The notion that Ancel Keys was wrong — profoundly wrong — when he was among the first to advocate forcefully for low-fat eating to prevent heart disease is evolving into New Age gospel.
The developing convictions are that Keys misrepresented or misunderstood the data he reviewed in his analysis of heart disease rates around the world. And his mistake about the importance and value of reducing dietary fat was propagated by many high-profile disciples, from Dr. William Castelli of the Framingham study, to names long since associated with low-fat dietary approaches: Pritikin, Esselstyn, Campbell, and Ornish, to name a few.
But here’s the news flash. While it’s true we now know that dietary fats are not all created equal — even dietary saturated fats are not all created equal — and that a “just cut fat” approach to diet risks tossing out both baby and bathwater, we don’t really know that Keys or those who took up that same mantle were ever wrong. All we really know is that there are unintended consequences of badly bungling what we did with the dietary advice we were given.
We never — repeat, NEVER — did anything remotely like what Keys recommended, which was to shift our diets away from the higher-fat foods that predominated — including such items as hamburgers and hotdogs, butter and ice cream — to naturally low-fat foods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils and such.
What happens when this approach IS taken? Many have addressed the question, but perhaps none more compellingly than my friend Dean Ornish. Dr. Ornish first showed, in dramatic fashion, that such a diet can shrink the plaque in coronary arteries. He went on to show it prevents heart attacks as effectively as the Mediterranean diet (although, I hasten to add, not more effectively). And he and colleagues have even shown recently that such a diet can modify gene expression in a manner associated with reduced risk of cancer occurrence, recurrence, or progression.
Keys was never really wrong. His message was certainly imperfect. Walnuts, almonds, wild salmon, and avocado are all high in dietary fat — and we now know these as “super foods.” But if we had followed the actual advice being espoused — eat foods naturally lower in fat — our health as a nation would almost certainly have improved. Our weight as a nation would have declined.
So what went wrong? Unintended consequences. The food industry saw opportunity in the low-fat message, and reinvented the interpretation of the message to suit its profit-driven motives. The era of highly-processed, starchy, sugary, salty, low-fat foods was born.
But let’s be clear: Dean Ornish NEVER said “Eat more Snackwell cookies to get healthy.” Keys never once mentioned low-fat mayonnaise in any of his publications. I do not recall ever hearing “low-fat peanut butter rocks!” from Caldwell Esselstyn.
The message, though flawed, was reasonable — and an improvement over the prevailing diet at the time. The execution of the message was the debacle — for all but the big food companies, which wound up counting money hand over fist.
Well, folks — this is a “fool me once, shame on you” scenario. But welcome to the age of fool me again, and again, again. And so — shame on us.
I never liked the Atkins diet, and still don’t. There actually are very low-fat diets in the real world, associated with excellent overall health and longevity. There are no such “low-carb” diets. People often invoke the Inuit, whose diet is low in carbohydrate and very high in fat — much of it omega-3. But the Inuit are not known for long lives, or especially good health. The Okinawans, on their low-fat native diet, are. The Seventh-Day Adventists, on their low-fat native diet, are.
Sometimes the Paleo diet is invoked to justify low-carb eating. But the Paleo diet was not low-carb, even if it was moderately high in protein. It was made up of foods direct from nature — and Atkins was never clear if when he said to eat more meat, he meant mammoth.
Everything from lentils to lollipops are “carbohydrate,” so cutting carbs always seemed dietary hucksterism to me. But to give Atkins and other advocates their due, they NEVER said: “Eat more low-carb brownies, made principally from partially-hydrogenated oil.” But that’s just the sort of thing we did when the low-carb craze really got going, thanks in part to a New York Times Magazine cover story by Gary Taubes.
I never knew Robert Atkins personally, but I do know Gary Taubes. He’s a smart guy, and I am quite convinced his intentions are good. If he erred in embracing the low-carb diet, it wasn’t because he was pointing out the harms associated with an excess of starch and sugar. He was quite right about that. Rather, the mistake was in failing to learn from the follies of low-fat history.
The food industry fooled us once by turning “reduce dietary fat” into an entire inventory of Frankenfoods unimagined by Keys. Low-carb proponents had this history lesson, and so should have seen it coming. We wound up with a whole new inventory of highly processed, high-calorie, nutritionally moribund “low-carb” foods we may reliably believe Atkins never anticipated. Déjà vu, all over again.
If this were just about history, there might be no need to care. It would be artificially sweetened, vitamin-fortified, New Age water under the bridge. But it’s not just about history. A diet of unintended consequences remains a clear and present danger.
Dr. Robert Lustig is arguing forcefully for the harmful — indeed, poisonous — effects of fructose in our food. I have not heard him say “eat more artificially sweetened muffins,” but you can bet that’s just what the Muffin Man is hearing.
Dr. David Jenkins has pointed out the hazards of foods with a high glycemic index. I don’t ever recall him suggesting we should eat more pastrami and fewer carrots — but some diets based on the “GI” have pretty much done exactly that.
More recently, Dr. Jenkins and colleagues suggested that eggs were as bad for heart health as tobacco. Leaving aside the very profound limitations of that study, and my disagreement with the authors about its implications and the health effects of dietary cholesterol, we can all agree the study did NOT say: “Stop eating eggs, but keep the bacon and add donuts.” Since America runs on Dunkin’, that response may be anticipated. Unless Dr. Lustig’s advice is incorporated, in which case the donuts will be fructose-free.
We have abundant evidence that the “go organic” message can be corrupted; it never meant more nutritious. We know that the good intentions of the “locavore” movement can run off the rails. A locally-grown tomato in Minnesota in February could have a larger carbon footprint than one sent there from Japan!
Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle advocate, and rightly so, for a diet of foods direct from nature — but if the message ends there, it makes perfect the enemy of good. Only 1.5 percent — yes, 1.5 percent! — of Americans are getting the recommended daily intake of both vegetables and fruits. Advice that does not extend to improving the actual choices people are making among products in bags, boxes, bottles, jars, and cans may be perfect in principle — but an enemy to real-world good.
What is the solution? It’s time to see the forest through the trees, the elephant in the room, the indelible follies of history. It’s time to stop getting fooled, again.
We need dietary guidance that is explicit about foods people should and shouldn’t eat. Guidance that says once and for all, “If it glows in the dark — whether it’s low in fructose or not, low in fat or not, low in sodium or not — step away from the box, and nobody will get hurt!” We need to focus on overall nutritional quality. We need to be more pragmatic, and less dogmatic. And we need guidance that extends to the full range of food choices people actually make every day.
In attempting to improve the American diet and health, I am in excellent company. My intentions and intelligence are not better than those of my colleagues. But I do seem more inclined to focus on the big picture — or maybe I’m just more cynical. I believe, given the least opportunity to do so, our society will certainly replicate the profitable follies of our nutritional history.
I may seem in this rant to be quite critical of the food industry. But actually, that’s not so. The business of business is business. And if devising dietary concoctions that address the concern du jour keeps the customer satisfied and boosts profit, it’s rather hard to see why companies in a capitalist society would do otherwise. The fault lies not with the rising stars of Wall Street, but with ourselves — for serving up such one-nutrient-at-a-time invitations to dietary debacles in the first place.
Our collective problem is not want of intelligence, nor good intentions — nor even good messages. It is our failure to learn from the follies of history, and anticipate the enthusiasm with which industry elements will replicate them. I can’t help but think that in boardrooms around the country, hands are being rubbed together in glee each time we come out with the next “one” thing wrong with our food supply. Because each is another gift-wrapped opportunity for a marketing bonanza, and mountains of cash.
It’s past time to learn how our good intentions can be corrupted. It’s past time for us to digest the follies of our recent nutritional history. And it’s past time for us to chew on the law of unintended consequences — and design our strategies with those consequences already in mind.
We have been living — and dying — for decades on a diet of unintended consequences. We seem disinclined to digest the lessons of history and avoid perpetuating this pattern. It will be a real shame if it goes on like this — because people will get sick, and die, unnecessarily as a result. And since we have already been fooled more than once, this time around, the shame will be ours.
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Seven or eight years ago, my doctor told me I need to lose a whole lot of weight. She put me on a low carb diet, and I lost 70 pounds. I kept it off for a while, but eventually I got tired of dieting, and over the last three years I’d put 40 of those pounds back on. Starting late last year, I made a concerted effort to get them off again, and only succeeded in keep my weight stable…until, a month or so ago, I read Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It. Since then, I’ve dropped approximately 8 pounds with no real effort.
I should note, I’m not anything like a diet book junkie. The only other diet book I’ve read is The No-S Diet, which was responsible for me putting the first 20 of those 40 pounds back on. I’ll also note that Why We Get Fat is not your typical diet book. It’s not about eating less and exercising more and lots of rah-rah stuff to inspire you to try harder.
Instead, it’s a book about what makes your body take on and burn fat.
I had always thought that putting on weight worked like this:
- You eat food.
- Your body digests the foot, and all of the nutrients and calories enter your blood stream.
- Your body burns some of those nutrients and calories for fuel.
- Whatever is left over—the nutrients that are getting past their sell-by date, as it were—eventually get packed away in the form of fat.
Hence, in order to lose weight you need to exercise more, so that you don’t have any nutrients left to turn into fat.
It turns out that this is not the case. The first part is true: the food you eat turns into nutrients that enter your bloodstream to feed your tissues. But the second part isn’t. Your blood flows by both your muscle cells and your fat cells like a buffet on a conveyor belt, and both kinds of cells consume as much as they like. If your fat cells are set to pull lots of nutrients out of your blood and sock it away, you’re going to get fat.
Taubes describes a study, done in the last ten years, in which two groups of white rats had their ovaries removed. The goal of the study was to determine the effect of having no estrogen. One group of rats was allowed to eat as much as they liked; the other group was fed the same diet as they would usually get.
Both groups of rats became obese. The difference between the two was that the rats that could eat as much as they liked were normally active, well the rats on the constrained diet moved as little as they could manage. You see, fat uptake is determined by hormones, and without estrogen the fat cells got turned up to eleven, and in effect stole energy from the rest of the rats’ bodies.
There are a number of hormones that control fat uptake; and the main one that’s affected by diet is insulin. The more insulin in your blood, the more fat your fat cells squirrel away. And the more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin in your blood.
It’s a fascinating book; Taubes is a skilled writer, and he makes a compelling case. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so to speak, and in the month or six weeks since I read it, I’ve lost about 8 pounds. What did I do?
I cut out sugars and starches almost completely. This is not that different than what I was trying to do before.
Of the things that were left in my diet, I looked at their glycemic indices. That’s a measure of how quickly the food gets converted into glucose. And I cut out foods that have a significant glycemic index. For example, I’d always thought of beans as a protein food. But most beans also have a lot of starch, and a glycemic index of about 15. Carrots, by comparison, have a certain amount of sugar but a much lower glycemic index. So I eat carrots sparingly, and I’ve mostly cut beans out of my diet.
Third, Taubes suggests that if you listen to your body, you’ll eat what you need. Previously I’d been trying to eat only at mealtimes, and enough that I didn’t get hungry between meals. The upshot of that was that I never really got hungry. What I’m doing now is trying to adjust my meal sizes such that I get hungry maybe half-an-hour before the next meal. That means I’m consciously eating less at meals. But the promise is, I don’t need to be hungry. If I get hungry at some other time, I’m allowed to eat as much as I’d like—until I get full, and only from the approved list.
And it’s working. I’m eating less at breakfast and lunch, and much less at dinner, than I used to. Sometimes I have a snack in the afternoon, or after dinner, but not always, and only if I’m actually hungry. And here’s the weird thing: in the old days, when I was eating foods with more carbs in them, I never really got hungry…but I always wanted more to eat. When I think about some of the “snacks” I used to have in the afternoon, it boggles my mind.
Be clear: I’m not saying, “Gosh, I just gathered my will-power and cut down my food intake, and I’m losing weight.” What I’m saying is that by cutting certain things out of my diet, I’m not only eating less, I’m wanting less. And the weight is coming off. My weight is generally more stable from day to day, with a slight downward trend; my digestion is better; the only annoying part is eating away from home, where it’s sometimes hard to get the right things.
Put it like this: we had three birthdays during the last week at our house. I lost weight. ‘Nuff said.
Update: Please note, all I’m claiming is that the book made sense to me, and that it seems to be working for me. Different things work for different people.
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JOHN DONVAN, HOST:
So is a calorie just a calorie? Science writer Gary Taubes says no, it is not. In a study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. David Ludwig of Boston’s Children Hospital found that patients on a low-carb diet burned more calories a day and kept the weight off longer than those who are on a low-fat diet. In an op-ed called “What Really Makes Us Fat,” in this past Sunday’s New York Times, Gary Taubes argues that the study provides further evidence that following a low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diet may be a bad idea and contributing to America’s obesity epidemic.
So dieticians and nutritionists out there, we want to know, what are you hearing from your clients? Please report to us from the field. And does this study change the advice that you give them? Our number is 800-989-8255. Or drop us an email, email@example.com. Again, dieticians and nutritionists, what are you hearing from your clients? So Gary Taubes is the author of “Why We Get Fat,” and he joins us by phone from his home in Berkeley, California. Gary, thanks for joining us on TALK OF THE NATION.
GARY TAUBES: Thanks for having me.
DONVAN: So as I said, this study provides further evidence that low-fat, high-carbs is bad for you. What’s been the preceding evidence, and where does this new study land on that spectrum?
TAUBES: Well, what’s been interesting, there’s been a debate for about a century about the sort of fundamental cause of why we get fat. You know, today the conventional wisdom is we just take in more calories than we expend. The official jargon is obesity is an energy balance disorder. And the counter hypothesis, the alternative hypothesis has always been that obesity is a – it’s a hormonal defect, just like any other growth disorder. And the hormone that stimulates fat accumulation and fat cells is the hormone insulin, and we secrete insulin primarily in response to the carbohydrates in our diet.
You can think of the carbs in the diet as regulating our insulin levels. And so you’ve got these two competing hypotheses. One says it’s just gluttony and sloth, and the other says that it’s a hormonal problem, just like obese people are complaining for, you know, centuries, and that it’s triggered by the carbs. And there’s been a lot of evidence for this hormonal explanation, as I detail in my books, and along comes Dr. Ludwig’s study, where – what they do is they take obese subjects, and they reduce them in weight down…
DONVAN: They just starve them for a few weeks or months?
TAUBES: Effectively they semi-starve them. They cut their calories and their carbohydrates by about 40 percent. So their weight comes down, and then now they’re – they put them on a diet that’s supposed to maintain their weight. So they’re getting fed just as many calories as they’re expending. And our energy-balance idea says if you do that, they’re not going to gain weight or lose weight. And what Dr. Ludwig and his colleagues found was on the, you know, what the healthy diet – this diet we’re told to eat by our – the USDA and the NIH, the low-fat, high-carb diet, their energy expenditure stays about the same.
So these people have to continue, in effect, to fight their hunger every day to maintain their weight. But when they switch to the very low-carbohydrate diet, suddenly their energy expenditure shoots up. And it’s like now, even though they’re eating just as many calories as they’re expending, their expenditure has gone up, so they’d actually be losing weight.
DONVAN: But do…
TAUBES: And what…
DONVAN: Go ahead. Go ahead. I’m sorry. Finish your thought.
TAUBES: What I was – what I argue in this op-ed is that if you think of these weight-reduced people as pre-obese – in other words, they’re just like the rest of us who are going to get fatter – we just know these people are going to do it quicker – then what this study tells you – it’s premature, it’s short term – but it tells you that the more carbs in the diet, the harder it is to maintain your weight.
DONVAN: So Gary, when you say the study tells us this, should we consider ourselves, at this point, told? Is this definitive and clear-cut, or is it murkier than that?
TAUBES: Oh, it’s – you know, what I’m tell you is, as I say in the op-ed, it’s very controversial. And what I’ve been arguing is it should not be controversial. You know, up until the 1960s, the conventional wisdom was that carbohydrate-rich foods were fattening: pasta, bread, potatoes, sweets, beer, sodas. You know, that one line I quote in the op-ed is from a British Journal Nutrition article in 1963, written by one of the two leading British dietitians. The first sentence was: Every woman knows that carbohydrates are fattening.
And then what we did is we got this idea in our heads that dietary fat causes heart disease, and we made – the fattening carbohydrate got transformed into this idea that carbohydrate is heart-healthy diet food.
DONVAN: Which was a gigantic change in the cultural attitude towards food, was it not? It was like the change in getting us to wear seatbelts and to stop smoking. People really did make that change.
TAUBES: People really did make that change. And you can actually see it in the statistics in the USDA food availability statistics. Carbohydrate consumption goes up. Sugars consumption goes up, and fat consumption goes down, consistent with what we were being told beginning in 1977 by the government. And this coincides with an obesity epidemic and a diabetes epidemic.
And, again, the argument that I’ve been making is, you know, the conventional wisdom remains to this day, it’s all about calories. It’s all about eating too much, exercising too little. And we’ve been given that conventional wisdom as the nation has gone fatter and fatter and fatter. And what the authorities do is they blame us, the public, for not following their advice. The counter-argument is the advice is wrong, that what they’ve been telling to do has made the problem worse, not better.
DONVAN: Let’s – we’ve asked listeners who are actually working in the field and advising people to call in and tell us, you know, give us a report from your office, from your clinic: What are you seeing, and also what are you advising your clients to do? So let’s go to Oakland, California. And, hi, you’re on TALK OF THE NATION. Oh, I’m sorry. I’m afraid, we lost you. I want to go to Blair, then, in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Hi, Blair. You’re on TALK OF THE NATION.
BLAIR: Hey. How are you?
DONVAN: We’re good, thanks.
BLAIR: Listen, I just – my son is a real health nut. And about three months ago, after spending a year-and-a-half working on three times a week and gaining two pounds, up to 250 when I should weigh about 210, he said, you ought to read this book, dad.
DONVAN: By whom?
BLAIR: I did – I read it. And three months later, and even exercising less, I now weigh 215. I’m almost at the same weight as I played at basketball in college. And I’m telling you, your science is exactly on target.
DONVAN: Which book are you talking about, Blair?
BLAIR: “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.”
DONVAN: All right. Gary, you didn’t plant that, did you?
TAUBES: No, I didn’t. Thank you. I was wondering (unintelligible) California. I was hoping we’d hear from Oakland, too, but thank you.
BLAIR: I have a website called The Transformation, and I wrote an article about it, to all the people to go get your book, because it’s absolutely on target. And three things happened to me lately. One, I quit getting hungry after three days. Two, I quit being tired in the afternoon. And three, I lost 35 pounds…
DONVAN: All right.
BLAIR: …in three months.
DONVAN: Blair, thanks very much for your call. You know, one thing that I want to clarify with you, Gary. When you talk about low-carb diets, I mean, an apple is essentially carbohydrate as much as a bun. Are the recommendations – the implication – the implied recommendations from the things that you’re talking about in your work, that we don’t eat as much fruit and vegetables.
TAUBES: Well, this is what complicates the matter a lot, and why a lot of dietitians and nutritionists have trouble accepting the arguments. You know, we have these blanket recommendations for the nation that fruits and vegetables are good for us. And I’m going to hear, separate out, you know, potatoes or starchy vegetables versus green, leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach. The argument I’ve been making again is that the – and this is not, you know, I make this argument in my books. I’m not taking credit for it. I’m just channeling a lot of other intelligent researchers and commentators going back a century.
But, you know, the idea is if you’re overweight or obese, you’re particularly sensitive to the carbohydrates in the diet. So just like, you know, of – 10 percent of all smokers will get lung cancer, but we know that for those smokers who do, 80 to 90 percent, cigarettes are the reason. And I’m making this argument that, you know, for those of us who get overweight and obese, the carbohydrates in the diet are what’s causing it. So if you’re a lean and you want to remain lean, then, you know, eating fruits and starchy vegetables are fine as long as your body can tolerate it. But if we’re talking about somebody who’s 100 pounds overweight or is a type 2 diabetic, then arguably, even the carbohydrates in fruit are going to be problematic…
DONVAN: All right.
TAUBES: …and that you can’t give the same prescription for a lean individual as you can an – you know, an overweight individual, as an obese individual. The greater the problem, the greater the metabolic disturbance – a phrase we use a lot – the more extreme the intervention. So for someone – for a third of the country that’s obese, fruit is going to be problematic. That’s a question(ph). And maybe, if they get rid of it and keep their diet to green – only the carbohydrates and green, leafy vegetables, they’ll be able to reverse the problem, lose the weight.
Even in some cases, clinical trials have demonstrated that type 2 diabetes can be reversed by severe carbohydrate restriction, which – kind of(ph) a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, and then find out a few years later that their body has normalized and now they can tolerate more carbohydrates in diet, including that apple.
DONVAN: All right. Let me bring in Lawrence from Houston, Texas. Hi, Lawrence. You’re TALK OF THE NATION.
LAWRENCE: Yes, hello.
DONVAN: Hi. We hear you. Lawrence, you’re on the air.
DONVAN: You’re on the air.
LAWRENCE: OK, yeah. First of all, (technical difficulties) a fellow USC Berkeley grad. I graduated in physiology and engineering, so I know quite a few of the same folks you do. I’d like to get your comments on the China Study, because I’ve been getting more and more involved in the results of the China Study, which, as you probably know, is the largest epidemiological study ever made. It’s OK to look at single components of nutrition like carbohydrates and proteins and fats. And we all know that it takes more energy to burn a, you know, a gram of protein than it does a gram of fat, for instance. It’s nine grams versus – nine calories versus four calories.
But when you take the relationship between disease and all kinds of diseases, different kinds of cancer – you know, hepatitis B and heart disease – and you look at the relationship and large groups of populations between what their diet is and the occurrence of the disease, there’s an astonishing relationship between animal protein and disease occurrence. I…
DONVAN: Lawrence, I need to step in just to give Gary a chance to begin to answer, because we’re almost out of time. So thank you for your call. And, Gary, I have to give you about 40 seconds to answer.
TAUBES: Forty seconds, OK. The quick question is the China Study is – well, it’s a collaboration between Cornell, Oxford University and Chinese universities that looked at diet versus disease (unintelligible) counties in China. It is actually not true. This is one of the amazing – the China Study has become sort of the bible of the vegan diet movement. And it’s actually not true. If you look at the raw data in the China Study, there is no relationship between animal protein and cancer – animal protein consumption and cancer mortality in that study. Anything more than that, I’d be happy to talk about the China Study for minutes to hours. That’s all I can say.
All right. I want to thank – I’m afraid that we’re out of time. But Gary Taubes, I want to thank you for joining us. You are at home in Berkeley, California, the author of “Why We Get Fat,” and “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” Gary Taubes, thanks very much for joining us.
OK. Thank you again.
DONVAN: And this is TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. I’m John Donvan, in Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.
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CAPITOLA – Award-winning science journalist Gary Taubes presented his hypothesis on why we get fat Wednesday night to a rapt audience of 276 people at New Brighton Middle School, saying it will soon be studied by nutrition researchers.
For those who haven’t read his best-selling books, his theory is based on an in-depth review of 100 years of studies on overweight people.
“The only nonpharmaceutical remedy is to remove the carbohydrates, replace them with protein and fat,” he said. “Obesity was solved in the 1960s and we literally threw it out.”
He showed a 1965 New York Times report in which a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet was decried by nutritionists as “nonsense” and “mass murder.”
Despite studies showing Trinidad women becoming obese on fewer than 2,000 calories a day and Mexican-American oil-field workers in Texas in 1981 overweight without eating fast food, nutritionists insisted obesity was caused by more calories going in than going out.
The key is insulin, the hormone that puts fat in fat tissue.
“We overeat because our fat tissue is accumulating excess fat,” Taubes said. “To get fat out of the tissue, you have to lower your insulin levels. We knew that in 1965 and it’s still true.”
Yet nutritionists since the 1980s promoted carbohydrates as “heart healthy,” and waistlines locally and across America have been expanding.
Nicole Hensley, 27, a UC Santa Cruz graduate in molecular biology, took Taubes’ advice after reading his book.
“As of today, I’m 47 pounds down,” she said, adding that she lost weight despite eating bacon.
Aptos resident Terri Mykland was among the dozen people asking the author questions afterward. She lost 100 pounds after eliminating sugar and carbohydrates from her diet and was looking for ways to lower her blood sugar.
Taubes has formed a nonprofit to fund nutrition research, which gained legal status this week, and expects support from a hedge fund operator.
“It’s tremendously exciting,” he said. “We’re meeting with National Institutes of Health researchers. Hopefully in five or 10 years we may be able to answer some of these questions.”
Richard Grode, a Santa Cruz injury recovery specialist, said he was impressed that the Santa Cruz County Office of Education brought Taubes in.
“He’s world-famous,” Grode said.
Dr. Salem Magarian, affiliated with Dominican Hospital, said he appreciated Taubes’ fresh perspective and agreed it’s possible existing scientific data have been misinterpreted. He recalled when doctors revised their thinking, recommending babies sleep on their backs, not on their tummies.
“It’s always good to get new information and challenge what we think we already know,” said Danielle Edmundson, owner of Crossfit Santa Cruz. “It’s enticing. It makes a lot of sense.”
Follow Sentinel reporter Jondi Gumz on Twitter @jondigumz