Lion of the Blogosphere

The body fights to regain lost weight

There’s a fascinating article in the NY Times about what happened to contestants on the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” after their initial weight loss.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 2, 2016 at 7:35 pm

118 Responses

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  1. I’m skeptical. Every group of people in society has an academic discipline telling us it’s not their fault, so why should fat people be any different?

    I’d say two pieces of evidence:

    1) Ever been to Eastern Europe? Young fat people don’t exist. The major differences between countries even controlling for income and other stuff indicates that lifestyle and culture matter a lot.

    2) Ever been to an elite college campus or a Silicon Valley company? How come the most high IQ and responsible people struggle the least with weight loss? That’s exactly what you would predict if it was all about will power and being able to delay gratification.

    Hepp

    May 2, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    • Please. Try to (willfully?) misunderstand the science a little harder:

      High IQ is highly correlated with high self discipline which is highly correlated with weight. Fine. But it’s *all* genetic. “Willpower” is genetic. Eastern Europeans are genetically different from, say, Scandis. Someone who can get into Silicon Valley or the Ivy League is genetically different from someone who can’t.

      And if you were somehow able to reduce peoples’ weight, permanently, the fact that it’s correlation rather than causation would make it highly unlikely that doing so would improve anything else in their lives. (Unless, of course, the human jenga effect means that you change one gene and it cascades, but that does bring the question of why not go after the things like self discipline, intelligence etc., rather than going straight for the genes that impact cosmetic considerations.)

      Jesse

      May 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

      • Well said!

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

      • I know willpower is genetic. But people also have a need to be accepted. If fat people were lepers, spit on every day, and sent to work camps, people would find their willpower. If you tell them that we’ll be nice and kind to them no matter what, there won’t be any incentive for them to change.

        All behavioral genetic studies are about the variation in one particular culture at one particular time. But a cultural shift can radically change human behavior.

        It’s directly analogous to crime. Yes, some people are genetically predisposed. But that genetic variation only matters much if society tolerates criminals. In the 1950s, before “civil rights” and TV and movies romanticizing criminals, the crime rate was a fraction of what it is now. Did the murder rate jump by 600% in the after the 1960s because of some genetic change?

        I personally don’t care if being fat is unhealthy or not. Aesthetics are important to people. Women want to be desired, and men want to have attractive wives. When relations between the sexes are healthy, women will pick relationships over cupcakes. When they’ve been brainwashed by feminism and have nothing better, they’ll eat until they’re repulsive.

        Hepp

        May 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

      • Society is NOT kind to fat people. In the age where all discrimination is considered evil, discrimination against the fat is considered OK because we blame them for being fat.

      • “Did the murder rate jump by 600% in the after the 1960s because of some genetic change?”

        Yes. Yes, it did. And it’s retarded to pretend that changing the racial demographics of a country won’t change the murder rate

        “I personally don’t care if being fat is unhealthy or not. Aesthetics are important to people.”

        Well, god bless your honesty. But why get so worked up and hormonal about it? It’s not about health. You do understand that no one “deserves” anything on the marriage/dating markets, right? You get what you get. Has it ever occurred to you that you’re bitter and alone because of you, not because of feminism?

        Jesse

        May 3, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      • Anti-fat discrimination is not nearly as nasty or explicit as it could be. A fat woman may get ignored at a bar, but she won’t have people in her life tell her she’s disgusting and better lose weight if she ever wants to find a worthwhile man. Our society is polite enough that most fatties can continue to wallow in self-delusion.

        If people were as mean to fat people as they are to “racists,” we’d see far fewer fat people.

        Hepp

        May 3, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      • “Has it ever occurred to you that you’re bitter and alone because of you, not because of feminism?”

        Ah, yes, you obviously know so much about me and my life. Should I likewise assume that you’re a fat pig? Some of us actually care about the world because we love beauty and truth, not because we need an ideology to justify failure.

        Hepp

        May 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      • “Some of us actually care about the world because we love beauty and truth, not because we need an ideology to justify failure.”

        Aw, you’re adorable. The fact is that you’re not even pretending to care about health, and while there’s a certain element of my being grateful for your honesty, it’s still pathetic. You just think you’re owed attractive women, whereas if you were one tenth of the Alpha you like to present yourself as, you’d be able to get these women minus the Omega level whining.

        So (1), you’re not owed beauty and (2) truth, really? How is hysterically denying biological reality going to aid that? Truth hurts, and you’re desperately begging people to give you schmaltz. “You can do whatever you put your mind to, kids!” No. That’s not even a little bit true.

        Since you ask, I’m maintaining significant weight loss myself, and this is absolutely true. Leaving aside the constant thoughts about food, I’m constantly hungry. The article is completely true. The denial of basic realities when it comes to weight is no better than the hysterical denial of the SJW crowd of basic realities concerning IQ.

        Jesse

        May 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      • I don’t think I’m “owed” attractive woman, I’ve got a wife-to-be, who has a graduate degree from a top school in the hard sciences, and very happy. Odds are I’m much better off and successful than you.

        Of course, there’s no way for you to verify that, just as like there’s no way for me to verify your claim to be normal weight. That’s why I like to stick to debates about the issues, using facts and reason. But if insulting anonymous people on the Internet is your cup of tea, then have at it with others.

        Hepp

        May 3, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      • “That’s why I like to stick to debates about the issues, using facts and reason.”

        BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

        Jesse

        May 4, 2016 at 5:25 am

    • “Ever been to an elite college campus or a Silicon Valley company? How come the most high IQ and responsible people struggle the least with weight loss?”

      That’s because there’s a negative correlation between obesity and IQ, and it’s a genetic correlation like most phenotypic correlations:

      Obesity and IQ – The Unz Review

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:20 am

      • Now there is, but 100 years ago, there wasn’t. What’s your point?

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      • We’re living in the present, not 100 years ago. So what’s your point?

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      • My point is obvious to anyone with a decent reading comprehension. But I’ll explain it anyway: the correlation between IQ and obesity only pertains in this environment. Not 100 years ago, not in India. Clear?

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      • And I’ll say again: we live in this environment. Not the one of 100 years ago.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    • That’s very simple: people are engrossed in their work and forget to eat. I forget about food when I have a good project and I’m relatively low IQ and intelligence. This was true when I was a programmer and it’s true today in HVAC. Also, I like eating before going to bed. Animals do it and are happy, I do the same and am very happy. I feel like cat and I like it. Humans have an animal component, why deny it? Never understood this nonsense of not eating at night.

      Yakov

      May 3, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      • …and I’m relatively low IQ and intelligence

        Yakov, why do you claim this? I think you know what low IQ people are like and you know you aren’t one of them.

        Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say you are of at least average IQ and probably above average for some math/technical/spatial abilities?

        Now Otis on the other hand…..

        Rifleman

        May 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      • @Jackov: people are engrossed in their work and forget to eat.

        Yes, me too. I’ll do some home repair project or landscaping and before I know it I missed lunch and it’s dinner time. And the vigorous activity burns tons of calories. Without obsessing about it, I’ve stayed w/i ten pounds of my weight at 18 y/o, over 40 years ago. Just daily 60 – 90 minutes of weight training, cardio, and stretching; and a generally healthful diet.

        I like eating before going to bed.

        Not me; a full stomach will keep me awake.

        E. Rekshun

        May 3, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      • I say ‘relatively’ compared to my family of brainiacs. It’s important to know your true level. Also, unlike many commenters on this blog I don’t feel that I’m very smart. There is a lot of rocker science that I don’t understand and it’s OK.

        Yakov

        May 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    • Ever been to an elite college campus or a Silicon Valley company? How come the most high IQ and responsible people struggle the least with weight loss?

      The causality goes in the other direction. Elite colleges and Silicon Valley discriminate against the obese.

      ScarletNumber

      May 3, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    • I work in Eastern Europe. The girls get fatter every day. Whoever introduced McDonalds and KFC to Poland and Slovakia should be put on trial.

      Peter Akuleyev

      May 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    • EE’s come to the US and immediately gain weight because of access to cheap, good, tasty food and luxuries. Food availability has improved there, but they go wild in the US.

      A lot of this hand-wringing is hatred of prosperous, portly, good-tempered people by the extreme left.

      ricardo

      May 4, 2016 at 11:56 am

    • Hepp wrote:
      “Ever been to an elite college campus or a Silicon Valley company? How come the most high IQ and responsible people struggle the least with weight loss? That’s exactly what you would predict if it was all about will power and being able to delay gratification.”

      Also exactly how it would look if Silicon Valley companies tended not to hire fat people because, you know, they are fat.

      Rosenmops

      May 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

  2. Form the article:

    The problem with this reasoning is that it is also a “primal biological signal” to be a conformist, and to avoid social stigmatization. This kind of understanding attitude removes that cost of being overweight.

    Hepp

    May 2, 2016 at 7:48 pm

  3. The people in the article are freaks. There is something wrong with them – normal people don’t weigh 400-500 lb. Obviously the body us gonna get confused, I would. Take normal people and let them play volleyball, or whatever, for a couple of hours a day and they won’t have a problem. A normal person just can get to this weight. TV is stupid – don’t watch it.

    Yakov

    May 2, 2016 at 7:53 pm

  4. You rag on it a lot, but Paleo related doctors and researches have been talking about leptin resistance for years. If you followed the ancestral health movement more closely you’d be four or five years ahead of “revelations” reported by the New York Times.

    PerezHBD

    May 2, 2016 at 8:11 pm

  5. Yup. The body also fights to lose weight if you deliberately lock people up and overfeed them, as the twin overfeeding study demonstrates.

    Obesity Facts – The Unz Review

    It’s like a thermostat. Obese people simply have one that’s set higher than thinner people’s are.

    JayMan

    May 2, 2016 at 8:30 pm

  6. I lost a substantial quantity of weight. Then I gained it back again 😦
    Once I got back up to my old weight I stopped gaining and have been at that weight for about 10 years.
    The thing is you have to never let yourself get overweight in the first place.
    Too late for me 😦

    Rosenmops

    May 2, 2016 at 9:33 pm

  7. Wanna lose weight? Get cancer.

    Vincent

    May 2, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    • Or get Ayds.

      ScarletNumber

      May 3, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    • Cancer’s good.

      Another one is cigarettes, coffee, and alcohol and very little food.

      Crack is a favorite among the poorer dieters. Same results.

      Rifleman

      May 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      • Whitney “Crack is Wack” Houston looked horribly thin when she went through her crack phase w/ hubby Bobby Brown. I think it was pills that finally did her in (as well as her daughter).

        E. Rekshun

        May 3, 2016 at 5:44 pm

  8. Is it possible to not get fat in the first place, though? Or is it really in the genes?

    What’s rough is that fat people have to consume fewer calories than others just to keep weight off. Bummer. And they’re hungry a lot more because of some hormone (leptin) deficiency.

    esiz

    May 2, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    • “Is it possible to not get fat in the first place, though? Or is it really in the genes?”

      BMI is 80% heritable.

      In today’s environment, if you have the genetic propensity to be overweight, there’s not much you can do.

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:21 am

      • “In today’s environment, if you have the genetic propensity to be overweight, there’s not much you can do.”

        True in one sense, but overly defeatist in another.

        Have you looked seriously at literature analyzing moderated carb diets? I’d like to link the study the following video concerns, but don’t know how to find it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eREuZEdMAVo

        I believe he (Christopher Gardner, Stanford) followed up that study with one examining DNA markers for insulin sensitivity. So it’s true, if you have the genes for insulin sensitivity, you will become overweight on a typical American diet. But if you go lower carb…

        anon

        May 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      • Check out my page (Obesity Facts) linked above if you’re curious about what I’ve looked at.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    • Here’s how you avoid getting fat: Live in an area where walking is normal, and eat a diet that isn’t full of processed low-fat foods.

      Walking to class in college and living in NYC helped me lose a great deal of weight with little effort.

      Unfortunately a lot of areas in America don’t fit this description. It’s very easy to gain weight when you only walk from your front door to your car every day, and you’re forced to be sedentary in an office job.

      Panther of the Blogocube

      May 3, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      • Nope. Differences is 100% self-selection.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      • This sounds like self-delusion.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        May 3, 2016 at 11:38 pm

  9. Everyone knows fatties lie about how much they eat. The vast majority of these contestants who regained the wait have likely stopped exercising and returned to their old eating patterns while claiming otherwise.

    Apothecary

    May 2, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    • “Everyone knows fatties lie about how much they eat. The vast majority of these contestants who regained the wait have likely stopped exercising and returned to their old eating patterns while claiming otherwise.”

      Even if that’s the case, why did they do that?

      They are hardly unique.

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:22 am

      • I would assume it’s the same causes that led to them being morbidly obese in the first place, lack of self control. When they are on the show they have professional trainers and dieticians motivating them, and millions of people watching them on TV. When the show’s over they revert to their old habits then blame “metabolism”.

        Apothecary

        May 3, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      • They also exercise literally as a full time job (8hrs a day), because otherwise the show would have very modest results within a realistic time frame for a TV show. No one who isn’t a professional athlete can afford to make this kind of extreme lifestyle change, even though most Americans can stand to turn off the TV for an hour or two a day and do some moderate physical activity.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        May 3, 2016 at 11:23 pm

  10. They’re eating high carb food. It’s addictive, as strong as heroin, maybe stronger since it’s socially accepted and sold in every grocery store and restaurant in the country.

    XVO

    May 2, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    • You realize that that’s all BS, right?

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:22 am

  11. Speaking of diet and health, Warren Buffett says he drinks about 700 calories in Coke a day, which is about one 2-liter bottle of Coke a day. He also eats fudge and other junk food. He says he doesn’t think there is much evidence that he’d live longer if he’d drank water and eaten broccoli instead. He’s 85 and in good health.

    “The fountain of youth? Warren Buffett, 85, credits fudge, peanut brittle and Coke for his health and happiness – and claims he gets a fourth of his daily calories from the sugary soda”

    “Buffett, whose company is Coca-Cola’s largest shareholder, said critics shouldn’t blame the brand for obesity
    Told reporters in Omaha, Nebraska, there was no evidence he’d live longer if he switched to water and broccoli
    The billionaire has claimed to drink five cans of Coke a day, including one for breakfast ”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3568461/Warren-Buffett-85-credits-Coke-fudge-peanut-brittle-Coke-health-happiness.html

    Tom

    May 2, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    • Buffett is prole, despite being a multi-billionaire.

      • Buffett is a sociopath. It’s a crying shame that he happens to be right on raising taxes on the wealthiest in society.

        Jesse

        May 3, 2016 at 9:14 am

      • Buffet doesn’t bother anyone.

        Yakov

        May 3, 2016 at 9:30 am

      • He is probably on the autism spectrum, but my God what an investor.

        Two in the Bush

        May 3, 2016 at 10:32 am

    • Every long-lived person has their own secret to long life, and they’re all different too.

      That should be a clue.

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:23 am

    • Warren Buffett’s son Howard is fat. Warren once tried to bribe him or threaten him to lose weight, but it didn’t work. Genetic lottery.

      Dave Pinsen

      May 3, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    • I drink two cans of Diet Mountain Dew every day, watered down w/ 50% water. It’s 0 calories, 0 carbs, 0 sugar. It’s basically citrus-sweet, colored water. Mountain Dew is more prole than Coke.

      E. Rekshun

      May 3, 2016 at 5:25 pm

  12. BTW, Buffett loves Big Macs:

    http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1997/04/14/224977/index.htm

    Not too long ago Warren Buffett, after a late flight into Hong Kong, dragged his buddy Bill Gates to a local McDonald’s at midnight. Buffett may have simply had a yen for a burger. (“Warren has been known to speak eloquently of the joys of a Big Mac,” says Buffett’s friend Don Keough, the former president of Coca-Cola and current chairman of Allen & Co.–and a McDonald’s board member.)

    Tom

    May 2, 2016 at 11:32 pm

  13. Taubes would say that this is because they have not corrected the underlying hormone imbalance that caused them to gain weight in the first place. However, according to slatestarcodex, more recent research has proven Taubes to be a “mixture of 50% wrong, 25% right but well-known enough that he gets no credit for them, and 25% right ideas that were actually poorly known enough at the time that I do give him credit. This is not a bad record for a contrarian, but I subtract points because he misrepresented a lot of stuff and wasn’t very good at what might be called scientific ethics.”

    So, now I don’t know what to think.

    Greg Pandatshang

    May 2, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    • I used to be a big admirer of Taubes but now I think he’s full of shit.

      He blames the obesity epidemic on carbs – but if that’s true, China and Japan should be full of morbidly obese people, and they are not.

      You get fat by overeating tons of carbs AND fats – the fats fill up your caloric requirements, the carbs prevent your body from burning fat as fuel. It’s both – think of the foods Americans gorge on – mac ‘n cheese, pizza, cakes, cookies, etc. All of them are lethal combos of fats AND carbs.

      Losing weight is not the same as gaining it. Taubes has a point there. Cut your carb intake radically so you force the body to burn fat as fuel.

      But here’s where Taubes and the low carbers go wrong. (Actually some of them are now high fat low carb, which is even crazier.) If you replenish the fat you are burning, and then add to it with even more calories, you will still gain weight. There is simply no escaping that if you take in more energy than your body burns, you will store it as fat!

      Taubes also simply misrepresented anthropological data from Melanesia, and the American Indians, all of whom were slim and healthy on carbs.

      gothamette

      May 3, 2016 at 9:34 am

      • You mean pre-contact American Indians, right? Because modern American Indians seem to be about the most susceptible to getting fat and coming down with diabetes from eating the modern high-carb diet.

        Greg Pandatshang

        May 3, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      • Yes. Taubes himself thought he proved a point with the Pima Indians, but he didn’t. Their diet before contact w/Euros was mostly carbs. But good carbs. To Taubes, all carbs are bad by definition, because insulin.

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      • “There is simply no escaping that if you take in more energy than your body burns, you will store it as fat!”

        Is that an empirical claim or a logical claim (serious question. I don’t know that much about this stuff)? As a logical claim, it’s misleading. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but it’s possible that some diets could cause the body to automatically expend more energy on ordinary behaviours (what people generalise summarise in terms of metabolism), or simply to excrete nutrients. I have no idea what the empirical facts are.

        Greg Pandatshang

        May 3, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      • Greg, the body is a system that needs energy to do work. If you put too much energy into it, you overflow the bucket, and it gets stored somewhere — right in your fat cells. Macronutrients get metabolized in slightly different ways, and in the absence of stored carbs in the muscles and liver, the body does indeed resort to fat for energy (although its burning fat to a degree all the time), but if a body takes in more energy than it needs, the excess will be stored as fat. Even Taubes admits this. That is the major flaw in low-carb thinking.

        gothamette

        May 4, 2016 at 7:19 am

  14. Losers ALWAYS Lose. Get fat once and you’re Ruined for life.
    Even then, losing weight causes drop in testosterone…. haha
    You’d think that at some point the body would adjust, but nope.

    causanortis

    May 3, 2016 at 12:18 am

  15. I was born with an inverse problem: my body can’t make fat out of food, no matter how much I eat. Thankfully I can make muscle.

    People think the fact that lazy people exist also means that genes don’t matter when it comes to weight. That’s false. They do, a lot. But there’s still hope for fat people though : muscle mass can suck a lot off excess calories as glycogen and it’s better to look ripped than fat.

    Tom

    May 3, 2016 at 3:32 am

    • Also, predisposition to be lazy or lack self-control to diet are also genetic.

      • “…predisposition to be lazy or lack self-control to diet are also genetic.”

        And highly correlated with a genetic tendency to gain weight.

        It’s always amazing, that people who really get it when it comes to IQ, suddenly develop a massive blind spot when it comes to weight.

        Jesse

        May 3, 2016 at 9:20 am

    • “I was born with an inverse problem: my body can’t make fat out of food, no matter how much I eat. Thankfully I can make muscle”

      Oh you poor thing, able to eat unlimited amounts of food and made of pure shredded muscle! How do you survive?

      Hepp

      May 3, 2016 at 11:18 am

  16. As someone who’s lost ~30% of my heaviest weight, and is struggling mightily to keep it off, I can say that that’s old news. My endocrine system is trying to sabotage me at every opportunity. If I wasn’t aware of the biological/chemical processes at work, this would be even harder.

    Jesse

    May 3, 2016 at 5:22 am

  17. Fascinating! I still think so much of it is still diet. Americans truly have horrible eating habits. Yes, it is true that not everyone is meant to weigh 150 pounds. And I certainly love a good burger as much as the next guy. However, the ubiquity of the fast casual chain restaurants everywhere are an obvious sign that if we just changed our eating habits even a little, people would simply feel so much better.

    JerseyGuy

    May 3, 2016 at 8:29 am

  18. Those people were morbidly obese, which really is a hormonal problem. The average modern person, who is 20-40 pounds overweight, can’t use that excuse. They are just fat lazy pigs. I speak from experience.

    Cut your junk food intake, and do some HIIT along with a half an hour of walking per day.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/1-minute-of-all-out-exercise-may-equal-45-minutes-of-moderate-exertion/?_r=0

    gothamette

    May 3, 2016 at 9:36 am

  19. Karl Denninger has been on a real role pushing low-carb dieting, mostly because he lost 60 libs on the diet himself and kept the weight off for at least 5 years.

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=231343

    map

    May 3, 2016 at 10:02 am

    • So what? He prefers to eat that way, it works for him. So he eats that diet in such a way that it creates a calorie deficit. Result: weight loss. Without knowing him I do not know whether he’s lost muscle, or what.

      And it’s not true that LCing at least in its current high fat avatar, is efficient.

      https://freetheanimal.com/2016/05/carbohydtate-alternative-hypothesis.html

      Kevin Hall is the same guy who conducted THE BIGGEST LOSER study.

      gothamette

      May 4, 2016 at 9:41 am

  20. Previous commenters are correct that:

    1. People who lose weight have an extremely difficult time keeping it off over the long term
    2. Obesity rates are far lower in many other countries

    It’s obvious that some people are genetically predisposed to be obese, but that latent predisposition is only activated in a sufficiently “obesigenic” environment. Most fat Americans would be thin if they were placed in Latvia, or Japan, or 1920s America. A friend of mine was 25 pounds overweight for years and then moved to an Asian country for a few years. She gradually lost weight (without trying to diet), and when she came back to America she was at the low end of normal weight- on the verge of being considered underweight. Within a year she gained the majority of the weight back.

    The best, and perhaps only, way to achieve long-term weight loss is to change your environment. Move to a city, or to a different part of the country. Start socializing with and living around high-status people. Almost anyone would be fitter in Manhattan or Cambridge, MA than they would be in suburban Mississippi.

    AnonGuy

    May 3, 2016 at 10:16 am

    • “It’s obvious that some people are genetically predisposed to be obese, but that latent predisposition is only activated in a sufficiently “obesigenic” environment. Most fat Americans would be thin if they were placed in Latvia, or Japan, or 1920s America.”

      Across, time? Possibly. Across space? Not likely.

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:24 am

      • Possibly?? It’s a virtual certainty. People with identical genotypes often end up with different phenotypes when they spend time in different environments. Even if you controlled for the change in the genetic makeup of the country, you’d still find that 1920s Americans were thinner than their modern counterparts.

        AnonGuy

        May 3, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      • “People with identical genotypes often end up with different phenotypes when they spend time in different environments.”

        That’s not at all what behavioral genetic studies today show.

        “Even if you controlled for the change in the genetic makeup of the country, you’d still find that 1920s Americans were thinner than their modern counterparts.”

        I’m not arguing with that point. The problem is that we don’t know what about the environment is different today than from America in the 1920s to make a different.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      • “People with identical genotypes often end up with different phenotypes when they spend time in different environments.”

        That’s not at all what behavioral genetic studies today show.

        If by “environment” you mean the way that specific parents raise their kids, or things along those lines, then I agree. Parents who adopt aren’t going to prevent their adopted kids from having an out-of-wedlock baby, for instance, if the adopted kid is inclined in that direction.

        But I was using “environment” to mean the entire surrounding culture, which permeates individual households but is dominant outside of it too. Out-of-wedlock birthrates have skyrocketed in the past few generations, and the degree of the change is far too great to be explained by genetic differences between the generations. It seems clear that the old culture did a better job of preventing that then the present one does, even for people who had a greater innate tendency toward promiscuity.

        I agree that it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact weight we should give to various factors within the culture, but the overall effect of all of them is more obvious.

        AnonGuy

        May 3, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      • “But I was using “environment” to mean the entire surrounding culture, which permeates individual households but is dominant outside of it too. Out-of-wedlock birthrates have skyrocketed in the past few generations, and the degree of the change is far too great to be explained by genetic differences between the generations.”

        Except that world is gone, never to return. In the case of out-of-wedlock birth, I think the relevant factor involved is technology. That way of living is simply obsolete. Technology may also be involved in increasing obesity. But we’ve got the world we’ve got. Pointing out that in some mythic past things were different can be insightful, but only so much. We certainly aren’t going back to the world of the past.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    • The problem is that we don’t know what about the environment is different today than from America in the 1920s to make a different.

      That’s why I said that people need to put themselves in different environments, rather than simply assuming that one specific variable explains everything and then focusing on that. There might be dozens of variables at work. If you simply change your whole environment (i.e. move from rural Mississippi to Paris, for instance) then all of the relevant variables will change. The most important ones might be things you aren’t even aware of.

      This is easier said than done for older people with kids, of course…

      AnonGuy

      May 3, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      • “That’s why I said that people need to put themselves in different environments, rather than simply assuming that one specific variable explains everything and then focusing on that.”

        Differences in contemporary environments, at least across the First World, don’t seem to matter much.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      • @JayMan “Pointing out that in some mythic [sic] past things were different can be insightful, but only so much. We certainly aren’t going back to the world of the past.”

        You keep saying that, but we control our own government and economy and culture and food supply and we can control our bacteriological and chemical environment. Those really seem likely to be involved in the differences.

        Japan is a rich, modern first world nation with very little obesity (and 2% out of wedlock births). Eastern Europe seems to be doing well with obesity. Heck, all of Europe is doing better than we are. Part of that is genetics, but a lot of Americans come from stock that is doing much better elsewhere and elsewhen.

        We should change our environment to do better also. If we knew what aspects were important, we could do that.

        owentt

        May 4, 2016 at 12:59 am

    • Doctors used to call that the European cure–go live a year there, lose weight. I attribute it to the habit of drinking water with meals instead of soft drinks or milk as in the US.

      ricardo

      May 4, 2016 at 12:02 pm

  21. Take a look at photos of average Americans from the early Seventies and go backward. Morbid obesity was almost unknown and even moderate obesity was very rare. Pictures of Americans from the WWII era and earlier show a generally thin population. Tradesman and construction workers, guys who worked with their bodies all day long, were wiry and sinewy. I pass by construction sites every day and all of the guys now are easily over 200lbs. Many clearly work out, but they also clearly take in excessive calories to stay above the 220 mark. Something has clearly shifted in America and our collective dietary habits.
    This society has so gorged itself for 50 years that we can actually pretend that being fat is normal. It’s not.
    Ask the participants in that show to dig up some photos of their grandparents and great grandparents and see if you notice the difference in weights.

    Dave

    May 3, 2016 at 10:18 am

    • True, but what’s your point?

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:25 am

      • Um, that something changed for the worse in the US diet after the 1970s?

        Tarl

        May 3, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      • Or something in the overall environment, yes.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      • That an obesogenic environment really gets results. What’s yours?

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    • My grandparents consumed a lot of calories back in their day, and a lot of it was fried food. Today they would be porkers, but they were working 10-12 hours a day in manual occupations, burning more calories in a day in hard labor than I probably do in a week. Jobs have gotten easier, but people still eat.

      Mike Street Station

      May 3, 2016 at 11:42 am

      • Yes, the one time in my life when i did hard manual labor, I lost weight while eating a decent amount of food. But I have the kind of metabolism where I still had to watch it. But I totally agree with the basic point. We eat huge amounts of carby/fatty foods, and we sit on our asses, and we get fat. There’s no mystery.

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    • Maybe being fat IS normal and back then people were malnourished.

      ScarletNumber

      May 3, 2016 at 4:38 pm

  22. what a load of crap, tumblr losers have infected the other sciences so it’s no surprise that they have infected nutrionists. it’s simply calories in, colories out. look up “the twinkie diet” the problem is that the cows on The Biggest Loser, don’t have the self-control to stop shoveling food in their mouth.

    zodak

    May 3, 2016 at 10:22 am

  23. Is this one of those annoying studies that provides endless summary statistics instead of the actual data, even though there are only 16 people? How about telling us how much each person weighed, and cal/day consumed, both before and after?

    steve@steve.com

    May 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

    • Look at my page above. You will find clinical trials with combined N > 50,000.

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 11:26 am

      • Clinical trials in metabolic wards show that people who eat less lose weight. Look up the Bray overfeeding study.

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      • You didn’t read my page, did you?

        Get back to me when you do.

        JayMan

        May 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      • No JayMan, I didn’t. I haven’t been impressed with what I’ve seen of your reasoning, and I don’t intend to inflict more of it on my delicate feelings than I must. I think you are, in a phrase, full of shit. On this and most everything else. But I’ll survive.

        gothamette

        May 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm

  24. It actually makes sense from an evolutionary viewpoint. You are at a certain weight, then lose it rapidly, which the body interprets as famine, and then when the famine stops, the body resets it’s metabolic level to protect you from the next “famine.”

    Mike Street Station

    May 3, 2016 at 11:37 am

  25. It’s probably got something to do with growing up poor and being on food stamps. Food stamps run out before the month is over. So poor people are automatically forced into starvation mode. Starvation mode makes you gain weight.

    Dave

    May 3, 2016 at 11:47 am

    • Poor people are fat because they can’t afford to buy food is the stupidest reasoning I ever heard.

      • I can’t find it right now, but I read it before. When you go without food for prolonged periods of time, your body can become more efficient at storing energy. Your resting metabolism slows. Food stamps generally last 2.5 to 3 weeks out of the month. Poor people’s metabolisms are constantly having to adjust. They go into starvation mode for 1.5 weeks. Starvation mode makes them more efficient at storing fat. They eat more when they finally have more food, The body produces more white fat cells, thinking it needs them. The more efficient metabolism causes them to gain weight when they are finally able to eat a normal amount of food (the 1st of the month). The increased weight gain causes the raised thermostat and the lifetime of angst.

        It’s not that they can’t afford to buy food. It’s that they can’t always afford to buy food. The constant metabolic shift probably causes long term problems. At the first of the month they eat more heavily. This is right after a starvation period. It’s all about not gaining weight in the first place.

        Dave

        May 3, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    • @Dave: Food stamps run out before the month is over.

      Food stamps are supposed to supplement the poor person’s food needs, not be the sole source.

      E. Rekshun

      May 3, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      • Food stamps are plenty for a good diet. You have to buy right.

        ricardo

        May 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm

  26. Is it true that fat people are kind?

    Yakov

    May 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm

  27. Running 6 miles at least every other day for the last decade lowered my body weight twenty pounds. Running is a lot harder than eating and never seems to get easier.

    cesqy

    May 3, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    • Yes, my running routine started a slow decline at about age 40. I never ran very long distance, but ran for speed, and never did more than about 12 – 16 miles per week. I now do one sub 7-minute mile every third day, followed by a half dozen 100-yd wind sprints. That routine has eased the pounding and the aches and seems to have helped me retain my 5K speed. I’ve run four sub 19:00 5K races the past two months.

      E. Rekshun

      May 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    • Probably not. But you can always draw any conclusion you want from N = 1 studies.

      JayMan

      May 3, 2016 at 7:28 pm

  28. gothamette is right that Taubes is only partly right. There can be problems with eating too much of any of the 3 macronutrients. Eating too much protein can cause renal failure and damage to the kidneys and other organs. Eating too many carbs can cause inflammation and problems with insulin. Eating too much fat can also cause inflammation and can clog arteries as fat that isn’t absorbed by the body and metabolized accumulates. The real problem is the excess energy intake.

    Tom

    May 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    • Tom, much of low carb dogma is false. I’ve already pointed out the major flaw in their thinking. But the thing about them that really gets me is the misrepresentation of evolution and how primitive people eat. Someone did a major demolition of their obsession with the Eskimo diet.

      https://freetheanimal.com/2014/10/damned-inuit-diet.html

      I think the real problem with modern obesity is huge carb/fat consumption combined with a sedentary lifestyle. It’s awfully difficult to overeat protein. The culprits are delicious combinations of fat/carbs. You don’t even need a sweet tooth. Think of pizza, bagels & cream cheese, mac and cheese. These are deadly combos. And the average American is almost comically sedentary. They walk from the car to the house. That’s about it.

      East Asians eat a low-fat high carb diet and until now have avoided obesity. Howzat, if carbs are so deadly? No, it’s not genes!

      gothamette

      May 4, 2016 at 7:31 am

      • Carbs or fat, not both? Atkins knew this and was speaking about in in the 60’s. he also distinguished between healthy and sugary carbs which many don’t. Old, old, news.

        ricardo

        May 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm

  29. I vaguely recall a study from several years ago which said the body becomes used to being fat. And that your body will try to regain the lost weight. But the affect eventually goes away. If I recall correctly, the metabolism resets on your new weight after a couple of years.

    destructure

    May 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm

  30. Big obesity problem among Labradors linked to genetics:
    http://www.livescience.com/54629-why-your-labrador-dog-is-fat.html

    curri

    May 3, 2016 at 6:44 pm

  31. Long term weight loss requires long term behavioral change – which is why it’s almost unheard of. My mother used to say, “people don’t change.” While that’s not entirely true, there is a lot of truth in it.

    shiva1008

    May 4, 2016 at 3:38 am


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