The experts are wrong?

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HBO launched a series The Weight of The Nation on May 14, 2012. It has all the usual experts in disease control and anti-obesity plugging the same advice that I have heard over and over and over, and tried over and over and over which has not (yet) worked for me.

Who am I to say these experts are wrong? I’m nobody. I don’t have the credentials, the research or the practice. I am not a statistically significant group. What I can say is that I have faithfully tried the eat less, exercise more route for close to 10 years and in that time I have mostly gained weight rather than lost weight.

This is why articles like this: Why the Campaign to Stop American’s Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing by Gary Taubs keep attracting me. I highly recommend reading the article. But in case you are not up to a three page read here are the notes.

He starts out by introducing the history of obesity as a field of public health study way back in the midst of the Great Depression. Turns our a German scientist noticed that there were a large amount of fat children in the midst of extreme poverty. This ties in nicely to the idea that cheap carbohydrates make us fat.

Next he introduces the science behind how cheap sugars found in junk foods and also breads, pastas, grains etc… actually alter our insulin and fat storage systems.

Then he brings in that while the health and diet crowd was targeting fat and meats as the cause of obesity that meat intake peaked in the 1970s – before the obesity epidemic. That it was after meat became demonized that grains, breads and pastas took up a cornerstone in our food pyramid that the obesity epidemic really took off.

Then he addresses the exercise myth. That there is little supporting evidence that exercise will help to reduce or maintain weight citing several examples of active people who are obese.

For someone like me this all makes complete sense. I gained the most weight after I had an accident, moved to college, started eating mostly breads, grains and pasta – because they were cheap and easy to make. I exercised like a fiend. Often going to the gym seven times a week. I found myself completely unable to maintain a low-calorie diet on 1,200-1,500 cal/day for more than six months at a time. I found myself constantly hungry. I occasionally succeed at losing 20 lbs but it would almost always come back and then a few more. Then I would start the cycle again. Wash rinse repeat.

This is a quote from Taubs article I would like to pin up somewhere:

“as Hilde Bruch pointed out more than half a century ago, that exhorting obese people to eat less and exercise more doesn’t work, and that this shouldn’t be an indictment of their character but of the value of the advice.”

The advice that Taubs gives is to simply stop eating sugars. Eat more green leafy vegetables, lean proteins and good fats. This sounds to me a lot like the Paleo Diet. I don’t know if I’m just being led down another garden path that will lead to a cycle of failure. But, at least it is trying something different.

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