Power to the people

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Gary Taubes is a name probably familiar to you. If not, he’s a writer and author of Good Calories, Bad Calories (The Diet Delusion in the UK) and Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It. While we’re clearly not twins separated at birth, I have traditionally had a lot of time for what Gary has to say on the subject of obesity. In particular, I think it should be known that applying the ‘calorie principle’ for weight loss is a miserable failure, and that we can perhaps better understand how to tackle the ‘obesity epidemic’ but appreciating more the role that hormones (including insulin) have in fat storage. I explore these themes in my book Escape the Diet Trap, as well as offering some practical and evidence-based strategies for sustainable weight loss.

This morning, someone sent me a link to Gary’s latest article, and I’m passing it on to you here. In just two and a half thousand words Gary neatly, I think, reminds us of the fact that, repeatedly, eating less and exercising more has failed to have the desired effect, and the need for the scientific and medical community to embrace new concepts and new strategies.

I suspect Gary is on a bit of a mission to influence these communities and persuade them of his ideas. If this is the case, I wish him well on his quest.

I don’t want to be negative, but I’ve found changing doctors’ and scientists’ beliefs (actually, opinions) can be a bit of an uphill struggle, even when there’s plenty of evidence to support the alternative view. This is not always the case, but it is how things generally are.

I’ll happily discuss health issues and how we may best deal with them with anyone genuinely interested in this, including doctors, scientists and politicians. However, I am also mindful of the fact that some intransigence here might be the result of things that have less to do with true objections, but more to do with things like professional pride, conflicts of interest and ‘group-think’. Again, this is not universally true, but bias is more common that is healthy, I think.

I am not depressed about this, because I don’t think that persuading doctors and Governments of the merits of a particular way of eating is where the power is anyway. For me, the real power is in allowing individuals access to better information and advice. Then, if they wish they can ‘vote with their feet’ in terms of what they eat and how they lead their lives. And there’s nothing that any doctor or politician can do about that.

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