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How Coca-Cola shaped obesity science and policy in China (bmj.com)
97 points by laurex 44 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments



The sugar industry has a long history financing research. The obsession the US got in with salt, fat and 'red meat' were often financed by the sugar industry.

The results were the absurd situation where things would be sold as 'low fat' but had doupled the amount of sugar and is marketed as diet food.


Noteworthy is also the labeling of seed oils to be the "healthy fats" and they're like the exact opposite.


Why do you think that seed oils are unhealthy fats? Are you maybe referring to processed (refined) oils? For all I know, eating raw sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews etc. is quite beneficial for one's health.


There is no documentation that seed oils are especially unhealthy.

They do however consist mainly of omega 6 fatty acids, and our body needs about 50/50 omega 6 and 3 in the diet. Basically omega 3 is anti inflammatory and omega 6 is. inflammatory. (too much omega 3 is not good either)

The problem with seed oils is that we mainly eat those now, as they are used in everything due to price. So we get FAR too much omega 6 in our diet. Which is bad in the long run.


High-oleic acid seed oils are becoming common and cheap enough to use in many cases. For example, Trader Joe’s sunflower seed oil (the kind I use) is nearly exclusively oleic, which is monounsaturated.



>>For all I know, eating raw sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews etc. is quite beneficial for one's health.

Moderation might be the key word. Also the fact that it replaces something worse. Eating 2lbs of walnuts a day probably isn't a good idea, but eating a few every very days might be great for your health.


I agree that this separation is nonsense. However I don't really see much reason to call seed oils unhealthy. However, its not something I have researched much.


Buzzfeed News had a good story about this a couple of weeks ago: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/stephaniemlee/cristin-k...


Financed research with vested interests, though it may be, salt, fat and red meat can have palpable effects on the human body.

Salt is an implement of suicide, for one.

Red meat, I suspect, transmits all kinds of biological signaling residue from the original animal’s state, even when fully cooked. From horomones, to antibiotics, to persistent organic pollutants, and then onward to your electrolyte changes required to produce the gastric juices for the quantity you’ve eaten. Muscle protein, though it may be, it’s a carrier of all kinds of interesting artifacts, and when you start accepting ground beef, you even open up the window to prion diseases, since other tissues, besides muscle, sneak in.

Fat does have complications and side effects, now that we have a better concept of the way transfats interact with our metabolism, when they remain waxier and refuse to easily melt at body temperature, requiring more intensive effort to burn off. This means fried foods and processed food that deliver doses of transfat really do introduce a metabolic issue.

Food is complex, and refined sugar also adds problems. I don’t find sugar addictive, but in high quantities, and when combined with these other gotchas, sugar is definitely a serious contributor to all the obesity and diabetes we see, for sure. Eat some extra donuts for a month to notice the difference. Actually, don’t.

Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are also complications, that seem to fly under the cognitive radar in these discussions. And are actually probably the worst offenders, in terms of seriously augmenting an unhealthy diet.


> I don’t find sugar addictive

Try eliminating it from your diet and see if you still think the same! Seriously, for a few days you will crave carbs if you stop eating them altogether.

> Red meat, I suspect, transmits all kinds of...horomones, to antibiotics, to persistent organic pollutants...

Surely you could say the same about non-red meats such as chicken, pork and lamb?

> Red meat, I suspect, transmits all kinds of...persistent organic pollutants...

You could also argue this for just about any vegetable, legume, fruit or grain crop too.


".. Red meat, I suspect, transmits all kinds of.."

Beef was suspected, based in statistic analysis, to to transmit cancer by a German Nobel price winner Harald zur Hausen for a long time.

And just last year there were some interesting results: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29434270


Carbs are a source of ordinary nutrition, so the cravings you experience aren't a clue regarding addiction.

Body chemistry has essential needs. You can't just drop carbs (simple or complex), feel a pang, and conflate as addiction.

And yeah, all meat transmits compounds besides protein. But.

Meat sourced from mammals is different. And genetic/evolutionary proximity matters.

Pork, for sure, is controversial according to religious food customs for a reason. Not just the perception of pigs as "filthy animals." Consider that boar taint is a key factor in selecting how to butcher pigs for their meat.

Plants are extremely distant, and the evolutionary pathways that have lead to biologically significant plants is on the other side of the predator/prey wall.

Plants do not operate lipids in ways similar to animals, and oil solubility is a key factor for how animal behavior and metabolism gets modified by nutrition. From vitamins, to horomones, to blood/brain barrier crossing agents.


Can you link sources to those claims?

For instance carbs are absolutely not essential [1], one can live healthy life without a gram of carbohydrates. So I’m interested where are you getting your information.

[1] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/75/5/951/4689417


I don’t have a single link for you. Gee, looks like you win the internet.

Except, just try it. Try to exclude them from your diet, and see where you wind up.

And at this point, we can see that there’s nothing to your argument except pedantry. You use vague blanket statements “all” and “carbs” but link to a specific article about refined carbohydrates only, which really doesn’t cover the total scope of “all” carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are a chemical class. You get carbs when you eat fruits and vegetables. Those are carbs.

People who go vegan have to deal with managing their carb intake all the time, and guess what? It ain’t just because of bread, pasta, rice, whole grain, flour and sugar. The sources of protein for a vegan diet often bring carbs along for the ride. Legumes bring carbs to the table. Quinoa is really popular, but includes a carbohydrate load, even though it’s a good source of essential amino acids.

If carbohydrates aren’t an essential aspect of metabolism, then can you explain the role of glycolysis as an input to the Krebs cycle? Need a link for that?

https://google.com/search?q=glycolysis+krebs+cycle

Have fun.


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keymone 43 days ago [flagged]

nothing to say about ketones and krebs cycle? still going to insist carbs are essential macronutrient?

> take your [citation needed] practices somewhere else

i like this forum very much, specifically because i see how it's inhabitants react to your baseless claims.


Please don't feed trolls. By doing that, you kept this flamewar going, and crossed into incivility yourself.

Instead, please follow the site guidelines and flag egregious comments instead of replying to them. To flag a comment, click on its timestamp to go to its page, then click the 'flag' link at the top. (There's a small karma threshold before flag links appear.)

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


i have two 4-deep threads with that person, nobody else commented, calling that a flamewar is a bit of a stretch, but ok, point taken.


I have never claimed that these things have no effect on the body or are THE ideal foods.

However there is a long, long step of blaming them for all the major public health disasters, ie heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure.

And these things were made responsible those things with STRONG support and push from government and non-profits. Such strong was this believe that alternative theories had little chance of getting anywhere, specially on an institutional level.


In what way is salt an “implement of suicide?” Do you mean literally that consuming a very high dose would be fatal?


https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/43297...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_poisoning

Yes. The dose is something like less than a pound of salt, probably 100 grams might work, disolved in solution, and taken in one sitting, as a deliberate act of ritual suicide.

I think the inspiration draws from the concept of sea water dehydration/toxicity. Probably not a great way to go, since it isn’t fast, you hallucinate before losing consciousness, and it probably involves a lot of vomiting.

The point being, though, that a mason jar of salt carries a near zero perception of hazard, since it’s not really accident prone (accidental salt overdoses among children or the elderly aren’t commonly reported) but we also don’t consider it particularly deadly, even though the potential is there.


So consuming large portion of salt is a suicide, how about consuming large portion of sugar? https://www.quora.com/How-much-is-a-deadly-dose-of-sugar Or large portion of water? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication

Seems all you’re saying here is that dose makes the poison but for some reason you single out salt implying that any dose is poisonous.

You will literally die if you do not consume salt.


  for some reason
  you single out
Correct. I think it’s relevant and counterintuitive that the lethal dose amount for table salt is as low as it is, while remaining an essential nutrient.

That should catch your attention. It should jump out at you, and if it doesn’t, you probably need to reexamine how you think about food.

And anyway, I didn’t single anything out. Point your finger somewhere else, after you read this entire thread.

I think you very clearly have it backwards. The article up for discussion singles out sugar, and I responded to someone else’s criticism of singling out sugar.

So, where’s your stance against me now?

keymone 43 days ago [flagged]

> it’s relevant and counterintuitive that the lethal dose amount for table salt is as low as it is, while remaining an essential nutrient

Relevant to what? And why are you describing it as if it’s strange? It takes 15 grams of iron to kill you and iron is essential. “Dose makes the poison” is neutral statement yet you’ve used it to somehow attach negative connotation when talking about salt.

My stance towards you is that you use lots of word to produce little meaning and some clear manipulations.

The article is about sugary drink corporations being manipulative to mislead the public on negative effects of sugar - why are you talking about salt?


[flagged]


[flagged]

platelet 43 days ago [flagged]

Sooner or later, I'm sure you'll get the last word in. The suspense is about anticipating when!


We've banned this account for trolling.

Would you please not create accounts to do that with on HN?


Caffeine in top three of the worst offenders in terms of seriously augmenting an unhealthy diet?

Do you mean if you have an unhealthy diet, these three can fuck it up way more?


Sort of. Not a silver bullet answer, but yes.

Mostly, considering that caffeine’s psychoactive profile is that of a alkaloid stimulant, part of what it’s doing is messing with your brain’s glucose consumption.

So, look at what happens to people who would shotgun energy drinks or Mountain Dew, and sit on their ass, playing World of Warcraft for many multiple months. Obesity.

The combination of caffeine and sugar maintained the mental clarity to thrash at a console controller, repetitively for hours on end, with no physical activity.

The brain is consuming the drip feed of sugar, and the caffeine is dialating the cerebral blood vessels, so more can be pulled in, contributing to the increased mental clarity and engagement.

But, other than finger and eye movement, there’s like, near zero body activity, and all the caloric overflow pools in other parts of the body, and basically, the liver takes the hit performing conversion of the excess sugar into fat, storing it, since the muscles aren’t actively burning it.

So if you aren’t burning all the sugar you eat (most 100 calorie beverages are like ten spoons of sugar, including coca-cola), it compounds any problems with all the other lipids you do eat.


> caloric overflow pools in other parts of the body

So if you are saying its contributing to "increased mental clarity and engagement" but the overflow is causing issues over time, then does this mean its just about finding the right dosage/frequency to maintain high clarity levels?

I guess its more like there is no free lunch here.


Yeah, pretty much. There's no hard rule for how to balance sugar against use of stimulants and performance enhancers.

I couldn't tell you the right choices to make, unconditionally. Even just by body weight. Habit and tolerance are major curve balls. Caloric burn varies by body part.

Meanwhile, canned drinks are really just about flavors and marketing, balanced against cost.


Thanks for those posts. Learnt something. Hopefully one day we are better at producing this data for everyone at a personalized level.


>How nutrition lost out to physical activity

This is spot on. The thing is that to lose weight one just needs to eat less. That's it. Although, for an average person it's very hard to eat less while keeping consuming lots of sugary foods because sugar makes you hungry. But once you remove added sugar from your diet eating less stops being a problem.

The problem is that the corporate world doesn't want you to eat less, because they can't make money off you if you just eat less. They want you to keep buying sugary stuff and exercise, because when you're trying to fight obesity with exercise you need to buy running shoes, sportswear, gym bag, fitness tracker, apps for fitness tracker, gym membership, bicycle, and so on. It's a huge huge business. That's why you keep seeing ads for all those kinds of things (and sugary foods too). You will never see an ad that would tell you "just eat less" because no corporation would ever pay for it.


Obesity is a disease of improper nutrition and nothing else. Physical activity can not fix the problem with food. A country like China could easily control obesity by banning all the companies producing obesity by selling obesity causing food products. In the West this is outright difficult, but it's trivial for a country like China. Ban soft drinks, ban fast food, ban junk food. Obesity solved.


"Ban soft drinks, ban fast food, ban junk food" is trivial for China?

I knew HN is auti-China but this is just ridiculous. I have no idea what country China is in your imagination.


The world is anti-China, you know, with putting millions of innocent muslims in concentration camps, harvesting organs, building a surveillance state and whatnot.

Once the social credit score is fully rolled out then it should be trivial to get rid off (argubly before that as well), put increased tax on unhealthy food and "encourage" companies and supermarkets to sell less unhealthy/more healthy, deduct points for eating unhealthy, ban companies from selling certain products (e.g. give Coca Cola a year to replace their drinks with healthy alternatives). It's difficult to imagine any resistance from the citizens considering what they've gotten away with already, and considering they have full control over media and social networks.


It would seem your idea of the day to day life in China is one entirely written by US news networks - it’s much the same idea that the average American has to dodge bullets from active shooters once a month, which is quite a common idea outside the US.


I'll agree that non-Americans will probably not have the most accurate picture of the US, but saying that it's a common idea that they have to dodge bullets from shooters once a month sounds like you also have a bad idea about the life of non-Americans.


That's ridiculous, it's much closer dodging to active shooters once a year, at least locally. There were a lot of people at the Borderline Grill who were in Vegas for that one music festival a year ago.


> It would seem your idea of the day to day life in China is one entirely written by US news networks

How else am I supposed to learn about life in China without speaking Chinese? There's not a go-to source in English for this sort of thing. Of course I'll click on top search results and receive their biased version.

The Great Firewall works both ways. On one side Chinese citizens can't learn about the western culture without putting in some effort. On the other, western people can't learn shit about the daily life in China.


Are you really suggesting that an internet firewall is a main contributing factor for the lack of understanding of a different country?


I would expect chinese media to be heavily biased towards the CN government anyway, since they basically have a monopoly on media inside the country. A better bet would probably be media from Hong Kong or Taiwan, but those should also be available in english.

An approach might be taking in multiple sources of diferent biases. If you want a Youtube channel that is heavily biases against the CN government (spinning all news negatively, but digging up a lot of relevant dirt), have a look at China Uncensored.


How? Travel there and have a look around. A trip to Shanghai will change your world-view.


When you travel to North Korea you see a nice country with happy people. Is this really true?


I lived in China for many years when I was younger and more naive, most of my friends were/are from Tsinghua/Peking/etc, and I actually do understand Chinese. Just because you don't see it happen with your own eyes then it doesn't mean that it isn't happening. For instance, while living in Chicago I didn't encounter a single shooting incident, but it would be foolish to believe USA doesn't have a gun problem.

What I can say that a foreigner living in China will experience is 9/10 hotels and apartments refusing to let you stay there, even had landlord call my friend to kick me out of the apartment (happened twice, separate occassions). I also had a female foreign friend who got into trouble because she refused to sleep with a visa officer. It's possible to live in China for several years without problems, but it's only a matter of time before something happens, and then your whole world falls apart, because according to their laws a minor offense (e.g. something equivalent to jaywalking) that might result in a 50-100 dollar fine for Chinese people, can result in a foreigner getting deported and banned for 1-5 years, and it's something that happens a lot even if the foreigner lived in China for several years with no issues. And there's no process of appeal. It's also important to remember that pretty much every foreigner is breaking some silly laws, even if they don't realize it (e.g. by not going to the police when you move to a new place).

I also had multiple Chinese friends who weren't allowed to get visa to travel abroad to western countries, it was funnily enough always the 20-something girls, so I presume it's because the government fear they'll try to escape.

Also, in China you have no freedom of speech, no freedom of movement, no freedom of association, no religious freedom, no political freedom.. punishments include being sent to prison, concentration camps, murdered and having organs harvested. Overall, it's quite the shithole, and as we can see with Tibet, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan, etc. Xi appear to have similar ambitions as Hitler did, so it's not like the rest of the world can just ignore the shithole.

So naturally, China have a terrible view among pretty much everyone outside of China, especially those who care about human rights.


Quite a chilling post. I'm definitely never going to China.


> A country like China could easily control obesity by banning all the companies producing obesity by selling obesity causing food products

really? so ban rice and wheat production? I'm pretty sure I can get fat on natural foods. There have been fat people long before Coke. Japanese Sumo get fat on chanko nabe. Nothing artificial about it.


Rice isn't obesogenic. There are Asian cultures for which rice has been a staple food and that are lean. Wheat on the other hand is fairly toxic and eliminating grains from the diet is one of the best things you can do for your health.

That said, here we aren't talking carbohydrates, but rather sugar, as in sucrose or HCFS. The problem with sugar is that it contains fructose and the problem with fructose is that it gets metabolized completely in the liver, competing with other nutrients, like the poly-unsaturated fats from vegetable oils (ironically misnamed the "healthy fats"). And when the liver's glycogen store is full, that fructose gets deposited as fat, on the liver, on the pancreas, wherever it can. And a fatty liver or even worse, a fatty pancreas, is the best predictor of obesity or diabetes.

Interestingly medical professionals advise people to cut the fat from the diet in order to treat a fatty liver. It is true that it can help, however a much more effective strategy is to cut the sugar ;-)

N.B. the fructose we eats from fruits and sugary vegetables like carrots is in much lower quantities than the fructose we get from industrially processed foods. And processed food usually doesn't have fiber either, or if it does, it has the wrong kind of fiber. As usual "the dose makes the poison".

So yes, as a matter of fact beverages like Coca-Cola are toxic in a way that rice isn't.


So by this logic, would Northern China be less lean than Southern China since the North is more grain as a staple than the rice eating South...?


> Wheat on the other hand is fairly toxic and eliminating grains from the diet is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Even whole grains?


Yes, even whole grains.


Do you have a source on that? I see contradictory posts here, some saying that grains are good for you and rice is bad, and vice-versa.


Yes, you can get fat on rice, but it's much easier to get fat on sugar. Sugar messes with your body's signaling causing you to consume more than if you were just eating carbs. If we outlawed sugar today, I would place all my savings on the obesity rate declining.


Despite soda consumption dropping over the past 5 years, obesity rates have kept going up....


I'm personally observing that soda companies have diversified their products across sugary drinks and foods, acquisition or new proxy companies even (at least here in Asia). So called sports drinks, fruit juices, coffee/milk/chocolate/soy based sugary drinks, even oat-meals/cereals have over the years increased in SKUs; I bet the net sugar consumption would still be higher if you account all of these.


Same here in Europe (France), there is a dramatic increase in the consumption of Starbucks like sugary drinks in the recent years. And yes plus a whole range of "healthy" fruit/soy juices which are full of sugar.


It's just not the soda. The hidden sugar i.e. high fructose corn syrup is not literally in almost every imaginable product.


Do you have a source for this? The data I've seen in peer reviewed publications are based primarily on NHANES data, which doesn't cover recent history.

I've seen a Beverage Marketing Corporation graph that shows a 1% decline in soft drinks, but a 4-5% increase in ready-to-drink tea, sports drinks, and energy drinks. The raw Excel data is sold for $3000, so I don't know what the absolute values are, but it seems likely the decline is soda is largely being offset by equivalently bad/sugary replacement drinks.


There is plenty of Chinese food with lots of sugar in it, not to mention those that are super carb heavy. It isn’t just the western versions of Chinese food either, you could avoid processed and fast food and still have a problem.


I lived in mainland China for over 4 years. I lost weight switching from a typical American diet to Chinese one. I don't claim to know the cause, but the standard drink with meals was unsweetened tea, not soda. Yes, the meals were carb heavy, but these carbs were primarily vegetables. Rice was always served at the end, only to fill up, if you were still hungry.

From the hundreds of local restaurants to Foxconn's cafeteria, I am sure of a few things. Compared to Americans, they eat a higher percent of vegetables and fat and less meat. For example ordering a pork dish, might actually be chunks of pork fat that Americans would never eat.

As far as sweet foods, I only observed that when I was in Shanghai. Most Chinese do not like main courses to be sweetened.


I lived in Singapore for two months, eating mostly Malay, Hokkien, Chinese and Thai food. I ate lots and lots of noodles, because I love them, and quite a lot of rice. I really didn't control myself when eating as I do at home in Europe. And the result was that I lost a lot of weight.

Since then, I observed that I don't really get fat on pasta or rice. Eating lots of meat seems to be much worse for my body, and also sweets and sugar, but not carbs from pasta or rice.

People tell me that one shouldn't eat pasta for dinner, that now carbs are bad, fat is the way to go, etc... and I shrug. It doesn't work that way for me.


Is the food oily? I am more or less a vegetarian, and have always wondered why Chinese food is seemingly able to hold down obesity as compared to Indian food (I'm Indian) - well, modern Indian food at least. I am not sure whether the traditional Indian food of 70-80 years ago was as oily, fatty and unhealthy as today's fare.


Something I've observed in India is that (probably due to industry meddling), there have been campaigns to get people to switch from ghee to vegetable and palm oils, saying that ghee is unhealthy.

At the same time, obesity and diabetes rates have rocketed.

Of course, this is the only cause, but we had similar campaigns in the west against butter and lard, steering people towards vegetable oil.


One thing I noticed when I was in India, is that local curry has a lot of butter in it. Much more than I ever expected. It tasted delicious, but has its health costs.


Yes, every vegetable dish was drenched in an oily sauce. That one of my first observations and it held true in many different provinces.


Any Chengdu xiaochi in Beijing is pretty unhealthy. Kung pao chicken has a ton of sugar in it beside the vinegar. Those aren’t for tourists, also.

And let’s not even start with hotpot.


The difference now is that China struggled for a long time to feed it's population. It' just last two generations (or even just one in some places) who can eat until they're full.

Some of my Chinese friends living in the West were still underfed in their childhood, where they parents were definitely eating lean most of their lives.


> "you could avoid processed and fast food and still have a problem."

Citation needed.

In general cultures that don't eat much processed food are very lean compared with the West and there are dozens of indigenous populations studied that were lean and free of chronic diseases and that got sick and obese after being switched to a Western diet.

N.B. science has been very reductionist. People are waking up to the fact that not all calories are equal, but now we need to wake up to the fact that not all carbohydrates are equal either.

There is a huge difference between glucose and fructose and how our body reacts to them. Fructose gets harmful and fast. There is also a huge difference between safe starches like potatoes versus grains such as wheat. Seeds have natural toxins in them to protect against insects and animals that can be toxic for us too and wheat is one of the worst offenders, not to mention the fact that white flour is stripped of any micro-nutrients or fiber, being just empty calories, but with toxins.

No, I don't believe that traditional Chinese food is as obesogenic as Western diets are.


>"There is a huge difference between glucose and fructose and how our body reacts to them. Fructose gets harmful and fast."

I suppose you're primarily basing this on Dr. Robert Lustig's claims, correct me if I'm wrong. You should know that his claims are questionable, containing a lot of spurious speculation and dubious interpretations of statistics.

>"Seeds have natural toxins in them to protect against insects and animals that can be toxic for us too and wheat is one of the worst offenders"

You need to bring some citations to the table, particularly for this claim, because it is factually incorrect. Those compounds that are found in edible grains are not harmful to humans.

>"white flour is stripped of any micro-nutrients or fiber, being just empty calories, but with toxins."

White flour has less fiber and a worse nutritional profile when compared to whole grain flour, but to claim that it is "just empty calories" is factually incorrect. Even the whitest white flour naturally contains vitamins, minerals and protein, among other useful nutrients.

Do we westerners consume way too many empty calories in the form of sugar-laden drinks and candy? Yes, absolutely. But that does not make sugar a poison, it is merely a highly non-optimal source of nutrition.

We're hard-wired by evolution to consume energy-rich foods and only slowly get sated by them, because food used to be a scarce resource. So when a bush brimming with sweet berries was available, it was best to eat as much as possible, to build up energy reserves. We don't need to do this anymore, but we're fighting a natural impulse.


Alternative theory: modern lifestyle with very little exercise, exposure to natural light, less face to face human contact and many addictive devices like smartphones and tv causes people to have lower neurotransmitter levels, be more depressed and looking for cheap dopamine hits which junk food provides. There is a reason people on simulants lose weight even though they have access to the same food.

If that's true it doesn't matter what's available unless you straight up introduce ban on buying excess calories. On the other hand more exercise and other lifestyle changes could help with the problem.


The body processes sugar/high glycemic index food calories in a very different way. Also, sugar is a highly addictive drug, on par with tobacco.

Obesity is 90% diet (and avoiding sugars) and 10% exercise because the body is extremely efficient.


Why is sugar so much worse than starch?


Actually, some starchy foods are worse than pure sugar when considering their glycemic index. Jasmine rice, for example, has a GI of 109, where pure sugar is 100.

So choose your starches smartly so that you don't get the large spike in blood sugar that can lead to health problems.


And yet people in countries with primarily rice-based diets didn't have widespread obesity issues until they started introduced modern empty calorie-laden soda drinks and candy.

You can eat thousands of calories of candy or drink a similar amount of calories from soda in a day, and not feel particularly sated. Try doing that with rice and you'll feel bloated in no time.

A ~200g bag of peanut M&M's can easily be eaten by most people, during the ads in a cinema before the movie even starts. That's over 1000 calories right there, consumed in 10-15 minutes.


I had the same impression about countries with rice-based diets. But, anecdotally, after I moved to Thailand I learned that many of my spouse's relatives and friends are diabetic, some seriously. All of them are of older generations that were never exposed to modern junk food and don't indulge in it even now. But they have always eaten a lot of Jasmine rice and sticky rice, both very high GI foods. They typically were not obese, but they definitely were doing something that led to diabetes.

Actually, obesity seemed pretty rare when I first came to Thailand about 20 years ago. One rarely saw a truly big person when out shopping or dining. In fact, there used to be "jumbo" contests which were beauty pageants for obese women. Really large girls were considered sort of cute, and there really were not very many of them. Hence the contests. But that has changed and now the trend is the same as western countries with many obese young people indulging in modern junk food. They still eat the high GI rice-based diet, but now have added on sodas and all the other sugar-loaded junk food. The future is bleak.


Even how you cook starches impacts on the GI - the more cook them, the worse it gets.


Half of sugar is fructose which follows a different metabolic pathway than glucose.


> If that's true it doesn't matter what's available unless you straight up introduce ban on buying excess calories. On the other hand more exercise and other lifestyle changes could help with the problem.

Stimulants both raise your metabolic rate and lead to higher activity levels. Even just being a twitchy fidgety person (like you are on strong stimulants) is enough to offset the balance.


Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can account for hundreds of cal a day from what I remember.


It's true but the effect pales in comparison to just not being as hungry on them.


Feeling well/sleeping well is a great way to stay clear of unhealthy food/lifestyle.

Generellay speaking there's papers that describe posigive effects on weight loss when sleeping properly and eating at regular intervals.

Stress hormones are introduced by the body when tired (to keep us going when we are searching for food so we don't lay down and die).


It's not so easy to sleep well when your mental health isn't in good state. Moving more helps with Rusty and with sleep.


Nothing in the universe is "is just" anything. there are complicating variants to everything.

even the term "obesity" itself is used entirely too much to cover a massively wide rage of different issues.


The idea that there are types of foods which make you gain weight is incorrect. Anecdotal, but I've actually lost several kilos this year on a diet of pizza, fried chicken, and Coca-Cola (I was skinny to begin with -- I'm just even skinnier now). I'm not saying my diet is "healthy", but I do know that it hasn't made me obese.

I do, however, worry about the damage I might be causing my body without realising. All my research seems to point to obesity being the main cause of diet-related health issues -- but I'm not obese. I fast for most of the day, so I don't imagine I'll develop insulin sensitivity anytime soon. I walk for over an hour a day, so I don't imagine I'm at a high risk for heart disease. I lift weights twice a week, so I don't have a disproportionate amount of fat on my frame. Is there something I might be doing to myself without realising? I really just eat this way out of convenience. I'd hate to think I was going to die 30 years early because of it.


> The idea that there are types of foods which make you gain weight is incorrect.

I'm sorry but you are wrong. Calories-In and Calories-Out might be the main proponent, but it is just not the whole story. And you can find tons of research on it.

A link to a recent one, done by Harvard Medical School: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-11/bch-ldc11121...


He didn't say he ate a ton. He said he eats pizza and doesn't get fat. Well... I agree with him, I ate whatever I wanted for a few months but just half of what I usually eat... lost 7-8kg in 3 months. I was still eating pizza


Woah, that’s a huge difference. For those reading, the study claims that participants on a low-carb diet (20% carbs) burned 250 calories more per day than those on a high carb diet (60% carbs), while eating the same amount of calories as the high-carb dieters.

To be fair to me, though, the study doesn’t say that specific foods make you gain or lose weight. It says that an overall trend in one’s diet does.

I was thinking more in terms of how the general public seems to think “if I eat salad, I will lose weight” and “if I eat fried chicken, I will gain weight”, which I still don’t think is correct. Sorry if I wasn’t very clear about hat.


If you’re literally just eating pizza, fried chicken, and Coca Cola it seems like you might be missing out on some essential vitamins and minerals.

There’s also the concept of “skinny fat” but if you’re doing stuff like weightlifting I’m not sure that can happen.

Why not make a doctors appointment and have them test your blood and physical response if you’re concerned your diet may be damaging?


Doesn't sound so different from other fad diets - some are all carbs, others all protein. This one has some of both. Medieval peasants would have cried tears of joy to have that diet. Heck, kings of old would have enjoyed it.


Maybe some vegetables would be good though... Sounds like a recipe for a constipation disaster without them.


Ban cars and a lot of the problem will be gone.


It's possible. Let's ban them in a few cities and see what happens. All technology creates a certain order, change or eliminate the technology and all of reality changes... Whether that change is overall positive or negative is difficult to predict without going all in.

Our approach to technology is stupid because it relegates the decision of which technology is created or destroyed to human desire... which is open to all sorts of corruption and addiction. People will pay for the worst and most addictive thing because it appeals to their psychology not because it's something actually positive.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/nov/28/car-free-belg...


I don’t remember the study but HFCS is no more harmful than regular sugar. It’s just that HFCS causes mitochondrial disturbances in your liver when overfeeding. I’d suspect it would be the same for sugar. Banning and restriction is not the solution, it’s education. Especially when one is poor, one is not educated about the impact food choices have on their health. That’s why there is a high degree of correlation between being poor and obesity.


I don't know about "mitochondrial disturbances", however fructose gets metabolized only in the liver, so very unlike glucose or saturated or monounsaturated fat.

Fructose competes in the liver with other nutrients and in large quantities it becomes toxic, leading to a fatty liver, or a fatty pancreas. And as I wrote elsewhere, a fatty liver or a fatty pancreas are the best predictors of obesity or diabetes.

Our body is very efficient at processing glucose, so glucose is very different from fructose. This is why honey is much healthier than table sugar, because of the glucose/fructose ratio.

Also "the dose makes the poison". Eating a banana or two per day won't screw your liver, but drinking Coca Cola daily will.


Fructose is literally poison. Also not being more harmful than sugar is not much of a compliment, there are very few things that brought more harm to humans than sugar.


> Especially when one is poor, one is not educated about the impact food choices have on their health. That’s why there is a high degree of correlation between being poor and obesity.

In addition, healthy fresh food is expensive, especially more expensive than pre-made food, and poor persons are more likely to work two jobs and/or to raise a child alone, which means that they do not have the time to prepare a meal themselves.

Taxing sugar is nothing more than another tax on being poor or otherwise disadvantaged in life.


I don't have data, and realise my experience is limited as someone who can afford healthy fresh food. But I've noticed the sugar tax in the UK has led to a reduction in sugar in many items, rather than just passing the cost on to the consumer.


This is a hot take, but it's wrong.

Obesity is a result of genetics and the very simple, battle tested equation of: if calories_consumed > calories burned then x_amt_weight_gain.

That's it.

You can shift the scale in your favor by being born with the right genes, by not consuming as many calories, or burning more calories.

Obviously the most effective one is simply not putting those calories in your body to begin with.


I think you're both saying the same thing here. The key point is that nutrition can change the weights of your equation, which must be accurate even if by appealing to the conservation laws of the universe, in ways that are not obvious to many people. For instance aspartame, a fake '0 calorie' sugar, has been shown to have a relationship with weight gain by numerous studies including some controlled experimental studies. In other words it's not confounded by the fact that overweight/obese are likely substantially more likely to consume aspartame infused products than others.

But there's no magic there. While the exact mechanism isn't known (it's not that it simply makes you eat more food) it's going to come down to something that impairs your ability to burn calories. So the equation still stands. It just means that if you consume aspartame you need to eat even less to see weight loss (or not weight gain) than somebody who does not. In practice the exact opposite happens, and then people try to blame things outside their control - such as genetics. But such arguments hold little weight. Obesity has skyrocketed exponentially in just the past several decades. People didn't suddenly all spontaneously change their genetics. But nutritional standards, and indeed calories consumed, both radically changed for the worse.


Do you ever find yourself thinking, "that looks easy, but maybe there's more nuance here?"


The nuance here is all in the difficulty of actually taking in fewer calories, due to things like limited willpower


This took me probably too long to figure out.

As a kid i was always told to finish my plate, then the usual "think of the starving kids" guilt trips, and whatever else.

As an adult, I just eat smaller portions of the same garbage I ate before, and I started to lose a bit of weight. I didn't change anything else (at the time).

Now I'm working on the rest, but the biggest stepping stone for me was literally just eating smaller portions.


Sure. I also find myself thinking "things really don't have to be as hard as people make them out to be"


Medical intervention based on “eat less, exercise more” has a success rate around 2%

So yes, it really is that hard.

And mostly because it isn’t as simple as the calories in/calories out model. Lots of things contribute in various way. And if anything dieting and exercise can actually make things worse if done wrong. In the “biggest loser” approach, f.ex, all contestants, ended up with a lower metabolic rate, and of course all but one ended up gaining more weight than before the show.


Well, it sounds to me like it worked but then they stopped and blame their failure on their success.

People can't stay healthy their whole life if they only eat healthy for a few months.


Heres the follow up. It’s not just a case of blame, there were measurable harm as a result.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/6-years-after-the...

But I agree, a healthy diet probably could help them, the one they tried wasn’t it though.


> Medical intervention based on “eat less, exercise more” has a success rate around 2%

Wait, shit. So what should one do?


Not determined yet it seems but from the looks of things an upgraded model involving the endocrine system and more recently the gut microbiome seems promising.

The obesity code referenced in a sibling comment is an interesting read absolutely, fasting is the authors suggestion. It doesn’t talk much of gut microbiome, which seems like a big factor from recent studies, but mentions a very interesting connection to fiber intake though which the author (at that time) interprets simply as a means, to lower GI.

Edit: My take - Avoid sugar and sweeterners (Probably want at least 14-days between servings) - Avoid highly processed grains, treat them as sugars, go for whole grains and things with husks instead - In general avoid things that trigger cravings - Healthy fats (nuts, virgin olive oil) are an excellent source of calories, don’t go hungry - Eat lots (lots) of different vegetables - (for adults) Take longer fasts from time to time (3+ days, but probably no more than a week without proper guidance) - East at most two times a day


Intermittent fasting. (See "The Obesity Code" by Jason Fung, MD.)




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