the way. Learn to cook, folks. But it's a big machine and there are a lot of moving parts farther up the ladder, some that I think are impossible to pin on anyone's individual responsibility.
posted by cribcage at 9:03 AM on June 15, 2012


They don't mention it in the article, but my understanding from Organic Chem (This was a few years ago, so I might be a little off) is that HFCS is significantly worse for the body than regular sugar, because table sugar is mostly sucrose, which your body breaks down with an enzyme called sucrase, into glucose and fructose on an as-needed basis. HFCS has the same total quantity of sugar, but the fructose and glucose are un-bound, so the body can't regulate release or storage, and it ends up all getting used at once.
posted by KGMoney at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to reconcile the point of view that we can assign much blame to anyone but ourselves with my lifelong intuitive understanding that if it's a whole food it's likely to be healthy and I should eat more of it, and if it's packaged in a cardboard box or plastic bag it's not likely to be healthy and I should eat less of it.

There are some very, very powerful forces at work that are trying to tell you "but the stuff that's in THIS cardboard box is actually healthy, and people who eat more of this healthy substance are likely to weigh less than people who don't." Seriously - there are a lot of cereal ads that now state that people who eat more "whole grain" are more likely to weigh less. And then there are other ads, usually ones coming right after that, that talk about how Sugary Kids' Cereal Flavor X has "whole grain." And the packaging on a lot of cereal boxes now says that it "has whole grain." Meanwhile, the amount of sugar is downplayed on most cereal boxes...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


which is where the articles confused me, because our (similar) overuse of sugar is primarily about beet sugar, not HFCS. That's a particular piece of US food history that doesn't really apply here.
posted by pipeski at 11:15 AM on June 15 [+] [!]

unless the American use of HFCS lowered overall world demand for beet sugar and sugar cane sugar, thus lowering the price? / pure speculation
posted by jb at 9:01 AM o


HFCS being so cheap has allowed for companies in the US to use it in a variety of ways to figure out what has worked for increasing their sales and thus their profits. Once the food industry understands that adding X amount of sugar to a food increases sales more than the increased cost of the added sugar, then it's just common sense to start adding it elsewhere. The cheap cost of HFCS through subsidized corn made it much easier to experiment - the results of the experiment are then free to spread to other areas.

The food industry is just about making profit, and they make profit by increasing sales, and selling more profitable items. More heavily processed foods are more profitable, which is why they're what's marketed to us. The other piece is that expanding their market also means encouraging us to consume more. Making foods that we learn to crave, but don't fill us up as easily.

The business model of the food industry is about getting more people to eat more heavily processed foods, and an increasing amount of them - doing exactly that which makes us heavier.
posted by evilangela at 9:14 AM on June 15, 2012


My current theory is that I got fat by aging, getting a sedentary job, and eating and drinking too much.
posted by thelonius at 9:16 AM on June 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


trying to get my arms around the degree to which people perceive this to be not a matter of personal responsibility, but someone else's fault instead.

HFCS is in pretty much everything. It's really, really hard to avoid.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


My idea is that if it's encased in a carboard box, it's probably crap. (citation needed)

This could be a new "You might be a redneck..."

If they have to hide the food inside a box, it's probably crap.

If the words "serving suggestion" appear near the food, it's probably crap.

If the ingredients list has more polysyllabic latinates than a Roman Army Re-enactment Battalion, it's probably crap.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:16 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


My current theory is that I got fat by aging, getting a sedentary job, and eating and drinking too much.

CITATION, PLEASE.
posted by TheRedArmy at 9:18 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


This, from the author of "Amy Winehouse: What Really Happened" and whatnot about Michael Jackson. No discussion of increases in meat consumption (well documented, out there for anyone who cares to do a Google search--it's declined in the U.S. since the beginning of the last recession, however), say, or any increase in fried food consumption or changes in lifestyles or work or anything like that. Nice.
posted by raysmj at 9:22 AM on June 15, 2012


Dr. Robert Lustig makes the following claim in an article titled The Diet Debacle:

Of the 600,000 food items available in the US, 80 per cent are laced with added sugar. People cannot be held responsible for what they put in their mouths when their choices have been co-opted.

So I have real issues with arguments about personal responsibility. I'm am taking personal responsibility for avoiding added sugar and my experience is that it is very difficult to avoid. You pretty much have to avoid anything processed and focus on whole foods. It's not impossible to do, but it requires a lot of planning and vigilance.

For example, I try to eat a meal mostly composed of vegetables each day. This is easy to when I'm at home. But out, well, the world is a minefield. Usually the best you can do is get a salad. But even that isn't safe, because restaurants add sugar to the dressing.
posted by borges at 9:23 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


My own stance is that the hippies have the conservative position on this issue. Why go against millions of years of evolutionary adaptation? Eat as basic and as natural as you can, and your body will probably know what to do with what you put in it. Even fairly recent human inventions like beer and cheese have had input, so it's not like we all have to go back to raw root vegetables or cut out all new cuisine. Just prepare food with those ideas in mind.
posted by deanklear at 9:27 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


No discussion of increases in meat consumption (well documented, out there for anyone who cares to do a Google search--it's declined in the U.S. since the beginning of the last recession, however),

Probably because the fastest way to LOSE weight is to eat only meat and eggs -- as much of them as you want, with, hell, a cup of mayo on the side if you like. Not the healthiest diet, no doubt, but it's a damned good way to lose significant amounts of weight in a very short period.

I'd been the chubby girl my entire life. I'd also been the girl who had tried vegetarianism, veganism, the raw food diet, you name it. I tried low-fat, low-cal, a dozen times. Losing weight while feeling miserable from hunger is not a diet that can be maintained. It's not the way to remain thin.

When I cut sugar and grain out of my diet and learned to cook meat and greens, I diminished over months to a final weight that my pediatrician told me when I was twelve that I'd never, ever be able to reach. Five years later... I may have the occasional roll of bread or row of dark chocolate. But not often. I slather butter on my kale -- and my steak -- with rabid abandon. I don't watch my weight because I don't need to. My cholesterol is "magnificent," according to my doc.

Poverty makes cheap, high-sugar carbs the most viable option. Poverty tends to align with obesity. Correlation does not equal causation, and anecdata are useless... but my anecdata certainly convinced me. I'm so glad to see the mainstream media starting to take the work of Taubes (and the researchers who furnished his material) more seriously.
posted by artemisia at 9:36 AM on June 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


I recently gave up my 2 or 3 glasses of Crystal Lite Diet Peach Tea habit in favor of water, or brewed, unsweetened tea. Like magic, my desire to snack in the evenings also dissipated. It may be completely psychosomatic, but drinking the sweet tasting tea, even though it had zero calories, seem to trigger a desire for more sugar. So I'm not sure the sweetener even has to be caloric to have a negative effect.
posted by COD at 9:41 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


My current theory is that I got fat by aging, getting a sedentary job, and eating and drinking too much.

CITATION, PLEASE.


Please see b-roll film footage of any "In-depth Health Report" by media/news coverage.
posted by Fizz at 9:43 AM on June 15, 2012


Profiling food consumption in the United States, from the USDA.

"Although multiple factors can account for weight gain, the basic cause is an excess of energy intake over energy expenditure. In general, Americans’ activity levels have not kept pace with their increase in calorie consumption. Many people apparently are oblivious to the number of calories they consume."

Among the increases in consumption discussed are those involving meat, cheese, and added fats. Also coming in for discussion are fried foods and pizza. Anyone born before 1980 around here? You never saw all that frickin' pizza around before the '80s, especially not frozen ones in grocery stores.

(Pizza is my dietary nemesis, my bete noire, so I can't help but notice how it gets left out of these discussions, all the time. I still like pizza, and it's cheap, but I avoid eating it even once a week, which is more or less what's encouraged by the culture and "food industry," for lack of a better phrase. Once a month is it for me, tops.)
posted by raysmj at 9:47 AM on June 15, 2012


Probably because the fastest way to LOSE weight is to eat only meat and eggs -- as much of them as you want, with, hell, a cup of mayo on the side if you like. Not the healthiest diet, no doubt, but it's a damned good way to lose significant amounts of weight in a very short period.

I will ignore that advice, given that I understand where it's coming from.
posted by raysmj at 9:48 AM on June 15, 2012


And I also know about research about low-carb effects over time, and know that most people aren't eating whole grains, but refined grains.
posted by raysmj at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Although multiple factors can account for weight gain, the basic cause is an excess of energy intake over energy expenditure. In general, Americans’ activity levels have not kept pace with their increase in calorie consumption. Many people apparently are oblivious to the number of calories they consume."

Again, this is obviously true but doesn't have any explanatory power. Why did millions of people suddenly start to eat more calories? I'd argue that it's because the vast quantities of insulin they were producing after eating these carby meals increased the percentage of their calories that were stored as fat, leaving less for performing useful work, and leaving them feeling hungry -- and thus more likely to eat more food.

I'll note also that despite the USDA's attempts to spin it in terms of increased fat consumption, the vast majority of the increased calories came in the form of sugar and grain products.
posted by peacheater at 9:57 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will ignore that advice, given that I understand where it's coming from.

Why do you want to ignore this advice? And where do you think it's coming from? Is it so crazy that we've been wrong for the past 30 years?

What are the long-term effects of low-carb diets you're talking about? In every comparison of low-carb and low-fat diets that has been conducted (not an epidemiological study mind you, but a clinical interventional study), low-carb has resulted in more weight loss and better bloodwork numbers. Please look here if you don't believe me (scroll down) -- there are 17 studies so far. I really think it's time people stopped parroting what the USDA feeds them, and actually look at the science.
posted by peacheater at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because I've seen this citation of cherry-picked studies before, that's why, and I know the sources, many of whom are pushing crazy fad and exercise regimens on people. It's ideologically driven, not science driven, and your focus on how your anecdotal data worked for you was all I needed to hear. Move on.
posted by raysmj at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The USDA reported shown above did not that Americans surveyed focused on fat consumption, more than sugar consumption or anything else, but not calories.
posted by raysmj at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2012


your focus on how your anecdotal data worked for you was all I needed to hear. Move on.

The person you are responding to (peacheater) is not the person who wrote the "anecdotal data" comment you are referring to (artemisia). If you are going to be condescending and dismissive, read carefully.
posted by cribcage at 10:10 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you go to the Kellogg's site and select cereals, you get 22 kinds of cereal. Then if you scroll down and under Nutrition Preferences click Browse Cereal Products by Nutrition Values, you can use the scroll bars to set values for fiber, calories, fat, sodium, and sugars. Out of the 61 products presented (there are more than the original 22 because they break out all the flavors of miniwheats, for instance), if you set the sugar value to 0, you get 8 products.

The most surprising thing is if you set the sugar values to the highest level, you get 4 products: two kinds of Raisin Bran; Low Fat Granola with Raisins Multi-Grain Cereal; and Smart Start Strong Heart Toasted Oat cereal.

Yes. The cereals that look like they'd be the "healthiest" have more sugar than Frosted Flakes.

Now, this is per serving, and serving sizes are different: you're supposed to eat 3/4 of a cup of Frosted Flakes, and 1.25 cups of the Smart Start stuff.

Hope everyone is religious about reading labels, understands what they're reading*, and carries a measuring cup.

* "A long-awaited federal study finds that an estimated 32 million adults in the USA — about one in seven — are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children's picture book or to understand a medication's side effects listed on a pill bottle." Here is the study.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on June 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


I always knew Nixon had something to do with it!
posted by straight_razor at 10:12 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting. I wonder if this is one of the reasons why the "Atkins" diet worked. You could eat all the fat you wanted, but no sugar. I think it's probably a lot easier to eat a lot of sugar then a lot of fat.
The HBO obesity documentary is quite interesting, although it does tend to blame advertisers for marketing sugary crap to kids (as I remarked in another thread, beverages account for 50% of caloric intake).
Apparently Disney is going to stop advertising junk food to children, hopefully other media companies follow suit.

---
And I have a hunch the "sugar" he's talking about comes predominantly in the form of high fructose corn syrup -- which the corn industry is taking great pains to remind us is "corn sugar, which your body thinks is no different from regular sugar."
In the UK? Is there a huge corn lobby in the UK?

Second of all, why are people so certain that sucrose is somehow good for them or won't make them fat? The only reason it's even more expensive then HFCS in the US is due to tariffs and subsidies. Sugar is so cheap that in Brazil it's used for automotive fuel (after being turned into ethanol, which is much more efficient when working with sugar cane then corn)

In fact, the article even says:
There was one product in particular that it had a dramatic effect on – soft drinks. Hank Cardello, the former head of marketing at Coca-Cola, tells me that in 1984, Coke in the US swapped from sugar to HFCS (In the UK, it continued to use sugar). As a market leader, Coke's decision sent a message of endorsement to the rest of the industry, which quickly followed suit.
Also, their evidence for people being more active was a study on children, not grown-ups.

Anyway, of course food will make you fat, if you eat enough of it.
The only problem with HFCS is that it's so cheap food producers can add more and more of it in an effort to out-sweeten their competitors.
Again, Sugar is expensive in the US because of import tariffs. There is nothing intrinsically expensive about it. Food producers would have no problem with replacing HFCS with Sucrose at the same price. Remember when "Pepsi Throwback" was on the shelves? It had the same price as regular Pepsi, but was made with sucrose rather then HFCS.
A wholly unscientific observation of part of the problem is that HFCS is in a whole lot of processed foods we do not normally think of as containing sugar, unless we read the labels, which I never used to do, I must admit
Why would that not be a problem with regular sugar?
posted by delmoi at 10:14 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Avoid excessive sugar, processed foods, and almost all dairy and reduce your animal protein intake and you can eat almost everything else you want as long as you are reasonably active and not get fat.
posted by cell divide at 10:15 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


No raysmj, we won't move on. I, like many others, tried what my doctor's and the USDA said to do in order to lose weight for 17 years and when I finally gave up and decided I was going to be a fat person forever, I went from obese to morbidly obese.

When I switched to a sensible low-carb diet, I lost 100 pounds and have kept it off for 9 years. My blood pressure is great, my cholesterol is the best it's been since I was a teenager, and I can wear clothing sizes that I have not been able to fit into since I was 12 years old.

And yet it's still dismissed as "junk science" and cherry-picked? Please.

My body cannot process carbohydrates correctly. It never could, and now that I'm eating correctly for my metabolism, I'm at the weight I should be. There are almost 7 billion people on the planet - why would all of our bodies work exactly the same when it comes to how we process and digest our food and liquid intake?
posted by lootie777 at 10:15 AM on June 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


OK, sorry about that. But those are still cherry picked studies. I don't know the literature informing them, or what was printed in response to them, see no other points of comparison, and I don't have the specialized training to fully understand them, regardless, and neither do the people posting them. The only reason to post them is to give scientific backing to a particular point of view and diet program, not to advance science and understanding.
posted by raysmj at 10:18 AM on June 15, 2012


Now you gave me anecdotal data. Thanks.
posted by raysmj at 10:19 AM on June 15, 2012


Because I've seen this citation of cherry-picked studies before, that's why, and I know the sources, many of whom are pushing crazy fad and exercise regimens on people. It's ideologically driven, not science driven, and your focus on how your anecdotal data worked for you was all I needed to hear. Move on.

That's cool. Since you say you lack the specialized training to make use of firsthand sources, you should check out Gary Taubes's meticulously documented compilation of the pertinent research, then.

(I'm quite curious about why you react with such vigorous contempt to the possibility that conventional nutritional "wisdom" has been influenced by the sugar and corn lobbies. What's at stake for you in questioning this possibility? I'm tempted to speculate that you're ethically vegetarian of some sort but that's not a fair assumption, so I ask out of genuine curiosity.)
posted by artemisia at 10:20 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're interested in good journalism on diet studies, you really should read Good Calories, Bad Calories. It's usually cited as a book supporting a low carb diet, but the book is a lot more than that. It's a fantastic survey of 50+ years of American dietary science and politics with a lot of examination of both the biology and the economics that drive US diets and obesity.
posted by Nelson at 10:21 AM on June 15, 2012


My takeaway from all this: don't worry about fat content -- check the calorie count instead.
posted by Triplanetary at 10:23 AM on June 15, 2012


Hope everyone is religious about reading labels, understands what they're reading*, and carries a measuring cup.

Random can on my desk: "Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey." Sounds relatively healthy.

Ingredients: Premium Brewed Green Tea Using Filtered Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup (Glucose-Fructose Syrup), Honey, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Ginseng Extract, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).

Serving Size 8 fl oz (240 mL)
Servings Per Container Approx 3

Amount Per Serving
Calories 70
...
Total Carbohydrate 18g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 17g
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:23 AM on June 15, 2012


My experience of the conventional wisdom is low fat low sugar so I don't see how that could be down to the sugar lobby, artemisia.
posted by edd at 10:24 AM on June 15, 2012


//Avoid excessive sugar, processed foods, and almost all dairy and reduce your animal protein intake and you can eat almost everything else you want as long as you are reasonably active and not get fat.//

This is essentially what I've done since June 1. Vegetarian at breakfast and lunch, very little dairy, no artificial sweeteners after my lunchtime diet soda, less strict about all of it on the weekends. I've lost 5 pounds in 3 weeks, and I wasn't particularly heavy to start.
posted by COD at 10:24 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because I've seen this citation of cherry-picked studies before, that's why, and I know the sources, many of whom are pushing crazy fad and exercise regimens on people.

The studies are the very opposite of cherry-picked. They are the only randomized control studies out there comparing low-carb and other diets. If you have any other RCTs you'd like to add to the list, that show different results, please name them and I'd be happy to write to Andreas Eenfeldt and ask him to add them.

It's easy to dismiss things you don't agree with as fads -- please do the hard work of actually making a scientific argument next time.
posted by peacheater at 10:25 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since we're sharing anecdotal data, and I want to brag, I will note that I've lost 30 pounds since February on a low-carb regimen. It hasn't been particularly hard to stick to, either. The best part was realizing that while I couldn't drink beer any more, wine & spirits don't seem to slow my progress.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:26 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, because Taubes has the specialized training. I react this way because I've seen this sort of diet pushed on me by recent converts at Facebook and elsewhere, find the use of anecdotal data combined with poo-poohing of the medical "establishment," and whatnot combined with citations from medical studies anyway all too familiar. It's not so much contempt as a reaction to having people try to force an ideology down my throat, to having science disregarded and used as a prop for ideas, simultaneously, and to anything that stops me from thinking rationally or making up my own mind.
posted by raysmj at 10:27 AM on June 15, 2012


I think it's probably a lot easier to eat a lot of sugar then a lot of fat.

Anecdotally and speaking only for myself, yes, yes it is. Once I started replacing simple carbs with fat, protein, and greens in my diet, the number of calories I consumed dropped a lot, because I just wasn't hungry. Breakfast used to be peanut butter on whole grain rye, (the only bread I could find in the supermarket without added HFCS), plus usually an apple. Then an hour or two later I'd be starving.

Now I eat two scrambled eggs, with some cheese, and sometimes a dollop of cottage cheese on top. And I am no longer starving a short time later, and I don't feel the need to eat all the things at lunchtime (which sometimes gets skipped completely).

On preview:

The best part was realizing that while I couldn't drink beer any more, wine & spirits don't seem to slow my progress.

Ha! I missed my daily beer at first, too. But since it can easily be a daily bourbon or daily scotch instead, I don't mind!
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


No raysmj, we won't move on. I, like many others, tried what my doctor's and the USDA said to do in order to lose weight for 17 years and when I finally gave up and decided I was going to be a fat person forever, I went from obese to morbidly obese.
How many calories were you eating per day? How much exercise were you getting?

When I wanted to lose a lot of weight, I started doing cardio several times a week, and counted calories and tried to cut them. I ate whatever I wanted, up to the limit, including candy bars and all kinds of high sugar junk food. I had no trouble losing weight.

I realize that some foods might make you feel more full then others. But if you give yourself a hard calorie limit and stick to it and you work out you should lose weight.

For me, though doing one or the other but not both never accomplished anything. Exercise by itself just makes you eat more, and simply cutting calories probably results in lower metabolism.
Random can on my desk: "Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey." Sounds relatively healthy.

Ingredients: Premium Brewed Green Tea Using Filtered Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup (Glucose-Fructose Syrup), Honey, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Ginseng Extract, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
Er, how many servings are there in that huge can? If it's only 70 calories for the whole thing that might not be too bad.

Surely you're not saying they should be putting fat into tea, are you? Sounds kind of gross.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 AM on June 15, 2012


raysmj - it is true that most people, like you, are unqualified to make nutritional assessment. That's why a lot of them go back to anecdotal data. Yes - multitudes of anectdotes do not make good scientific data. But people who have nothing to gain come time and time again vouching that it works. Sure - so do the UFO abductees. But we have something going for us. Look at our weights.

It is not science. It is not conclusive. But it doesn't make you wonder - how the hell do they fit into their high school clothings?

I was never that heavy. I was a real skeptic of low carb as well. Let's just say eventhough i have no clue how it works, that I'm not anymore when my pant size equals that of my 16 year old athletic nephew.
posted by 7life at 10:30 AM on June 15, 2012


Er, how many servings are there in that huge can? If it's only 70 calories for the whole thing that might not be too bad.

Read the comment again - they quote "servings per container: 3".

Interstingly, shortly after Bloomberg started talking about limiting beverage sizes in New York, I started noticing all the Arizona Ice Tea delivery trucks had a new slogan reading something like "All Hail The Big Can". I can't help but think the two are related.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:34 AM on June 15, 2012


Er, how many servings are there in that huge can? If it's only 70 calories for the whole thing that might not be too bad.

No, it's 3ish servings, so 210 calories.

Surely you're not saying they should be putting fat into tea, are you? Sounds kind of gross.

Ah, no, just providing an at-hand example of a discussion point. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:35 AM on June 15, 2012


It's not so much contempt as a reaction to having people try to force an ideology down my throat, to having science disregarded and used as a prop for ideas, simultaneously, and to anything that stops me from thinking rationally or making up my own mind.

Fair enough. A skeptical mindset is healthy, and I certainly don't intend to proselytize. I will suggest that if you're interested in the science, as you say, that you keep an eye on the emerging research from credible sources. I know you say you're not trained to accurately interpret primary sources, but it's a very useful skill for someone intent on avoiding ideological campaigns.
posted by artemisia at 10:36 AM on June 15, 2012


I realize that some foods might make you feel more full then others. But if you give yourself a hard calorie limit and stick to it and you work out you should lose weight.

This is so much easier said than done. The real magic of a low-carb diet is that once you're eating that way, you don't feel hungry! Appetite suppression, as if by magic. I fully admit that I eat far fewer calories on a low-carb diet than a low-fat one. That doesn't mean that calorie restriction is all there is to what we eat -- certain types of food make it easier to eat fewer calories than others.

raysmj -- I understand where you're coming from, truly. 10 years ago I would have reacted exactly the same way as you are right now. Can you please give those of us who are arguing in favor of low-carb the benefit of the doubt? We're not all talking out of our asses. For a number of us, it was the first thing that ever worked to get us to a healthy weight. And then when I looked into the science -- it made sense! Have you actually read Taubes' books? Especially Good Calories, Bad Calories -- it's the most meticulously cited general audience book I've read in a long time.
posted by peacheater at 10:36 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, ultimately, we are responsible. But it's interesting to examine the societal factors that lead to where we are right now. Nobody makes choices in a vacuum, when it comes to this and any other issue. Personal responsibility has its limits.

And these societal factors aren't just sugar increases (though they certainly do help). What else happened in the seventies and eighties? The rise of the dual-income household. More specifically, the rise of the "you need two incomes to survive" situation. With both parents working, processed food needed to be on the rise because no one had time to cook anymore. So people couldn't just purchase ingredients and cook. They often still can't.

I don't know what the solution to this problem is, but I know it's complex.
posted by corb at 10:43 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Delmoi, my portions were too big, and eating more fat does help control the amount of food that I eat. So calories are an important component of my eating lifestyle, but as has been stated by people much smarter and more informed that I, human digestion is not a closed loop system. For me, calories in calories out alone does not work.

I don't eat pasta, or potatoes and the last time I had pizza I had a pretty unpleasant reaction that I'm not going into detail about. I feel tired and heavy after I've had high starch, high carb food. Could it be psychosomatic? Sure, I can't prove otherwise. But the results that have come about by my eating low-carb is such that I just don't care. As 7life says, the proof is in my pants size - I dropped 4 sizes and have stayed there.

I don't think low-carb is for everyone - I know it's not. I work with someone that gained a lot of weight and his sensible eating lifestyle to lose the weight is low-fat. And it works for him, along with moderate exercise. I get on the treadmill for an hour 3 times a week, and run around with my dog everyday. But it's the type of food I eat, and the thoughtful way in which I eat it that has allowed me to keep the weight off for so long.
posted by lootie777 at 10:44 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it doesn't make me wonder, frankly. I've read enough about the long-term effects of low-carb to want to avoid that. I also find some of the stuff being pushed by dudes like "The Bulletproof Exec"--a regimen of no exercise, and low-carb combined with butter in his coffee--that I've seen cited here and there are bizarre 180 type reactions to the idea that everybody got fat by eating low-fat stuff (when the problem was probably just more one of calories in total).

'm just trying to make the switch to more whole grains (Which hardly anyone eats, y'know? Why's this so hard to admit?), and better food, regardless, less processed food. I've also lost weight in the past and gained more muscle by more cardio, in addition to eating better and less, as well as cooking at home. But this has only worked when I've combined this with strength training. I found the latter a chore, however, and had laid off of it for a few years, but a (certified) trainer has helped to learn how to go about that more efficiently, so I don't get sick of it, nor do I wear myself out too quickly or risk injury too much, etc. I'm in much better shape now, and taken inches off the waistline, but being healthy overall is still more important to me than losing weight quickly.
posted by raysmj at 10:45 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is so much easier said than done. The real magic of a low-carb diet is that once you're eating that way, you don't feel hungry! Appetite suppression, as if by magic.
I actually tried doing Atkins once. For like a couple weeks. I and I remember not wanting to eat because I felt so bored with the options. So I guess that might have been part of it.
But this has only worked when I've combined this with strength training. I found the latter a chore, however, and had laid off of it for a few years, but a (certified) trainer has helped to learn how to go about that more efficiently
Supposedly muscle tissue burns calories just sitting there, so building muscle mass actually helps you lose weight even when you're not exercising.

I think in a lot of discussions about food and weight there is way too much emphasis placed on what kinds of foods people eat, and not enough on exercise. If you count calories, restrict your intake, and so on you will lose weight.

I think people want a magic bullet that will let them lose weight without working hard or ever feeling hungry.
posted by delmoi at 11:00 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


raysmj, my perception of what you're saying is that you have seemingly lumped all arguments for low-carb diets together into the "zealot" bin, so that anyone who argues that eating low-carb is hardly different from a guy who refuses to exercise and promotes Butter Coffee.

Low-carb, after all, doesn't mean "no-carb," and if what you're actually saying is a healthy diet can include real, whole grains, fine. But I think you're mainly attacking straw men in this thread, as I don't think anyone here is seriously advocating for anything like what Mr. Butter Coffee proposes.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:12 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think people want a magic bullet that will let them lose weight without working hard or ever feeling hungry.

This was exactly my silver bullet, which may not be anyone else's silver bullet. Low carb, lots of a variety (we made up our own, and did not worship at the altar of Atkins et al.), lost 35 pounds, no trouble keeping it off or sticking to it. It's been 18 months. And pretty no no exercise, because I am a lazy SOB.

Everyone else's mileage may vary. Finding something sustainable that works for you is really important. Atkins didn't work for you. That doesn't mean low-carb doesn't work at all.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fair enough - there are things out there that people do that will help them lose weight fast but will not help their health in the long run.

I can offer nothing but another anecdote. Take it or leave it.
The bulk that I eat is greens. No processed food. Most of the calories I get is from protein and fat. I've only been on this for 3 months so i cannot vouch for the long term effects. But this is what has happened so far:

1. skin issues that I've had for 10 years are diminishing
2. I was diagnosed with ashtma and allergy to everything known to man. In 3 months, I've had a sneezing fit due to allergy exactly once. Never happened before in my life.
3. I cut down working out to maybe 1/5 of what I used to do. Yet my body is more cut and toned than ever.
4. I lost 15 lbs without even trying. (I used to run half marathons every single weekend + additional stuff)
5. I do not get the shakes anymore when I miss my meals.
6. My blood pressure was on the cusp of being high. Even when I ran. Not anymore.
posted by 7life at 11:21 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've certainly heard of paleo dieters adding coconut oil to their coffee, but I've never heard anyone adding butter to coffee. In any event, low carb does not necessarily mean eating a paleo diet.
posted by gyc at 11:21 AM on June 15, 2012


I actually feel moderately grateful to live in an age where humans have the luxury of arguing about what kind of food to put into our bodies.
posted by Malice at 11:21 AM on June 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


You did give me the 17 scientific studies use to make your point, via a cheap-looking Paleo blog, and anecdotal data thing, though, which is a pattern I'm familiar with. Sorry.
posted by raysmj at 11:35 AM on June 15, 2012


Hit post too soon -

The bulk that I eat is greens. No processed food. Most of the calories I get is from protein and fat. Nothing fancy. For breakfast for example I have eggs on top of sauteed spinach. For lunch, I'll have burger without bun on a bed of salad. No crazy addition - just elimination of grains which constituted the bulk of my diet before. No hard limit on fruit sources.
posted by 7life at 11:35 AM on June 15, 2012


The dietary recommendations on whole grains always struck me as off kilter. 6 servings a day of whole grains? It seems like Americans are taking the advice, albeit not in the way it was intended. I agree that nobody really tries to follow the whole grain advice, because it is pretty impractical. Trying to find good whole grain based food is probably more difficult than trying to find a vegetable based meal that isn't a salad.
posted by borges at 11:57 AM on June 15, 2012


The biggest seller for ditching grains for me was the fact that I could sit and eat a whole bag of popcorn or plate of cookies and not feel satisfied in the same way as I do after eating a couple of eggs. You can blame evolution for this or just take it as an anecdote but it's very hard to over-eat when fat is your main source of calories rather than carbs.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


You did give me the 17 scientific studies use to make your point, via a cheap-looking Paleo blog, and anecdotal data thing, though, which is a pattern I'm familiar with. Sorry.
Who are you talking to? I cited the 17 studies -- and maybe you should actually examine the studies -- which are btw, in good journals -- and not dismiss them outhand because of the looks of the blog? I think someone else used the anecdotal data you object to.

Anyway, no one is getting to paid to convince you here. Take it or leave it. Everyone's mileage does vary.
posted by peacheater at 12:24 PM on June 15, 2012


Let's not forget about food insecurity. Many people with limited income buy high density food which are normally much cheaper than lower more nutitious lower density foods such as vegetables. These higher density foods fill you up but are so much higher in fat and carbohydrates and sugars.

Gregg E. Bullwinkel
posted by cre8tiv1 at 12:24 PM on June 15, 2012


I went to lecture given by epidemiologist Meir Stampfer about a year ago, and he said that the paradigm has shifted, and they now believe that we should be eating a diet low in trans fats and saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats - and low in processed carbs and high in unprocessed carbs. Treating all fat and all carbs as though they're the same is part of the problem. The rule of thumb he gave was, if it comes from a plant source and it hasn't been intensively industrially produced, it's good for you, but if it comes from an animal you should limit your intake - and try to avoid trans fats altogether. If you only eat whole foods, you shouldn't be eating trans fats anyway since they are industrially produced. He also recommended eating more fish, taking a vitamin D supplement, avoiding NSAIDs and having a single drink every day.

Interestingly to me, the advice from physicians that I was given in the '90s (limit fat intake to 30g/day or fewer, stir-fry in water or juice instead of oil, etc) was almost entirely wrong, and I wish I hadn't expended so much energy trying to follow it.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:52 PM on June 15, 2012


We may be fat, but the article is thin. Daniel Lambert - still news? HFCS in the UK? Cobbled together from Google in about 20 minutes.
posted by Segundus at 1:05 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, of course I have access to all the journals and, as noted, can compare them with others, and the writer has done all he or she can to put them in any context, rather than (and this is undoubtedly the main goal) try to convince me to adopt a certain diet or point of view re food. What I object to is the evangelical tone of so much of the talk about low-carb diets, Paleo ones and all others, which I surely got here, even with the mild disclaimer of, "Well, your mileage may vary." Evangelism or proselytizing is the enemy of rational thought, always. I suspect, from my own reading and what I can lay claim to understand and what I've heard from doctors over the years, that the low-carb diet may be unhealty over time, and that the main culprit (basing this idea on hard data and reading) in obesity has not been any widespread adoption and certainly not any strict adherence to any low-fat diet by Americans anyway (even while acknowledging that low-fat isn't necessarily better, and it led to the pushing of more products with high fructose corn syrup--and even the non-specialist reporter here suggests that soda and soft drinks are a major culprit as well; but he doesn't get into increased calories or the increase in eating of meats, lack of whole grains, saturated vs. unsaturated fat, western lifestyle changes, etc.).
posted by raysmj at 1:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hesitate to wade into these food debates, because there's always too much screaming with too little science. But where's the fault? In no small part because nutritional science itself is still so unsettled and there is a lot of bad nutritional science being done due to industry funding and the pressure to publish and so on.

But speaking of sugar, yes it is everywhere, and sometimes the sources are non-obvious. Who would have thought that for example something as seemingly disconnected might actually be a factor in some cases: global warming. Example: global warming is causing grapes to mature more quickly with higher sugar content, so you end up with sweeter fruit - all with zero intervention from human agency otherwise (except for causing global warming in the first place, natch). And then it doesn't end there, because there are knock-on effects when these grapes go into f.ex. wine and the sugar and alcohol content of wines explodes (warning: pdf link):

Too Much of a Good Thing? Causes and Consequences of Increases in Sugar Content of California Wine Grapes

"Abstract

The sugar content of California wine grapes has increased significantly over the past 10–20 years, and this implies a corresponding increase in the alcohol content of wine made with those grapes. In this paper we develop a simple model of winegrape production and quality, including sugar content and other characteristics as choice variables along with yield. Using this model we derive hypotheses about alternative theoretical explanations for the phenomenon of rising sugar content of grapes, including effects of changes in climate and producer responses to changes in consumer demand. We analyze detailed data on changes in the sugar content of California wine grapes at crush to obtain insight into the relative importance of the different influences. We buttress this analysis of sugar content of wine grapes with data on the alcohol content of wine. (JEL Classification: Q54, Q19, D12, D22)"
posted by VikingSword at 1:32 PM on June 15, 2012


I suspect, from my own reading and what I can lay claim to understand and what I've heard from doctors over the years, that the low-carb diet may be unhealty over time,

Really really want to do some reading that would support this.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:44 PM on June 15, 2012


I've lost 147 pounds in just under a year through dietary changes alone.

Calories come from three sources. Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates. If you remove a lot of fat, the calories have to come from the other two. Protein is far more expensive than carbohydrates, especially HFCS, modified food starch, and other processed carbs, so that's where all of the packaged food focuses.

Stop eating processed carbohydrates in huge quantities. Just try it for a month.

I suspect, from my own reading and what I can lay claim to understand and what I've heard from doctors over the years, that the low-carb diet may be unhealty over time,

It's the other way around. Our bodies aren't built to handle large quantities of carbs, especially the processed carbs that are so easy to break down.
posted by Revvy at 1:52 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think in a lot of discussions about food and weight there is way too much emphasis placed on what kinds of foods people eat, and not enough on exercise. If you count calories, restrict your intake, and so on you will lose weight.

I'm assuming you've come to this conclusion based entirely on your singular experience? If so, why do you feel qualified to hypothesize on the issue? I ask because a lot of the people that study the effects of high glycemic index foods and actually, you know, know things about the mechanisms of adiposity feel otherwise.
posted by invitapriore at 1:55 PM on June 15, 2012


And while it may be the case that the issue is far from settled among the people that study it, at least the detractors are bringing meaningful evidence to the table.
posted by invitapriore at 1:55 PM on June 15, 2012


peacheater and artemisia, I agree that a low-carb diet has probably helped you to lose weight.

Unfortunately, it is still not a society-wide solution to our problem with food. Diets high in animal protein are sustained only through grotesque, large-scale torture and slaughter on factory farms. They are a major contributor to climate change, which will bring famine and poverty to billions unless averted. Lets leave aside that red meat consumption is strongly linked to cancer, stroke and heart disease; and that there is some (admittedly early) suggestive evidence that low-protein diets are key to prolonging longevity.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:06 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suspect, from my own reading and what I can lay claim to understand and what I've heard from doctors over the years, that the low-carb diet may be unhealty over time

But how low-carb? And what carbs are being excluded? I mean, this matters. Diets that eschew all or nearly all vegetables, fruits, and (less worrisome) legumes would be really problematic, and vegetables, fruits, and legumes are mostly carbs.

If someone were to say, "I eat a low-carb diet, but eat many vegetables, some fruits, and occaisionally legumes," would this cause you alarm?

Before, I suggested you were attacking straw men, and it's probably worth at this point trying to define what you consider to be a typically problematic low-carb diet. Because if you're really concerned about the guy who advocates putting butter in his coffee, well, duh, that's probably not too healthy. But if you're concerned about a person who has cut out almost all sugars, and doesn't even eat oats or brown rice, but eats plenty of vegetables, then at least we're closer to figuring out where we disagree.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:08 PM on June 15, 2012


I've been noticing lately – trying to ease into a better-for-me diet with more protein and fat – that it's really hard to buy a full-fat live yoghurt here. The ranges are almost entirely pushing low-fat or 0% fat, unless you want plain yoghurt, and it's like going to buy a soft drink and being offered only the diet range.

The campaign to switch us over to low-fat, more-sugar must be going well.
posted by carbide at 2:23 PM on June 15, 2012


It really bums me out that, in my observation, threads on Metafilter that are about obesity tend to devolve, and pretty rapidly, into a debate about dietary choices. It turns into that old saw about personal responsibility. It's silly, because it's a straw man that no one can debate. Like, "I'm in favor of responsible gun ownership." Well, of course. Everyone is. But gun control isn't about responsible gun ownership, it's about gun crimes. Or, "I'm against drunk driving." Well, duh. But the core issue isn't puking-your-guts-out, lampshade-on-the-head-drunkeness, followed by driving- it's about drinking and driving, because you only need imbibe a bit to impact your ability to drive well.

This is no different. Eating is a choice, but only sort of. It's like [the weak stomached and/or prudish will want to quit reading here] pooping. Most of us don't choose to poop in our clothes or on the middle of the dining room table, but, in theory, we could. The real truth is that you have to eat, and poop, to live, and choices are secondary to that fact.

The other problem with the personal responsibility argument is that it plays into the common tendency to put the cause and effect backward. We consume more food because we can, yes, given that in U.S., we produce double the number of calories we need on a daily basis, but we also eat because we are hungry. Have you ever tried to eat when you were full? It's very unpleasant, and can be painful. Similarly, not eating when you are very hungry is almost impossible. It's not about willpower or choices or personal responsibility, it's about biology. Just like pooping- we can tell people to poop less, but when you have to go, you have to go. When you are hungry, you literally must eat. We get caught up in this idea that if it's hard, it must be virtuous, but that's an issue of personality and culture, not biology. If we are hungry, we eat. If we eat more, it stands to reason that we are hungrier.

So, why? Obviously, we can confuse boredom or sadness or thirst for hunger, but if you are aware that you want to lose weight, it's pretty easy to talk yourself out of eating if you aren't legitimately hungry.

The best theory that I know of is that we are hungry more often because we started eating more sugar and less fat. The mechanism behind this is pretty well understood. Besides being filling, fat helps to hold blood sugar steady. Our bodies take a while to digest fat. On the other hand, we process sugar very quickly. When you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises, insulin responds, and then your blood sugar crashes, and you feel hungry. Not just hungry, ravenous. So you eat again. Ad nauseum. Frequently, the result is that, eventually, your cells become resistant to all this insulin, being dumped into your blood all the time. So your pancreas makes more. And more. Insulin corrodes the inside of your blood vessels, leading to poor circulation and general cardiovascular problems. Your cells hoard all the glucose they can let in (which accumulates as excess weight on our bodies), because the insulin isn't working the way it should. When your cells stop responding to insulin entirely, that's Type II diabetes. The run up to Type II is called insulin resistance, or Syndrome X.

It doesn't really make much sense, either, to trade licorice whips for Cheetos on the idea that at least Cheetos have less sugar. Simple carbs have the same blood-sugar-spike-then-crash effect, whether they come from something sweet or not. The carbohydrate in things like fruit and vegetable matter are suspended in a matrix of fiber, and more complex. They take longer to break down, which results in slow trickle of insulin, rather than a dump all at once.

The other interesting thing is that there is no nutritional need for sugar. Fat, on the other hand, is vital.

We in the West live in a society where food is presented to us at every opportunity, is advertised heavily, and is very frequently composed primarily of sugar and simple starch. Sugar is cheap, and it is tasty, and it makes you want to eat more. So you reach for another cheap and tasty treat. Sugar also is a preservative. Sugary things keep well, for a long time, without refrigeration, which means the margins on sugary products are high. The same high profit, blood sugar spiking, long shelf life characteristics apply to stuff made mostly from refined flour (keeps longer than whole grain flour) and salt.

Should we choose not to eat sugar? Sure. I would agree with that wholeheartedly. But we've spent 20+ years demonizing fat, so people are confused about what to think, much less eat. There are lots of political axes to grind in the arena of food production, so the government gives recommendations based on those at least as much on that as science. Nutrition as a science is pretty new, there is lots of well meaning, apolitical debate within the field. Slogging through nutrition literature isn't really an option for many. And if you are broke, sugar offers lots of calories and bit of comfort for very little money.

Choices aren't made in a lab. They are made in the real world, and to ignore that is to confuse the nature of every public health problem.

(Please note: I am aware I gave a simplified, perhaps even oversimplified account of how diabetes works. I also am using "sugar" to mean table sugar.)
posted by Athene at 2:25 PM on June 15, 2012 [20 favorites]


But how low-carb?

For me, under 80g a day to maintain ketosis, preferably under 60g. Ketogenic diets have a long history, going back to the 1920s for epilepsy treatment.

I personally believe that the paleo diet proponents are on to something important.

Athene, I make all these choices about what I eat in the real world. Have I given up chocolate cake? Mostly, but not completely. Chocolate cake is food technology compared to the luddite strict paleo. We're very clever apes and I'm not going to deny myself the benefits of that.

After a certain age, nobody is forcing anything specific into your mouth. What you eat is your choice and yours alone. Don't confuse the individual with the aggregate.
posted by Revvy at 2:34 PM on June 15, 2012


Diets high in animal protein are sustained only through grotesque, large-scale torture and slaughter on factory farms.
I think we should separate the question of what is healthy for us to eat from what we should ethically eat. I would actually argue that if the US were to collectively adopt a low-carb diet, calorie consumption would go down so much that overall protein consumption would not go up much. And in fact, the low-carb diet I follow, and which most people who do low-carb seriously follow, is a low-carb, high-fat diet, not high-protein. I can get those fats from coconut oil as well as from meat.

Lets leave aside that red meat consumption is strongly linked to cancer, stroke and heart disease; and that there is some (admittedly early) suggestive evidence that low-protein diets are key to prolonging longevity.
I need citations for these please. There are the epidemiological studies, but no clinical interventions have every shown this. Epidemiological studies are seriously flawed because the people who tend to flout government advice and eat red meat are also the ones most likely to be unhealthy. Also, my protein consumption is almost exactly the same on this diet as before -- I have just switched the percentages of carbohydrates and fats.
posted by peacheater at 2:37 PM on June 15, 2012


After a certain age, nobody is forcing anything specific into your mouth. What you eat is your choice and yours alone. Don't confuse the individual with the aggregate.

One percent of people of being obese is their problem. 30% of people being obese is everybody's problem. This is a problem of the aggregate.

And as for what you eat being your choice alone? Your privilege is showing.
posted by Athene at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Diets high in animal protein are sustained only through grotesque, large-scale torture and slaughter on factory farms.

Mine's not. I eat organic meats raised on small farms, a vast majority of which are located within 100 miles of my home.

Your privilege is showing.

Our household food costs have gone down since removing processed carbohydrates, including accounting for the more expensive proteins we consume. Crap is more expensive than real food. Your bias is showing.
posted by Revvy at 2:52 PM on June 15, 2012


If someone were to say, "I eat a low-carb diet, but eat many vegetables, some fruits, and occaisionally legumes," would this cause you alarm?

Why just "some" fruit? Anyway, doesn't cause me so much alarm, no, if that's what floats your boat. Just don't push it on me or other people, thanks, even with mild disclaimers re how one size fits all. There's still nothing wrong, and so much right, with whole grains. And the piece you had with the 17 studies? Every pic on the front page of that site had bacon in it, which suggests to me a bit of, "Hey, suck it doctors!" thing going on there. It's not all, Hey, more veggies! That's the vibe I get with so much of this, not the veggies, but, All you doctors are wrong, nananna you can't stop me from eating bacon. And then it's charged that low-fat diets pushed on us made us all fat. More calories did, probably, and more meat, lifestyle changes, etc. were almost surely involved as well, as were the soft drinks focused on in the article, ones never advocated by any doctors outside of maybe Dr. Spaceman. (My then-regular doc got me to stop drinking those regularly in 2000 or 2001.)
posted by raysmj at 2:53 PM on June 15, 2012


I've heard from doctors over the years, that the low-carb diet may be unhealty over time

raysmj - I feel like I'm picking on you :)
Sorry but the topic you brought up interests me.

Have you read Michael Pollan's or Gary Taubes' books? They both did a quick survey of myriads of traditional dietary habits of different groups of people. The dietary habits vary from almost exclusively meat based (Inuits and Masai) to exclusively vegetable based. One culture depended on coconut for 50+ percent of their calories. None, and anthropology study backs this up, shows the extent of "diseases of civilization" : heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc that is happening in the US.

It is clear as day that it is not the low carb diet, or the low fat diet, or meat diet, or whatever that is bad for us. It is the American diet that is extremely harmful. A diet that doctors have recommended for the past 30 years. And yes, though I cannot provide you with cites at this moment, people have been following doctors' orders over time by limiting fat, increasing grain, etc.

Aside - I do not know if the traditional diets return better results for other health factors other than metabolic syndrome. I also do not know that if Inuits for example, who might have evolved to subsist purely on meat, might do as well on other traditional diets. It has however been proven time and time again that American diet wreaks havoc on these traditional people when they embrace it and their health returns when they return to their traditional fare.
posted by 7life at 2:54 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our bodies aren't built to handle large quantities of carbs, especially the processed carbs that are so easy to break down.

I had specifically stated as much re processed/refined carbs, so why's that being brought up again?
posted by raysmj at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2012


Doctors have not been recommending pizza, fries, soft drinks and more factory farmed meat for the past 30 years, as far as I recall.
posted by raysmj at 3:02 PM on June 15, 2012


Our household food costs have gone down since removing processed carbohydrates, including accounting for the more expensive proteins we consume. Crap is more expensive than real food. Your bias is showing.

Privilege isn't just about money. You are educated and resourceful enough to be able to do this at all, much less to do it an affordable way. Also, do you pick up all that local protein in a car? A car that you own? Do your sustainable farmers accept food stamps? Do you have a deep freezer to keep all of it, taking advantage of bulk prices? Did an angel tap you on the shoulder, revealing the wonders of low carb dieting, or did you read some books?

I have all sort of biases, like everyone else. For example, I'm terribly biased against people who have no comprehension of what it's like to live in poverty. So, yeah, that's probably apparent in my snarky comment. But seriously, don't compare yourself to someone who struggles to feed himself, when you clearly don't.
posted by Athene at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was going to make the correction that I did not mean to say that doctors recommend processed food as much as we eat. They do however recommend macro nutrients percentages which have been more or less followed. And that has not shown any improvement in terms of metabolic syndrome in the general population in the past 30 years.
posted by 7life at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2012


raysmj, I didn't give you any studies, and I haven't been pushing anything on you. I think you may be confusing me with other people in this thread.

What I am trying to do is determine what exactly you're arguing for and against. My observation was merely that you have some sort of singular designation of what "low-carb" means, and that definition is a lot more like "lots of bacon!" or "butter in coffee!" than what anyone else in this thread is talking about when they say "low-carb."

And, yes, I find it annoying when people try to tell me how they are getting super healthy and skinny by eating only bacon and cheese and chicken wings. So we agree there. But no one in this thread is doing that, and I think the tenor of your responses has been as if people here had been.

Why just "some" fruit?

Oh, because fruit, because of its fructose content, is pretty carby, so my vision of a healthy low-carb diet would only include "some" fruit instead of lots of fruit. If a diet included lots of fruit, it could very well be healthy, but it wouldn't likely also be low-carb.

By the way, I don't mean to take much of a position on low-carb diets. I'm just curious about what you're argument is.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:14 PM on June 15, 2012


Crap is more expensive than real food.

NO. The fact that some people around here keep saying this just blows my mind. I HAVE LIVED IN POVERTY. REAL FOOD IS EXPENSIVE. Yeah, a bundle of kale is cheap when, say, compared to a bundle of hot dogs. But a bundle of kale isn't going to fill the stomachs of a hungry family for two meals for a buck. You have to take into account all of the components of the healthy meal you're making. I've been on both sides, and I can tell you that the eating healthy when poor is difficult or impossible. Maybe not for some people in some situations, but this isn't a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Where you live, how much you make, how you can get to the store, and so many other factors come into play here.

I have all sort of biases, like everyone else. For example, I'm terribly biased against people who have no comprehension of what it's like to live in poverty. So, yeah, that's probably apparent in my snarky comment. But seriously, don't compare yourself to someone who struggles to feed himself, when you clearly don't.

This x100.
posted by Malice at 3:15 PM on June 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Athene, how many people (in the UK, or US, I guess, or similar countries, since that's the context in which this discussion has arisen) would you say are unable to make healthy food choices because they lack the advantages of privilege? I mean, just roughly. I'm not wanting to pin you down to a certain number, but I'm trying to figure our if you're suggesting that there are a large percentage of people (and I'm talking about adults here, who are otherwise capable of making decisions) who would choose to eat healthy foods, but cannot, as they lack the privilege that enables them to do this.

(It would also be interesting to determine what the relationship is between this lack of privilege and obesity--presumably the incidence of obesity is much higher in people lacking privilege?)
posted by MoonOrb at 3:18 PM on June 15, 2012


Re doctor's recommendations and Americans' basically following them: The USDA report cited above noted that Americans eat only seven percent of the daily recommended intake of whole grains. And they eat out more and eat more of everything, but especially more meat (which has declined since 2007). Doctors and nutritionists may also have recommended low-fat diets that include more whole grains, but they also never recommended more sugar. (The same USDA report I liked to, from a few years ago, by the way, talks about hidden sugar in foods, and a federal food economics study showing a dramatic increase in the use of sugar and sweeteners since 1970.)
posted by raysmj at 3:23 PM on June 15, 2012


no comprehension of what it's like to live in poverty.

Now your assumptions are showing. My current status is far better than it used to be. You're also failing to take into account the context of Western diets, where food choice is readily available. 30% obesity, but not 30% poverty. The title of this thread is "Why the British are on average 3 stone (42 lbs) heavier than in the 60s", not "Why the poor are fat".

NO. The fact that some people around here keep saying this just blows my mind.

Ironically, I eat a lot of kale.
posted by Revvy at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2012


Obesity rates are easily tracked by ZIP code in the U.S. I am, unfortunately, unfamiliar with the U.K. ZIP code is also a decent predictor of income level, and food market access. So yes, statistically, if you are impoverished, besides being less likely to be educated, you are also more likely to be obese and more likely to live in a food desert.

As far as numbers, about 1 in 5 Americans are on SNAP (f.k.a. food stamps), roughly 1 in 6 Americans struggle to buy food, and 1 in 7 are functionally illiterate.

I am of the persuasion that any discussion that addresses a nation's food policy must address how poor people are going to feed themselves. Otherwise, the fix looks pretty easy (if unrealistic): wipe out all subsidies, and let everybody pay the real cost of their own food. Total calorie production would plummet, since the economic incentive to overproduce would be gone. Monoculture would cease to be the preferred production model. Feedlots would disappear because corn wouldn't be cheap. No more HFCS for the same reason. The cost of food would go up overall, and the cost of processed foods would up astronomically by comparison to whole foods.

The problem with this scenario, of course, is that the poor would starve rather than simply be malnourished. And yes, obesity is a form of malnourishment.) Food stamp benefits are pretty low as things stand. I used to volunteer for a food sharing co-op, and one of the things that we did was transport food packages to the rural poor. People living in drafty trailers, three miles down a dirt road, no car. And they'd get $40 per month on their SNAP card. So what would they buy? Starch, starch and more starch. Potatoes, flour, rice, and sugar. I watched a woman feed her daughter frybread covered in sugar, and explain to us that she knew it was bad, but there was literally no other food in the house. (For those unfamiliar with frybread, it's white flour and shortening- a filling and tasty combination of simple carbs and trans fats.) We were taking out 20# boxes of organic produce that day- it was the dead of winter, so we figured most of our clients would want something fresh and green- and that mom got tears of, I presume, relief in her eyes.

Why do these people get so little food stamp benefits? I have no idea. The ins and outs of the social welfare system are mysterious to me. But I can't tolerate the idea that just making food more expensive for these folks is solution.
posted by Athene at 3:48 PM on June 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


There's nothing magic about "whole" grains. They're just grains with some of the dross still on it. It still spikes your blood sugar. It still contributes to insulin resistance. It's still pretty low in any real nutrition beyond calories - especially compared to root vegetables which are a much better source of carbs if you want them in your diet.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:56 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a skeptical person (a formerly religious person turned atheist!) and I have turned into a low-carb zealot.

Low-carb, high-fat is a hard sell, because it represents a literal paradigm shift, meaning it's almost impossible to consider it with a genuinely open mind. Ideas that you have accepted as a given, so deep down that they feel like objective truth, need to be thrown out before it makes sense. Ideas like fat is bad for you, or saturated fat is bad for you. Ideas like whole grains are good for your heart. Ideas like it's all about personal responsibility.

I cannot tell you how much better I feel and how effortlessly I have lost 45 pounds eating low-carb, high-fat. I get that this isn't a rational argument, per se, but it just FEELS SO RIGHT. I am satisfied, my energy is constant, my hunger and jitters are gone, my blood pressure is down, and of course the fat loss. All without counting calories or portions. Problems I struggled with for years and years, just GONE. For me at least, it is a silver bullet.

This is what I have eaten today, a relatively typical Friday, where I exercise for 2 hours so naturally get hungrier and tend to eat fast food more than on other days: I will also eat some broccoli or cauliflower with butter and cheese tonight and probably some string cheese too before bed.

I know that it sounds crazy to you, that it feels OBVIOUSLY wrong to eat like that, that even if it works, it can't be good for you in the long run. I'm here to tell you that I really think you're wrong. I've done a lot of reading, and I've been running this experiment on myself for over 7 months now. I'm not asking you to take my word for it. Do your research. I'm just saying to approach it with a genuinely open mind.

It not only can change your life, but I think that this idea catching on is the only way we can reverse the obesity/diabetes/etc. epidemic.
posted by callmejay at 4:02 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Oh, I may have some Scotch tonight, too. Don't want any drinkers to think they can't have their alcohol and weight loss too!)
posted by callmejay at 4:06 PM on June 15, 2012


There's nothing magic about "whole" grains. They're just grains with some of the dross still on it. It still spikes your blood sugar. It still contributes to insulin resistance. It's still pretty low in any real nutrition beyond calories - especially compared to root vegetables which are a much better source of carbs if you want them in your diet.

As always in nutrition, things are complicated. For example, I personally largely avoid grains except for what you call the "dross", because that's where some of the unique advantages of grain phytochemicals reside. I'll cite the following, bolding by me:

"Whole grain phytochemicals and health"

"Abstract
Phytochemicals and antioxidants in wholegrains have not received as much attention as the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables although the increased consumption of wholegrains and wholegrain products has been associated with reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and all-cause mortality. Recent research has shown that the total phytochemical content and antioxidant activity of wholegrains have been commonly underestimated in the literature, and that wholegrains contain more phytochemicals than was previously reported. Most wholegrain phenolics are in bound form, 85% in corn, 76% in wheat, and 75% in oats. In addition, wholegrains contain unique phytochemicals that complement those in fruits and vegetables when consumed together. The beneficial effects associated with wholegrain consumption are in part due to the existence of the unique phytochemicals of wholegrains. The majority of phytochemicals of wholegrains that are beneficial for health are present in the bran/germ fraction. In whole wheat flour, the bran/germ fraction contributed 83% of total phenolic content, 79% of total flavonoid content, 78% of total zeaxanthin, 51% of total lutein, and 42% of total β-cryptoxanthin. The bran/germ fraction of whole wheat may therefore impart greater health benefits when consumed as part of a diet, and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. This paper will review recent research on the phytochemicals and antioxidant activity of wholegrains and their unique contribution to the health benefits of wholegrains."

So, while grain itself may be largely empty calories, the associated bran/germ can be very health promoting. Therefore, it may make sense to forego grain, but supplement with a small amount of bran for the health benefits of unique phytochemicals as well as fiber.
posted by VikingSword at 4:11 PM on June 15, 2012


I've switched my late-night snack to non-gelatin full-fat yogurt. Weight is dropping pdq.

I suspect gut bacteria have a lot to do with obesity.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironically, I eat a lot of kale.

Kale is good. I ate a lot of it myself when I was vegan.
posted by Malice at 5:33 PM on June 15, 2012


Now your assumptions are showing. My current status is far better than it used to be. You're also failing to take into account the context of Western diets, where food choice is readily available. 30% obesity, but not 30% poverty. The title of this thread is "Why the British are on average 3 stone (42 lbs) heavier than in the 60s", not "Why the poor are fat".


I have no idea what you are arguing here. Not being a smartass, I'm being completely sincere.

As best I can tell, you are saying that you used to be poor, but not now, and that because not all poor people are fat/not all fat people are poor, that poverty and obesity are unrelated. But I hope not, because that's just silly.
posted by Athene at 6:31 PM on June 15, 2012


The Men Who Made Us Fat. Four YT links. I love Unwiches!
posted by karlos at 6:35 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks karlos! Yeah Unwiches are pretty awesome aren't they? I just discovered them a couple weeks ago and it's a great option when I'm too busy to cook.
posted by peacheater at 8:11 PM on June 15, 2012


Vaguely related : Monsanto May Have To Repay 10 Years of GM Soya Royalties In Brazil
posted by jeffburdges at 9:45 AM on June 16, 2012


Show of hands -- who's skipping over the low carb/yay carb derail when they read this?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on June 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Based on this information I'm going to launch a new diet food: Iced lard mixed with aspartame. You'll be able to eat as much as you want without getting fat!

I'll make also make an all all natural version using stevia.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The ketogenic diet is interesting because positive impacts go way beyond weight loss to controlling epislepsy and neuroprotective attributes against alzheimers and brain injury.

"Moreover, there is evidence from uncontrolled clinical trials and studies in animal models that the ketogenic diet can provide symptomatic and disease-modifying activity in a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and may also be protective in traumatic brain injury and stroke. These observations are supported by studies in animal models and isolated cells that show that ketone bodies, especially β-hydroxybutyrate, confer neuroprotection against diverse types of cellular injury. "
posted by zia at 5:15 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi, you might not be far off (if you substitute whip cream for lard). Here is an average day of a classic ketogenic diet:

Breakfast: egg with bacon
28 g egg, 11 g bacon, 37 g of 36% heavy whipping cream, 23 g butter and 9 g apple.

Snack: peanut butter ball
6 g peanut butter and 9 g butter.

Lunch: tuna salad
28 g tuna fish, 30 g mayonnaise, 10 g celery, 36 g of 36% heavy whipping cream and 15 g lettuce.


Snack: keto yogurt
18 g of 36% heavy whipping cream, 17 g sour cream, 4 g strawberries and artificial sweetener.

Dinner: cheeseburger (no bun)
22 g minced (ground) beef, 10 g American cheese, 26 g butter, 38 g cream, 10 g lettuce and 11 g green beans.

Snack: keto custard
25 g of 36% heavy whipping cream, 9 g egg and pure vanilla flavouring.
posted by zia at 5:19 PM on June 16, 2012


I'm allergic to corn. That eliminates nearly all prepackaged foods out of my life. (Strangely, Triscuits and Kraft Dinner are totally OK. Go figure.)

I eat home-cooked meals, lots of vegetables, whole foods because I literally cannot eat the added-sugar crap that's pushed on everyone. (No, I do not live on Triscuits and Kraft Dinner, although there are times when it's tempting.)

And...I'm obese. Not just overweight, obese. My weight is roughly the same as it was before the allergy forced me to eliminate all corn products. So is my activity level.

Yes, it's anecdata. Yes, I'm only one person. But, after eight years of excluding HFCS, corn syrup, corn starch, and all other corn products from my diet, it has really made me question the HFCS = obesity theorem.

(I miss popcorn and tortilla chips so badly it's like an actual physical pain.)
posted by rednikki at 5:25 PM on June 16, 2012


I have no solution for popcorn, but choppd-up flour tortilla + olive oil + seasoning to taste + 8 minutes in the oven = corn-free tortilla chips.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:34 PM on June 16, 2012


who's skipping over the low carb/yay carb derail when they read this?

I agree with whoever said (upthread) that it sucks how these conversations inevitably devolve into personal responsibility. That's such a tired and facile conversation, and there are so many other interesting pieces to this puzzle than are ripe for discussion, that it's depressing to see it flounder endlessly in the shallow end of the pool.
posted by cribcage at 10:01 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually the filling in Oreos is supposedly just lard mixed with sugar. True Facts.
posted by delmoi at 12:57 AM on June 17, 2012


Jeez, caloric restriction actually improves memory! wow
posted by jeffburdges at 9:47 AM on June 17, 2012


Jeez, caloric restriction actually improves memory! wow

BUT ELEPHANTS
posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on June 17, 2012


Butt Elephants?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree with whoever said (upthread) that it sucks how these conversations inevitably devolve into personal responsibility.

It's a form of paralysis and lack of imagination. It's easy to point fingers at people an say "you eat too much," but it doesn't do a damn thing about the problem. Did large numbers of people suddenly become less personally responsible? I think why people eat too much is a more interesting question.
posted by borges at 2:11 PM on June 18, 2012


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