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With all the hubbub of reviews and podcasts — not to mention the hours I’m putting in on the film — I nearly forgot to post chapter one of Fat Head Kids.  I’m addressing that oversight now.

Again, I can’t recreate Chareva’s two-page layouts in a blog format, but all the text and most of the graphics are included.


Stuff I wish I knew when I was your age:
Getting Fat Isn’t About Character

Since much of this book is about why kids get fat, I’m probably supposed to stop here and show some charts to prove that childhood obesity is a big problem. I’m not going to do that, and here’s why: I went to school in the 1960s, and yes, things were different then. We had maybe one or two fat kids in each class. And you know what? After I became one of them, I never once got together with the other fat kid in class and said:

It’s no fun being a fat kid, period. If you’ve been getting fat, I know you want to change that. And I’ll bet at least a few people have already told you why you’re fat and what to do about it — like the classmates who explained it to me.

What these helpful young men were telling me is that people get fat because of a flaw in their character: They like to eat, so they eat too much, and then they get fat. So to lose weight, they just need to apply some willpower. Eat a little less, exercise a little more, or both.

Now … let’s suppose these guys grow up and become doctors, or dieticians, or personal trainers — and they learn it’s not polite to make fun of fat people. They’ll probably still give the same advice, especially if they’ve never been fat. Only now that advice will sound almost like science:

It’s kind of strange if you think about it. Fifty years ago, very few Americans were overweight, but almost nobody counted calories. In fact, the calorie labels you see on food now didn’t even exist until the 1990s. Nowadays we have lots of fat people, and everyone seems to be talking about calories. Cut the calories, cut the calories, cut the calories! So what’s a calorie?

To understand calories, let’s forget about food for a minute and talk about something you wouldn’t eat unless you’re a termite: wood.

If you had a nice piece of wood, you could chop it into pieces and build something useful, like a chair. Or you could store the wood for later. Or you could toss it in a fireplace and burn it to produce heat. How much heat? Well, there are different units for measuring heat, but the common ones are BTUs (British Thermal Units), joules, and … calories. So technically, a calorie is a unit of heat.

But heat is also a form of energy, and in our world, energy makes things happen. Back in the Old West, people burned wood to boil water to make steam. The steam could turn an engine big enough to move an entire train. So we could say the energy to move a train came from the calories in wood.

It’s the same with food. To determine the calories in food, scientists burn it in something called a calorimeter and measure the heat. No, they’re not trying to figure out how many pizzas you should burn to keep your house warm. They’re measuring how much energy the food would produce if you burned it all for fuel.

But you don’t burn all your food for fuel. Some of what you eat is broken down into building materials for the rest of your body. Some of it is converted to fat and stored in your fat cells. That way your body can burn fat for fuel between meals. If you couldn’t store calories in your fat cells, you’d have to spend most of your life eating.

Because your body can store calories as fat, a lot of so-called experts (like my helpful classmates) think your body works like a savings account. I call that The Piggy Bank Theory, and it looks like this:

Every time you eat, you deposit calories in your body. Some of the food goes into your body’s Building & Repair Fund, and some goes to pay your daily energy bill — the energy your body burns just to stay alive. But if there’s any extra food left over, those calories are automatically converted to fat and stored in your fat cells — like saving money in the Piggy Bank.

With a real piggy bank, it’s easy to control how much you save. If you deposit $50 every week and withdraw $40, your piggy bank will grow by exactly $10 each week. If you deposit $50 every week and withdraw $60, your piggy bank will shrink by exactly $10 each week. It’s a simple matter of calculating dollars in vs. dollars out.

According to The Piggy Bank Theory, losing weight works by the same simple math. To shrink your fat cells, you just deposit fewer calories by eating less. Or you spend more on the energy bill by exercising. If you do either one, your body has to withdraw calories from the piggy bank, so you lose weight. It’s a simple matter of calculating calories in vs. calories out.

People who believe in The Piggy Bank Theory will do things like drive to a gym, take an elevator to the workout room, then spend an hour on a treadmill walking nowhere. Or they write articles offering simple advice like this:

If you cut just one pat of butter from your daily diet and walk for just 20 minutes every day, you’ll lose 20 pounds of fat in a year!

Well, that sounds easy, doesn’t it? So according to these people, if you’re fat, it’s because you’re not willing to eat just a little less — which means you’re a pig. Or you’re not willing to exercise just a little more — which means you’re a lazy pig.

But does that really make sense? Most fat people hate being fat. They spend billions of dollars on gym memberships, weight-loss clubs and weight-loss drugs. Are we supposed to believe they’d rather be fat than give up one pat of butter per day?

If people get fat because of their character, why are there more overweight babies now than 30 years ago? Did babies in previous generations drink less mother’s milk so they wouldn’t get fat? Did they go to baby-aerobics classes?

If your body works like a bank account, how do we explain naturally thin people, like my wife? They have no idea how many calories they consume and eat whatever they like, but never gain weight. That’s like making lots of deposits and withdrawals at your bank, without ever bothering to add them up … and yet every time you check your balance, it’s exactly 2,000 dollars.

Here’s something else The Piggy Bank Theory can’t explain: We have two big dogs named Misha and Coco. They’re sisters, and we feed them exactly the same meals. Coco is bouncier and more active than Misha, so she ought to burn more calories, right? But Coco is 18 pounds heavier. In human terms, if Misha weighed 180 pounds, Coco would weigh 212 pounds. When we bought them as puppies, the breeder told us Coco would be bigger. She never mentioned calories.

Obviously, there’s something wrong with The Piggy Bank Theory. Plenty of doctors and researchers have known that for years.

In a study from the 1960s, researchers wrote about obese patients who were locked in a hospital and fed just 600 calories each day. That’s about one-fourth as much as most adults eat. And yet the obese patients didn’t lose weight. Is that because of a flaw in their character? Should they only eat 300 calories per day? Or 200?

In an experiment at the Mayo Clinic, researchers had a group of volunteers eat an extra 1,000 calories every day for 56 days. According to The Piggy Bank Theory, those 56,000 extra calories should have made everyone 16 pounds fatter. But some people gained 10 times more body fat than others. The naturally-thin people barely gained any weight at all.

In another experiment, researchers took a group of mice and reduced their daily calories by five percent. That’s the mouse version of cut just one pat of butter per day from your diet. They also used special lab equipment to make sure the mice were just as active as before.

Let’s apply The Piggy Bank Theory and predict what happened:

  1. They were eating less, so they made smaller deposits.
  2. They were just as active, so their daily energy bill should have stayed the same.
  3. Therefore, according to The Piggy Bank Theory, the mice had to withdraw calories from their fat cells to pay part of the energy bill. So their fat cells had to shrink.

But that’s not what happened. When the mice were given less food, their fat cells got bigger, not smaller.

No wonder one scientist wrote this in an article about obesity:

The commonly held belief that obese individuals can ameliorate [improve] their condition by simply deciding to eat less and exercise more is at odds with compelling scientific evidence.

If your goal is to lose weight, let me ask you a question: Would your school hire a football coach who lost 97 percent of his games? Would your parents hire a piano teacher if 97 percent of her students never played any better … and some ended up playing worse?

Of course not. But year after year, millions of people try to lose weight by following The Piggy Bank Theory. And year after year, 97 percent of them fail. In fact, many end up fatter than before.

People who believe in The Piggy Bank Theory argue that it’s based on the Laws of Physics. Matter and energy can’t just disappear or be created out of nothing. So to get bigger, you have to consume more calories than you burn.

That statement is true. But for explaining why people get fat, it’s also meaningless. It’s like saying Donald Trump is rich because he deposited more dollars in the bank than he spent. It’s like saying if your toilet overflows, it’s because more water went into the bowl than went out.

Yes, of course more water went into the bowl than went out. But that only explains HOW the toilet overflowed. It doesn’t tell us WHY the toilet overflowed. The WHY in this case would be a clog in the drain pipe.

To fix a problem, you can’t just describe HOW it happens. You also have to understand WHY it happens. We’ll begin looking at WHY we get fat in the next chapter.

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Well, one of the nice things about having a book released is that I get to be a return guest on podcast shows I enjoyed the first time.

Back in November, I had the pleasure of talking to Brian Williamson on his Ketovangelist podcast show.  The book was rounding the bend towards completion at the time, so he invited to come back after the release.

You can listen to the new episode here.

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Last month I was a guest on the Cameron J. English podcast show.  We of course talked about the book, but I don’t believe Cameron had a copy at the time.

He has a copy now, and he wrote a review that provides an excellent summary of the book, both the content and the tone.  Here’s a quote:

The quality I like most about this book is that the Naughtons don’t condescend to their young audience. To be sure, there are colorful graphics and helpful characters (like Mr. Spot and Dr. Fishbones, the science officer and medical officer of the Nautilus, respectively) who help make the subject of the book more comprehensible. But as a science writer, I say without hesitation that the nutrition and food chemistry covered in Fat Head Kids is more comprehensive than anything you’d read in a typical New York Times editorial about obesity–or even many undergraduate nutrition textbooks.

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Well, this is a great way to start a Friday …

Dr. William “Wheat Belly” Davis posted a very nice review of Fat Head Kids on his Wheat Belly blog.  Here’s a bit of the review:

Even though intended for kids, this book is also perfect for any adult who also wishes to understand why we persist in hearing such dietary fictions such as “Move more, eat less” or “Cut your fat and cholesterol.” Anyone who reads Fat Head Kids will come away with a clear understanding of healthy eating and why following advice like the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a recipe for disaster. Imagine Tom’s book became required reading in school–you might just witness a marvelous transformation in their health, appearance, weight, and learning.

Since the book slams the USDA dietary guidelines, I doubt it will ever be required reading in schools.  But we can dream …

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I was the guest recently (very recently … as in yesterday evening) on Dr. Ron Hoffman’s Intelligent Medicine podcast show.  The episode is available here.

We talked about the book, the Tim Noakes witch-hunt, and other stuff.  Enjoy.

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Isn’t it nice to wake up in the morning and learn that sanity can still prevail — even when government committees are involved?

Tim Noakes, the victim of an inquisition triggered by an idiot dietician, was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct yesterday.  Here are some quotes from a report by News24 in South Africa:

Professor Tim Noakes has been found not guilty of misconduct, a professional conduct committee found on Friday.

That’s the good news.  Excellent news, in fact.  The bad news is that Noakes was dragged before a committee in the first place.  Read on to see just how ridiculous this entire episode was.

Noakes – whose book The Real Meal Revolution promotes a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet – was charged with giving unconventional medical advice via Twitter two years ago after he advised a breastfeeding mother to wean her baby onto LCHF.

Charged with giving unconventional advice … riiiight, because the conventional dietary advice handed down since the 1970s has done such a bang-up job of improving people’s health worldwide.

The independent committee made its finding following a protracted hearing into a complaint by the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom. She had complained about Noakes giving advice relating to his LCHF diet on Twitter to a mother.

And why did Julsing-Strydom (the idiot dietitian) feel the need to bring charges?  Was Noakes going around giving unsolicited, unconventional advice?  Was he sneaking into people’s homes and feeding their kids an “unconventional” diet when the parents weren’t looking?

The mother’s tweet read: “@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies?? [sic]” Noakes advised her to wean her child onto LCHF foods, which he described as “real” foods.

His tweet read: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to ween [sic] baby onto LCHF.”

So there’s the basis for the witch hunt:  a mother SPECIFICALLY ASKED NOAKES FOR ADVICE on Twitter, and he replied.  His reply went against the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and hearthealthywholegrains! nonsense promoted by the Axis of Incompetence, so one of its members decided she’d try to ruin his life and his career.

Earlier in the hearing, which started in 2015, witnesses for the HPCSA said a consultation was required before any advice could be given or diagnosis made.

A mother asks Noakes for advice online, and he’s supposed to tell her sorry, we need to have a consultation in my office?  And what the @#$% kind of diagnosis is required in this situation?  The mom didn’t say her baby had a strange rash and ask for an online prescription.  She asked a question about diet … and since she asked Noakes, it means she obviously respects his opinion on the matter.

Noakes questioned why Leenstra, who ostensibly could have suffered harm, did not lay the charge. He argued he did not give advice on breastfeeding, but on weaning.

BINGO!!  The mother who asked for advice didn’t complain.  A dietitian who had nothing to do with the situation complained.  This is, of course, what The Anointed are all about: restricting other people’s speech and freedoms — for their own good, of course.

Noakes alleged that Julsing-Strydom’s complaint was not centred on breastfeeding, but on the diet he advocates in his book, of which she did not approve.

Of course that was the basis of her complaint.

The HPCSA argues that Noakes gave unconventional and unscientific advice, and was unprofessional in his conduct for dispensing the advice via social media.

You want to see unscientific advice? Look no further than arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and hearthealthywholegrains!

As for giving advice via social media being unprofessional … does any sane person believe Julsing-Strydom and the other dietary fascists would have gone after a doctor who advised the mother to wean her baby on hearthealthywholegrains?

Out of curiosity, I just checked Twitter to see if The American Heart Association tweets dietary advice.  Yup.  I guess somebody needs to drag them before a committee for engaging in unprofessional conduct … you know, giving out advice online without a proper consultation and all that.

Two international witnesses testified in his defence – diet and health researcher Dr Zoe Harcombe from London, and investigative journalist Nina Teicholz from New York, who is the author of The Big Fat Surprise, which “explains the politics, personalities, and history of how we came to believe that dietary fat is bad for health”.

And bless you both, ladies.

Professor Willie Pienaar, a psychiatrist and part-time bioethicist, during the hearing said that doctors cannot give expert advice without consultation. He argued that Noakes had the opportunity to refer the mother to a general practitioner, and pointed out that he didn’t ask the age or health status of the baby.

“Professor Noakes, what foods should I feed my baby?”

“I’m sorry, Mom, I’ll have to refer you to a general practitioner who will give advice I believe with all my heart and soul is completely wrong.”

He said his main concern was that Noakes had given specialist advice via social media and that consultation was key to giving the correct diagnosis.

Again, exactly what kind of diagnosis is required when a mother asks for general dietary advice? What diagnosis does the American Heart Association make before going online and telling people to replace butter with corn and canola oil?

Expert witness Professor Este Vorster, a former president of the Nutrition Society of SA, said Noakes could not give convincing evidence that his was the optimal diet for lactating mothers.

The Anointed can’t give convincing evidence that vegetable oils and grains are the optimal diet.  But they’ll keep pushing them and occasionally conduct a witch-hunt when a prominent doctor dares to disagree.  Thank goodness The Anointed lost this round.  Let’s hope they lose many, many more.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the decision — even though there never should have been a trial in the first place — and applaud Tim Noakes for having the backbone to stand up to these bullies.

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