The Men Who Made Us Thin

      119 Comments on The Men Who Made Us Thin

Awhile back, the BBC ran a documentary series called The Men Who Made Us Fat. Now the same producers are examining the weight-loss industry in a series titled The Men Who Made Us Thin.  Here’s the first episode.  Tell me what you think of it.

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119 thoughts on “The Men Who Made Us Thin

  1. Bex

    This is better than the fat version but the bmi man had me shouting at the telly…I did enjoy him having a go at mr slim fast last week..and his exercise session this week was quite entertaining……the most shocking thing was the Swede with the vomit tube. . Urgh

    Reply
  2. Norman Robert Spencer

    I have now watched both documentaries. It turns out the the host/narrator and I are the same height (5’9″), but whereas he weighed around 82 kg, I now weigh 69 (30 inch waist at the navel), which, according to the occupational health service provider at work, is the ideal weight for my height according to the actuarial tables. In one of the episodes, the host/narrator had an MRI, which revealed a not especially reassuring level of visceral fat (his kidneys were “swimming in it”, if I remember rightly). I was not surprised. All you have to do is look at him. He screams “skinny fat”.

    So it’s not surprising that he seemed happy to be able to imply a conflict of interest in the man who was responsible for changing the definition of overweight according to the BMI. I have news for him. A BMI of 27 is not healthy in the long run, no matter what one’s aerobic fitness might be (let’s see these fit-but-fat girls from episode 3 when they are my age – hip replacements?). My brother’s BMI never exceeded 28. This did not prevent him from developing type-2 diabetes at the age of 42 and needing a quadruple bypass this summer (age 49). Nobody except me would have considered my brother fat. By the way, my BMI was as high as 27 eight years ago, thanks to a suburban lifestyle and olanzapine. Since then, I moved within walking distance to work, discovered Mark Sisson and ditched the meds, in that order. My BMI is now 22.4.

    The mortality rate for men with a BMI of 23 is the same as for men with a BMI of 29.

    http://www.ucalgary.ca/familymedicine/obesity

    Reply
  3. Jim

    Wow! Thought I was the only nut who came to this conclusion. My own thoughts are here: http://www.fatdipping.com/exercise-just-say-no/

    For a period of time, I personally believed the health of an individual like Jack Lalanne could only be explained by the intense exercise. However, I’ve since learned intense exercise(particularly when eating poorly) is not a positive but a negative in the long term(not short term however). Sort of like saying our car is in great shape because we drive it 100mph to work everyday. No. It’s in great shape because we maintain it well and so we’re able to drive it 100mph to work everyday.

    This brought a serious question to mind, how on earth could Jack Lalanne live a long healthy life while eating virtually no animal fat? Unless of course he ate bacon on the side(no indication of that).

    Only one answer that I can come up with and I now believe it’s the common denominator when it comes to our health. It’s bacteria, bacteria, bacteria. For example, bacteroides increase linearly with weight loss. Essentially, we’re feeding our own gut flora and the gut flora is feeding us. In theory, if we find a method of shifting the balance in our favor, then ultimately we could consume anything we like and benefit from it.

    For example, we provide a Twinkie loving environment in our gut and we receive the necessary nourishment(indirectly) through the consumption of Twinkies. Nothing more than a theory from my own crazy mind at this point. Someone like Jack Lalanne could hold the key, however.

    Jim

    I believe exercise (if done correctly) is good for health, just not for weight loss. Jack LaLanne was all about meat and protein early in his career.

    Reply
    1. Jim

      As you indicate, he does say that in this interview:
      http://www.shareguide.com/LaLanne.html

      Jack LaLanne: I was a strict vegetarian. Then I decided to enter a Mr. America contest (which I won) and in those days they thought that in order to build muscle you had to have meat. So I ate meat for a while.

      Share Guide: Why did you stop being a strict vegetarian?

      Jack LaLanne: In those days everybody was saying that you had to eat meat to build muscle, so I went on a meat thing for awhile. NowI only eat fish–no chicken, no turkey, just fish. I get all my protein from fish and egg whites.

      So he did get plenty of protein.

      Reply
        1. Jim

          Yes. Red wine, enzymes, fish, and juicing is the apparent focus. All four point to gut flora. In the case of juicing, the fiber is removed and the vegetables are not cooked(still life in them and no fiber to inhibit absorption). Personally, a pile of bacon, a milkshake, and a cigarette is whole lot more appealing than some crummy juice concoction. However, the method does appear to have worked. Unless of course we attribute it to some genetic anomaly(the boogeyman).

          Awesome forum you folks have here!

          Thank you,
          Jim

          Reply
  4. Jim

    Wow! Thought I was the only nut who came to this conclusion. My own thoughts are here: http://www.fatdipping.com/exercise-just-say-no/

    For a period of time, I personally believed the health of an individual like Jack Lalanne could only be explained by the intense exercise. However, I’ve since learned intense exercise(particularly when eating poorly) is not a positive but a negative in the long term(not short term however). Sort of like saying our car is in great shape because we drive it 100mph to work everyday. No. It’s in great shape because we maintain it well and so we’re able to drive it 100mph to work everyday.

    This brought a serious question to mind, how on earth could Jack Lalanne live a long healthy life while eating virtually no animal fat? Unless of course he ate bacon on the side(no indication of that).

    Only one answer that I can come up with and I now believe it’s the common denominator when it comes to our health. It’s bacteria, bacteria, bacteria. For example, bacteroides increase linearly with weight loss. Essentially, we’re feeding our own gut flora and the gut flora is feeding us. In theory, if we find a method of shifting the balance in our favor, then ultimately we could consume anything we like and benefit from it.

    For example, we provide a Twinkie loving environment in our gut and we receive the necessary nourishment(indirectly) through the consumption of Twinkies. Nothing more than a theory from my own crazy mind at this point. Someone like Jack Lalanne could hold the key, however.

    Jim

    I believe exercise (if done correctly) is good for health, just not for weight loss. Jack LaLanne was all about meat and protein early in his career.

    Reply
    1. Jim

      As you indicate, he does say that in this interview:
      http://www.shareguide.com/LaLanne.html

      Jack LaLanne: I was a strict vegetarian. Then I decided to enter a Mr. America contest (which I won) and in those days they thought that in order to build muscle you had to have meat. So I ate meat for a while.

      Share Guide: Why did you stop being a strict vegetarian?

      Jack LaLanne: In those days everybody was saying that you had to eat meat to build muscle, so I went on a meat thing for awhile. NowI only eat fish–no chicken, no turkey, just fish. I get all my protein from fish and egg whites.

      So he did get plenty of protein.

      Reply
        1. Jim

          Yes. Red wine, enzymes, fish, and juicing is the apparent focus. All four point to gut flora. In the case of juicing, the fiber is removed and the vegetables are not cooked(still life in them and no fiber to inhibit absorption). Personally, a pile of bacon, a milkshake, and a cigarette is whole lot more appealing than some crummy juice concoction. However, the method does appear to have worked. Unless of course we attribute it to some genetic anomaly(the boogeyman).

          Awesome forum you folks have here!

          Thank you,
          Jim

          Reply
  5. Jim

    What I do find interesting was his mentor, Paul Bragg. A strong fasting advocate. Fasting with a particular focus on certain types of bacteria could serve to shift the balance?

    However, Jack Lalanne’s success could simply be attributed to his positive attitude? Consistency is important and many young folks with positive attitudes certainly die of massive heart attacks.

    Reply
  6. Jim

    What I do find interesting was his mentor, Paul Bragg. A strong fasting advocate. Fasting with a particular focus on certain types of bacteria could serve to shift the balance?

    However, Jack Lalanne’s success could simply be attributed to his positive attitude? Consistency is important and many young folks with positive attitudes certainly die of massive heart attacks.

    Reply
  7. George Wilson

    A side note on YouTube videos, since it relates to this discussion. As I previously posted on the Fat Head Facebook page…

    If you tried the YouTube viewer on your BluRay player in the past and just gave up, you might try it again. I wanted to watch episode 2 of Thin on my TV, so I resigned myself to the ordeal of getting the Sony to play it.

    Surprise, the Sony had downloaded a new YouTubeTV app. I opened it up and when I went to the Search function it asked if I wanted to connect to an external device. It provided a code number, which I entered into my iPhone YouTube app and, voila, I was controlling the TV from my iPhone.

    Reply
  8. Firebird

    I just rewatched “The Perfect Human Diet” on Amazon Prime, or as I call it “Fat Head without the personality”. The best section in the film is when the doctor goes to the grocery store and spells it all out for the viewer. That’s all you need to know.

    Reply
  9. George Wilson

    A side note on YouTube videos, since it relates to this discussion. As I previously posted on the Fat Head Facebook page…

    If you tried the YouTube viewer on your BluRay player in the past and just gave up, you might try it again. I wanted to watch episode 2 of Thin on my TV, so I resigned myself to the ordeal of getting the Sony to play it.

    Surprise, the Sony had downloaded a new YouTubeTV app. I opened it up and when I went to the Search function it asked if I wanted to connect to an external device. It provided a code number, which I entered into my iPhone YouTube app and, voila, I was controlling the TV from my iPhone.

    Reply
  10. Firebird

    I just rewatched “The Perfect Human Diet” on Amazon Prime, or as I call it “Fat Head without the personality”. The best section in the film is when the doctor goes to the grocery store and spells it all out for the viewer. That’s all you need to know.

    Reply
  11. Marilyn

    A slightly off-topic report on the “obesity epidemic”: I spent three hours this afternoon watching the people parade at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. While I saw a number of people who were anywhere from “normal” to “plump,” I saw NO one who would qualify as attention-getting fat. What I did see were a remarkable number of women who appeared to be trying to out-twiggy Twiggy. Maybe the eat-less-exercise-more campaign is working for the wrong people?

    I don’t see many huge people around here either. Seems to depend on where you are when you’re looking. When we were in rural Arkansas, I saw lots of them.

    Reply
  12. Marilyn

    A slightly off-topic report on the “obesity epidemic”: I spent three hours this afternoon watching the people parade at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. While I saw a number of people who were anywhere from “normal” to “plump,” I saw NO one who would qualify as attention-getting fat. What I did see were a remarkable number of women who appeared to be trying to out-twiggy Twiggy. Maybe the eat-less-exercise-more campaign is working for the wrong people?

    I don’t see many huge people around here either. Seems to depend on where you are when you’re looking. When we were in rural Arkansas, I saw lots of them.

    Reply
  13. LaurieLM

    There are a few things that I gleaned from this. I didn’t really like too much of it and I thought a lot was pointless and salacious tautology. But,
    1) If an entrepreneur has ever dreamed of a profit making cash-cow business investment, they could hardly have found a better one than the current perpetual motion low-fat, high-carb diet industry- that’s for sure. It’s what billionaire wannabees dreams are made of.
    2) Gary Taubes wrote somewhere, that in the early ’80s we were at a crossroads and could have gone down the other path- this one- it’s sugar and low-fat that are the problems, but we didn’t. This path has had poor health inducing implications for millions and millions…… but there is a bronze lining.
    3) I think that we’ve been traveling upon an enormous and unintended ‘Natural’ experiment that is of massive and consequential proportions. No entity would have been able to design, conduct and fund, nor recruit and get consent from the hundreds of millions of people (unwittingly) participating in this, so far, three decades long exercise. The results are astounding and fulsome and rich. The data is in, and it is available too- to virtually everyone, mostly freely online.

    Reply
  14. Ben

    Terribly done–lazy and/or intellectually dishonest. This was a “Supersize Me” class disappointment for me. I believe Jacques had started this project with a conclusion in mind, and he was careful not to let any facts or critical analysis get in his way.

    I admire his willingness to ask tough questions and challenge conventions, but his final product does more harm than good in my mind (e.g. spur increased and ineffective regulation, downplay personal responsibility, incite misdirected moral outrage, propagate”bad science”).

    There were good points and bad points. I don’t agree with his apparent conclusion that all diets are a waste of money and/or effort. Some work — mine works for me.

    Reply
  15. LaurieLM

    There are a few things that I gleaned from this. I didn’t really like too much of it and I thought a lot was pointless and salacious tautology. But,
    1) If an entrepreneur has ever dreamed of a profit making cash-cow business investment, they could hardly have found a better one than the current perpetual motion low-fat, high-carb diet industry- that’s for sure. It’s what billionaire wannabees dreams are made of.
    2) Gary Taubes wrote somewhere, that in the early ’80s we were at a crossroads and could have gone down the other path- this one- it’s sugar and low-fat that are the problems, but we didn’t. This path has had poor health inducing implications for millions and millions…… but there is a bronze lining.
    3) I think that we’ve been traveling upon an enormous and unintended ‘Natural’ experiment that is of massive and consequential proportions. No entity would have been able to design, conduct and fund, nor recruit and get consent from the hundreds of millions of people (unwittingly) participating in this, so far, three decades long exercise. The results are astounding and fulsome and rich. The data is in, and it is available too- to virtually everyone, mostly freely online.

    Reply
  16. Ben

    Terribly done–lazy and/or intellectually dishonest. This was a “Supersize Me” class disappointment for me. I believe Jacques had started this project with a conclusion in mind, and he was careful not to let any facts or critical analysis get in his way.

    I admire his willingness to ask tough questions and challenge conventions, but his final product does more harm than good in my mind (e.g. spur increased and ineffective regulation, downplay personal responsibility, incite misdirected moral outrage, propagate”bad science”).

    There were good points and bad points. I don’t agree with his apparent conclusion that all diets are a waste of money and/or effort. Some work — mine works for me.

    Reply
  17. Ray Kelley

    I guess what I mainly get from this is the memory of all the things I tried and products I bought over the many, many years I struggled with my weight. My mom and I did Weight Watchers when I was a chubby middle school kid, and it worked for both of us at the time, though I seem to remember it being a lot more starch-restrictive than I understand it is now. I’ve bought Slim Fast, Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice frozen meals, and thought that subsisting entirely off that kind of stuff would solve my problem. It didn’t.

    In the end, what worked for me was the HFLC/Paleo thing, but if you look at it, there’s precious little to sell the masses in that. You can’t really merchandise it, as it’s just meat and vegetables really. There’s no exclusivity there to market to, so no wonder certain parties try to dismiss it.

    What we have here is sort of the non-diet diet, built on a handful of books and a couple of documentaries. There’s nothing to sell except information that anyone can find online for free, and food that’s available from any number of producers and retailers.

    I’m just thankful that I no longer have to deal with that dismal feeling of spending money I don’t have on something that I already know is probably not going to work.
    That just sucked.

    You nailed it. That’s why advertising-supported media outlets are hesitant to push LCHF/Paleo: it’s not based on packaged foods whose manufacturers buy advertising (have you ever seen a commercial for broccoli?) and it’s a threat to the big-food companies that do advertise.

    Reply
  18. Ray Kelley

    I guess what I mainly get from this is the memory of all the things I tried and products I bought over the many, many years I struggled with my weight. My mom and I did Weight Watchers when I was a chubby middle school kid, and it worked for both of us at the time, though I seem to remember it being a lot more starch-restrictive than I understand it is now. I’ve bought Slim Fast, Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice frozen meals, and thought that subsisting entirely off that kind of stuff would solve my problem. It didn’t.

    In the end, what worked for me was the HFLC/Paleo thing, but if you look at it, there’s precious little to sell the masses in that. You can’t really merchandise it, as it’s just meat and vegetables really. There’s no exclusivity there to market to, so no wonder certain parties try to dismiss it.

    What we have here is sort of the non-diet diet, built on a handful of books and a couple of documentaries. There’s nothing to sell except information that anyone can find online for free, and food that’s available from any number of producers and retailers.

    I’m just thankful that I no longer have to deal with that dismal feeling of spending money I don’t have on something that I already know is probably not going to work.
    That just sucked.

    You nailed it. That’s why advertising-supported media outlets are hesitant to push LCHF/Paleo: it’s not based on packaged foods whose manufacturers buy advertising (have you ever seen a commercial for broccoli?) and it’s a threat to the big-food companies that do advertise.

    Reply
  19. Cyborcat

    Thanks for introducing us to this series. I’m about halfway through Episode 3 now.

    It was interesnting when they talked about Richard Simmons in Episode 2. I remembered liking his show when I was a kid and I always thought he seemed like a decent guy who genuinly wanted to help people. So I braced myself when they got to his segment, but they ended up being surprisingly positive. He may not be helping people to lose weight through exercise, but he makes them feel good about themselves so they will WANT to lose weight. And sure it sounds cheesy, but it makes sense.

    I also remember that whole “aerobics” culture in the 80’s where they basically built a fashion industry around it–good ol’ leotards, headband, and legwarmers. I grew up around that time and really dug that look for some reason–not that I could ever pull it off (probably most women couldn’t).

    I used to do a bit in my standup act about those aerobics fashions.

    Reply
  20. Cyborcat

    Thanks for introducing us to this series. I’m about halfway through Episode 3 now.

    It was interesnting when they talked about Richard Simmons in Episode 2. I remembered liking his show when I was a kid and I always thought he seemed like a decent guy who genuinly wanted to help people. So I braced myself when they got to his segment, but they ended up being surprisingly positive. He may not be helping people to lose weight through exercise, but he makes them feel good about themselves so they will WANT to lose weight. And sure it sounds cheesy, but it makes sense.

    I also remember that whole “aerobics” culture in the 80’s where they basically built a fashion industry around it–good ol’ leotards, headband, and legwarmers. I grew up around that time and really dug that look for some reason–not that I could ever pull it off (probably most women couldn’t).

    I used to do a bit in my standup act about those aerobics fashions.

    Reply
  21. Mark

    I’m late to the party on this one, but I just watched all four episodes last night of “The Men Who Made Us Thin” on You Tube. The thing that struck me was that after three episodes of explaining why diets, exercise and drugs fail to work long term, in the fourth episode they finally got around to talking about what they described as “the food environment.” But did they spend any time on the most ubiquitous high-GI food of all: Wheat, and its usual partners in crime: all other grains and starchy foods? No. They zeroed in exclusively on soft drinks. Now I’ll admit that soft drinks are unhealthy, but knowing what I know now thanks to Fat Head and Wheat Belly, I think they were barking up the wrong tree, and completely missed the very key to unlock the reasons why the diets, exercise and drugs discussed in the previous three episodes fail. What a missed opportunity!

    I haven’t see it yet. Sorry to hear that.

    Reply
  22. Mark

    I’m late to the party on this one, but I just watched all four episodes last night of “The Men Who Made Us Thin” on You Tube. The thing that struck me was that after three episodes of explaining why diets, exercise and drugs fail to work long term, in the fourth episode they finally got around to talking about what they described as “the food environment.” But did they spend any time on the most ubiquitous high-GI food of all: Wheat, and its usual partners in crime: all other grains and starchy foods? No. They zeroed in exclusively on soft drinks. Now I’ll admit that soft drinks are unhealthy, but knowing what I know now thanks to Fat Head and Wheat Belly, I think they were barking up the wrong tree, and completely missed the very key to unlock the reasons why the diets, exercise and drugs discussed in the previous three episodes fail. What a missed opportunity!

    I haven’t see it yet. Sorry to hear that.

    Reply

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