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New book: "Big Fat Surprise"


"Like a bloodhound, Teicholz tracks the process by which a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data.*The author explores how research dollars are spent to entrench the dogma, to defend it like an article of faith while burying its many weaknesses and contradictory test results."

A review and discussion by Michael Eades, M.D.


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  1. You're my favorite, mcf. You love to jump in this boxing ring :)

    3 Replies
    1. re: fldhkybnva


      I actually hate conflict. But I do love finding and sharing well vetted information. Folks can do or not do what they want with it.

      I would not have posted about this book, which I have not seen yet, had reviews not mentioned new information in it.

      1. re: mcf

        I totally agree, and love that you always post the new information here. I read about nutrition for more hours in a day than I probably should but sort of gave up on spreading new information because I hate getting engaged in the same debates over and over. I just bought a few new books, perhaps this one should join it. Speaking of, have you read "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living?"

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          No, haven't even heard of it. I mostly just read studies now, but after 16 years reversing and controlling chronic problems and diabetes, I'm pretty much my own science experiment. ;-)

          Just saw the author's name: His is one of the studies I was referencing in a discussion with you recently. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com...

    2. I can hardly believe that the grapefruit and cottage cheese diet is all a big lie. Or Atkins. Or South Beach. Or paleo. How about peal a pound soup? Gluten free and omega 3s?

      Surely all of these healthy diet proponents cannot all be wrong? They sure were successful at getting people to buy their books.

      6 Replies
      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        Atkins and Paleo actually follow the advice in this book, so they're not wrong. Two separate double-blind clinical studies have shown low-carb to be more effective than conventional low-fat diets.

        1. re: acgold7

          Have you read the book? All those diets allow vegetables and muscle meat. She said that muscle meat causes problems in hunting cultures. Those diets don't follow the book, at least as far as I've read.

        2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          Apparently, you didn't read the links. It's strictly a review of science, not a diet book.

          1. re: mcf

            Exactly. I lost 50 lbs. in the last 4 months by eating less of a well rounded diet and exercising a little more. Not bad for getting ready to hit age 60.

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              Congratulations on your efforts paying off. If you did it high fat and protein, you'd preserve more muscle mass and lose more fat while doing so, good studies have demonstrated.

              But I always say, "your body, your science experiment." .

          2. As the review points out, so many are entrenched in their (anti-fat, high-carb) ideology that they can't be budged. Unfortunately, I think many will dismiss this with a wave of the hand, just as they did with the Taubes book. Shame.

            But wouldn't it be great if people actually started paying attention to real science and facts?

            6 Replies
            1. re: acgold7

              I'm not holding my breath, acgold7 :)

              1. re: acgold7

                Does that mean you're planning to go on an all sat fat diet? Only offals, blood, fat, milk? That's her science.

                1. re: chowser

                  Have you read the book?

                  Eta: I see below

                  1. re: chowser

                    You may not be aware that animal fat is more than half mono and polyunsaturated, too.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Yes, I am. And, she also said in the book that these cultures avoided those parts that are higher in non sat fats and stuck w/ the parts w/ more saturated fats. You'd obviously get protein in her diet, too, but that would be an unfortunate side in order to get in sat fats.

                      1. re: chowser

                        What I've read is that she is very well researched, but have not read her work. If Eades finds the book valuable, I tend to think it's probably worth the read, but I'd try to borrow it if I had doubts. :-)

                2. I'm curious whether anyone who commented on this thread has read this book. I've been reading it and am ready to quit. Thus far, she has written about researchers who observe hunting cultures, that they only eat saturated fats (she seems anti-protein and anti-vegetables) and have low rates of heart disease. While I'm not anti-saturated fats, this is a reach that we'd all be better off getting rid of the steak and eating nothing but the fat and offals. It makes sense in a hunting culture that they'd want to max out on calories but that's not us as a society. She said one of the researchers advocated exercise. However, she discounts it given that Jim Fixx died young while running (never mind that he far outlived his family members by a good 20 years) and that the first person who ran a marathon died. That type of shoddy logic makes me want to stop reading the book.

                  She's picking and choosing a hunter society to base her research on, rather than gatherers. What about the Okinawans? There are plenty of healthy societies that incorporate protein and vegetables. I want to know if this book gets better before I waste more time on it. For the record, I don't think sat fats are evil (the biggest study that pushed this theory was on 50,000 nurses and they found that those who ate less had lower rates of heart disease--causation but not correlation but it turned out that they also had healthier lifestyles which is what made them eat less sat fats. It was the lifestyle, not choice of fats). I'll keep eating my muscle meat and vegetables, and not just sat fats.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: chowser

                    Do you mean correlation not causation? The Nurses Heath Study is not without flaws. I'm surprised to hear the author advocates focusing solely on saturated fats. Perhaps you should continue with the book :)

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Yes, I was pointing out that the nurses health study was flawed which is why I'm not anti-sat fats. Have you read the book? I'm wondering why there is so much support for it when it seems most haven't. Given what I've read so far, I'm not sure it's worth my time.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I just ordered it. I think the thread was just to bring attention to the book. No one ever claimed to believe it cover to cover. It's a continuation of arguments in Good Calories, Bad Calories so I think many were asserting that they find the debate and claims made at least in the review linked above valuable. Based on your review I regret ordering it but I guess I'll see

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          See, I thought there was much more to Good Calories, Bad Calories than this book. This author seems to pick and choose what she wants to present and the idea of saying we shouldn't eat muscle meat because hunting cultures don't eat it is head scratching. She could change her tone later in the book. I've read the free sample on Kindle and am wondering if it's worth buying. I was hoping someone had read it and could tell me whether to go ahead because right now, I don't want it. I'd only read about it because Michael Pollen posted a status on it, but no commentary. He was also criticized in the book for his "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." because the author seems to think no plants is the way to go. My diet is mostly vegetables, with meats/proteins and a little starch--it works for me and I don't advocate it for everyone. I won't be switching to an all sat fat diet and I like my meat juices cooked, not raw blood.;-) The irony is I'm reading another book about a woman and her obese daughter and this woman is really pushing processed foods and calorie counting, obsessively. I'm feeling really bad for this six year old girl.

                          1. re: chowser

                            I should add that I really wanted to like this book and was excited to hear about it. I downloaded the sample right away.This might also be why I'm so disappointed. I had expectations given the press.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Now I'm curious to read the book just so I can understand the no plants rationale. Will check library.

                              1. re: tcamp

                                From what I've read (and it's just the beginning), it's because these few hunter tribes didn't eat vegetables.

                          2. re: chowser

                            I posted it as a topic, With lay analysis by an M.D. whose information I have always found accurate and well vetted.

                            I don't recall endorsing it. I provided the information.

                            1. re: mcf

                              I am interested in the book and as I said, was excited to see the excerpt on Michael Pollen's feed. But, having read the free sample, am wondering if it's worth paying for the book and wanted to know if anyone had feedback.

                              1. re: chowser

                                I just didn't understand the comment about endorsements here. If Pollan endorses it, that's a bit of a mark against it, in my book, given his "mostly plants" advice. But Eades also endorses "The Vegetarian Myth" and has always had very balanced viewpoints on diet and metabolism and he's a voracious reader who promotes a largely animal protein diet.

                                I think you never know what the rest is without taking a look. Even information you disagree with can come with something new to consider or assimilate, IMO.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  It seemed, from the comments, that some posters were familiar with the book, enough so to endorse it as "real science." Pollan didn't endorse it as much as he posted the link to the book w/out comment. I find this book along the lines of that other book I was talking about, Heavy, where they cherry pick what they want to prove their points. I might wait to read this for free as you recommended, although it seems pretty popular so might take a while. In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out whether to waste the time finishing Heavy, given I have a back up of good books to read.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Do you mean Taubes? He's no cherry picker to make an argument. His expertise and reputation are built on exposing junk science just like what you describe. Eades, too.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      No, sorry, I meant the woman who wrote the book Heavy and tried to justify feeding her daughter Cool Whip Lite.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Ugh. But it's low fat, right? ;-P

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Ooh, I could have died happily never knowing that!

                                    2. re: mcf

                                      I view Pollan's "mostly plants" thing as more of a "save the planet" view than a perfect diet view.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        I agree, though I think it works for both. My plate is easily 2/3's vegetables.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Mine is heaped with them, too. Grilled, roasted, in salad, sauteed, lots of colors, too.

                                        2. re: sandylc

                                          But that's bogus, too, though I don't think he knows it. Plant crops are horrendous for the environment.

                              2. re: chowser

                                Ask your library to order it, or if you have amazon prime, wait for it to be on member loan status.

                              3. Didn't we just talk about her WSJ article?

                                1. what ever happened to moderation?

                                  Oh yeah it doesn't sell books.

                                  Meat is good, veggies are good, bread is good. Gluttony, environmentally harmful/cruel farming/husbandry and hyper-processed foods are not so good. Maximize good. minimize bad That's my whole plan. I really don't need science or books to tell me what to eat.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: JTPhilly

                                    "what ever happened to moderation?"

                                    It is undefined and it's meaningless except as a way to argue about diet without understanding how metabolism works and wildly differs from person to person.

                                    What you need and what I need are very different things.


                                    ISTORY OF MEDICINE

                                    The Biology and Genetics of Obesity — A Century of Inquiries

                                    Chin Jou, Ph.D.

                                    N Engl J Med 2014; 370:1874-1877May 15, 2014 <http://www.nejm.org/toc/nejm/370/20/&...: 10.1056/NEJMp1400613

                                    "The obese lack willpower; they overeat and underexercise — or so believe a majority of Americans. A 2012 online poll of 1143 adults conducted by Reuters and the market research firm Ipsos found that 61% of U.S. adults believed that “personal choices about eating and exercise” were responsible for the obesity epidemic. A majority of Americans, it seems, remain unaware of or unconvinced by scientific research suggesting that “personal choices” may not account for all cases of obesity."

                                    I'm not fat nor obese, but if I eat bread or its kin, I am in very bad shape medically and in terms of how I feel overall. Even on 800 calories per day, for a long period of time.

                                    Folks is different.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      It seems that I touched an unintended nerve there I was not speaking to moderation in terms of obesity but as a general approach to life - extremes make great press in diets, politics, & weather reports but most people are better served by living in a middle ground.

                                      people love to jump on bandwagons - a radical diet that declares one thing as evil and another as good is intoxicating but usually BS. My point is listen to your own body not some huffington post blog - if something you eat makes you feel poorly stop eating it, if it did not make you feel sick before you read an article where Gwenneth Paltrow said it makes you sick, take pause.

                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                        Not a nerve, not on a bandwagon.

                                        I've just been reading the research on the topic assiduously for almost two decades.

                                        And observed that people who don't like to jump in and tout "moderation," a mushy and undefined term with no basis in metabolic science, the topic here.

                                    2. re: JTPhilly

                                      This book really has nothing to do with that. Unlike many on this thread, I do watch my fat intake. The discussion is about the fact that saturated fats aren't worst for you than unsaturated fats. If a person prefers butter to olive oil, then he should choose it. That's really what the book is about.

                                      "Good" and "bad" are hard to define in the middle. We know what is bad--cheetos, oreos, coke. We know what is good: broccoli, spinach, tomatoes. Where do you put butter or olive oil? Rice? Wheat? Corn? Organ meat? Tofu? Nuts? You might have inherent knowledge and not need to read research and science (although that didn't work well for the flat earth society). As a personal trainer who does counsel clients, I try to stay up on it. If it were as simple as you say, we wouldn't have 60% of the country being overweight/obese.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        And adult onset diabetes wouldn't have become a pediatric disease in a single generation on the grain based food pyramid.

                                    3. I just skimmed the parts I have again. To be fair, she hasn't advocated following the diets of the handful of hunter tribes. They follow a high sat diet which in her mind means it's safe for everyone. I'm not debating whether sat fats are good or bad but just because a diet works for one group, doesn't mean that it's fine for everyone else. People in our society are not chasing down bison, feasting and then experiencing famine. Marathoners down gel that's pure sugar. That doesn't mean that it's safe for the general population.

                                      I think it could be her writing style that bothers me, too. Her description of double bonds/single bonds as sat/mono unsat/polyunsat fats was tough to get through. It's clear she doesn't have a good understanding of it and is trying to explain to a general population that knows less than her. If you're unsure, leave it out. Her description of the fear people had in the 50's for heart disease sounded like a review for a horror movie. There is far too much mentioning of studies and what they proved without any details. It really seems like she's just trying too hard to sound like an intelligent science writer.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Or to avoid the complaint that "Good Calories, Bad Calories" got: lots of detail, references science and explication and a very tough slog for most readers.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          I should have added she was wrong about her understanding of double/single bonds but the description of double bonds as holding two hands and being able to let one go easily was, again, head scratching. The thing is that is unimportant. Leave it out.