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« Climate change...ethics? | Main | Unprecedented boing - Josh 305 »

Academic science: not fit for purpose

Richard Smith has another fascinating article about the way science has been practised in universities in recent decades, focusing particularly on The Big Fat Surprise, a book about the purported links between diet and health. It's full of quotable stuff; so much so that I barely know where to begin, but this, almost at random, gives a flavour of the thing.

[Ancel Benjamin Keys, a biologist at the University of Minnesota] studied few men and did not have a reliable way of measuring diets, and in the case of the Japanese and Italians he studied them soon after the second world war, when there were food shortages. Keys could have gathered data from many more countries and people (women as well as men) and used more careful methods, but, suggests Teicholz, he found what he wanted to find. A subsequent study by other researchers of 22 countries found little correlation between death rates from heart disease and fat consumption, and these authors suggested that there could be other causes, including tobacco and sugar consumption

Great stuff. The wider point though is how this mirrors stories familiar to BH readers: how challenges to the dodgy science were dealt with

Keys dismissed [the counterhypothesis] as a “mountain of nonsense” and a “discredited tune.” politicians took it in unquestioningly

One congressional staffer, Nick Mottern, wrote a report recommending that fat be reduced from 40% to 30% of energy intake, saturated fat capped at 10%, and carbohydrate increased to 55-60%. corporate interests took advantage:

It might be expected that the powerful US meat and dairy lobbies would oppose these guidelines, and they did, but they couldn’t counter the big food manufacturers such as General Foods, Quaker Oats, Heinz, the National Biscuit Company, and the Corn Products Refining Corporation, which were both more powerful and more subtle.

and how the consequences were less than benign:

The successful attempt to reduce fat in the diet of Americans and others around the world has been a global, uncontrolled experiment, which like all experiments may well have led to bad outcomes. What’s more, it has initiated a further set of uncontrolled global experiments that are continuing.

This all sounds very familiar. What you can see here is yet another example of academic science proving inadequate for informing public policy, serving up results that are half-baked, half-tested, and often already half refuted. When will politicians learn?


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Reader Comments (67)

vegetables and fruits are really DANGEROUS when not processed

all the output of a chemical industry plus asbestos and radiation it is in it

we need to make soups not eat salds
eat very conformists fruit properly cultivated for centuries to which we have grown accustomed not any mango thrown at us from the turd world. apples pears and berries, preferably in compotes and stews.

the only safe food which can be eaten raw is meat actually: just 2 proteins stacked trillion times over

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterptw

I've lost 15 lbs and counting by removing staple foods (complex carbs such as bread and pasta and rice, plus potatoes and glucose) from my diet. It's amazing and simple. It's not the burgher that fattens you, it's the bun.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

This is only one of many utube videos which are a real education.

"The oiling of America "is another utube video which parallels the AGW debate.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Curious about how making a vegetable soup would remove asbestos and radiation, but I'm open minded...

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterHyperthermania

'vegetables and fruits are really DANGEROUS when not processed'. What is the point of such a comment? No evidence for your gross silly assertion and even worse, you can't spell or punctuate.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

The cholesterol-sceptic community can be found here:

The whole cholesterol heart-diet scam has been second only to the AGW debacle. Dodgy data, fiddled graphics, career scientists, government policies and advice, a falsely demonised product, cholesterol, (CO2). The whole thing is starting to fall apart, as with AGW, but it takes years and so much damage is done in the meantime.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

There is a difference though. In the case of the man-made global warming fraud it seems to me that the politicians are the main driving force and all the hangers-on, scientists and the rest simply enthusiastically follow the money. When that money, extracted by force from taxpayers amounted originally to perhaps a hundred billion, their dedication to the cause is hardly surprising. Those billions then acted as seed corn resulting in something between one and two trillion more to be thrown away on this sad and corrupt fiasco. There is still no sign at the moment it's going to get better with the main culprits hell bent on bullying the laggards into submission if they show signs of revolt as Tony Abbott did.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

In the early 1990s, the FDA came up with the concept of the food pyramids that was based on a high grain diet. Within a couple of years, low fat versions of just about every packaged and processed food product was on store shelves. To improve flavor, sugar, salt and other additives soared. The result was a doubling of type II diabetes in about a decade's time.

Dec 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

So what is the Global Warmmongering equivalent of statins?

Dec 16, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

You can add the hysteria surrounding salt as another global scare.

Dec 16, 2014 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Weight loss is all about the magic number 3500. For any combination totaling 3500 from calorie reduction or increase of exercise and you'll lose one pound. For one pound week, that's 500 calories per day. Run, walk, lift weights, do the Ironman, toss the bun off the burger, eat lettuce all day -- just so the combination is 500 calories per day. Can't do 500? Then 250 calories will yield 1 pound per fortnight; 125 will mean 1 pound a month. It all depends what effort you're willing to make.

Dec 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

The problem with diet/economics/climate is that all the variables are interdependent which makes imputing causality of a single variable ie fat/oil price/CO2 pretty well impossible. That is not to say the variables are unimportant just that the outcome of their interplay is essentially difficult to model.

Dec 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterfernfreak


Carbon capture schemes.

Prophylactic measures that don't really work to solve a problem that is not really there.

Dec 16, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

My story began about 2 years ago, arising from my research interests and becoming conscious of weight gain. My experiences parallel Maurizio's. If anything he's only slightly older than me. It took about 4-6 months to throw the metabolic switch, so to speak - you avoid bread and carbohydrates - fully. Obviously this is not a practical or easy option, which is probably why it takes so long. But I did lose weight. Absolutely no exercise whatsoever. I fit into my old clothes - suits and pants - a major plus point and motivation. Eat all the meat, egg, fat and butter you want - you will be fine. Buy the burger, throw away the bread, eat the veggies and the meat.

You'll also realize how hard it is to find the food required to satisfy such a diet. Junk food and carbs are everywhere, protein is hard to find.

I have read Teicholz's book and Gary Taubes. I would encourage anyone interested in good science and good food to read Taubes and follow his work.

Dec 16, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Registered Commentershub

Im like Omnologos, I removed starch (bread, potatoes, flour), processed foods, sugars from my diet while slowly increasing exercise and over the course of the last 12 months have lost 31kg.

Im now regularly running 10k in the same amount of time as it used to take me to run 5k when I first started running and am absolutely loving being fit and active (whereas before I was also active BUT just wasn't all that fit!).

What I haven't done is cut my fat intake. I absolutely CANNOT stand green top milk simply because its tastes like nothing more than diluted water and utterly love meat with fat and dont even get me started on the benefits of butter over processed margarines! Rather counter intuitively fat acts as a natural appetite suppressant and well tastes just so god damn good! :)

Pretty much the ONLY non-fat product I touch is Weight Watchers fruit yoghurt simply because of all the yoghurt out there it has the lowest sugars and rather bizarrely very little in the way of additives (ie. there is nothing being added to increase taste because the fat has been removed). Otherwise I avoid low fat food like a fat chick avoids exercise that doesn't involve being on her back with her legs up in the air.



Dec 16, 2014 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I feel vindicated, Entropic man said this You've even got SandyS talking conspiracy, someone I had thought more sensible. (not that anything EM says should bother anyone), when I suggested Ancel Keys and his followers were no better than CliScientists except he got away with it. Original discussion.

I don't want to divert this into a discussion on diet, as I think there are problems with what we eat in the Industrialised nations, however life expectancy in the UK is still increasing.

I've been aware of Ancel Keys for a long time, I suggest you do a bit of research and then think about plans to put the entire nation on to statins. Pharmacy, low fat yogurt and butter replacement companies just love the fear of cholesterol. It's quite possible that it wasn't him who exploited his research for financial gain but fortunes have been made on the back of it and a lot of bad advice has been handed out. It will take another generation before the truth comes out on dietary fats.

Funnily enough it was through an item on the old BBC that made me aware of Keys' cherry picking.

Dec 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

There was a thread on this topic at Jo Nova's site a while back. The parallels between CAGW and anti-fat are startling. Substitute cholesterol for CO2, saturated fat for fossil fuel, George McGovern for Al Gore, fishermen in Norway(sic) for that tree in Yamal, ignoring anecdotal evidence (e.g. pre-refrigeration diets), discarding inconvenient facts (e.g. the Inuit), the failure of models to predict,etc. When I read this book all I could think was " climate change scam". Somebody could write an interesting paper comparing the two.

What is scary: Keys started this in the 50's and it is still going strong. You have 3rd generation "scientists" who don't question this.

What is scary #2: the low-fat "science" was largely based on middle-aged men without concern for the impact on women and children. The latter are being denied the foods that help their development. I particularly worry about low-income children who rely on the school lunches for quality food and they are getting politically correct tasteless food instead. I don't have the data to back this up but it would be really interesting to plot IQ scores against percentage dietary fat.

Dec 16, 2014 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike W

The Ancel Keys story is a complex one. Here is a link to a great (long) article by Denise Minger on the whole saga:

Well worth reading if you have an interest in the subject.

Keys once said :

"The evidence—both from experiments and from field surveys—indicates that the cholesterol content, per se, of all natural diets has no significant effect on either the serum cholesterol level or the development of atherosclerosis in man."

So like I said, it is a complex story.

Dec 16, 2014 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered Commentersteve Brown

As did several of your bloggers, I, too, read Gary Taube's book "The Diet Delusion" and made a study on the internet of many of its citations. For ten years my blood sugar was 8 to 9 (sometimes 10mmol/l)

From three months ago I followed a very low carb/high fat diet. My blood sugar is now between 5.5 and 6.2. As a bonus I now weigh 3kg less and can wear some trousers that have been in the wardrobe for many a year.

Dec 16, 2014 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

The reality about dieting and weight loss that has been proved in numerous trials from the 1950s on is that it is caloric intake that counts not the source of the calories such that allowing for changes in water balance the results are similar for either high fat or high carbohydrate diets. The important factor is how readily the needed restricted intake is achieved and can it be done without lowering metabolic rate. This involves appetite control and it has been shown that both high fat diets and carbohydrate diets high in fibre will achieve similar results, as will diets with a low glycemic value that restricts the rate of uptake of glucose; if the rate of uptake is too fast the brain does not have time to react and limit intake through satiety but high fibre diets fill the stomach and restrict intake and high fat diets give a more rapid hormonal feedback that achieves similar ends. What is more important is the effects of these diets on health and there is good evidence that a high carbohydrate diet supplying around 35 - 50 grams of fibre per day is most effective in limiting the potential for the onset of the metabolic syndrome that is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. As in all things a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and claiming large benefits for weight loss from high fat and protein diets in the short term can lead to more serious health problems in the longer term. Ideally one needs a diet that matches daily needs for energy, fibre, amino acids and fatty acids, as well as minerals and vitamins. In addition a certain level of activity is needed to maintain metabolic rate and especially muscle mass and activity. I have consumed a 65% high fibre carbohydrate diet for over 50 years and am the same weight as I was at age 20 with an 'ideal' BMI of 22, but then as a nutritionist I practice what I preach.

Dec 16, 2014 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterpeter azlac


"The result was a doubling of type II diabetes in about a decade's time."

Actually, the doubling of Type II diabetes was the result of re-defining what normal blood glucose levels should be. This happened at the same time as the re-classification of BMI classes, hypertension (blood pressure) levels and cholesterol levels in the late 1990's.

These re-definitions have resulted in about 50% of adults in the US being diagnosed with a 'disease' which previously did not even exist. This was predicted in a paper in 1999 (Schwartz LM, Woloshin S. Changing disease definitions: implications for disease prevalence: analysis of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Eff Clin Pract. 1999; 2(2):76-85) and has since been noted in a number of Cochrane reviews of the separate 'diseases'.

Our diets have changed a great deal in the past 50 years, but the in the last 15-20 years the cause of (supposed) ill-health has been the health industry not our behaviour.

Dec 16, 2014 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

It's all detailed in this excellent book. The Great Cholesterol Con. The Truth about what really causes heart disease. Written by Dr Malcolm Kendrick. Everything in it has references to the relevant research, very little of which is known.

Dec 16, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Here is a link to the abstract of the Schwartz and Woloshin paper:

In fact, the figure is 75% of the adult US population now defined as ill......

Dec 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

As Rob says @ 4:34PM, we are all now 'acquiring' new diseases. I know of no-one in my peer-group who is not taking pills for 'high blood-pressure'. My doc even tried to get me on Statins (Another story. I refused tot ake 'em).

The knock-on effect comes with getting insurance. One company asked me if I suffered with high BP; I said, no. They countered by asking if I took BP pills. 'Yes', I said, 'and I don't suffer high BP as a result'. But they wouldn't accept that. It's like saying a broken leg that has been healed by treatment is still broken.

Dec 16, 2014 at 4:43 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Further to my post @ 4:04... I had a big argument with my Doctor about my diet. "You must take more carbs...etc. I quietly told him that my qualification were higher than his and my whole life had been spent in research and development, then surely my several months of reading scientific papers enabled me to judge what science was correct.

After that we have developed a good relationship and each month I report on my Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure and diet.
I think that I have convinced him to try my diet on several of his patients.

Dec 16, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

When physics and engineering grad Gary Taube's "What if it's all been a big fat lie?" appeared in the consensus affirming New York Times Magazine in 2002, I was immediately struck by the parallels with bad "climate science" and the paradox of those who simultaneously reject "Big Pharma" but accept "Big Climate".

Reading the history of Ancel Keys and his White House influence, the role of Big (Vegetable!) Oil in fueling the anti-cholesterol bandwagon, it's history dating back to Mark Twain's Mississippi riverboat days and the political suppression of inconvenient science recounted in Mary Enig's "The Oiling of America", becomes just plain eerie.

Dec 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeapug

Great to meet fellow dieters and some with my experience. I believe some of us are genetically very good at converting excess carbs into fat. That's why Fatso is our natural condition.

There are also different ways to lose weight at different ages . When 30 caloric control is enough. Not at 47 when it's a metabolic war.

of course carbs will come back in my diet as soon as I reach my target. Maybe they'll be high carbs and low carbs days, alternatively. Haven't discovered the magic mix and will try Peter's suggestion.

Dec 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

My previous GP had some very sage advice about diagnosing hypertension "never believe a blood pressure reading unless your patient has been seated and relaxed for at least 30 minutes before taking it". Try it yourself if you've got a home BP monitor, do before and after relaxing readings.

There's definitely a link between processed food and diabetes, some cardiovascular diseases and cancers, but I believe it's got more to do with the crap that's added to them as 'healthy' alternatives to natural fats and sugars. As for the current rises in food intolerances and allergies, I think a lot of these are either self-diagnosed or diagnosed by unqualified 'dietary consultants'.

The dieting and dietary supplement industries are still very poorly regulated compared to the pharmaceutical industry, or even the main food industry - and there's a lot of gold in them thar diets and imagined ailments.

Dec 16, 2014 at 5:36 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

55 pounds this year. Bacon eggs for breakfast every day. I still eat some potato carbs. And I plateau sometimes for months.

But still ... on year on and I'm still staying on track.

For those who say watch calories ... I disagree. Some foods are more addictive (maybe not for all) and sugar and carbs make you want to eat more sugar and carbs. Soon. Protein and Fat son't seem to make me want to eat more proteing and fat a few hours later.

Dec 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

I bet Mr Azlac's 50 years felt like 150. It reminds me of W.C Fields abjuring drink and fine foods for a time; he reported he lost 2 weeks.

I too was provoked into following a low carb high fat diet, in my case through reading Sten Sture Skaldeman's books. Having hit the giddy heights of 18 stone following years of on/off low-fat hi-carb diets I thought I'd give it a go. After a year I am down to 13 stone, I no longer need hypertension medication, my blood chemistry is excellent... but best of all I never had hunger pangs once, and I enjoyed the food. I conclude the bastards have been lying to us for 50 years.

Dec 16, 2014 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Are we seeing a First World psychological problem with the end of (First World) warfare, starvation and disease? Are we seeing a "replacement" syndrome, in which unrealized anxieties lead to the creation of false problems to justify themselves?

We know or suspect that the loss of parasites and sustained, background microbes in the modern (First World) life have made our auto-immune systems attack our healthy selves as they MUST have some target. If this what is happening to the global (First World) social body?

We are "fighting" a war on the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and the weather that surrounds us: are these replacement problems for an under-stimulated social defense system?

I wonder.

Dec 16, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

Peter Azlac: "This involves appetite control"

Low carb = appetite control for me

“Weight loss was greater in the low-carbohydrate group than in the low-fat group at 3, 6, and 12 months.”

" Even with the low-carb group missing the 40g/day target quite substantially, this group continued to have good results for weight, lean mass and fat mass at 12 months. Notice the low-fat group displaying the classic 6 month turnaround – with regain following. "

Dec 16, 2014 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Unfortunately, if the green blob and the renewables parasites get their way they will have a significant effect on all our diets. My recollection from my working days was the 75% of the UK landmass is agricultural. Of this; about 26% is permanent downland pasture (dairy, beef finishers, sheep, outdoor pigs and poultry), 37% is arable and 37% upland grazing (sheep and beef starters).

Up to 5% of UK agricultural land (mostly downland/arable) is now being used, or intended to be used for biomass/solar, so with a growing population we're either going have import more food, or going back to foraging to make up the deficit (hardly a realistic option).

Dec 16, 2014 at 7:47 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Please note low carbs or even zero carbs dieting contains still a lot of carbs unless one's got a dedicated cooking team at the ready 8)

Dec 16, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos


vegetables and fruits are really DANGEROUS when not processed

WTF??? Radiation in fruits & vegetables?

Dec 16, 2014 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

I was always fit and active until six years ago when I developed a chronic cough sometimes so bad that I would be coughing literally a thousand times/day..many many tests including scoping, biopsy, stress tests, allergy, cat scans on heart throat sinuses and four specialists proved little except that I didn't have cancer or a bad heart or a lung disease. So they said I was asthmatic and puffers of all kinds were prescribed most of which did little good..occasionally antibiotics helped for a span of weeks to as long as six months. I also got fat adding 35lbs to the 215 I already had.
After reading about the benefits of fasting for as little as three days in helping "reorganize" my immune system I tried it a few times in conjunction with the LCHF diet. I was surprised how easy the weight came off and my breathing seemed better also. Now 35 lbs lighter in eight weeks and eating only once/day between 5-9pm I've gone from a donut lover (grew up in a bakeshop) to a satiated happy consumer of veggies, fat and protein. As an aside won $100 in my weeight loss bet!
Many great YouTube vids featuring Stephen Phinney,Jeff Volek, Jason Fung etc..on lo carb, hi fat and fasting.
Consensus sucks wherever you find it!

Dec 16, 2014 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterpolski

So happy to read this! We've been conned for so long on dietary advice.

Like many here I'm on a high fat / no carb diet. Started 4 months ago and am now back to the 32" waist I had at 18 years old - I'm 45. Never had to feel hungry - the reverse.

Try the Bulletproof protocol. It works for me. Coffee with butter (I know sounds strange) in the morning, gives you energy the whole morning. Instead of the "brand name" bulletproof coffee, I do regular coffee with 1g activated charcoal to absorb mycotoxins.

For fat - think coal - long burning energy.

For carbs - think a handful of twigs - burns bright, but you have to reload every few minutes.

Such an important part of it is the gut bacteria. Some convert fats into energy, and some convert carbs. If one wants to promote the fat burning ones - just eat more fat...

Dec 16, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Blqke

"I was always fit and active until six years ago when I developed a chronic cough sometimes so bad that I would be coughing literally a thousand times/day.."

Have you checked for mycotoxin exposure? Mouldy environment? Foods (grains)...? One way to know is try some activated charcoal when you feel it come on - if it is mycotoxins the relief should be fairly immediate.

Dec 16, 2014 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Blqke


"Have you checked for mycotoxin exposure? Mouldy environment? Foods (grains)...? One way to know is try some activated charcoal when you feel it come on - if it is mycotoxins the relief should be fairly immediate."

Not sure if I was checked aside from the many visits to allergist which included some ridiculously expensive blood tests at a medical university which said I was ok. I will look into it. My coughing is reduced to a level where I can be "normal" and workout but I still have unannounced relapses especially in the middle of the night and early morning.
I wonder if the activated charcoal will make my combo of coconut oil and coffee taste...err...funny!

Dec 16, 2014 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterpolski

"WTF??? Radiation in fruits & vegetables?"

Dec 16, 2014 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

As usual 99% of what ptw wrote is complete bollocks. But post-Chernobyl, there was a noticeable and significant increase in detected radioactivity in wild-harvested and farmed mushrooms in Eastern Europe within the plume of reactor blow-out. It does appear that Agaricus and related species do accumulate uranium and caesium isotopes

Dec 16, 2014 at 9:03 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

The issues are undoubtedly complex. Unlike climate where you are told of a certain reality and no self-experience or experimentation is possible, the question is that of food and all of us have our own experiences to form opinions. Self-experimentation is possible with food. You may or may not believe in esoteric diets and fad diets, and I certainly don't, but look up Seth Roberts and his method of self-experimentation.

Teicholz and Taubes, as journalists, trace the history of the evolution of thinking about cholesterol, fat, and carbohydrate in the Western diet. The problem, at the least in the US, as Mike W and several others have pointed out, is while governmental dietary advice is likely only minimally related to individuals diet habits, it has an enormous indirect impact.

Dec 16, 2014 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

@timg56 "WTF??? Radiation in fruits & vegetables?"

Try putting bananas near a Geiger counter - you will be surprised

Dec 16, 2014 at 9:39 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

Let's not make the mistake of thinking that it is questionable science itself (rather than the trumpeting of certainty) where the problem lies.

Eating dogmatically is no less random because of its endorsement by the latest guru to get hold of the megaphone.

Dec 16, 2014 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

@shub "Self-experimentation is possible with food. You may or may not believe in esoteric diets and fad diets, and I certainly don't, but look up Seth Roberts and his method of self-experimentation."

Please don't advocate self-experimentation on this issue. I majored in toxicology and pathology and went through six months of hell with severe GI problems that my own worst-case scenario saw as bowel cancer, turned out to be IBS, but I'm still dealing with an incurable disease. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of GI diseases leads to dead bodies - end of.

Dec 16, 2014 at 10:15 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian, I don't know what you got from my advocacy of 'self-experimentation'. I was not clear enough. I say 'self-experimentation' in the most benign possible way. Roberts became known for experimenting with weird foods and strange practices. What I took away from what I learned about him was just the willingness to change dietary habits, stick to a plan long enough to see effects. My baseline habits were eat thrice a day, all carbohydrate rich, meat-lean food with junk food ad libitum. Whatever meat there was, was mainly chicken. There was not a package of snacks - be it chips, cookies or any crumbly stuff that I would not open and eat the whole of. If I tried curbing, I would tell myself how girly I was - being conscious of my diet. Even with all I did not become 'fat', but definitely overweight.

My 'self-experimentation' consisted of trying and avoiding different food options available to me, both at home and at work, until I found something that worked. This included such ignorant moves as trying pita bread and hummus on a regular basis (because I believed the caloric content label and the 'Healthy' tag) for a long time. This was considering I was attempting to start work in a related area of research! I learned of the Atkins diet only much later. A variant of Atkins - which is what a low-carb/high fat diet mentioned by many here is - is ultimately what is practicable and what works to lose weight. You get leaner, don't lose muscle mass and don't go hungry all the time. In any case total carbohydrate avoidance is near-impossible - possible only if your full-time job is to be messing with your diet and exercising as celebrities can.

So self-experimentation simply refers to tweaking your diet to achieve a certain goal. In my view, that eating and eating habits should be natural is a given. The question therefore becomes - 'what can be done, within these limits, to avoid the slow onset of weight gain and other manifestations of the metabolic syndrome?' I am still amazed by the fact that it is possible and I figured out the answer by myself.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:08 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shub - Salopian is right. Let someone else experiment on you. Then when they kill you, sue them

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterVictoria Sponge

My experience re weight loss by cutting carbohydrates, mostly bread in my case, is parallel to those of the other posters above with a slow sustained loss of around 20 kgs of weight over a couple of years.
One slice of bread particularly after about midday seems to be worth about a half kilogram increase in weight at the following morning's weighing session.

One very interesting personal experience was the recent purchasing of small deep fryer which led to the consumption of quite a lot of rather tasty deep fried tucker which I had never really ever had a great deal of previously being a rural person far from town and only an irregular patron of the fast food establishments.

A few months later I received a very hard rap over the knuckles from my Doc on my rapidly rising blood sugar levels which had reached the diabetes thresh hold point.
At 76 years of age until that point, my blood sugar levels had always been quite some distance below the diabetes thresh hold levels.
So some deep thinking about what had changed in my personal living and eating habits to account for that sudden increase in my blood sugar levels
And the answer appeared to be closely related in timing to the purchase of that deep fryer.
So out the deep fryer went for a few months, sadly never to return as that deep fried tucker tasted real good..

Within weeks down came my blood sugar levels to the previous long established personal level and all is again well with any fear of a diabetes onset dispensed with or at the very least delayed into the future or whats left of it for myself...

All of which raises in my mind the possibility that a high percentage of the current diabetes epidemic being primarily associated with excessive consumption of deep fried type processed fast foods, the rapid spread of which is only a fairly recent development.

Dec 16, 2014 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterROM

On a related note and especially relevant given the season, bear in mind that the UK recommended units of alcohol consumption for males and females have long been acknowledged as having been plucked out of the sky with no scientific or medical evidence, but the meme sails on serenely with self-reinforcing constant and mostly unquestioning repetition.

Now for another of my "five a day"... vodka counts, right?


Dec 17, 2014 at 12:09 AM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

"vegetables and fruits are really DANGEROUS when not processed
all the output of a chemical industry plus asbestos and radiation it is in it"
Sorry, but your advice is not even based on scientific evidence. Show me the clinical effects. Radiation: ever heard of radon? Asbestos: how would that get into vegetables?

Dec 17, 2014 at 1:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterbenpal

Here we talk shoddy science and even comments are full of it!
Radioactivity is ubiquitous, water and soil emit radioactivity. Bananas are naturally radioactive, they contain potassium, but you couldn't eat enough bananas in 100 years to produce a clinically notable effect.

/sarc By the way, apes mutated to humans because of the radiation from bananas /sarc

Dec 17, 2014 at 1:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterbenpal

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