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Saying that we get fat because we consume more calories than we expend does NOT explain why, Taubes
Monday, October 31, 2011 10:05 am Email this article
Saying that we get fat because we consume more calories than we expend, which is what nearly all the obesity experts say, does NOT explain why we get fat; it is merely restating the problem notes Gary Taubes in his excellent book Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.
The question we should be asking is why do people consume more calories than they expend?
Taubes gives a great analogy to explain this by saying:
"If you asked me [ why a room or a restaurant was crowded ], and I said, 'Well, because more people entered the room than left it,' you'd probably think I was being a wise guy or an idiot. Of course more people entered than left, you'd say. That's obvious. But why? And, in fact, saying that a room gets crowded because more people are entering than leaving it is redundant -- saying the same thing in two different ways -- and so meaningless." Mistake to Say That Obesity is Caused by Overeating
It is a mistake to say that obesity is caused by overeating : we should be asking why people overeat
“The experts who say that we get fat because we overeat or we get fat as a result of overeating—the vast majority—are making the kind of mistake that would (or at least should) earn a failing grade in a high-school science class,” Taubes writes.
“They’re taking a law of nature that says absolutely nothing about why we get fat and a phenomenon that has to happen if we do get fat—overeating—and assuming these say all that needs to be said.
“This was a common error in the first half of the twentieth century. It’s become ubiquitous since. We need to look elsewhere for answers.”
Saying Obesity Is Caused By Overeating Is Simply Restating The Problem In A Different Way
Saying obesity is caused by overeating is simply restating the problem in a different way noted nutritionist, Jean Mayer in 1954
Later Taubes writes:
“Jean Mayer, who got a few things right about obesity and weight regulation but the important things wrong, phrased the issue this way back in 1954:
‘Obesity, too many people believe, is explained by overeating; actually it should be recognized that this is simply restating the problem in a different way, and reaffirming (somewhat unnecessarily ...) one’s faith in the First Law of Thermodynamics. To ‘explain’ obesity by overeating is as illuminating a statement as an ‘explanation’ of alcoholism by chronic overdrinking.’”
The First Law of Thermodynamics Does Not Answer the Question of ‘Why?’
The first law of thermodynamics does not answer the question of ‘Why we overeat?’
Earlier Taubes writes:
“This is so simple that the problem with how the experts interpret the law [ the first law of thermodynamics ] begins to become obvious.
“All the first law [ of thermodynamics ] says is that if something gets more or less massive, then more energy or less energy has to enter it than leave it.
“It says nothing about why this happens.
“It says nothing about cause and effect.
“It doesn’t tell us why anything happens; it only tells us what has to happen if that thing does happen.
“A logician would say that it contains no causal information.
“Health experts think that the first law is relevant to why we get fat because they say to themselves and then to us, as the The New York Times did, ‘Those who consume more calories than they expend in energy will gain weight.’
“This is true. It has to be.
“To get fatter and heavier, we have to overeat.
“We have to consume more calories than we expend.
“That’s a given.
“But thermodynamics tells us nothing about why this happens, why we consume more calories than we expend.
“It only says that if we do, we will get heavier, and if we get heavier, then we did.”
Earlier Taubes wrote:
“It is astounding how much bad science—and so bad advice, and a growing obesity problem—has been the result of the experts’ failure to understand this one simple fact.”
Obesity is not a disorder of energy balance
Obesity is not a disorder of energy balance or calories-in/ calories-out or overeating
Later, he writes:
“Obesity is not a disorder of energy balance or calories-in/ calories-out or overeating, and thermodynamics has nothing to do with it.
“If we can’t understand this, we’ll keep falling back into the conventional thinking about why we get fat, and that’s precisely the trap, the century-old quagmire, that we’re trying to avoid.”
This is a MUST-READ Book
This is MUST-READ book for anyone interested in body weight
This is MUST-READ book for anyone interested in body weight… or anyone who believes that saturated fat is bad for you… or anyone who believes that carbohydrates are good for you… or anyone who believes that obesity is caused by a lack of will power… or anyone who believes that obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little (yes, of course this is true, but this does not answer the question as to why people eat too much and exercise too little, which Taubes answers in this book).
I highly recommend this book.
Gary Taubes is an excellent science journalist.
His previous books include “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, a longer book which is also about low-carb diets, but is a much longer book.
Other Articles from This Book, Why We Get Fat
Articles from Gary Taubes current book, Why We Get Fat
Other Articles from Good Calories, Bad Calories
Articles about Gary Taubes previous book, Good Calories, Bad Calories
Contact info for Gary Taubes
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