Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
A Chemical Hunger: Mysteries (slimemoldtimemold.com)
137 points by apsec112 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 198 comments

This series of blog posts is a fascinating read into conjectured factors behind the obesity epidemic.

I wish the author had continued their rigor in reasoning throughout the two blog posts. Step by step the author is lured into proving a single factor explains the rise in obesity. That maybe a futile attempt from the outset.

To make an example, the author notes, correctly and to the point,

> "Calories are involved in the math but it’s not as simple as “weight gain = calories in – calories out”."

but then moves on to claim that "X provides evidence against CICO" when in fact the article cites numerous examples where an increase/decrease in calories results in a (short-term) increase/decrease in body weight. So what the author really meant was "X provides evidence against CICO as the single factor".

I'm not an expert in nutrition science but it seems very unlikely that a single factor (sugar! trans-fats! exercise! genetics!) will explain a real-world, highly non-linear phenomenon. I personally find the paragraphs where the interactions of factors are discussed the weakest and least convincing.

That is not to say the article is excellent and hammers home two very important points: Firstly the idea of the lipostat and as a result a short and a long-term time scale ('system') for body weight gain/loss. Secondly that factors relevant on one time scale may not be relevant to the other time scale. And of course that there is still a lot we simply don't understand (yet).

The short term overeating studies produce what we might call highly nonlinear results, which also undermines CICO (which is a linear equation). It's pretty obvious the body has other ways to dump exceeds calories than turning them into fat stores. Those studies, and the obvious tendency of diets to fail in the long term, are strong support for some kind of lipostat system, to my mind.

Others have mentioned gut biomes... My uneducated guess is plastics or some other chemical that was introduced into industrial use in the 20th century. The cross species effect (lab and zoo animals getting father on the same controlled diets) is also a really big clue that were dealing with a molecule. And, as with lead poisoning from gasoline, perhaps a hard to pinpoint one due to prevalence.

Dunno the relationship seems pretty straightforward to me:


There is certainly some diminishing returns effect but it seems much less important than kcal in-kcal out.

My interpretation was: "what is responsible for the inflection point that occurred in 1980?"

Perhaps it's still not a single factor (which, I agree, would make a lot of sense) but IIUC that does raise the question of why there seems to be a single inflection point.

I know exactly why I'm fat. I consistently continue eating after already feeling full. Regardless of whether it's socially designated as a "health food" or "junk food".

Most of the pleasure of eating and drinking comes from the first few bites and sips, after that the senses start dulling and diminishing returns start to set in, so it's really no big loss to stop when full. Certainly not worth getting indigestion over.

A few weeks of disciplined eating seriously diminishes the urge to overeat, but all it takes to settle into old habits is a single slip-up. I think making food artificially unpalatable by cutting salt, fat, or whatever ingredient is currently being vilified is just unproductive. It will just make the experience frustrating and unsatisfying no matter how much or little you eat.

Check this out - https://physiqonomics.com/fat-loss/ helped me a lot (I lost 23 kg since March).

Not sure if this is relevant but these things have helped me with suppressing appetite in order of commitment/severity:

- Extra protein even a protein powder, egg

- Complex carbs like beans

- No added sugar

- No processed food


- Intranasal insulin (diy - i am not diabetic)

- Adderall

Saying "Calories In Calories Out" is what makes you fat is as interesting as saying "Money In Money Out" is what makes you poor.

It's tautologically true but doesn't help anybody.

It also assumes that the human body is a machine with singular inputs and singular outputs, as though it’s a pure function.

But it’s more complicated than that. Especially when you bring homeostasis into it, where the body will adjust calorific expenditure downwards in response to sustained reduced calorific intake, as just a single example.

But there’s lots of things going on that influence the calories coming in, the calories stored and the calories expended. It’s unfair to reduce it down so far.

It leads to fat shaming by people whom have never struggled with their weight who justify their cruelty by parroting “calories in calories out”.

Even worse, some of those will do silly experiments where they put on weight really really fast and then lose it just as fast, totally ignoring the fact that their body has been in the original state for a long time.

>It leads to fat shaming by people whom have never struggled with their weight who justify their cruelty by parroting “calories in calories out”.

Is it? In my experience the people who parrot that are people who were fat and through a combination of diet and exercise returned to a healthy weight.

I do agree though there's more to weight loss than just CICO(maybe insulin). Peter attia had a recent interesting episode on obesity and nutritional science.


It’s not cruel, it’s science. If it’s not working it’s not being done correctly. I struggled when I was younger.

It's science but it doesn't give very useful actionable things you can do to change your weight. Generally people interpret it to mean you get two inputs you can change, food intake and exercise, and they're independent. Unfortunately, those two things are not independent. Increased exercise often leads to increased hunger which leads to increased eating for many people in the real world. Just saying "eat less" in this context is about as useful as telling someone to be better at their job. Many people will not have the willpower to sustain eating the diet they currently eat but eat less of it. Decreasing calories consumed can lower basal metabolic rate. You can easily google for data on this from the Biggest Loser contestants.

There are also other ways to modify those two parameters that don't involve food and exercise. Are you a type 1 diabetic and want to lose weight? Just under dose your insulin and the pounds will fly off. Want to lose weight but you aren't diabetic? Take a little DNP. Want to lose weight faster? Take a little more DNP. Just don't take too much or instead of losing weight you'll die of hyperthermia. Taking DNP or under dosing insulin are not things I would ever recommend anyone do but they are both examples of non food and activity related ways to affect calories out.

Not sure if science ever justifies the cruelty of fat shaming mate?

It's value neutral. It's just a fact. It's like saying the sky is blue, or the earth is a sphere. How people react to that information is up to them.

What other science would you like prevented to spare people's feelings?

So, really, you agree that science cannot justify the cruelty of fat shaming? As you said, it’s value neutral.

Which part of my comment says I’d like science to spare people’s feelings?

Show me the science that justifies fat shaming and inappropriate behaviour.

Fat shaming somebody because “science” doesn’t make you any less of shit person. In fact, you can’t really use any science to excuse poor behaviour.

So I think we might be in violent agreement? Do you talk to your mother like that when you misunderstand her? Wow.

I'm saying that the phenomena of fat shaming should not be used to suppress the fact that calories in/calories out is how you lose weight and works.

Would I run up to a morbidly fat person and shout "Calories in/Calories out"? No. Would I contradict an obese person who said "Calories In/Calories Out" was wrong? Yes.

> Would I run up to a morbidly fat person and shout "Calories in/Calories out"? No.

What precisely do you mean by Calories in/Calories out? Do you mean the very basic observation that eating significantly more or less than you eat today will help increase or decrease your weight, all things being equal? This is clearly true, but doesn't explain why some people naturally overeat, while others naturally undereat, and why overeating has been significantly increasing all over the world.

Or do you mean that people gain a pound for every 3.5k Cal that they eat? Because these sorts of numbers are pure gunk - there is huge variance between individuals in terms of how much overeating will cause how much weight gain. The relationship is also highly non-linear.

The former. In animal farming, they measure "food conversion ratio" i.e. they want animals that will get as close as possible to turning 1kg of food into 1kg of body weight. Some animals within the same type can vary in this value. I've often wondered if something similar happens in humans.

No-one said monitoring and reducing your calories is easy, but it is simple.

Okay, which part of my comment says that fat shaming should be used to suppress science?

Which part of my comment says that it’s wrong? It IS a simplified view and there ARE many more variables that influence the success of dietary change. And there are even more that influence the wider obesity problem. But that doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s wrong.

As you said, the sky is blue. Is that wrong? No. Is it simplified? Yes, sometimes it’s grey. Sometimes it’s a deep blue. Sometimes it’s pretty much black. But, generally speaking, yeah it’s blue.

Is CICO the solution to the obesity epidemic? No, because it’d have worked to reduce the epidemic by now. It’s clearly _not_ the only thing we need to solve the epidemic. There is a difference between the method to lose weight and the solution to the obesity epidemic. The latter has many more variables in play.

Next time you contradict an obese person who “says CICO is wrong”, make sure they’re actually saying it’s wrong.

I am, however, glad you wouldn’t run up to people and shout “calories in / calories out”. That‘s a relief.

>>Not sure if science ever justifies the cruelty of fat shaming mate?

You literally said it here.

But it's the fundamental, most basic truth.

If there is anything that people who want to lose weight should do, it's eat less. Skip the snack. Smaller portions. That's incredibly hard to do, of course, and easier said than done, but ultimately it is behind virtually all successful weight loss. What is behind an enormous number of failed weight loss attempts are waving that away and believing some specific macronutrient is really the cause, if you just subscribe to whatever the current trend is.

People get really upset about the calories reality.

And indeed if you compare caloric intake between say 1970 and 2010, there was a significant jump in the average diet. Grain products rose, but not nearly as much as fats and oils rose. People ate more and they got fatter. When excess accumulates over time, the increase doesn't have to be large. More calories in, BMI increased.

People in the 2000's weighed about 10% more than people in the '80s who ate the same amount of calories, with the same micronutrient distribution, and did the same amount of exercise [1].

And what about non-humans? Animals are getting fatter, too [2]. Some of this can be explained by humans eating more, hence making more food available to those animals that eat human leftovers or steal human food. But this weight gain has also been noted in laboratory animals which are on controlled diets.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/why-it-wa...

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/news.2010.628

The nonsensical "lab animal" argument has been debunked a dozen times. It is bullshit. For animal rights reasons, labs switched to rats and mice being given a perpetual, self-serve diet of food. Unsurprisingly they ended up fatter than mice and rats given portioned foods. When they are given portioned foods...what do you know, they're not fat any more.

"People in the 2000's weighed about 10% more than people in the '80s who ate the same amount of calories, with the same micronutrient distribution, and did the same amount of exercise [1]"

To say that the cited study is laughable gives it far too much credit. For instance it specifically and only considers leisure activities. As to self-described dietary results, the only takeaway is that people are far more full of shit now than then. It is Ginny in the Sopranos boasting about their diet while eating chocolate bars in the laundry room.

It's interesting how gullible people who are otherwise so discerning are when it comes to diet, particularly for dietary excuses. There is no field that has been so rife with study that upsets study, and gross scientific malpractice, as nutrition. But hey, here's one study where they mangled numbers from sets decades apart and drew some viral result. Serious groan.

I don't try to measure how much calories I eat. I just skip meals. Turn out it's a lot easier than eating less per meals. Fasting is much easier for me to do.

However, when your parents constantly ask you if you want to eat, it's a bitch to resists the temptation.

I had lost 20 lbs without needing to keep track of how much food I eat, as opposed to how many meals I eat.

Anyway, I doubt reduction of calories is how you're going to keep your desired weight. CICO in the long term is a failure. Partly, because our model is actually wrong. Exercise is basically useless for reducing calories, because it's both very hard to do a lot of it, and your basal metabolism adjusts in the long run by adjusting itself to be lower. You should still do exercise, and if you can around 750 minutes per week, which is when you start hitting diminishing return.

> Anyway, I doubt reduction of calories is how you're going to keep your desired weight

People at a healthy weight consume less calories. Caloric intake has a perfect correlation with obesity. The psychological element is hugely difficult, but the science of "if you eat more you're going to be heavier" is very firm.

The Japanese eat, on average, 25% less calories than Americans. They have an obesity rate of 4% versus 36% in the US. This despite eating loads of "bad" calories like simple carbs (white processed rice).

> People at a healthy weight consume less calories. Caloric intake has a perfect correlation with obesity. The psychological element is hugely difficult, but the science of "if you eat more you're going to be heavier" is very firm.

The word 'psychological' is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. We have no reason to believe it is more or less likely for overeating to be caused by psychological rather than metabolic or other systemic reasons.

The fact of the matter remains that some people struggle with their weight while others don't. CICO doesn't address this at all.

Of course, CICO also doesn't work very well when comparing between people, despite your claim. For example, people with endocrin disorders are well known to lose or gain weight disproportionately in relation to their diets. Base metabolic rates vary significantly between people, even healthy ones. There are other discrepancies as well, which mean that, knowing person A and person B eat the same amount of calories and exercise the same amount will not help you to predict the weight gain/loss difference between them.

Yes of course. But its a fact: a given person can restrict calories from where they are at, and lose more. That's physics. Anything getting away with that simple algorithm is fairly classed under "psychological".

It's true, but uninteresting. Insisting on this truth is harmful, because it makes an assumption that people can just choose to eat less without any negative consequences. People love pretending that calories in is simply a matter of rational choice, not a complex result of our inner machinery.

We are biological machines, and the amount we eat is biologically determined by our bodies (assuming food is widely available). We can somewhat influence that with rational thought, but to a limited degree, just like we can choose to breathe in faster or slower, but we can't maintain that for any length of time.

Hey I'm all aboard that. It's under the umbrella of "psychological".

"Psychological" has certain implications that ultimately this is under the individual's control, it's all in their had and they can fix it.

If it is endocrine instead, we would be looking for a drug to fix it, or a specific pollutant that could be removed. No one will tell you 'hey, it's your thyroid, just make it go a little faster'.

Your body adjusting itself to burn less energy is also physics.

It's like having a thermostat that adjust the temperature to 70 degrees, and you want it to be 75. So your solution is to bring in more heat while ignoring the thermostat. The thermostat adjust by engaging the air conditioner. Which certainly will work, but also very inefficient.

Your body isn't that stupid and it's not certainly a dumb engine.

Adjust within limits. And the limits are fairly narrow. It's also true that hard exercise will blow away those limits, and require more food. Every single time.

But hard exercise is hard! Folks don't want to do it. They want to stretch and walk around a track and pretend. But they don't want to do 20 miles on a bike. They convince themselves that they can't. Or they try and get aches and pains and decide that's bad. Pretty much throwing up roadblocks right and left, anything to avoid the work.

We all know this. It's why there are 1000 books about tricks and diets and how to fool yourself. Because we want to do that instead. But we can stop enabling that; stop making excuses for small issues about body adjustments and so on.

OK? You and I can do these things, but we are outliers. For example, 750 minutes of exercise per week is a lot is what I estimated from a study for diminishing return for health. That's 12.5 hours, let alone meeting the weekly minimum requirement.

Most people are busy, they have jobs or families or kids. Yet decades ago, these same people aren't fat.

We all know this. It's why there are 1000 books about tricks and diets and how to fool yourself. Because we want to do that instead. But we can stop enabling that; stop making excuses for small issues about body adjustments and so on.

There's certainly no magic trick, but being dogmatic or smug isn't helpful either.

No. We're not outliers. Except from the psychological point of view, sure. Which is where this started. We've got 1000 voices reinforcing the view that some magic pill exists, and that has its effect.

Smugness is nowhere in sight. More like resignation and sadness.

Why do you believe this is a psychological problem and not a physiological problem?

I believe for the vast majority of people, buckling down and doing some hard exercise would make a world of difference. The greatest obstacle to that is a mental one, reinforced by culture and the medical infrastructure.

Hard exercise is the least efficient form of weight control - it is hard, it is unpleasant when you're starting out, it takes loads of time, it has a risk of injury, it is very likely to make you overeat.

Why, of all things, do you think forcing people to do hard exercise would be effective for the vast majority of people, compared to, say, an improved diet?

All those things are hyperbole, repeated endlessly to warn people away from exercise. It's a cultural thing, and we're embedded in that culture. But exercise is the normal state for humans, and to think otherwise is a weird local phenomenon.

The mirage of 'an improved diet' is the current fad idea and the topic of this conversation. Why doesn't it work for most people? Why are there 1000 books about it, and still no consensus?

I'm not sure who is supposed to be repeating this endlessly to warn people away, but most people discover these things if they actually try hard exercise for themselves.

'Forcing people' should have been 'having people force themselves', too late to edit now.

Except in rare cases of severe disease, basal metabolic rates only vary by a few percent between people with the same sex, height, and weight. Some people are too quick to blame a "slow metabolism" for gaining weight. I always recommend they quantify it will a simple resting metabolic rate test. Those are cheap and non-invasive.

Here's the information from Wikipedia [0]:

> The basic metabolic rate varies between individuals. One study of 150 adults representative of the population in Scotland reported basal metabolic rates from as low as 1027 kcal per day (4301 kJ/day) to as high as 2499 kcal/day (10455 kJ/day); with a mean BMR of 1500 kcal/day (6279 kJ/day). Statistically, the researchers calculated that 62.3% of this variation was explained by differences in fat free mass. Other factors explaining the variation included fat mass (6.7%), age (1.7%), and experimental error including within-subject difference (2%). The rest of the variation (26.7%) was unexplained. This remaining difference was not explained by sex nor by differing tissue size of highly energetic organs such as the brain.

So this study [1] claims ~25% difference in BMR that is NOT explained by sex, weight, height, lean body mass etc. That can mean some people can eat an extra burger a day compared to others without gaining more weight.

It's also important to note that BMR is not the only biological component here. Both CI and CO are biologically determined, they are not under 100% rational control. There are clear differences in people in terms of appetite/hunger reaction, and in terms of desire for physical activity, that we don't have a known explanation for (psychology? endocrinology? metabolic causes? gut biome? other?). This is, in fact, the biggest biologically determined component of obesity that is usually entirely ignored and blamed entirely on the individual's self-control.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_metabolic_rate#Causes_of...

[1] https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fajcn%2F82.5.941

People at a healthy weight consume less calories. Caloric intake has a perfect correlation with obesity. The psychological element is hugely difficult, but the science of "if you eat more you're going to be heavier" is very firm.

It is uncontroversial that by reducing calories in one's diet that it will cause weight loss. The controversy is centered around weight control, whether an individual can keep the weight at a stable level over the long run. In that sense, all diet fails.

I would contend that how many calories a person eat is only a proximal cause of obesity, especially since CICO is actually an incorrect model of how our body work.

Almost all diets succeed, if you actually follow them instead of just complaining. But it requires making a permanent lifestyle change. I know several people who have done that over the long run.

Almost all diets succeed, if you actually follow them instead of just complaining. But it requires making a permanent lifestyle change. I know several people who have done that over the long run.

Several people as in how many out of those that failed. If the statistics tell us that 90% of people failed, then these diets or programs are still an utter failure. By saying it is some kind of moral failing or willpower means we decided to be lazy about investigating the cause of obesity.

Remember, the obesity epidemic is a modern phenomenon. There are countries around the world that are still relatively lean.

I'm not surprised to see your comment in the grey even though everything you're saying is absolutely true. I've lost >150lbs and kept it off[0] and I can assure everyone that the one thing that absolutely 100% works for losing weight is eating less. It's also the most difficult thing, which is why everyone wants to believe bullshit marketing that says otherwise.

[0] put about 30lb on during the pandemic period that I'm working off again.

That is well known and undisputed. The question is: when can you stop eating less than your body is telling you that you should? Did you ever get rid of the hunger?

I lost about 30kg (105 -> 75) by eating less, excersing more, all in about the span of a year. I never stopped feeling hungry overall for this period, constantly had to fight the urge to eat more. In periods where high stress reduced my willpower, I started putting back weight. I've put on about 10kg back in the following 5 years, so on balance I'm still in pretty good shape, but the trend is clear.

The mystery is why I have this relationship with food, and why other people don't. Most thin people are not going to bed dreaming of tomorrow's meal.

Yep, that's basically the same with me and as far as I can tell pretty much everyone else who's had to lose a lot of weight. The only thing I've ever found that allowed me to not feel hungry was amphetamines. Until that brief period where I was on them I'd never before had the experience of forgetting to eat that people sometimes talk about. Unfortunately, amphetamines bring a lot of undesirable effects with them too.

I eagerly await the day science figures out how to stop my food cravings and delivers it in a form I can obtain easily.

"That is well known and undisputed."

Unfortunately, loads of people in this very thread are disputing it. This submission is based upon the bizarre hope that there's a mysterious external influence that's actually causing people to gain weight, and not the merely coincidental simultaneous rise in caloric intake.

The psychological element is complex and profoundly difficult. That is without question.

The whole point of the article is that the rise on caloric intake isn't merely coincidental and simultaneous, but there's some mysterious external influence that causes people in comparable conditions to eat more calories.

People in cushy office jobs eating as much calories as they want in 1900 are much less obese than similar people in 2000. How come? It's not that the 1900s office workers put in more effort or attention to limit their calorie consumption and burn more calories, it's entirely the other way around.

People in another culture eating a very sweet-heavy diet (and eating as much of it as they want) apparently consume much less calories than similar people in USA. How come?

The psychological element apparently wasn't as difficult some decades ago - people in 1960s who had as much food as they wanted, and the same kinds of tempting calorie-rich snacks available, were much less obese not because they were better at overcoming some psychological difficulties, but because apparently much fewer of them had such difficulties to overcome. How come?

It would be valid to reduce weight gain to "How to eat as much calories as you should instead of as much calories as you intuitively want" if and only if wanting to eat much more calories than you should is some innate, natural thing. The article points out that the spread of this tendency is a novel thing, it used to be rare, and perhaps it can be made rare again, so it's worth investigating the cause of that unhealthy appetite miscalibration instead of having people fight through the symptom (which they're failing at, because it's hard).

If someone's organism was working properly, they should not need to pay attention to CICO as the body will balance both "CI" and "CO" to get a decent non-obese result - the experience of earlier times and other cultures shows that the human body almost always (96% of non-obesity) does that naturally. If now the same mechanism is failing for 40% of the population instead of 4%, that is not caused by a change in ignoring CICO, people were ignoring CICO hundred years ago as well.

I am not sure whether we can reduce this to psychological elements. After all, laboratory rats and wild animals that eat our food leftovers grow fatter too, not just us humans. Arguably, rat or raccoon psychology is rather different from ours.

I believe that the problem is not that different from the problem of alcoholism. Everyone lives in a society soaked with alcohol, some people do not feel an urge to drink at all, some people manage to keep their consumption in healthy limits for 50 years, some end up as hopeless wretches in 10 years.

It's very possible that there is an external influence that's causing people to feel the need to eat more and gain more weight from what they're eating - this is precisely my point, and the point of the article.

The fact that you can force yourself to eat less than you feel the need to and lose weight in the process does not prove, as you seem to think, that weight gain is simply explained by people being weak willed and eating burgers instead of salad. You still have to ask why this change actually occurred, since it seems that it has occurred in the general US population about 50 years ago and most of the world has been following suit.

Where did they say it had to do with being "weak willed"? That's your projection.

That is the implication, if you look through all the comments: people all feel the same, but some know that they shouldn't eat so much while others make excuses, for "complex psychological causes".

It no more fundamental or surprising than the "truth" that giving up smoking is done by not smoking cigarettes.

The point is that it's entirely unsurpising. It's the most basic, trivial thing possible.

But there are massive industries[1] that exist to tell people that no, it's really that you aren't eating enough food that is red. Or that fell to the ground. Or whatever. Whatever magical, simple fix means that they can still eat an excess of calories. These diets have a failure rate approaching 100%. The US is the most diet focused country in planetary history, yet also one of the fattest.

Maybe pretending that the basic thermodynamics are just some unachievable mirage is a really profoundly stupid approach?

And yes, people who have actually lost weight (or, more often than not, not gain it in the first place) simply ate less (it's magnitudes harder to burn more calories to any meaningful amount). Virtually universally.

But this makes obese people angry. It always makes them angry.

[1] - And authors. This paper cites Stephen Guyenet casually dismissing "CICO". The guy makes his living pitching easy "AHA" moments to fat people. It is, ironically, his bread and butter.

Your fundamental truth is based on a false premises that the goal is weight loss as opposed to health, more specifically metabolic health.

But lets assume it all boils down to calories in/calories out, your solution is singularly focused on calories in (eating less), that in a vacuum has no effect of calories out except generally a negative effect (your body will adapt and try to burn less calories). Thus, you are ignoring that the form of calories in directly effects the calories out, and that there are better ways to balance the equation by increasing calories out without necessarily reducing calories in, or in some cases increasing calories out might even require a caloric surplus (such as muscle building).

Obesity has an extremely high correlation with poor health. But that's irrelevant as this thread is specifically on weight.

"that in a vacuum has no effect of calories out except generally a negative effect (your body will adapt and try to burn less calories)"

This is comically overstated. No, your body doesn't magically become super efficient. This is, again, feel good pablum to make people feel better about their situation, sure it is an unwinnable battle without Magic Product or System ("buy my new book and subscribe to my It's Everyone Else's Fault newsletter!"). But the feel good stuff clearly is astonishingly ineffective. This tact hasn't worked.

Find any person who is overweight but claims they starve themselves and log and count calories. In 100% of cases you will find a calorie excess, likely significant. Find someone who is a healthy weight but claims they "eat anything they want". In 100% of cases -- okay 99.9% maybe they have a big tapeworm -- they will have a lower caloric intake.

The latter is someone who likely skips meals. They don't snack. They don't drink giant sugary drinks. And then when it's pizza day they have four slices and all of the high BMI sorts lament how they wish they had such a "high metabolism" and that they can "eat anything". It's all bullshit.

There is a significant, very difficult psychological component to eating in excess. It is a very hard problem. But I'll take every angry downvote by people who seriously want to refute the core, fundamental truth about calories, likely while parroting nonsensical myth.

> Find any person who is overweight but claims they starve themselves and log and count calories. In 100% of cases you will find a calorie excess, likely significant. Find someone who is a healthy weight but claims they "eat anything they want". In 100% of cases -- okay 99.9% maybe they have a big tapeworm -- they will have a lower caloric intake.

I take great issue with you saying 'they claim to starve themselves'. The entire point is that people who are obese can feel that they are starving while eating twice the calories that they should. Some other people feel full after eating half the calories that they should. This is the almost the entire problem, the unexplained difference.

And, despite your claim, there are also demonstrable differences in the base metabolic rate between people. One of the most basic is the difference between men and women, which is usually estimated to be about 25% — men are generally accepted to have to eat about 2500 Cal per day to keep their weight, while women should only eat about 2000 Cal (for example, by the NHS [0]). There is no reason to think that, if there can be a 25% difference in the BMR between men and women, there can't be similar differences between individuals as well. Of course, you won't find anyone who eats 10k Cal and is not gaining weight (outside professional athletes, perhaps), or anyone who is eating 100 Cal and not losing weight. But it's quite plausible for someone to eat two extra pizza slices and still lose weight compared to someone else.

[0] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/wha...

>I take great issue with you saying 'they claim to starve themselves'.

I'm being pretty overt that when people make that claim they are often being dishonest. They know they are eating too much. There are psychological issues underlying this, but if someone tells you how little they eat yet they're gaining weight, they're likely lying.

> And, despite your claim, there are also demonstrable differences in the base metabolic rate between people.

Nowhere did I contest this. Men have more muscle mass than women and are generally larger. But between people otherwise equal, claims about varying metabolisms are largely bullshit. It is magnitudes less of an influence than it is held as.

I've been cited as a "fast metabolism" examples many times in my life. I skip meals constantly, can manage to go through a movie without eating a bucket of butter-soaked popcorn and a jug of coke, etc. I eschew all of those things. Then there's a bbq and I eat two burgers and the upper BMI people all gather around to tell the tale about how easy it is for me, what with my "fast metabolism". It's horseshit. It's destructive, self-enabling nonsense.

Another guy mentioned that when his belt size starts getting tight he knows it's time to cut back. Precisely my tactic. There have been a few times where suddenly slacks are a little tight and it isn't a signal that I need to buy new clothes or go to the next rung, but instead means it's time that I skip the occasional snack.

> I'm being pretty overt that when people make that claim they are often being dishonest. They know they are eating too much. There are psychological issues underlying this, but if someone tells you how little they eat yet they're gaining weight, they're likely lying.

The fact that they are overeating doesn't mean that they aren't also feeling very hungry, truthfully. And again, neither you nor I know if it's a psychological issue or metabolic or endocrine or anything else (or a combination).

These are the two key facts that the article is discussing and you are completely ignoring in favor of feeling superior about your self control ("I can go through a movie without eating a bucket of butter-filled popcorn").

It angers me that your comments have been consistently grey. As I've mentioned elsewhere I've lost significant amounts of weight (>150lbs, about half my peak body weight) and so am excruciatingly painfully aware of the absolute truth of what you're saying.

> Your fundamental truth is based on a false premises that the goal is weight loss as opposed to health

I think you're the one with the misconception. Obesity is consistently a contributor to health problems. Losing weight is definitely healthier for anyone who is obese and the way you lose weight is to eat less. Period. Full stop.

There are strategies for eating less that may or may not be more effective for most people, but it when it gets right down to it anyone telling you that you don't have to eat less is a snakeoil salesman.

> Losing weight is definitely healthier for anyone who is obese and the way you lose weight is to eat less. Period. Full stop.

What if someone eats the same but creates the caloric deficit through increased exercise? Will they lose weight?

Just like OP you want to simplify things as calories in/calories out while entirely ignoring calories out.

Losing weight is not healthy in and of itself, even in obese people, however, losing weight can be a byproduct of making healthy dietary and lifestyle changes.

Calories is just a unit of measurement of metabolic energy, that energy comes in 3 forms fat (ketones), glucose, and alcohol and is metabolized into energy (adp), but that energy production (metabolism) is more a measurement of health than a measurement of the total number of calories in. That is what you are ignoring.

Edit: I’m sure you have lost your weight through eating less. But have you changed and improved the actual foods you consume also? Have you begun to burn more through improved dietary metabolism and/or increased exercise? I have a hard time believing one day you were eating nutritionally deficient and caloric dense foods and lost 150 by making no other changes than simply eating less of the same calorically dense and nutritionally deficient food. Even more unlikely would be you being obese eating low calories nutritionally dense foods, and lost 150lbs reducing the calories.

> What if someone eats the same but creates the caloric deficit through increased exercise? Will they lose weight?

Yes, but there's a reason for the saying "you can't outrun a bad diet". I get it though, you're technically correct and that's the best kind according to meme science.

> I’m sure you have lost your weight through eating less. But have you changed and improved the actual foods you consume also?

Yes, because that's one of the things that makes it easier. Some foods are more satiating than others. And yes, I did increase in exercise. In fact, the exercise preceded the weight loss because the activity I took up (rock climbing) was what finally provided enough motivation for me to overcome my desire to eat more.

> I have a hard time believing one day you were eating nutritionally deficient and caloric dense foods and lost 150 by making no other changes than simply eating less of the same calorically dense and nutritionally deficient food.

It's harder, but definitely possible: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/....

My point being, you can add all the exercise you want but if you're not paying attention to your caloric intake then chances are you're just going to eat more to make up for the expended calories.

How does it ignore it while specifically citing it, over and over again?

However the basic reality is that it's a lot easier/achievable to significantly change calories in. Simple keeping your body and brain operating is actually a pretty energy expensive function, such that dramatically increasing your activity is only going to mildly increase your daily energy use.

You can not eat that muffin....or exercise on the stair climber for an hour, for instance. As an aside, loads of exercise equipment and guides effectively lie about this by including basal calories with active calories, grossly overstating the calories "burned" by activities.

So again, exercise. Eat healthy. But most importantly of all, eat less.

> That's incredibly hard to do, of course

Only for fat people. People like me find it fairly easy.

Over my adult life[currently 75yo], my weight has fluctuated modestly year to year (as measured by the tightness of my belt). When my abdominal circumference has grown by a couple belt notches, I tend to eat less for a while, until the belt is less tight. THIS REQUIRES ALMOST NO WILLPOWER OR CONSCIOUS ATTENTION ON MY PART. Why????

TFA, and particularly the second part (link near the bottom) does quite a bit to refute this. It’s worth reading it all the way through.

I mean, I think you can make a case that calories in calories out might not make as much sense for some thinner people in that, almost regardless what they eat, they can find ways to either burn or not process the calories. I don't think he does such a good job making the case it doesn't apply the other way. A body needs a set amount of energy to function, you reduce intake enough and weight drops. No lack of figeting or slightly lower core temp is going to be able to outweigh the lack of calories going in. That being said...

I think the real question raised by this article is why eating at the level required to maintain a specific body weight is second nature to some and torture to others. 'Calories in calories out' starts to sound a lot like 'if you don't want to be addicted don't do drugs'. It's much easier said than done by someone who doesn't understand addiction. In fact it's almost worse than addiction, as someone hooked on heroin or booze can do rehab or some other form where you just can't get ahold of those. But if you're addicted to food, you have to deal with the subject of your addiction 3 meal times a day (plus advertising!). That's a hard place to be.

We've known for decades that cigarettes are addictive. We've known that opiates are addictive. We know that alcohol in excess can be addictive.

Loads of people took in that information and never became addicted (at least until the medical industry tricked them into addiction). The information "if you don't want to be addicted don't do the thing that is sure to get you addicted" is very good advice. It is irrefutable advice.

Once you're addicted it's an entirely different, much more difficult problem. But it isn't a better understanding of addiction to say "Whoa, look I used heroin at a bunch of parties and now I crave heroin, therefore you shouldn't tell people to not do drugs". It doesn't follow.

None of this explains the cross species effects, though. Zoo and lab animals are also seeing a rise in obesity under controlled diets. There's clearly an additional environmental and/or chemical effect involved here.

It isn't clear at all.

a) Humans are spectacularly efficient at turning solar energy into bioavailable calories. This impacts virtually every animal.

b) Lab and zoo diets have dramatically changed. For instance in the lab there was a change from specific portioned diets to the notion that food should always be provided. Any study that claims that there was some mysterious rise in obesity is simply lying. And again there is a push for controlled, restricted diets because having sedentary rats and mice who can eat whenever they want is yielding unhealthy subjects.

c) The study this article links was lead by a guy who is an advisor to Coca-cola, Kraft, Frito-Lay, the Restaurant Association, among others. It is a profoundly corrupt industry, and yeah the notion that some mysterious unknown cause is to blame is convenient in that situation.

It's likely there's another factor but no evidence this would cause a human to go from normal BMI to obese on a controlled diet.

It seems like the decrease in satiety has a stronger effect.

I read the article to the point where it awaits the next, sure-fire cure-all outing. It is filled with the same delusions and misrepresentations that virtually every snake-oil, magical diet fix is.

Haven't people gotten a little less gullible about this stuff yet?

Look, some tribe had fruit on the ground and they weren't obese. Stuff that pizza is your mouth while we get to the bottom of this.

The reality is that calories have never been as available and cheap. And there is an absolutely lock-step correlation between dietary calories and obesity rates. No, it isn't the great mystery that it is held as. Indeed, this article spends most of its time debunking "it isn't the calories" dietary trends -- low fat, low carb, low sugar, low fat.

> The reality is that calories have never been as available and cheap.

Don't forget addictive. We've become incredibly good at making food that makes you want to keep eating more of it. Once you pop, you can't stop.

> Saying "Calories In Calories Out" is what makes you fat is as interesting as saying "Money In Money Out" is what makes you poor.

But that is not what anyone I've heard is saying.

At least I think of "calories in / calories out" is a an attempt to defend against people believing in miracle diets or that they "cannot" lose weight.

In some way, you're right, but I think there's more to it. Let's ignore for a moment whether it's true. I've seen it said in the sense that if you eat too many "good" calories (from salads or other healthy foods) and spend the same, you'll get just as fat as from bad calories. So the money analogy in a way works - if you get $100 cash, you'll be just as rich/poor as if you get them via a bank transfer.

All of that glosses over a million details, like how full you'll be feeling after 1000 cal from salad vs 1000 cal from Coke, but that's a whole another can of worms.

Losing fat without any attempt to track calories in vs calories out is like trying to improve the performance of an algotighm without profiling it or tracking how the changes made affect the outcome.

If you’re serious about losing fat, it’s essential helps to track the calories you eat, calories you burn, macro nutrient split (carbs, fats, proteins) and your weight.

- Calculate your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure, also known as `maintenance calories`) There are many online calculators to do this - Calculate your daily calorie intake to lose weight (Subtract 15-20% from your `maintenance calories`) - Decide on a rough macro nutrient split (40% protein, 40% carb, 20% fat is a good place to start) - Track the calories you eat and burn. There are apps for this that make it very easy (myfitnesspal is one example) - Weigh yourself regularly and record it (Daily is better, first thing in the morning, without clothes and after any restroom activity) - If you’re not losing weight, increase your daily exercise or reduce your calories by a further 5% until you see your weight going down - Note: A healthy weight loss strategy is to aim to lose 1-2 lbs per week

You can absolutely loose fat without doing any of this but it’s 100x harder and will take much longer.

I think there are two things to embrace:

- Saving more than 500 calories per day is very hard, thus you are likely to only loose 1 lb per week/10 days of body fat.

- You need the will power to stay on course and fight off the hunger sensation. This is the hardest of any diet.

I don't believe that people can change their diet mix / macro nutrient split because there isn't enough choice to change your diet fundamentally without becoming bored quickly or being unhealthy or eco-unfriendly (for instance eating more meat).

It helped me. I wanted to lose 16kg by a certain date. I put my details into the Precision Nutrition calorie calculator. It told me how many calories I would need to consume per day to hit my goal.

I tracked my calories, and stuck to the daily allowance it recommended. I lost nearly all the weight by the agreed timeline (I lost 14.9kg in the end).

It really is as "simple" as that. While there are many biological processes that try to maintain homeostasis and weight, if you ingest less calories you will eventually lose weight.

Think of it this way ... if you were thrown in prison today and they gave you only essential nutrients to survive, you'd lose a lot of weight. Your body might go into starvation mode first and try to fight against it, but without any calories coming in, you will lose weight 100% of the time.

I decided after years of wanting to lose weight, but doing nothing about it, I would just give up and do 1,000 calorie max / day for 3 months.

I lost 20 pounds to bring my BMI in-range without any other changes, and I'm middle aged.

That's not the healthiest way to go about this, but it does work.

I actually wanted to lose the weight for my 50th birthday, so I'm not some 25-year old with the metabolism of a greyhound.

Just in case anyone is interested: I have a Withings/Nokia scale that syncs to my phone, and then used the Android App Libra to plot a trendline for my intended weight loss and compared that in the app against the trendline it drew through my actual weight loss. I also used the free Samsung Health App to get the calorie values for what I ate, or used the ones on the packet.

Absolutely. CICO is the kind of thing that is so obviously true that anyone claiming it isn't shouldn't be taken seriously. I wouldn't say CICO doesn't help anyone though, because there's a whole lot of people out there trying to make money by telling you you can ignore CICO with this one simple trick. CICO is a useful thing to keep telling yourself when trying to lose weight because the calories are everything and there's no cheating it. Trust me, I have tried.

Source: lost >150lbs and kept it off until the pandemic where I gained about 30 of it back. Stress is a bitch.

CICO makes sense as a rule of thumb, but the kind of calories certainly matters. I'm no dietician, but carbohydrates, sugar, and fat each react differently with the body's digestive and endocrine system. Surely that has some effect beyond mere CICO calculations. I'd love to see a study that compares change in bodyfat with 2000 calories of cake frosting vs 2000 calories of red meat.

I'm not aware of any such study, however there was this: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/...

In which a man loses 27lbs on a diet of twinkies and was even healthier overall according to all metrics.

Between this and personal experience I'm prepared to say that as far as weight loss is concerned it really doesn't matter. Granted, different foods may have an effect on mood, energy level, and satiety which will all contribute to the CO part of the CICO equation, but all other variables kept constant a calorie is a calorie.

It's obvious to scientifically literate folks, but not to everyone.

Much weight loss advice is equivalent to saying "spending money in cash is fine, credit cards are what make you poor", which actually may contain a grain of truth but kind of obscures the actual mechanism.

It helped me a lot. It was very easy to use, and by not having any off-limits foods or similar, just a calorie target, it helped me find meals that I enjoyed while keeping me full.

It also was a nice perspective to have in mind for me. Calories in, calories out means it doesn't really matter what I do today, it's what I do each day that matters.

How do you know the calories of home-cooked or restaurant meals to estimate the targets accurately?

Weighing of components. Keep digital kitchen scales on the table and use them all the time. E.g. if you eat breakfast cereal, put the bowl on scales, press button, put in cereal, remember the weight, press button, pour milk, remember the weight. The same for everything you put on a pan. Don't forget to include the cooking oil, it makes a surprisingly large contribution to the total calories of the meal. If you're sharing meals, then you know the "total calories" you put in it, weigh the final product (it generally will be significantly different than what you put in) and weigh what's on your plate - so you know that you ate e.g. 40% of the total. It doesn't take much time (unless your scales suck), but it does take much attention and looks weird. It's a pain in the ass when starting out, but becomes easier when I can just reuse the numbers from when I made the same thing last week.

Some types of meals are easier than others, though - e.g. if you make a large pot of "non-uniform" soup for the whole family for multiple meals, then it's going to be an estimate. It's socially inappropriate to do it at some situations (e.g. if you're visiting your grandma who's providing a meal), but on most days you should be able to track how much calories you got on that single day.

Some restaurants will provide numbers for their dishes, some won't. For takeaway/home orders weighing gives a good estimate - if you don't have the numbers for some kebab or sushi or pizza, then you can assume that it's going to be the same per unit of weight as someone else's similar product, what matters is how much of double cheese pepperoni pizza you eat, not the particular pizza maker.

Restaurants are usually difficult, so I treated them as an "off day", and hence would not go to them too often. One might order a salad, but who knows how much sugar, oils and whatnot they put in there.

For home-cooked I would do rough estimation based on weight and some quick web searches for calorie content of the ingredients.

After a short while I got a pretty decent hang of where the calories were, so could focus more on those. I had a small kitchen weight for the "heavy hitters", for the rest I just estimated based on listed weight and how much I used (~1/3 of package fex).

In the beginning I did weigh slices of bread and so on, and quickly built up a good overview over how many calories there were in such recurring items. Except for oils, butter and similar I wouldn't be super-accurate.

But having a fairly good idea of how many calories was in my food really helped me plan portion sizes and compositions to roughly match the deficit I wanted, as determined by a web page estimating my calorie requirement[1].

Like I said, focusing purely on calories in, calories out, rather than say "yes foods" and "no foods", made it a lot easier for me as I could eat what I wanted, just perhaps not as much.

For example, I quickly found out that my weekend favorite of steak with french fries and bearnaise was way over target. However, I found that if I ensured my steak was no more than 250g, swapped french fries for quality green peas and reduced the butter in the sauce by half, the calories were around my target value. So I could still enjoy my weekend treat.

One potential issue was to feel full while reducing portion sizes. For that I leaned on some studies I read about which seemed to suggest high protein and high fiber. So I tried to have at least 20% of my calories in proteins, and also have as much fiber as possible. My breakfast bread is 90+% whole grain, my pasta is whole grain, I swapped out iceberg lettuce for romain lettuce (which has much more fiber) etc.

Based on this I had a almost entirely linear decrease in weight over a year, without feeling like I was on a diet. In the end I lost 30kg.

[1]: https://nhi.no/skjema-og-kalkulatorer/kalkulatorer/diverse/b...

You measure everything as best you can, and generally avoid restaurants.

I've never understood calories. Sure if you eat less but keep the food composition and exercize the same, you loose weight. That's trivial. But calories is energy and weight is mass. I've joked if you eat a bar of plutonium you won't gain a ton. And if you eat a kg of sugar, you'll get a stomach ache but won't suddenly gain a lot.

I think something that is often neglected is: What portion of the calories you eat is used, what portion is stored, and what portion is discarded? It seems there is an adjusting screw that makes us store more of the consumed calories than before. If we just eat less calories total, we also gain less (sure), but we often won't have enough power to go around.

I can't find the source anymore, but I read a theory about high fructose corn sugar, or glucose-fructose sirup. Many debunkers say there is no problem with glucose-fructose sirup over sucrose (plain sugar), since sucrose is just split in the body into glucose and fructose, so it's the same. But the theory went that the body regulates sugar intake by regulating the breakdown of sucrose. If it is already broken down, there is nothing stopping the cells from taking all the simple sugars and using them.

I don't know if there is any merit to that idea - it doesn't matter, it's just the pattern of the argument I find interesting - that you have to understand the metabolic pathways and what the body does with the nutrients, rather than just count calories.

When people say calories they mean calories that can be converted to ATP. This is why fiber is not considered to have calories (for humans, but is for cows) despite containing forms of energy.

Soluable fiber does have calories for humans.


You're saying fiber content is actually stripped out of calorie counts on packaging?

I oversimplified but yes almost.

> Determining whether or not fiber calories should “count” depends on context and requires some background. Calories are a basic unit of energy that measure, among other things, how much burning power they provide to the body. Fats, proteins, carbohydrates and alcohol provide the body with energy or calories. The traditional estimates are that 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories, each gram of either proteins and carbohydrates provide 4 calories, and a gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. However, this doesn’t account for differences in how well food is digested and the nutrients available to the body. Poorly digested foods may not release as much energy for the body to use. This is particularly important in the case of fibers.

> Dietary fibers are complex carbohydrates, so some people estimate that they provide 4 calories per gram just like any other carbohydrate. However, others say that calories from fiber don’t count since your body’s digestive enzymes can’t break down fiber. However, fibers differ in how well they are digested or how much energy is available to the body. Some fibers, called soluble fibers, either absorb water and become gels or dissolve in water and reach the intestine where they are digested by bacteria. As they are digested by bacteria, soluble fibers produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that provide your body energy. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that fibers fermented by bacteria provide about 2 calories per gram of fiber. Insoluble fibers travel to the intestine with very little change. Instead of being digested, insoluble fibers increase bulk, soften stool, and shorten transit time through the gastro-intestinal tract. Because these fibers are not digested at all, the FDA estimates that insoluble fibers do not contribute any calories.

If you swallow 16oz of dried corn kernels whole or 16oz of cornflour, they have the same calories but you are going to metabolize them in a very different way. I don't understand the CIN/COUT argument when different calories are metabolized differently. Perhaps I am misunderstanding how calories are approximated for foods.

> "Money In Money Out" is what makes you poor.

Actually many programs for social welfare are exactly based on the idea that it is more complicated than that.

The proponents of universal basic incomes for example have been fighting tooth and nail to even get this "tautological" fact accepted, and it is only now taking hold. The consequences of that would be that "simply" giving people money makes them less poor. It sounds simple when put like that, but it is a real struggle to have the conclusions of that be put into policy.

It's basically differentiating the original equation wrt the only quantity you can say something about, which effectively throws out all the things you know nothing about and which you can then "conveniently" ignore.

If someone can't eat less calories than he expends, thats usually called addiction (boredom, food as reward etc.), and should be treated accordingly

> We should start seriously considering other paradigms. If diet and exercise are out as explanations for the epidemic, what could possibly explain it? And what could possibly explain all of the other bizarre trends that we have observed?


That's the part I really wanted to see. I've now bookmarked it so I can read the next instalment. I expect to hear some fascinating theories -- perhaps some modern equivalent of lead poisoning of ancient Rome.

> Kitavans didn’t even seem to gain weight in middle age. In fact, BMI was found to decrease with age. Many lived into their 80s or 90s, and Lindeberg even observed one man who he estimated to be 100 years old. None of the elderly Kitavans showed signs of dementia or memory loss. The Kitavans also had no incidence of diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, or cardiovascular disease, and were unfamiliar with the symptoms of these diseases. “The only cases of sudden death they could recall,” he reports, “were accidents such as drowning or falling from a coconut tree.”

Maybe it's survivorship bias? Without modern medicine only healthiest people survive to adulthood so later they live long healthy lives. In modern society these people would be healthy too, but they would be a small percentage of the whole society.

This would also explain why domesticated animals show similar problems. Because we keep them alive :/

And then since it's at least partially inheritable - the effect would compound with each generation. With unsettling implications.

> "Something seems to have changed. But surprisingly, we don’t seem to have any idea what that thing was."

We have ideas. Polyunsaturated fats (shortening, margarine, soybean oil, canola oil, even chicken fat) is a promising culprit. Consumption of those have skyrocketed in the last half of the 20th century [1]. Full study here [2].

It seems that polyunsaturated fats induce hibernation like symptoms, which could explain weight gain. This blog is a fascinating look at some of the literature [3]. Good summary post [4].

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3076650/figure/...

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3076650/

[3] https://fireinabottle.net/every-fire-in-a-bottle-post-from-t...

[4] https://fireinabottle.net/are-you-in-deep-torpor-scd1-theory...

I thought polyunsaturated fats ( fish, soybean ) were fairly prevalent in Japanese diets?

How does that square up with the lower prevalence of obesity there?

Eating isolated oils is decidedly different from eating whole foods, as there are compounds that counteract each other when taken as a whole. For example, fish have long chain fatty acids which counter some effects of the Omega oils.

I think it's much easier to consume large portions of soybean oil if you're using it as an all purpose oil, than if you were just eating tofu, bean curd, natto, etc.

I feel that this was covered by the article (there's a second part) with the conclusion that this cannot be the main factor of the obesity epidemic. Margarine consumption was much higher in the 1970s than today, but obesity today is much higher.

I don't see any of this covered in the second or third article (apart from a comment in the second article that provides some additional interesting details on this hypothesis).

There may be a generational effect at play, causing the symptoms to be more pronounced in the offspring of the high margarine cohort. Certain interventions effect second and third generation offspring. You can induce sterility in the third generation by an intervention in the first generation for example.

That being said, canola oils and soybean oil are more used than ever.

> Mystery 8: Diets Don’t Work

As an obese person who tried several times to follow medical advise, this does not surprise me, not at all!

Every diet is about calories and sport, which cannot hurt. But every diet completely misses the elephant in the room: hunger!

Any medical procedure is only worth pursuing if it gives you a higher quality of life in the long term. A constant hunger cannot compensate for any weight loss.

> But every diet completely misses the elephant in the room: hunger!

And this is why a new drug just approved in the US for obesity is hailed as a game changed, NovoNordisk's semaglutide. (Wegovy) The "only" thing it does is mange the hunger levels in your body so you dont feel hungry all the time.

I think there was a study back in February for it which gave something like a 15% weight loss after a year, *on average*.

The Satiety Index is for measuring how satisfied you are with various food. Enter the humble potato. https://scottabelfitness.com/potato-and-the-satiety-index/

I did a sweet potato diet for a month a couple of years ago for medical reasons.

I was never hungry.

I've always been a somewhat active person (at least 10 hours spent walking/cycling every week). Did it just because I liked it, but it never helped with weight loss.

Switching cardio for resistance training (5x5) helped immensely with no changes in diet. My weight has dropped slightly, but my body composition changed a lot. Cardio became much easier after building some muscle mass.

There is also something addictive to increasing the weight you can lift, fits right in with gamer/nerd mentality.

I've found most cardio to have practically no weight-loss benefit for me, while weight lifting has way more than it should according to e.g. calorie-burn calculators or tables. All I can figure is that lifting does something to my metabolism, on the order of hours to days after, that running or cycling doesn't.

Swimming also seems very effective, though I've not checked whether that effect's outside what's expected, or just normal.

Constant hunger is a hallmark sign of insulin resistance. The good thing is you can actually measure it in HOMA-IR test.

Metformin and myo-inositol solved this issue for me. Only after solving issues with pre-diabetes I was able to start losing weight without constant hunger.

>> Any medical procedure is only worth pursuing if it gives you a higher quality of life in the long term. A constant hunger cannot compensate for any weight loss.

As long as you're consciously making that trade off. Hunger vs shorter life, health conditions etc. I think that's a personal choice for the individual.

The lipostat theory is quite interesting. This is pure conjecture, but its already known that plastics can impact estrogen levels, I wonder if plastics also have some, yet unknown, impact on metabolism that is upsetting lipostatic homeostasis.

Estrogen, cortisol and testosterone all operate in a delicate, interrelated balance, so it's not too big a leap.

I don't think you have to go all the way to plastics and chemicals (not saying that they aren't potentially playing their part).

Take a simple model with a combination of all the factors the author discusses (type of diet, sugar, trans-fats, caloric intake, processed foods, exercise, genetics etc), allow interaction between the factors, and have the lipostat as the dependent variable. I.e. several factors together will, over time, upregulate the lipostat.

A relatively simple model that evades the authors objections, yet might fit the data.

For some reason when I read the lipostat section I was reminded of decreases in average body temperature trends over time -- probably because of the temperature analogies.

I've sometimes wondered if microbiome factors are in play, and by extension, things like antibiotic use (maybe there are some studies about antibiotic exposure and weight gain?). I've usually thought of it in terms of microbiome -> gut -> digestion though, and the lipostat section made me wonder if it's more like microbiome -> "immune response" -> caloric expenditure.

Where can I read more about this?

The body temperature decreases?

This study was being discussed quite a bit when it came out, although there was prior work on it:



One hypothesis is that there's been a decline in baseline immune activity with decreased exposure to pathogens, better sanitation, better treatment of infections, etc. But people don't know for sure.

I'm not sure that it applies to the obesity crisis as temps have been declining over a longer time period than what seems to be involved in that. But it got me wondering if there's something like that that might have came into play later. My guess is no, that it's something else, but I could see how antibiotic use might somehow be involved.

In particular phthalates (plastic softeners) are suspected to reduce testosterone. Lower testosterone is linked to fat gain.

It's not just calories.

It's how fast those calories get into bloodstream as a glucose.

"Fast" carbohydrates are extremally efficient in this regard; you can eat a ton before hunger leaves you. And this is a big gotcha as we constantly overeat being fooled by our mind and carbohydrates with high glycemic index.

So, it is not just calories: it's the amount and speed of insulin response to those calories.

This is covered in the second part of the article: https://slimemoldtimemold.com/2021/07/11/a-chemical-hunger-p...

I don't know about this, there's a lot of factors listed individually here but not in comnination. It could be something like "eats lots of sugar and doesn't move", like are those honey and starch eaters as sedentary as us?

Then again, it woildn't totally surprise me if it were something like indoor lighting or something.

Edit: The second article accounts for some combinatiins but not to my satisfaction. Also:

> The USDA Economic Research Service estimates that calorie intake in the US increased from 2,016 calories per day in 1970 to about 2,390 calories per day in 2014. Neither of these are jaw-dropping increases.

That does seem like a jaw-dropping increase if sustained over time and other varianles are held constant. So, huh?

I have another idea though since it talks about lipostat theory: Isn't it known that cortisol exposure causes weight gain? What if it's simply that our life is morr stressful despite being objectively less chaloenging in some sense. This could be due to anything from less cardio to a bad news diet.

I think the simple truth is we simply eat too much.

Possible the worldwide most known modern food product is the Big Mac. Named Big Mac, not Best Mac, think about it. And it doesn't stop there, large pizzas, pizzas with a lot on top, XXL Schnitzels, All you can eat Chinese.

A lot people make quantity a priority over quality, guess what happens :)

The whole point of the article is that this is an inadequate explanation. First, the author points out that the increase in calorie consumption has been modest compared to the amount of weight gained. Second, why are we eating more? Moral failure and weak will are the popular explanations, but this fails to explain a variety of observations (Why now - haven’t humans always wanted to eat delicious food? Why do some hunter gatherer societies with surplus food not experience the same thing? Why are wild animals also effected?).

I wouldn't say 400 extra calories is modest, if you consider Calories in/Calories Out then even a modest increase in calories is leading to a continued accumulation.

By the authors examples eating 1.000 calories extra for 10 days gives you 1kg of weight gain. Assuming that the average diet went from 2.000 to 2.400 calories, it makes sense that people should gain 400*365/10.000 = 15kg per year until that extra body mass is increasing base level energy need or people are more physically active (but 1 hour of physical exercise is only 600 calories for many sports).

> we simply eat too much

Hear, hear. I dropped ~70 pounds just by learning my portions. It took about 6 months, but now I can just look at a plate of food and separate out the amount that will fill me, before I even start to eat (the 2-fist rule is a good start). I can make 2-3 meals out of a typical restaurant dinner portion, or I can just order an appetizer as my meal if I'm not taking leftovers.

I dropped another ~20 pounds by cutting out processed foods, preservatives, and chemicals. I likely won't eat something that I couldn't otherwise make a home using whole ingredients.

Restrictive diets never worked for me. I eat whatever I want, whether it be loaded with carbs or fried. I just make sure to include plenty of fiber in my diet, only eat when hungry, and never over eat. It's the only diet that I've been able to sustain for more than a year (~5 years now, to be exact).

This. There's so many ideas and theories on diets, but it seems the bottom line is, are you eating more than you're burning?

Fascinating read. At first I was thinking things like the introduction of high fructose corn syrup, or microwave dinners, but that doesn't completely explain all of those data points.

This is an interesting comment someone left ... it's one of the only ones that could potentially explain all of the results, outside of some outliers like the altitude effect.

> With these premises it seems almost obvious to attribute the obesity pandemic to an external factor – for instance, virus or bacteria. My money is on gut bacteria being altered by some bacteria/virus, of which transmission is relatively hard (but it persists), which spread like wildfire in the last forty years and which thrives on cafeteria diets (which would explain its emergence in the second half of the 20th century).

You might find Tim Specter’s “The Diet Myth” interesting. He’s a geneticist specializing in twin studies who sort of stumbled into the role of the microbiome in obesity. It’s been a while since I’ve read it but IIRC he points to pasteurizing as one of the contributors to America’s obesity compared to Europe.

I've heard something of overuse of antibiotics destroying the gut microbes

>It’s true that people eat more calories today than they did in the 1960s and 70s, but the difference is quite small. Sources have a surprisingly hard time agreeing on just how much more we eat than our grandparents did, but all of them agree that it’s not much. Pew says calorie intake in the US increased from 2,025 calories per day in 1970 to about 2,481 calories per day in 2010. The USDA Economic Research Service estimates that calorie intake in the US increased from 2,016 calories per day in 1970 to about 2,390 calories per day in 2014. Neither of these are jaw-dropping increases.

A 20% increase in food intake seems huge. The data I could find on weight over the same period puts people at only 15% heavier, so this seems to be underselling the difference.

It seems like a VERY significant increase, yet the author glided right by it. How much would he have considered to be ‘jaw-dropping’?

If people before 1970 eaten approximately their TDEE (2000 calories?), than a 20% increase in calories eaten means something like 400 calories over TDEE per day - every day, all your life. Of course people get fat like this.

This issue caught my eye as well, and I find the argumentation quite sloppy in some parts. Also see my other post https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27808936

Now take several of these "insignificant" factors, add interaction effects, and we potentially get a much richer picture.

Not to mention that jobs are more sedentary on average than they were in the 60s and 70s. So not only did we increase intake but also likely reduced expenditure.

Increased calorie intake and conversion to fat is the problem but why do humans increase their calorie intake and decide to convert their calories into fat? What button are they pressing that says "I want to be fat!".

An average consumer good contains tons of sugar by default nowadays. Being a fast carbohydrate, it fools the mind of a human into believing he/she is still hungry and thus needs more. This leads to inadequate glucose overshoots on daily basis.

When the time of insulin comes (approx. 2 hours after food intake), the insulin curve is sharp and overshoots over the peak in response to monstrous amounts of glucose in the blood. Despite clearly peaking, no amount of insulin can cover all previously consumed glucose at this stage, and the rest of it gets transformed into the fat.

Funny Wild speculation time: In ancient times, when the times got rough, there was always a pre-crisis-phase, aka you witnessed something traumatic, but were not yet impacted by it yourself.

Stressing yourself out and triggering that "horror"-phase (movies/ evening news) makes your body go into the "binge" for reserves during crisis mode.

Testable Hypothesis: End of the World screaming makes you fat, Continuous bored calm and mental safety feelings make you thin.

Should be able to see a significant uptick in BMI across the population between 2019 and now if this is the case...

A correlation between BMI and media consumption would be rather blatantly obvious i guess.

I'd expect one of those regardless of stress levels / doom and gloom levels, purely due to most media inherently lowering aerobic activity.

That was an interesting read.

I just left this comment in the site (maybe it would interest somebody here too):

"Have somebody checked a correlation between breast feeding vs. infant formula in early infancy and hungry feelings in adulthood (or weight as a proxy of that)?

It’s just an random idea, but it seems to me that the timeline of increasing obesity and increasing of use of infant formula could be correlated."

It is an interesting idea, but Australia has a breast feeding rate of around 90% and a large obesity problem

> A popular theory of obesity is that it’s simply a question of calories in versus calories out (CICO).

> (...) I think at this point, few people in the research world believe the CICO model.

It is popular on HN too, as evidenced by the replies I got here:


It's popular because it's thermodynamics but it completely ignores that our body doesn't know how to count calories. It only knows how to count macro nutrients and how full your stomach is and palatable food is engineered to avoid the feeling of satiation.

So much this.

Simple self experiment: If you are super hungry, try compare:

1. Eat a bowl of plain steamed rice (in hot water can make it go down easier) - you will very very quickly become satiated and stay that way, probably on less than a small bowl.

2. Eat cake, croissants, stuff that is sweet but not too sweet that you can keep eating it... initially you will stop, but then you will feel hungry again and keep going back for more - you can just keep eating on this stuff, even though the energy density is way higher.

The other difference is the speed at which the energy is released, the rice will keep you going through the day, your body gradually extracting energy from it... the cake and stuff get's absorbed almost instantly and so your body has nothing to do but make fat with it - the only way your getting that energy back is through ketosis, which wont happen so long as you keep eating cake.

It makes a lot of sense when you start to think about how things have been modified from their natural state, even orange juice is kinda bad in this sense - you can drink a glass of orange juice pretty easily, but there is no way you will be able to eat the number of oranges it took to make it in a single day.

Not explanatory. White rice has a high GI and brown rice still has a moderately high GI.

The obesity epidemic, as the author describes it, isn't a good thing, and for us to have BMI tendencies similar to those of late 19th century Americans would probably be better (excepting of course their other major health problems from that time) but in relative terms, I'd consider today's obesity problems in most of the population much better than the near starvation that most of humanity lived in during the vast majority of history, even up to the early 20th century.

For all but our most very recent ancestors, periods of chronic hunger was just a missed crop or bad harvesting season away and mass starvation was only slightly more distant. Famines were common in most of the world and often killed many millions per year, almost every year during millennia, of all ages, including children and infants. Obesity-caused deaths are still deaths but at least they tend far more towards killing later in life and are much more in the hands of any given individual to avoid, as opposed to starving because your whole region no longer has enough food to keep you living regardless of your dietary choices.

Generations of people prior to all but the last century or so of history would be amazed, and possibly even envious at how abuntantly and cheaply most of the population can feed itself today, even to the point of chronic obesity.

What about stress?

Elevated cortisol level induces over-eating; moreover, increases craving for high-sugar, high-fat foods.

The big change in human behavior in the last 2 decades is that now people consume more information that leads to depression, anxiety and stress.

The article also talks about changes in the weight of zoo and lab animals. Stress may be a factor in weight gain in humans but it wouldn't explain the animal data so I don't think it's the only, or primary, factor.

The article pointed out a paper on an increase of 1.4% overweight horses. It does not seem to have a meaningful relationship with the steep increase of overweight population in human (~24%).


This popped in my mind since everything seemed to go off the rails with an abrupt change in obesity in the mid 70s…

This is fascinating, thanks for sharing.

Many (most?) of these plots have known, and different explanations - e.g. the wage stagnation at the top is due to public policy changes in the 70s; the rise in marriage age is probably due to birth control becoming prevalent in the 60s, but it is really interesting to see all the effects gathered in one place of the repercussions in the past 50+ years from all the societal and political changes that happened in the 60s and 70s.

I remember some HN threads about impossible burger and other imitation meat. There were comments about how food engineering can produce food that tastes even better than regular meat. That was shocking to me. We already have hyper palatable processed food and they want it to be even worse?

I think there are different goals here which aren't necessarily overlapping. I would support making plant-based meat subtitutes that are so frikking delicious that people want to eat them instead of meat. Not because I'm vegetarian(I'm not) but because it simply makes sense from the point of view of ecological impact of animal farming. The modern western diets where people eat meat 3 times a day are crazy(in my opinion) - we just don't need that much meat.

So from that point of view, yeah, it would be great if at least some people switched to plant based substitutes instead.

Now obviously the problem is that we possibly have the science to make these substitutes so delicious, people will overeat them and in the process make themselves worse than had they just had meat. That is also a concern, absoluteley.

The root problem is that current technology doesn't help us: processed food can only be either palatable or calorie poor.

The person who will invent low-calorie bread and cheese, she'll be the Messiah :-)

> Combined with all the sugar they get from eating fruit, they end up eating about the same amount of sugar as Americans do. ... These are all unrefined sugars, of course

Isn't it important to distinguish the type of sugar?

I thought the 5-10% increase in proportion of sucrose to fructose was sufficient enough to result in significant difference between how types of sugar impact insulin response. E.g., the shift to more easily-metabolized fructose results in even more available calories to convert to fat than the 50/50 sucrose/fructose found in fruits.

> even when statistically adjusting for variables like age, BMI, and physical activity.

I find this hard to believe, that the statistics were adjusted correctly for physical activity. You can talk about !Kung, Maasi, and Inuits all day long, but these tribes are wildly active compared to the typical desk-jockey westerner. That can't be shrugged off so easily.

Is fructose considered easy to metabolize? It takes drastically longer to convert to glucose than other sugars, requires liver enzymes and can creates gastric upset in excess. It seems quite inefficient compared to carbohydrate sources like starch which are simply chains of glucose molecules that your body separates.

I think you have it backwards: fructose is a monosaccharide which is metabolized almost instantly, and sucrose is a disaccharide which requires additional energy to metabolize. Glucose is the end result, but glucose isn't what is added to industrial foods. So more effort is required to use sucrose than fructose, and I believe that is the source of the issue.

I didn’t refer to sucrose. I said starches which are popular alternative carbohydrate sources to sugar. As far as sugars go, dextrose and maltose are much more easily digested than fructose.

Since bing on Keto for a few months I've noticed a lot of the keto friendly processed foods are close enough to the real thing that it really makes me wonder why companies are not making their products lower carb to begin with. Obviously it costs more, but maybe at scale it doesn't. I suspect companies want higher carbs so people feel hungrier and eat more which in turns means they buy more.

Take for instance this Nick's brand ice cream. It's 7 net carbs per pint and texture and flavor is pretty much identical to 'real' ice creams out there.

Franz makes a wonderful 0 net carb bread (and hamburger and hotdog buns now which are honestly just as good as the regular cheap buns).

Not saying companies need to strive to be 0 carb, that's crazy. If they just stopped putting 50g of sugar in everything that alone would go a long way. Ps: Allulose/Psicose is amazing.

> it really makes me wonder why companies are not making their products lower carb to begin with

Cost has got to be one of the biggest factors, but I'd also say the overwhelming majority of people still have "fat is bad" firmly ingrained into them - it's going to take a very long time to diminish that.

And of course, people like sweet things.

The sad part is, there exists some tight-lipped 90+ year old former Philip Morris chemist, who moved over to General Foods and discovered/invented some chemical that inhibits satiety, just to increase their bottom line. And now every big food company uses it.

Enough people read all the ingredients on every food package that if there was a common theme like this, it would be common knowledge. I don't know of a singular ingredient in common among the category of foods which would be targeted for this enhancement. Charitably, perhaps you are thinking of the "ingredient" of complex food engineering, which is any concerted effort by food engineers/scientists to modify "cafeteria food" to be more addictive and harder to stop eating.

This focuses more on ingredients, which is relatively common knowledge. But it does go into some history with interesting backstories from board rooms to flesh it out: "NYT: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food" - https://archive.is/DJ0fC

This one I find super fascinating. It focuses less on ingredients and more on the physical forces/sensations of the foods: sound, crunchiness, meltiness, airiness, and how those drive compulsion to grab another handful: "Food cravings engineered by industry" https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/food-cravings-engineered-by-i...

Details? This sounds interesting.

Are you serious about this? Or just dark humor?

I'm assuming dark humor.

But prob also true.

Or, truthy.

Think something like 'HFCS', or 'remove all the fiber', etc.

If you put enough power/money/ideology behind something, people will believe it, or not question it, etc. Probably, they/we, won't even be able to 'see' it.

I was thinking it could be partially due to food getting cheaper in recent years, but the data doesn’t show a big decrease in total amount spent on food during the recent period of increased obesity. The big changes happened much earlier:


There is something I dont understand about this. Is it really true that carb consumption has gone down? My own anecdotal experience is that people are drinking way more sodas and eating way more candy than they used to (in 70/80'ies my childhood).

Like where I live now every other street corner has those "mix-your-own candy bag" shops, where you pay by the 100g. There must be someone buying that stuff, since they keep popping up.

>My own anecdotal experience is that people are drinking way more sodas and eating way more candy than they used to (in 70/80'ies my childhood).

This doesn't seem to match the data: https://www.businessinsider.com/americans-are-drinking-less-...

Maybe “energy drinks” (Monster et al) aren’t counted as soda? There are also several other sugary non-soda drinks I now see in most convenience stores: sweet tea, Frappuccinos & other cold coffee drinks, slurpees, hot sugary coffee and cocoa, etc.

People are getting fat because they are consuming more calories. And they are consuming more calories because processed foods are engineered to make you overeat them. To lose weight, stop eating processed foods and learn to cook simple foods from scratch, minimizing the use of sugar, salt, and oil, three common appetite stimulants.

>And they are consuming more calories because processed foods are engineered to make you overeat them.

I've heard this being claimed a lot, and have therefore often thought about it while eating fast- and other processed foods, picking around in it trying to discover the big conspiracy, but I can't seem to find any substantial differences with what I make at home from raw ingredients.

The engineering seems to be geared more towards reproducibility of all the dishes over a large network of franchises around the world. It's still the same ingredients, they're just less tolerant of substitutions and deviations from the specs.

Maybe it's really a matter of fast food being compared to food cooked by unskilled home cooks who just happen to be suffering from a socially induced panic about some arbitrary ingredient, and therefore tends to produce a result that's just plain unpalatable compared to something made by a professional or a seasoned home cook.

No cook with any amount of self respect will make intentionally unpalatable food, and the French paradox clearly demonstrates that it's not necessary for food to be unpalatable to avoid obesity.

For most people there's no particular need to minimize salt and oil in order to avoid getting fat. However certain oils, especially vegetable oils, tend to have other bad health effects.

Insulin is the big elephant in the room that's barely talked about. Everybody should watch this lecture https://youtu.be/RuOvn4UqznU

Could you do more to motivate us to watch the nearly 1.5 hour video than "insulin"? Who is this guy and what's the thesis? Summary?

Ok, I didn't realize it might be necessary, since the speaker is so good and engaging since the first minute but I'll try.

He basically exposes the underlying physiological mechanisms of fasting and nutrition. And puts it in context of our biological evolution and current first-world diseases. Explains the enormous power fasting has for healing the physiology, regulating insulin levels, even reverting insulin resistance, how when you stop eating for a day the body activates the expression of certain genes in every cell for producing all the antioxidants known to man, promote autofagie of dead cells, producing growth hormones, start growing bone marrow cells, stem cells... How insulin is a key piece in that mechanism, how in western societies are junkies of processed food, specially sugar, carbohidrates and, and how by eating too often and too much we keep our insulin leves always high, which impedes our body to begin that innate process of self-healing we have, and we instead just saturate the body with things it doesn't really need and don't give it the opportunity to get rid of them, deriving in preventable diseases.

He speaks about 24h, 36h, 3day and 7 day fasting... How it affects multiple things, including response to chemoterapy, diabetes, dementia...

He has a previous talk called "The bittersweet truth" where he dives more deeply on how exactly fructose basically poisons the body and talks more about insulin, fructose, nutritional myths... Just one fascinating fact after another, supported by data, studies and clinical experience. He tryes to relate the facts in order to give you a very powerful big picture.

I use fasting to control my weight and have done so for more than 10 years. There are other benefits than weight (fat) loss. Also noone is trying to sell you anything except maybe get you to click on a few yt videos ;)

Fantastic series of articles. I tend to believe that food has become some kind of additive drug that cheats the way homeostasis work in order to sustain spending. Can't wait to read all.

I alarms went off when the author used a rather poor analogy and very little science to hand wave past the effectiveness of gastric bypass surgery.

It is not really a mystery any more. There was a heart disease epidemic in the mid 20th century (the rate doubling every decade). A scientist named Ansel Keys did an epidemiological study comparing rates of heart disease to fat intake in 6 different countries and found a strong correlation: countries that ate more fat had higher rates of heart disease. Therefore fat causes heart disease.

This is the lipid hypothesis, which still drives nutrition advice and laws today.

Ansal Keys joined the board of The American Heart Association which adopted the lipid hypothesis and started telling everyone to cut out fat and eat more carbohydrates (carbs are sugars strung together which are quickly chopped up and metabolised as sugar, what could go wrong? ;). Numerous clinical trials, involving tens of thousands of people, all failed to find a link between fat and heart disease (often actually finding the opposite). The government ignored these trials and supported Ansal Keys instead.

The Mcgovern senate committee was tasked with creating a national nutritional policy in 1977, but when scientists told the commission that there was no evidence supporting the low fat/high carb diet and that more research was needed to confirm the hypothesis, they where told that the government does not have the luxury of waiting for scientific research [0] and in 1980 the USDA published the dietary pyramid that we still use today, recommending that people get the bulk of their calories from carbs.

The single epidemiological study by Keys was all they had to go on at that time. Since then, there have been many more rigorous diet trials which failed to confirm the lipid hypothesis and actually show a strong link between carb consumption and obesity. So the scientists introduced an entirely new scientific method, now called teleoanalysis[1][2] to prop up the lipid hypothesis. No causative link between dietary fat and heart disease could be found in controlled trials. But, they did find an association between fat and cholesterol, and then they found an association between high cholesterol and heart disease. So now using teleonalysis we can say that fat is associated with high cholesterol and high cholesterol is associated with heart disease therefore fat causes heart disease.

The American government officially supports the lipid hypothesis and promotes the high carb diet pyramid at all contact points. Schools, universities, government agencies all must promote the lipid hypothesis or be sacked or defunded; "The dietary dogma was a money-maker for segments of the food industry, a fund raiser for the Heart Association and busy work for thousands of fat chemists... To be a dissenter is to be unfunded because the peer-review system rewards conformity and excludes criticism"[3]

Carbs have low nutritional content and most vitamins are fat soluble so by eating less fat you feel more hungry because your body needs those nutrients and you are forced to eat more. When you eat a lot of carbs, your liver gives you an insulin shot. Insulin tells your fat cells to absorb the carbs to bring the body back to balance. So your fat cells swell and then divide, making your body bigger, and a bigger body requires more food to sustain it.

The result is that obesity and heart disease have increased about 10x since 1980 [4]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbFQc2kxm9c

[1] https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/30/teleoanalysis-...

[2] https://stats.stackexchange.com/questions/65372/what-is-wron...

[3] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CxKQ2Ak6_p4C&pg=PA144&lp...

[4] https://www.ahajournals.org/cms/asset/d4e7b1a9-3093-4507-984...

the author of the post refutes the carbohydrate hypothesis here:


That one graph from one epidemiological study is not enough to refute 60 years of data from many clinical trials. There is probably a confounding variable.

Also loo up hypothalamic microinflammation by Cai

i like this idea--explains everything

I thought we already figured out at least part of the problem or the main problem


Yutkin Lufkin Etc

Book: Pure, White, and Deadly

The article covers this, and sugar is not the root cause:

> A Tanzanian hunter-gatherer society called the Hadza get about 15 percent of their calories from honey. Combined with all the sugar they get from eating fruit, they end up eating about the same amount of sugar as Americans do. Despite this, the Hadza do not exhibit obesity.

you have a lot of confidence in a theory that sugar is not a main or the root cause of obesity, all based on...a single tribe?

that eats unprocessed sugar? including that found in fruits??

The article clearly explains all of this. It's more than one tribe.

Part II is equally interesting.


> We can further cite the fact that many cultures, such as the Hadza of Tanzania, the Mbuti of the Congo, and the Kuna of Panama all eat diets relatively high in sugar (sometimes as high at 80%), and yet none of these cultures have noticeable rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.

ok, _multiple_ tribes, that -- unlike us westernized/modernized/uncivilized people -- eat _un_processed sugars, _un_processed foods, etc.

i'm all for looking at populations of folks and then looking at the effects of their new diets -- whether they moved to the food, or the food moved to them -- but i don't even see the beginnings of an apples-to-apples comparison here.

to me, a layman, i don't see Nutrasweet and sugar and honey and cookies and apples to be all the same in terms of the effects of their 'sugars' on the body.

i must be missing something.

The article cites evidence showing that this is simply not true.

bold statement. i wonder why you're so completely convinced?

is it that the author is The Smahtest Guy To Evah Live?

or....i mean, s/he has a long list of Nobel Prizes in Physiology?

or maybe just some long history of unbelievably incredibly insightful comments/writing/literature/research on this or any other topic?

i figure i've read and listened to at least dozens but probably hundreds of articles, books, youtubes, etc. over the past few years, and i'm not convinced i have the answer, but one blog post citing one tribe and you're all in? seems strange to me.

i suspect a plurality of folks would say that there are multiple contributing factors to obesity, something like:

  - sugar (in particular, highly processed sugar in all its forms/delivery mechanisms), 
  - highly processed foods generally (don't send 'full' signals to the brain, lack of fiber, etc.), 
  - modern lifestyle/quick eating/lack of exercise, cheap sugary/processed/fatty foods, etc.
...but to rule out sugar....bold.

Read. The. Fucking. Article.

Then argue against the factual evidence it cites, not against some silly strawman.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2022

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact