Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why We Get Fat

Why We Get Fat
Author: Gary Taubes
Anchor, 2010
288 pages

I've lost nearly 60 pounds this year. (For my UK friends, that's just over four stone. Not bad, huh?!) One of the books that inspired me was Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, a book recommended by my friend JB.

Why We Get Fat begins by examining the weight issue from the perspective of scientific studies and ethnographic-type data, crossing continents, cultures, and decades (centuries, even). Turns out, overweight/obesity isn't just a current phenomenon, nor is unique to the USA or the 'western' cultures. The concept of the middle age spread isn't new, either, and has been documented in many parts of the world -- especially among women.

Yet for the past half-century or more, we've been told the key to weight loss is simple math: we need to cut calories by eating less and/or exercising more. We've also been taught that fat is evil, and encouraged to consume low fat versions of dairy, meat, and other products.

We've done all this. But we just keep getting fatter.

Through the studies and data presented in Why We Get Fat, Taubes proposes that it's not about calories and . . .  shocker! . . . fat isn't bad for you. The problem? Carbohydrates. Carbs increase our blood sugar, which in turn wreaks havoc on our body's metabolism and hormones.

While I don't agree with everything in Why We Get Fat, I was impressed enough with the argument and the writing that I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who's struggling with issues of overweight/obesity. I wish it were required reading for everyone. It's not just another diet book.