To Get Rid of Fat in Our Society, We First Need to Understand What Regulates Fat Metabolism

To get rid of fat effectively and become healthier, we must first understand how we accumulate fat and how the body regulates our fat tissue. Unfortunately, the national discussion about the obesity epidemic has become detached from the science of fat metabolism. And this may be a key reason why our public health experts can't seem to solve the problems created by obesity and overweight.

The mainstream theory (Caloric Balance) offers no good answers to questions like these:

  • Why would so many of us "choose" to be so overweight and obese?
  • Why has the obesity epidemic coincided so neatly with epidemics of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, autism, and food allergies?
  • Why do obesity and malnutrition coexist -- both in people and in populations?
  • Why are the poor more obese than the rich?
  • Why does obesity occur in "non-toxic" environments -- in which people eat no fast food and get plenty of exercise?
  • Why do low carb diets -- which emphasize eating the very fats that our doctors have warned us will make us fat -- seem to be able to get rid of fat so successfully?
  • Why do only some of us get fat?
  • Why do public health authorities still invoke the thrifty gene hypothesis to explain the obesity epidemic when it's been clearly and definitively refuted -- and abandoned even by the person who originally proposed it?
  • Why do we see a concurrent epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases in our dogs and cats?
  • Why can't we get rid of fat if we're eating less fat than we were before the obesity epidemic?

Our public health authorities never address these contradictions. Instead, they sweep them under the rug and blame our obesity and diseases on us:

  • We were told to count calories. And so we did. But we didn't get rid of fat. So we were told that the reason we didn't was that we lacked willpower.
  • We were told to eat less fat, and so we ate less fat.
  • We were told to exercise more, and so we exercised more.
  • We were told to eat more carbohydrates, and so we ate more carbohydrates.
  • We were told to cut cholesterol from our diets and cut out salt, and so we did that.
  • We were told to try hypnosis, surgery, therapies, pills, support groups, semi starvation, and dozens if not hundreds of other methods to get rid of fat. And we did all that, too.
  • But instead of getting healthier, we got sicker. And fatter.

The governing hypothesis about what's caused the obesity epidemic must be wrong. A positive caloric balance doesn't cause us to be fat, and a negative caloric balance doesn't cause us to get rid of fat. This theory falls apart whenever we look at the evidence. The competing hypothesis, Lipophilia, provides a much more logical and comprehensive set of explanations for what's been going on and for how to get rid of fat.

Lipophilia tells us that a positive caloric balance results from accumulating excess fat in the fat tissue. It tells us that a diet copious in carbohydrates -- and any environmental factor that's "insulinogenic" -- will cause people to accumulate fat in their fat tissue. An epidemic of hyperinsulinemia could cause spikes in rates of other "diseases of civilization." As Gary Taubes outlines in Good Calories, Bad Calories, the obesity epidemic can be traced back to 1977, when the federal government opted to publish its first Dietary Goals for the United States. This move set our nation on a course to cut out saturated fats and cholesterol and replace those "bad" fats with carbohydrates from grains, sugar, juice, and corn syrup.[1]

If you look through the lens of the alternative hypothesis, suddenly the contradictions that plague the Caloric Balance Hypothesis disappear:

  • Why have we gotten fat in spite of eating less fat and more carbohydrates? Because carbohydrates make us fat and fats don't. When you get rid of carbs, you get rid of fat.
  • Why does obesity coexist with malnutrition? Because obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation and not a simple problem of "over nutrition." Thus, it's possible for someone to be significantly overweight and yet literally starving their own muscles and organs.
  • Why are the poor more obese than the rich? Because the poor eat more refined carbohydrates, which are cheaper than fats, proteins and "good" carbohydrates.
  • Why do low carb diets work? Because they lower insulin levels and blood sugar levels; without insulin and blood sugar, you cannot store fat in your fat tissue, even if you eat fat.
  • Why do only some people get fat in our toxic environment? Because fat is regulated by a complex homeostatic system, so even minor perturbations to that system -- for instance, a genetic tendency to be slightly more insulin sensitive -- can drive one person to become obese while another person can stay lean... even while eating essentially an identical diet.
  • Are all fat people lazy gluttons? Of course not. A "defective character" does not make you obese. Physiological factors do.
  • How can we explain the obesity epidemic without the thrifty gene hypothesis? Easy, we don't need that hypothesis. The Lipophilia explanation is simple, bold, and clear. It doesn't require phantom unproven theories to explain why it might work.
  • Why do cultures who adopt a western diet tend to get obese and overweight? Because the western diet tends to be rich in refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, flour, and refined grains.
  • Why do we see a concurrent epidemic of obesity and diabetes in cats and dogs? Because we feed our cats and dogs dry food that's loaded with carbohydrates, even though both cats and dogs clearly evolved (and recently too) from animals who are obligate carnivores. Cats and dogs are getting fatter and diabetic for the same reasons we are -- too many carbs.
  • Why does obesity associate so closely with the diseases of civilization? Because obesity and the diseases of civilization share a root cause, chronic hyperinsulinemia. These diseases are brought on/exacerbated by a low fat high carb diet and perhaps by other factors, such as certain medications, which may have insulinogenic effects above and beyond the insulinogenic effects of refined carbohydrates in the diet.

Can defenders of the Caloric Balance Hypothesis possibly respond to these arguments? They can obviously ignore them. But ignoring an argument is not the same thing as refuting it.

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1. Taubes, Gary. "Good Calories, Bad Calories." New York: Knopf (2007).

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