Archive for October, 2013

Happy Halloween. Chareva and the girls are in Mexico, where the girls will be experiencing their first Day of the Dead celebration. They’ve been looking forward to that for weeks. I plan to celebrate Halloween by getting some work done and then watching Thursday Night Football. I don’t expect any trick-or-treaters to show up here. We’re too remote and the place is kind of scary-looking at night.

Speaking of scary, some kids who go trick-or-treating in North Dakota may be coming home with a nasty note from a local busybody. I saw this on the news last night, and today a reader sent me an article from the New York Daily News:

A North Dakota woman is taking it upon herself to school the parents of trick-or-treaters by denying Halloween candy to kids she feels are too chubby.

Instead, she says, she’ll give them a note informing parents their “obese” child should lay off the sugar.

So she isn’t refusing to hand out Halloween candy to all kids … just those she feels are “too chubby.” Thaaaaaaaaaat’s going to make for some interesting exchanges on the front porch.

Ding-dong!

“Trick or treat!”

“Uh … so what are you supposed to be, young man?”

“The Incredible Hulk!”

“Yes, but, uh … I can’t really tell how fat you are under that bulky costume. Would you mind taking it off so I can see if you’re chubby?”

As public schools in some states debate sending home “fat letters” to kids with high body mass indexes, “Cheryl,” of Fargo, N.D., sees nothing wrong with taking the controversial practice into her own hands.

Of course you don’t see anything wrong with your behavior, Cheryl. That’s the problem with idiots: their idiocy prevents them from recognizing when they’re being idiots. Let’s take a look at the letter Cheryl will handing out to kids she deems too fat:

Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor!

You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorehead, West Fargo.

When people say “It takes a village to raise a child,” what they mean is that they think they have the right (if not the obligation!) to tell you how to raise your kid — because they know better than you, of course.  In other words, it’s a favorite phrase among busybodies who don’t know how to mind their own @#$%ing business.

Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.

Kids don’t get fat from eating Halloween candy once per year, you mental midget. My (thin and active) girls eat Halloween candy. But they don’t eat candy most of the year. Shaming and embarrassing the kids you deem too fat won’t make a bit of difference in how much they ultimately weigh. You may, however, send a few of them home in tears – which will give them a reason to tear into the candy and other comfort foods.

My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.

Thank You.

Way to lecture the parents, Cheryl. Good move. Because it’s not as if they know their kids are fat. But after being enlightened by you, I’m sure they’ll step up, put those kids on a diet, and thank you later for pushing them onto the correct path.

If you’re concerned about fat kids eating candy, Cheryl, then the proper course of action is to refuse to give out candy, period.  Do like some other folks who think candy is bad and give out little trinkets instead.  That way you’re not putting yourself in the position of deciding which kids are too fat and which ones aren’t.

And seriously, what if a fat kid and skinny kid show up together?  Are you going to give one kid candy and the other kid your “helpful” letter?  Do you have any idea how much grief you could cause a kid who gets that letter in front of his peers?

If you sent that letter home with one of my kids, I’d tell them, “Well, it’s called ‘trick or treat’ for a reason, and I don’t consider this letter much of a treat. Time for the tricks. You have my permission to go egg her house.  In fact, I’ll go with you.”

That “village” may disappoint you, Cheryl … but only because you’re the village idiot.

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You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changing. – Bob Dylan.

The times are indeed a-changing, and I believe we’re going to see the anti-fat hysteria that led to so much bad dietary advice eventually sink like a stone.  Perhaps even sooner than most of us thought.  As evidence for my optimism, here’s some good news from around the world.

British cardiologist say saturated fat is good for you

Sure, other cardiologists have come out and said saturated fat and cholesterol in foods don’t cause heart disease.  Dr. William Davis and Dr. Dwight Lundell, to name two examples.  But the good news here is that major newspapers are starting to pay attention to the contrarians, as in this article from the U.K. Independent:

Four decades of medical wisdom that cutting down on saturated fats reduces our risk of heart disease may be wrong, a top cardiologist has said. Fatty foods that have not been processed – such as butter, cheese, eggs and yoghurt – can even be good for the heart, and repeated advice that we should cut our fat intake may have actually increased risks of heart disease, said Dr Aseem Malhotra.

He told The Independent: “From the analysis of the independent evidence that I have done, saturated fat from non-processed food is not harmful and probably beneficial. Butter, cheese, yoghurt and eggs are generally healthy and not detrimental. The food industry has profited from the low-fat mantra for decades because foods that are marketed as low-fat are often loaded with sugar. We are now learning that added sugar in food is driving the obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

I suspect some people will read that article and feel frustrated by all the conflicting advice in the media … one article says saturated fat will kill you, another says it’s harmless, a third says nobody knows for sure, etc.  I feel their pain.  But if you’ve spent years believing something that simply isn’t true, being confused is a step in the right direction.

Anti-fat hysteria blasted on Australian TV

Some months ago, an Australian science reporter named Maryanne Demasi emailed me to ask where I found the news footage of the McGovern committee.  I answered her and then forgot all about it … until some Australian readers sent me a link to an episode of ABC’s Catalyst that aired Down Under a couple of days ago.  Check it out:

I love it.  And from what I’ve heard through the internet grapevine, the Australian Heart Foundation has been swamped with complaints about their lousy advice since the program aired.  (No surprise, since their representative in the Catalyst program admitted the evidence is “inconclusive.”) There’s even an online petition demanding that the Heart Foundation stop with all the anti-fat nonsense.

Swedish government changes its official position on saturated fat

Okay, I’ve made it pretty clear over the years that I want governments to get out of the dietary-advice business.  We were better off before they started telling us what to eat.  But if governments are going to give out dietary advice, they should at least get it right.

In Sweden, they’re finally getting it right.  Swedish doctor Andreas Eenfeldt of course wrote about the change on his blog, but my favorite take on the news came from Dr. Malcolm Kendrick – because as you know if you’ve read his blog or his book The Great Cholesterol Con, the man does not mince words:

Now, I have been aware that there has been a movement towards a high fat low carb diet (HFLC) going on in Sweden for some years. This has been led recently by the heroic Dr Annika Dahlqvist, a General Practitioner who had been advising her diabetic patients to eat a low carb high fat diet (LCHF).

She was, of course, attacked by the idiots…sorry experts.

… In reality all that the Swedes really ‘discovered’ is the quite astonishing fact that eating a high carbohydrate diet is bad for you, and worse for you if you are a diabetic. Well, blow me down with a feather. They have found exactly what a working knowledge of human biology/physiology would tell you would happen.

But we live in a wold controlled by entrenched stupidity, dogma, and the financial interests of massive companies who are making billions selling tasteless low fat mush. These companies know that the only way you can make low fat food, e.g. low fat yoghurt, taste like anything half palatable is to stuff it with sugar. Cheap, nasty, and damaging to health – also driving the ever increasing weight gain and diabetes in the Western World.

In December, I’ll be giving a speech on how the Wisdom of Crowds effect is changing what people believe about diet and health.  I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing here.  Bloggers, independent filmmakers, podcasters, rebel doctors – heck, even people who leave blistering comments when online media articles promote anti-fat hysteria – are spreading the word and turning the tide.  Major media outlets are paying attention, and more and more people are questioning what we’ve been told about saturated fat and cholesterol for the past 40 years.

The times they are a-changing.

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Interesting items from my inbox …

Beer on toast

Ever have a bad day at work and wish you could just sit at your desk and get @#$%-faced?  Hey, we all have, but most bosses frown upon drinking on the job. Well, here’s a possible solution:

Italian foodies have invented a way for beer lovers to enjoy their favourite drink for breakfast – without the risk of being forced to attend those troublesome Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Chocolatier Napoleone and brewery Alta Quota, both based in the central Italian province of Rieti, have joined forces to create the world’s first spreadable beer, which they’ve called Birra Spalmabile.

Is that Italian for Beer Spam?

The ale-flavoured, jelly-like substance comes in two flavours, using either Omid dark ale or Greta blonde ale. According to Italy Magazine, “one is delicate, while the other has a more intense aroma and stronger taste”.

There you go.  Make yourself some beer sandwiches and cop a buzz at work while appearing to enjoy an afternoon snack.  Then go to a meeting and tell your co-workers what you really think of them and their ideas.

I can’t help but wonder, though:  what do people who get drunk on beer sandwiches eat when they get the munchies?  More beer sandwiches?  That could create a never-ending cycle.

Dear parents:  your kids are fat

Thank goodness the nation’s schools aren’t sticking to just teaching kids how to read, write and do math.  Nope, now they’re also helping out by getting into the business of warning parents that their kids might be overweight.

Lily Grasso, 11, is on the school volleyball team and eats healthy foods. So she was stunned when Florida health officials sent a letter suggesting she’s fat.

“This whole thing is stupid,” Lily, of Naples, Fla., told ABC News. “It can hurt people. It can break their courage.”

“First I was hurt, and then I was angry, and then I just was concerned,” said Lily’s mother, Kristen Grasso.

The so-called “Fat Letter” is the result of a body mass index, or BMI, screening administered by officials at Lily’s school.

If you click the link to the article, you can see a picture of Lily.  That is not a fat girl, no matter what the BMI charts say.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice:  the BMI is a stupid method for determining who’s fat and who isn’t.  Sara shot some video when I was moving our chicken coop last weekend.  That’s a screen-cap below.  The next day, I weighed myself at the gym before my workout.  I was at exactly 200 pounds.

Since I’m 5’11” that puts my BMI at 27.9 – “overweight” and just 15 pounds from being labeled as obese.  (I’d best stop working out before I accidentally gain more muscle mass.)  To get my BMI down to 24 – the high end of  the “normal” range – I’d have to lose 28 pounds.  To get my BMI down to 22.5 – the middle of the “normal” range – I’d have to lose 39 pounds.  I have a bit of residual softness around the middle, but I seriously doubt anyone looks at me and thinks, “Boy, that guy really needs to drop 30 pounds.”

Schools should get out of the fat-warning business for all kinds of reasons, including one mentioned in the article:

“I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned,” said Claire Mysko of the National Eating Disorders Association. “For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can … potentially trigger an eating disorder.”

Bingo.  The last thing an athletic “overweight” girl needs is to have her school label her as fat.  Put kids on a good diet (as opposed to the garbage the USDA tells the schools to serve) and let them grow into their natural weights.

Home-schooled kids

Instead of warning parents that their kids are fat, perhaps the schools should just send the kids home until they lose some weight, since home-schooled kids are leaner:

The results of a recent study show kids that are home-schooled are leaner than kids attending traditional schools. The results challenge the theory that children spending more time at home may be at risk for excessive weight gain.

I didn’t know there was such a theory.

The study was published in the journal Obesity and conducted by researchers from University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) and University of Alabama at Birmingham. It looked at both home-schooled and traditionally-schooled children between the ages of seven and 12 in Birmingham. Participants and their parents reported diet, the kids’ physical activity was monitored and they were measured for body fat, among other things.

“Based on previous research, we went into this study thinking home-schooled children would be heavier and less active than kids attending traditional schools,” said Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, the study’s lead author. “We found the opposite.”

Once again, I don’t know why the researchers expected home-schooled kids to be heavier and less active.

The results show that home-schoolers were less likely to be obese than the traditionally-schooled kids, even though kids in both groups were getting the same amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity. The calorie intakes were also similar, except at lunchtime. Kids in traditional schools were consuming significantly more calories, sodium, and sugar at lunch. New school guidelines aimed at more nutritious lunches had not yet taken effect when the study data was collected from 2005 to 2009.

Yeah, those new school-lunch guidelines are going to do a world of good.

It would be easy to say the home-schooled kids are leaner because they’re not eating school lunches, but I don’t think that’s the relevant factor here.  As with many other observational studies, I think we’re just seeing the effects of comparing different kinds of people.  I have a friend whose wife home-schools their kids.  Why?  Because they’re not satisfied with their local school district and they are very involved, responsible, dedicated parents.

Dr. Mike Eades has written about what he calls “adherers vs. non-adherers” and what I call “conscientious people vs. people who don’t give a @#$%.”  In all kinds of studies, including randomized clinical trials, the adherers have better health outcomes.  Even those who dutifully take their placebos in a double-blind study have better outcomes than those who forget to take their placebos.  It’s clearly not the placebo that makes the difference in that case.  It’s the personality type.  Conscientious people tend to take better care of themselves and be healthier overall.

Since home-schooling kids is a lot of work, I suspect parents who choose to take on that responsibility are more likely to be adherers than non-adherers … and the same likely goes for their kids, whether because of genetics, upbringing, or a combination of the two.

I’m not saying school lunches don’t suck, of course.  They do.

Bacon and babies

Speaking of genetics and kids, I found this interesting:  according to a new study reported in The U.K. Daily Mail, men who consume a rasher of bacon per day don’t produce as much ‘normal’ shaped sperm.

Men who eat just one rasher of bacon a day could be reducing their chances of becoming fathers.  Half a portion of processed meat such as a rasher or a small sausage can significantly harm sperm quality, scientists believe.

In a study to be presented this week at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston, Harvard University researchers compared the eating habits of 156 men undergoing IVF treatment with their partners.

They were each questioned how often they ate a range of foods including processed meat, white meat, red meat, white fish and tuna or salmon. Men who consumed just half a portion of processed meat a day had just 5.5 per cent ‘normal’ shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 per cent of those who ate less.

I would write it off as yet another lousy observational study, but perhaps there’s something to this one.  How else can I explain this?

Sorry girls … if I’d had any idea, I would have cut back on the bacon before you were conceived.

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Here are a couple of emails I received recently:

Hi Tom –

I don’t know if you remember me, but your movie saved my life.  I am 324 lbs. lighter now and 41 lbs. away from goal.

Holy @#$%, did she say she’s lost 324 pounds?! I guess she did.  Wow.  Anyway …

I started at 565 lbs. — so close to putting a bullet in my brain. It seems like a lifetime ago.  Finally understanding the why of me being fat has made all the difference in my life. The guilt is gone, the food binges gone, the sugar cravings completely gone. I have adopted low carb as a lifestyle forever. I will never look back at what I turned myself into. I will only keep going forward with the new me.

Again, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! You and your family have never left my prayers for the last two and a half years, and you may not know it but you are my ANGEL on earth.

Gretchen

I’m floored, Gretchen.  That is one of the most amazing transformations I’ve ever seen.  Congratulations.

Hi Tom –

I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much you have changed my life.  I apologize for the length of this email, but there is so much to say — and I’m pumped up on Bulletproof coffee.

About 3 years ago, I saw Fat Head for the first time.  I had no idea what I was in for – I just hoped to see a rebuttal to Super Size Me, because that movie infuriated me.  Not for the reasons of the general population, though.  It made me mad because I was doing EVERYTHING “RIGHT” (according to conventional wisdom) and weighed 320 lbs. — and I NEVER ate at McDonalds!

I had tried everything.  Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, starvation, grapefruit, “calorie negative,” multiple shakes, Phentermine, and that horrible pill that makes you poop yourself.  I tried Atkins for a while in the mid-90’s but in the back of mind I believed that it was dangerous, so when I crumpled over my washing machine one day, sobbing for a piece of bread, I gave up.  I eventually decided that Gastric Bypass was my solution.  However, my insurance would only cover for a specific BMI, and I was a few points short.  I brilliantly decided to GAIN up to that mark so that I could have the surgery.  As life and Murphy’s Law goes, in the couple of months that it took me to meet that mark (plus some for good measure) my insurance stopped covering the procedure entirely.

I continued to try.  I continued to struggle. I continued to fail. I was miserable.  I hurt all over.  I barely had the strength to walk from room to room.  I was exhausted from sleep apnea — the sleep study said I stopped breathing once every four minutes.  I hated myself.  Why couldn’t I “do” it?  Why was I so weak-willed?  Why was I so hungry all the time?  The experts said I should ignore my hunger.  Why couldn’t I?

Then I saw Fat Head and a lightbulb went off in my head.  I watched it several more times.  I shared it with my family.  Then I went to the Fat Head website and saw an ad for a T-shirt that said “Wheat is Murder — Go Paleo!”  I thought, “What’s Paleo?”  My research began.

It was a trial and error process for some time.  I was so brainwashed with conventional wisdom that it was hard to forget everything I had lived and breathed for decades, even though those decades had been tragically unsuccessful, soul-crushingly frustrating, and criminally misinformed. And yet, in a year, I lost 100 lbs.  And I STILL wasn’t entirely convinced!  I lived a second year on the “80/20” program, which in retrospect was probably more like 50/50.  I felt pretty good, but was torn between “reach your goal” and “…but it tastes so good!”  I didn’t gain, but I didn’t lose any more, either.  I was focused on weight loss instead of health — and MAYBE losing 1/2 a pound today always lost out to “ooh, cinnamon rolls!”  Then I read Wheat Belly and my focus changed.  I realized I was poisoning myself.  And my kids.

I shared my new realizations with my incredibly supportive and long-suffering husband.  We discussed it over an entire week, and decided we were going to make the real commitment to health.  We were terrified how our kids would respond.  I was the mom who made elaborate birthday cakes — because that meant “See how much I LOVE YOU!”  Would they feel unloved when I said “no more birthday cakes”?  The idea made me cry.  We sat the kids (14, 12, and eight) down, explained our findings, told them that we loved them too much to poison them anymore, and told them to expect some withdrawals.  Guess what?

They never missed a beat.

We took sugar, grains, and processed food out of our home in one fell swoop.  I walked on eggshells (and feeding my family a dozen eggs a day, there were plenty of them!) waiting for the complaints, the withdrawals, the “I HATE YOU’s”  They never came.

In the last 6 months since this switch, let me tell you what did come.  My middle son (12), always the chubby couch potato with mom’s genes, lost 20 lbs. and was never hungry or unhappy.  It just fell off while none of us were really paying attention.  My oldest son (14), the wall-puncher with rage issues and who could only communicate by whining, mellowed.  The rage is gone.  He is now the most helpful, considerate, FUNNY kid you would ever meet.  The boys, who used to fight like cats and dogs, never fight anymore.

Our daughter (eight) probably struggles the most.  She is the social butterfly, so she’s always going to one function or another, spending the night with friends, and eating what they serve.  We don’t “forbid” this (obviously we can’t), but do try to point out when she has eaten “things we don’t have in our house” and has mood swings.  To us, it is glaringly obvious.  Oh, and that formerly chubby 12-year-old, turns out, is kind of an amazing soccer player.  The kids who used to have cereal or Pop Tarts for breakfast and the “nutritious” hot lunch at school would come home famished and cranky.  They would consume bags of potato chips, bottles of juice, and more Pop Tarts before dinner.  And then dessert.  Now they’re rarely hungry.  They don’t run for the pantry when they come through the door.

But that’s not all.  My husband and I are better parents.  We’re more patient.  Things roll off our backs with ease.  There are no more emotional outbursts from any of us.  My husband, who was never really overweight, has toned up, and the sinusitis that plagued him constantly has cleared up.  And me?  I’ve lost another 20 lbs, which is what prompted me to write.  I reached a huge milestone yesterday — I dropped below 200 lbs.  I wept.  For more than half my life, I thought I’d never see that “1” on the scale ever again.  I still have a way to go, and I know I’ve abused my metabolism so much that it will not be immediate.  But I also know I am SO much healthier. Even on days I don’t feel it in myself, I look at my family and know our lives have changed for the better in a million ways.

And I have you to thank for that.  For putting me on the right path, even though I learned slowly how to walk it.  And for sparing my kids a lifetime of the suffering I knew.  I can never thank you enough.  Just know that you HAVE changed the world, at least for us.

THANK YOU!
Kelly

Believe me, Kelly, you did thank me enough.  And no need to apologize for the long email.  Letters like yours put a lump in my throat.

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Back in June, I wrote a post about Sam Feltham’s n=1 experiment in which he consumed more than 5,000 calories per day of low-carb/high-fat foods for 21 days.  In a post on his Smash The Fat blog introducing that experiment, he spelled out exactly what he would eating:  lots of meats, eggs, greens and nuts.  The macronutrient breakdown on a typical day looked like this:

Calories:  5,794
Protein:  333.2
Fat:  461.42
Carbohydrates:  85.2g

Feltham estimated his daily calorie expenditure to be around 3,128.  (He’s an active cyclist.)  So according to the simple calories-in/calories-out theory, he should have gained nearly 13 pounds in 21 days.  But he didn’t.  As he reported at the end of the 21 days, he gained less than three pounds – while losing an inch around his waist.  In other words, he gained a bit of lean mass but apparently didn’t get any fatter.

I wouldn’t suggest people who’ve battled a weight problem repeat that experiment, of course.  If you check the pictures on his blog, you’ll see that Feltham looks like a naturally lean guy.  His body probably resists gaining fat.

Ahhh, but what if he consumed more than 5,000 calories per day on a diet high in refined carbohydrates?  Would the hormonal effects of all those excess carbohydrates overcome his natural resistance to getting fatter?

In a word:  Yup.

Feltham recently completed yet another n=1 experiment that lasted 21 days.  This time the diet looked like something Morgan Spurlock would try (assuming he could eat all these foods at McDonald’s while pretending to only consume three meals per day) … cereals, breads, jam, pasta, desserts and sodas.  Here’s the breakdown:

Calories:  5,793
Protein:  188.65
Fat:  140.8
Carbohydrates:  892.7

Wow.  My glucose is rising just looking at those figures.   Let’s look at Feltham’s results from his blog:

As it was the last day I also weighed myself this evening at 97.3kg, giving me a mean for day 21 at 96.8kg, which is a massive +7.1kg up from the start and +0.1kg above the calorie formula on a 53,872 k/cal surplus.

So he gained almost 16 pounds.  And it wasn’t lean tissue this time, either.  He also gained three inches around his waist.  (He had small waist to begin with, so nobody will be asking him to wear the Santa suit at this year’s holiday party.)

What’s interesting to me is that on the high-carb overeating experiment, the calorie equation held up.  Unlike with his LCHF diet, Feltham did, in fact, gain a fraction more than one pound for every 3,500 extra calories he consumed.

I’d say the same about Morgan Spurlock’s sugar-fest month at McDonald’s.  Spurlock gained 24 pounds in 30 days, which means he was probably overeating by around 2,800 calories per day.  (We of course don’t know for sure, since he won’t show anyone his food log.  But his nutritionist cautioned him twice in Super Size Me that he was eating more than 5,000 calories per day.  And unlike Feltham, who continued his exercise routine during his experiment, Spurlock intentionally moved as little as possible.)

As I mentioned in my post about Feltham’s first experiment, the calorie freaks immediately tried to explain away his inability to gain more than a few pounds on 5,200 daily calories of LCHF foods by insisting he must have a super-fast metabolism.  Funny how that super-fast metabolism didn’t help him when he switched to a diet full of refined carbohydrates.

By the way, Feltham has already gone back to a LCHF diet (which he’s calling his rehab diet) to undo the damage.  He’s 10 days into a diet consisting of meats, greens, butter and nuts.  His average daily intake is 3,622 calories, 313 grams of fat, 170 grams of protein and 34.38 grams of carbohydrates.

He’s lost just over nine pounds as a result.  A good chunk of that is likely water weight, but I suspect he’ll be back to his original weight and body-fat percentage soon enough.

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As you’ve probably heard by now, Tom Hanks recently announced that he has type 2 diabetes. Since Hanks has gained and lost weight for various movie roles, doctors quoted in media articles of course blamed his diabetes on “extreme weight fluctuations.” I’m reasonably sure the doctors weren’t suggesting Hanks developed diabetes by becoming a skinny guy for his roles in Philadelphia and Castaway, so what they’re saying is that he developed diabetes by getting fatter for other roles.

Maybe, maybe not. I vote not. His weight may have fluctuated for various movie roles, but I’ve never seen him on screen on thought, “Wow, Tom Hanks is really getting fat.”

According to what I could find online, Hanks beefed up to 225 pounds for his role as a former baseball player in A League of Their Own. That may sound like a lot of weight to carry around, but take a look at a picture of him from that film:

Sure, he’s got some thickness around the belly there, but that’s all it is: some thickness around the belly. We’re not looking at what I’d call an obese guy in that picture. I wouldn’t even call him a fat guy. He looks like what he was portraying in that film: an ex-jock who’s gotten a bit soft. Despite coming across on camera as a guy with a long-and-lean body type, Tom Hanks has more muscle on him than you might think. Here he is again in Castaway, when his character first landed on the island:

Once again, he’s got a belly … but look at the thickness of his arms and legs. His calves are nearly the size of my thighs. There’s a lot of weight in those legs.  When I saw that film in a theater and there was a scene of him dancing around to celebrate making fire, I remember being impressed with the size of his leg muscles.

If you’ve seen Castaway (good movie), you know that partway through the film, we suddenly jump ahead in time and are shocked to see a totally ripped Tom Hanks – now as a guy who’s been barely surviving on fish and coconuts for years:

If you’d asked me at the time to guess how much he weighed while shooting that section of the film, I would have said 150 pounds. But Hanks weighed 170 pounds in those scenes. He’s six feet tall, so his BMI at that point was just over 23 – in the middle of the “normal” range, despite having almost no body fat. So once again, we’re talking about a guy who is heavier than he looks, thanks to surprisingly thick muscles.

I don’t think temporarily weighing 225 pounds for a film shot in 2000 is the reason he has diabetes in 2013. According to an article on CNN, here’s what his doctor told him:

“I went to the doctor and he said, ‘You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated,’ ” Hanks told Letterman. ” ‘You’ve got Type 2 diabetes, young man.’ “

He’s had high blood sugar since age 36? Hanks is 57 now. Around age 36, he was shooting Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. Those were all after A League of Their Own, and he was a lean guy in all of them – positively skinny, in fact, for his role as a lawyer with AIDS in Philadelphia.

So clearly it’s possible to be quite lean and still have chronically high blood sugar, which is what leads to type 2 diabetes. Here’s another quote from the CNN article:

The “Forrest Gump” star said his condition is manageable through diet, and Letterman said that he too has high blood sugar.

So David Letterman also has high blood sugar, which would classify him as pre-diabetic. Here’s a picture of him from about a year ago:

Does that look like a fat guy to you?  Has David Letterman gone through “extreme weight fluctuations” as part of his career?  I don’t think so.  That’s why I’m opposed to the CDC, the USDA, the AMA and pretty much all the other health “experts” obsessing about how much people weigh with all their talk about the obesity epidemic.  The real epidemic is the number of people walking around with chronically high blood sugar.

I’m happy to report that at least one major media outlet didn’t jump on the “he got diabetes because he was fatter in two movie roles” bandwagon. Here’s a quote from the U.K. Telegraph:

But the link with diabetes isn’t as clear as Hanks, and the doctors who have been wheeled out stateside to support his theory, have made out.

While some studies have suggested that yo-yo dieting might destabilise metabolism and lead to chronic weight gain, with increased risk of heart disease or diabetes, others have been inconclusive. Studies in animals have shown that yo-yo dieting is far better for the body than remaining obese.

Even the link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes isn’t as clear cut as many make out. There are many of relatively normal weight who go on to develop the disease, suggesting that in some cases it can be just “one of those things”.

From his description, it sounds as though Tom Hanks had impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes) for years.

Including long stretches during which he was a lean guy.

I’m glad to hear Hanks plans to manage his diabetes through diet – but I hope it’s not the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. If it is, someday we’ll be reading more articles about Tom Hanks suffering from the effects of diabetes. I’d much rather read reviews of many more masterful acting performances yet to come.

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