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Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, Gary Taubes

2011/05/10

In the author’s note to this book, he warns that will be presenting arguments that fly in the face of all conventionally accepted thought on weight, nutrition, and obesity, and to read critically — that “this book is intended to be a thinker’s manifesto. Its goal is to refute some of the misconceptions that pass for public-health and medical advice in this country and around the world, and to arm you with the necessary information and logic to take your health and your well-being into your own hands” (xi). Taubes’ argument is that society has erroneously adopted the idea that fat is caused by an imbalance in caloric intake and energy consumption — that people are fat because they eat too much and don’t exercise. Instead, he suggests, it is the type of food which makes us fat — refined carbohydrates which promote the formation of fat deposits — and which signals our bodies to over consume. He cites historical studies of undernourished and malnourished populations who became obese despite the lack of excess foods (but with the presence of refined foods such as white flour, sugar, etc.). I do not know enough about the science to know if his arguments are sound, but his point to read studies and “new findings” with caution and critical thought are right on the money. Dieters and foodies alike will pick up this book, but most will disagree with the author, or be unable to convert their way of thinking to his.

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