Restaurants Aren’t Making Us Fat

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A friend of mine sent me a PDF of an academic paper that will soon be published in the American Economic Journal. The paper, titled Restaurants, Regulation and the Super-sizing of America asks the question:  Are restaurants to blame for the rise in obesity? The answer, not surprisingly, is No.  Or as the authors wrote in their conclusions:

Our findings indicate that the causal link between the consumption of restaurant foods and obesity is minimal at best.

Restaurants have become a convenient whipping-boy for government busybodies who are driven by the urge to do something! whenever they see a problem. San Francisco banned Happy Meals. Los Angeles banned the opening of new fast-food restaurants on the city’s south side. The health-care “reform” bill will require all restaurants with more than 20 outlets to put calorie counts on menus … never mind the fact that we got fatter after nutrition information was mandated on all packaged foods. Some government goofs in Mississippi even proposed barring people with a BMI of over 30 from eating in restaurants. (I sure wish they’d try that right around the time some big fellas from All-Star Wrestling come to town. The violence would be real for a change.)

The trouble with all of these attempts at leanness-through-legislation (besides the shredding of individual freedom in a supposedly free country) is that there’s no evidence they’ll actually work. If restaurants aren’t the problem, then we’re shooting at the wrong target. If restaurants are the problem, then someone should be able to prove that restaurants induce overeating long-term, as opposed to during a single meal.

To examine the effects of restaurants on over-eating and obesity, the authors of this study compared food-intake and BMI data among rural communities with either a relatively high or relatively low availability of restaurants. The BMI curve for both kinds of communities was virtually identical. Apparently having a bit of fun with math, the authors calculated that for each extra mile to the nearest restaurant, the average BMI decreased by a whopping 0.0013 points.

Well, there you have it. If the government do-gooders could simply require that all restaurants be located at least 3,846 miles from the nearest town, our average BMI would drop by five points and the obesity crisis would be solved … although those “Let’s go to White Castle and get some sliders!” inspirations at three in the morning would require a passport in some states.

Of course, you could argue that distance doesn’t have much to do with how often people eat in restaurants. (In which case, the old adage about “Location, location, location!” doesn’t hold water … or soda.) However, using a series of surveys, the authors calculated that people who live near restaurants do, in fact, eat out more often. In towns located within five miles of a restaurant, residents average 128 daily restaurant visits per 1000 people. In towns located between five and 10 miles from the nearest restaurant, the rate drops by half.

Having a restaurant located within the same town makes an even bigger difference: In towns with at least one fast-food restaurant, residents average 127 daily fast-food meals per 1000 people. In towns without a fast-food restaurant, residents average just 39 daily fast-food meals per 1000 people.

If restaurants are making people obese, then the populations who live near restaurants and therefore eat in restaurants more frequently should be fatter. But they’re not. As I pointed out when the Los Angeles city council banned new fast-food restaurants on the south side — a poor area with a high rate of obesity — it apparently didn’t occur to the do-gooders to check out other areas of the city. If they had, they would’ve found that there are more fast-food restaurants per square mile on the oh-so-stylish west side. Since the rate of obesity is also much lower there, nobody dared suggest all those burger and taco joints might be making people fat.

The do-gooders blame restaurants for obesity because of a simple observation: restaurant meals are usually bigger than the meals we eat at home. Duh … that’s one of the reasons I eat in restaurants. I’m not going to dress up, stand by the door tapping my foot while my wife finishes dressing and applying makeup, pay a baby-sitter $30, drive several miles, park, give the hostess my name, take a little buzzy-blinking-light thing from her, stand outside and wait for it to blink and buzz, then finally take a seat at a table … all for the sheer joy of eating a small piece of steamed fish and a salad with lemon juice. When I go out, I eat a big meal.

But then I do the same thing that most people do, according to the study’s authors: I eat less later. I don’t eat less later because I’m disciplined; I eat less because my body tells me it really doesn’t care for another big meal right now, thank you very much. Now, that may be partly because when I eat in a restaurant, I don’t stuff myself with sugar and starch. But I don’t stuff myself with sugar and starch at home, either. By the same token, people who go carb-crazy in restaurants probably go carb-crazy at home too.

The point is, our appetites are controlled by our metabolisms, not by McDonald’s. The authors found that within individual communities, people who eat frequently in restaurants do, in fact, consume more daily calories on average and are fatter on average. But they don’t have big appetites because they eat at restaurants more often; they eat at restaurants more often because they have big appetites.

When the authors looked at data on how many calories individuals consume day-to-day, they found almost no difference between the days that included a restaurant meal and the days that didn’t — just 35 extra calories on days that included a restaurant meal, whether we’re talking about fat people or thin people. In other words, yes, when there are restaurants nearby, the obese are more likely to eat in those restaurants and stuff themselves — but take away the restaurants, and they just stuff themselves at home:

When eating at home, obese individuals consume almost 30 percent of their calories in the form of “junk food” (ice cream, processed cheese, bacon, baked sweets, crackers, potato chips and fries, candies, soft drinks, and beer). Because obese individuals consume so many calories from nutritionally deficient sources at home, it may not be surprising that replacing restaurant consumption with home consumption does not improve health, as measured by BMI.

(Take the word “bacon” out of that paragraph, and it would be perfect.)

So as usual, the government do-gooders (not to mention Morgan Spurlock) have the cause and effect backwards. We didn’t develop perverted appetites because of super-sized restaurant meals. Our appetites were perverted first, and then super-sized meals came along to match them. Order the restaurants to serve lower-calorie meals — as some government goofs in the U.K. proposed — and the fat people will just go home afterwards and open the pint of Chunky Monkey.

Picking on the restaurants is a waste of time and effort. The do-gooders can pass every law their little fascist hearts desire, and it won’t solve the obesity problem. There’s just no evidence that restaurants are the cause — not that I’d expect the do-gooders to care one way or another.  As the study authors noted:

Many policymakers and public-health advocates design policies intended to reduce the impact of restaurants on obesity, even while they acknowledge that convincing evidence of such a link has proven to be elusive. For example, the Food and Drug Administration recently organized a forum in which participants proposed solutions to the challenge of obesity in the context of away-from-home foods, even while the organizers cautioned that “there does not exist a conclusive body of evidence establishing a causal link between the availability or consumption of away-from-home foods and obesity.”

Anyone want to bet me that the lack of a “conclusive body of evidence” will convince those public-health advocates to stop proposing stupid laws to save us from ourselves?


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72 thoughts on “Restaurants Aren’t Making Us Fat

  1. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    p. 469 – they controlled for sugar consumption. Did you even read the study before you denounced it? Do you really think that the researchers are that stupid? That they couldn’t of thought of a confounding factor that a comedian came up with? LOL

    re: correlation vs. causation. You do realize, Tom, that your comments (and documentary) are absolutely fraught with the very type of correlation that you decry here, right? You have no causal story for how you lost weight independent of the correlations that also occurred with exercise and reduced caloric intake. Yet, you privilege the correlation of the diet, mistakingly believing that it had some causal power. That’s poor science.

    Ditto your belief that exercise produces weight loss because you lost weight by running. As for the weak association study you linked:

    “Participants were asked to mark how often they had consumed each food in the past year and the portion size.”

    Ah, one of those “how many burgers did you consume in the last year” surveys. Yes, those are notorious for their amazing precision. I had to fill out one of those once, along with my co-workers. It was a joke. Nobody could remember what he or she ate last week, much less during the past year. We started randomly checking boxes and had a good laugh about it as we all headed out to Happy Hour.

    Now show me a controlled clinical trial in which burgers and chicken — with all other variables controlled — were found to produce a higher level of diabetes or loss of glucose control. Here’s a clinical trial (the kind that matters) demonstrating greater glucose control on a low-carb diet:

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375.long

    Reply
  2. Marcus

    “There is no plausible mechanism for hamburger and chicken causing diabetes.”

    Please see:

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/11/1397.short

    “Abstract

    Muscle and hepatic insulin resistance are two major defects of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Dietary factors may be important in the etiology of insulin resistance. We studied progressive changes in the development of high-fat-diet-induced insulin resistance in tissues of the adult male Wistar rat. In vivo insulin action was compared 3 days and 3 wk after isocaloric synthetic high-fat or high-starch feeding (59 and 10% cal as fat, respectively). Basal and insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism were assessed in the conscious 5- to 7-h fasted state with the euglycemic clamp (600 pM insulin) with a [3-3H]-glucose infusion. Fat feeding significantly reduced suppressibility of hepatic glucose output by insulin after both 3 days and 3 wk of diet (P less than 0.01). However, a significant impairment of insulin-mediated peripheral glucose disposal was only present after 3 wk of diet. Further in vivo [3H]-2-deoxyglucose uptake studies supported this finding and demonstrated adipose but not muscle insulin resistance after 3 days of high-fat feeding. Muscle triglyceride accumulation due to fat feeding was not significant at 3 days but had doubled by 3 wk in red muscle (P less than 0.001) compared with starch-fed controls. By 3 wk, high-fat-fed animals had developed significant glucose intolerance. We conclude that fat feeding induces insulin resistance in liver and adipose tissue before skeletal muscle with early metabolic changes favoring an oversupply of energy substrate to skeletal muscle relative to metabolic needs. This may generate later muscle insulin resistance.”

    Next falsehood you want to try and propagate, Tom?

    Where’s the full text? There’s no specifics on the high-fat diet. Last rat study I saw proving the evils of dietary fats (for rats at least) used corn oil for fat. I’d expect all hell to break loose if you force an animal to live on corn oil.

    Reply
  3. Marcus

    Some contrary evidence: http://www.ajcn.org/content/91/2/465.short

    “Consumption of restaurant foods and incidence of type 2 diabetes in African American women”

    Worth taking a look at. Turns out eating hamburgers and fried chicken from restaurants is associated with higher diabetes levels.

    It’s not contrary evidence. It’s confirming evidence. People who eat a lot of fast food consume more sugar than the population as a whole. You’ll notice the study says nothing about controlling for sugar consumption independently. Blaming the diabetes on hamburgers and fried chicken was their bias manifesting. Nothing in the data points specifically to burgers and chicken, only to an association between fast food consumption and diabetes.

    Other studies have shown that sugar addicts consume just as much sugar whether fast food restaurants are nearby or not. But if those restaurants are nearby, the sugar addicts will patronize them more than the population as a whole.

    Since you’re a PhD and all, I’m sure you realize correlations are just that: correlations. They don’t prove cause and effect. A and B are often correlated simply because they’re both caused by C. There’s a correlation between baldness and heart disease, but I’m pretty sure baldness doesn’t cause heart disease. If A is correlated with B and we want to blame A for causing B, we need to describe a plausible mechanism by which A causes B. There’s a very plausible mechanism for sugar causing type 2 diabetes. There is no plausible mechanism for hamburger and chicken causing diabetes.

    Reply
  4. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    p. 469 – they controlled for sugar consumption. Did you even read the study before you denounced it? Do you really think that the researchers are that stupid? That they couldn’t of thought of a confounding factor that a comedian came up with? LOL

    re: correlation vs. causation. You do realize, Tom, that your comments (and documentary) are absolutely fraught with the very type of correlation that you decry here, right? You have no causal story for how you lost weight independent of the correlations that also occurred with exercise and reduced caloric intake. Yet, you privilege the correlation of the diet, mistakingly believing that it had some causal power. That’s poor science.

    Ditto your belief that exercise produces weight loss because you lost weight by running. As for the weak association study you linked:

    “Participants were asked to mark how often they had consumed each food in the past year and the portion size.”

    Ah, one of those “how many burgers did you consume in the last year” surveys. Yes, those are notorious for their amazing precision. I had to fill out one of those once, along with my co-workers. It was a joke. Nobody could remember what he or she ate last week, much less during the past year. We started randomly checking boxes and had a good laugh about it as we all headed out to Happy Hour.

    Now show me a controlled clinical trial in which burgers and chicken — with all other variables controlled — were found to produce a higher level of diabetes or loss of glucose control. Here’s a clinical trial (the kind that matters) demonstrating greater glucose control on a low-carb diet:

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375.long

    Reply
  5. Marcus

    “There is no plausible mechanism for hamburger and chicken causing diabetes.”

    Please see:

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/11/1397.short

    “Abstract

    Muscle and hepatic insulin resistance are two major defects of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Dietary factors may be important in the etiology of insulin resistance. We studied progressive changes in the development of high-fat-diet-induced insulin resistance in tissues of the adult male Wistar rat. In vivo insulin action was compared 3 days and 3 wk after isocaloric synthetic high-fat or high-starch feeding (59 and 10% cal as fat, respectively). Basal and insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism were assessed in the conscious 5- to 7-h fasted state with the euglycemic clamp (600 pM insulin) with a [3-3H]-glucose infusion. Fat feeding significantly reduced suppressibility of hepatic glucose output by insulin after both 3 days and 3 wk of diet (P less than 0.01). However, a significant impairment of insulin-mediated peripheral glucose disposal was only present after 3 wk of diet. Further in vivo [3H]-2-deoxyglucose uptake studies supported this finding and demonstrated adipose but not muscle insulin resistance after 3 days of high-fat feeding. Muscle triglyceride accumulation due to fat feeding was not significant at 3 days but had doubled by 3 wk in red muscle (P less than 0.001) compared with starch-fed controls. By 3 wk, high-fat-fed animals had developed significant glucose intolerance. We conclude that fat feeding induces insulin resistance in liver and adipose tissue before skeletal muscle with early metabolic changes favoring an oversupply of energy substrate to skeletal muscle relative to metabolic needs. This may generate later muscle insulin resistance.”

    Next falsehood you want to try and propagate, Tom?

    Where’s the full text? There’s no specifics on the high-fat diet. Last rat study I saw proving the evils of dietary fats (for rats at least) used corn oil for fat. I’d expect all hell to break loose if you force an animal to live on corn oil.

    Reply
  6. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    I *know* that exercise leads to weight loss. The only time it doesn’t is if you stuff your face after you exercise, thereby consuming more calories than you burn. This is why you need more nuance in your arguments. It’s not that exercise doesn’t lead to weight loss – it certainly can be a great tool for that purpose. But you’re right, gorging at McDonald’s after the gym likely won’t have the desired effect. Do we really need a bunch of studies to tell us that?

    re: survey research. I know you’ll look for ways to discredit any information that doesn’t confirm your prior-held beliefs (see that confirmation bias link I sent you), but you really should at least be open to the possibility that you may be wrong. That’s what science is all about. At the very least you could admit that the science has produced mixed results with respect to eating at restaurants and gaining weight.

    On another note, how do you feel about New York restaurants being “forced” by big bad government to show caloric information on menus?

    I’ve expressed my opinion about the worthlessness of calorie-count menu laws in several posts. Look them up.

    I don’t dispute research that doesn’t match my preconceived notions. I dispute research that 1) proves nothing about causality, since it’s a weak association study and 2) is based on a food survey that required people to accurately remember what they’ve eaten for the past year. The inability of those surveys to accurately reflect actual food consumption is notorious.

    Marcus, here’s where we’re at: I’ve let you waste large chunks of my day by debating you, even though your method of debate consists entirely of repeating, in one form or another, some variation of “I’m right because I know I’m right” or linking to some lousy association study. If you truly understand science (I have my doubts), you know association studies aren’t proof (they are intended merely to produce a hypothesis to test in a clinical setting) and the conclusions drawn from them are often completely contradicted by clinical studies — the type that matter. For an idea of what a real scientist thinks of those studies, see this article:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/

    I reached my conclusions about the biochemistry of hunger and insulin resistance after reading extensively and conducting interviews with researchers in the field. I’m still in touch with with some of them. One even calls me at home now and then to discuss research and make suggestions for blog topics. (He likes my writing style, especially the humor.)

    Before that extensive reading, I believed exactly what you believe. I was ignorant of the biochemistry and thought fat people (myself included) simply needed to eat less and exercise more. When people I interviewed for the film told me I was wrong, I at first resisted. But unlike you, I was open-minded and examined the evidence. Presented with the evidence, I changed several beliefs I’d held for most of my life. Since making the film, I’ve also changed my previous opinion that high-GI foods like rice and potatoes induce insulin resistance. I saw evidence that while those foods spike blood sugar, which can certainly be bad, it’s far more likely that fructose is the prime mover in insulin resistance.

    So I’m not the one who isn’t open to changing my mind. You are. You have declared that weight loss is a matter of willpower, and you will obviously hang onto that belief for dear life rather than consider that you might be wrong. I listed the biochemistry involved in a series of points and asked you to tell me which points were wrong and why. You didn’t. You simply repeated that you’re right because you know you’re right. I asked why obese mice who were forced to eat 5% less ended up fatter and with less muscle mass as a result, since you just by gosh KNOW that “of course” they would burn fatty acids when hunger set in. You never answered. I asked why, if it’s all about willpower, people on low-carb diets spontaneously eat less and lose more weight than people on low-fat/low calorie diets, even though the low-carb dieters had no calorie restrictions whatsoever. You never answered. I asked how, given the known biological fact that elevated insulin inhibits lipolysis, your statement that “of course” people with elevated insulin will burn fatty acids instead of muscle mass if they don’t eat when their glucose levels drop could possibly be true. You never answered.

    So in all seriousness, Marcus, you’re not actually debating. You’re simply arguing endlessly and pointlessly without offering any evidence to dispute what I’ve said about the metabolic process involved. Why, I can only guess. Apparently you believe that if you simply repeat yourself over and over and over and over and over and over, I’ll forget everything I’ve learned about the biochemistry of hunger, insulin and weight loss and decide your uninformed opinions must be correct, since you believe in them so strongly. Then, of course, I’ll rename this blog to “Dietary Wisdom Based On The Uninformed And Unsubstantiated Opinions of Marcus.”

    Not going to happen. And I’m certainly not going to waste any more of my busy days talking to a wall. Instead (if you choose to waste your own time with pointless and endless arguing), I’ll simply agree with absolutely everything you say and bid you good-day. I explained why in this post:

    http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2010/12/13/arguing-with-idiots/

    Reply
  7. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    I *know* that exercise leads to weight loss. The only time it doesn’t is if you stuff your face after you exercise, thereby consuming more calories than you burn. This is why you need more nuance in your arguments. It’s not that exercise doesn’t lead to weight loss – it certainly can be a great tool for that purpose. But you’re right, gorging at McDonald’s after the gym likely won’t have the desired effect. Do we really need a bunch of studies to tell us that?

    re: survey research. I know you’ll look for ways to discredit any information that doesn’t confirm your prior-held beliefs (see that confirmation bias link I sent you), but you really should at least be open to the possibility that you may be wrong. That’s what science is all about. At the very least you could admit that the science has produced mixed results with respect to eating at restaurants and gaining weight.

    On another note, how do you feel about New York restaurants being “forced” by big bad government to show caloric information on menus?

    I’ve expressed my opinion about the worthlessness of calorie-count menu laws in several posts. Look them up.

    I don’t dispute research that doesn’t match my preconceived notions. I dispute research that 1) proves nothing about causality, since it’s a weak association study and 2) is based on a food survey that required people to accurately remember what they’ve eaten for the past year. The inability of those surveys to accurately reflect actual food consumption is notorious.

    Marcus, here’s where we’re at: I’ve let you waste large chunks of my day by debating you, even though your method of debate consists entirely of repeating, in one form or another, some variation of “I’m right because I know I’m right” or linking to some lousy association study. If you truly understand science (I have my doubts), you know association studies aren’t proof (they are intended merely to produce a hypothesis to test in a clinical setting) and the conclusions drawn from them are often completely contradicted by clinical studies — the type that matter. For an idea of what a real scientist thinks of those studies, see this article:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/

    I reached my conclusions about the biochemistry of hunger and insulin resistance after reading extensively and conducting interviews with researchers in the field. I’m still in touch with with some of them. One even calls me at home now and then to discuss research and make suggestions for blog topics. (He likes my writing style, especially the humor.)

    Before that extensive reading, I believed exactly what you believe. I was ignorant of the biochemistry and thought fat people (myself included) simply needed to eat less and exercise more. When people I interviewed for the film told me I was wrong, I at first resisted. But unlike you, I was open-minded and examined the evidence. Presented with the evidence, I changed several beliefs I’d held for most of my life. Since making the film, I’ve also changed my previous opinion that high-GI foods like rice and potatoes induce insulin resistance. I saw evidence that while those foods spike blood sugar, which can certainly be bad, it’s far more likely that fructose is the prime mover in insulin resistance.

    So I’m not the one who isn’t open to changing my mind. You are. You have declared that weight loss is a matter of willpower, and you will obviously hang onto that belief for dear life rather than consider that you might be wrong. I listed the biochemistry involved in a series of points and asked you to tell me which points were wrong and why. You didn’t. You simply repeated that you’re right because you know you’re right. I asked why obese mice who were forced to eat 5% less ended up fatter and with less muscle mass as a result, since you just by gosh KNOW that “of course” they would burn fatty acids when hunger set in. You never answered. I asked why, if it’s all about willpower, people on low-carb diets spontaneously eat less and lose more weight than people on low-fat/low calorie diets, even though the low-carb dieters had no calorie restrictions whatsoever. You never answered. I asked how, given the known biological fact that elevated insulin inhibits lipolysis, your statement that “of course” people with elevated insulin will burn fatty acids instead of muscle mass if they don’t eat when their glucose levels drop could possibly be true. You never answered.

    So in all seriousness, Marcus, you’re not actually debating. You’re simply arguing endlessly and pointlessly without offering any evidence to dispute what I’ve said about the metabolic process involved. Why, I can only guess. Apparently you believe that if you simply repeat yourself over and over and over and over and over and over, I’ll forget everything I’ve learned about the biochemistry of hunger, insulin and weight loss and decide your uninformed opinions must be correct, since you believe in them so strongly. Then, of course, I’ll rename this blog to “Dietary Wisdom Based On The Uninformed And Unsubstantiated Opinions of Marcus.”

    Not going to happen. And I’m certainly not going to waste any more of my busy days talking to a wall. Instead (if you choose to waste your own time with pointless and endless arguing), I’ll simply agree with absolutely everything you say and bid you good-day. I explained why in this post:

    http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2010/12/13/arguing-with-idiots/

    Reply
  8. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    Well fortunately for all of us you’ve shown your true colors. You’re not interested in debate, either. You interested in ad hominem attack and calling those who disagree with you “idiots.” That may fly in the comedy world, but in the intellectual world it just exposes your insecurities. You’ll note that *I* have never called you an idiot, a moron, uneducated. You might want to think about why you feel the need to call those you disagree with names.

    If you’re not interested in debate, that’s fine. I’ll happily claim victory and note, like many of the low-carb folks, you’ve given up when presented with evidence that doesn’t fit your pre-conceived notions. It’s a shame, really. You set out to create a documentary that heightens the discussion… in the end you only lowered it.

    You’re 100% correct, Marcus. Your tactic of repeating yourself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over without actually providing evidence to dispute the metabolic process I described or answering any of the challenging questions I asked proves your intellectual superiority, and was an absolutely, positively stunning rhetorical performance. You win. Declare victory and enjoy. I shall henceforth base all of my posts on your uninformed and unsubstantiated opinions.

    Reply
  9. Marcus

    @ Tom

    This reply just illustrates that you haven’t been reading what I have been writing. I have not, ever, disputed any of the metabolic process studies you have cited. What I have done, and this is important Tom, is debated what those studies *mean*. As a simple example vis-a-vis exercise, you seem to think that exercise increasing appetite MEANS that exercise isn’t a particularly useful tool for many people when it comes to weight loss. I don’t share that view. What I think the studies MEAN is that we need to educate people on *how* they should be incorporating exercise into their weight-loss strategy.

    So when you say things like “I don’t believe [exercise] is much of a weight-loss treatment.” I can’t help but point out that this is silly, as it’s not the exercise that is the problem.. it’s the eating afterward. It’s similar to suggesting that going to the gym isn’t good for exercise. Sure, that’s true. Because walking into the gym doesn’t nothing for you – it’s what you do there. Going to the gym is a tool that can be useful in become fitter and losing weight. Same thing with exercise. It won’t do you any good if you end up consuming more calories than you burn.

    Finally, in addition to what these studies mean, I also question to what extent they’re important. Remember, my original claim is that hormones matter on the margins. You still haven’t provided any evidence that hormones are the most significant causal factor in weight loss. It could be character. It could be genes. It could be environment. It could be any number of things. The way I look at it is that researchers have now provided us with yet one more piece to a very complicated and large puzzle. You’re acting like it is THE piece that solves the puzzle. I’m suggesting it is only one piece among many.

    Thank you for sharing your superior knowledge on the causes of weight gain and weight loss. If only someone with your extensive background in endocrinology had informed me that in spite of the amazing complexities of human metabolism, weight loss is a really just a simple matter of eating less and moving more, I could’ve saved myself untold hours reading up on the amazing complexities of human metabolism.

    Reply
  10. Marcus

    And you still haven’t explained why you feel the need to resort to terms like idiot and moron. Do you really feel that this is a good way to debate and argue?

    That will depend entirely on your opinion of those terms. What do you think I should think? I don’t want to disagree with you on anything, because that would prove I’m incapable of changing my mind.

    Reply
  11. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    Well fortunately for all of us you’ve shown your true colors. You’re not interested in debate, either. You interested in ad hominem attack and calling those who disagree with you “idiots.” That may fly in the comedy world, but in the intellectual world it just exposes your insecurities. You’ll note that *I* have never called you an idiot, a moron, uneducated. You might want to think about why you feel the need to call those you disagree with names.

    If you’re not interested in debate, that’s fine. I’ll happily claim victory and note, like many of the low-carb folks, you’ve given up when presented with evidence that doesn’t fit your pre-conceived notions. It’s a shame, really. You set out to create a documentary that heightens the discussion… in the end you only lowered it.

    You’re 100% correct, Marcus. Your tactic of repeating yourself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over without actually providing evidence to dispute the metabolic process I described or answering any of the challenging questions I asked proves your intellectual superiority, and was an absolutely, positively stunning rhetorical performance. You win. Declare victory and enjoy. I shall henceforth base all of my posts on your uninformed and unsubstantiated opinions.

    Reply
  12. Marcus

    @ Tom

    This reply just illustrates that you haven’t been reading what I have been writing. I have not, ever, disputed any of the metabolic process studies you have cited. What I have done, and this is important Tom, is debated what those studies *mean*. As a simple example vis-a-vis exercise, you seem to think that exercise increasing appetite MEANS that exercise isn’t a particularly useful tool for many people when it comes to weight loss. I don’t share that view. What I think the studies MEAN is that we need to educate people on *how* they should be incorporating exercise into their weight-loss strategy.

    So when you say things like “I don’t believe [exercise] is much of a weight-loss treatment.” I can’t help but point out that this is silly, as it’s not the exercise that is the problem.. it’s the eating afterward. It’s similar to suggesting that going to the gym isn’t good for exercise. Sure, that’s true. Because walking into the gym doesn’t nothing for you – it’s what you do there. Going to the gym is a tool that can be useful in become fitter and losing weight. Same thing with exercise. It won’t do you any good if you end up consuming more calories than you burn.

    Finally, in addition to what these studies mean, I also question to what extent they’re important. Remember, my original claim is that hormones matter on the margins. You still haven’t provided any evidence that hormones are the most significant causal factor in weight loss. It could be character. It could be genes. It could be environment. It could be any number of things. The way I look at it is that researchers have now provided us with yet one more piece to a very complicated and large puzzle. You’re acting like it is THE piece that solves the puzzle. I’m suggesting it is only one piece among many.

    Thank you for sharing your superior knowledge on the causes of weight gain and weight loss. If only someone with your extensive background in endocrinology had informed me that in spite of the amazing complexities of human metabolism, weight loss is a really just a simple matter of eating less and moving more, I could’ve saved myself untold hours reading up on the amazing complexities of human metabolism.

    Reply
  13. Marcus

    And you still haven’t explained why you feel the need to resort to terms like idiot and moron. Do you really feel that this is a good way to debate and argue?

    That will depend entirely on your opinion of those terms. What do you think I should think? I don’t want to disagree with you on anything, because that would prove I’m incapable of changing my mind.

    Reply
  14. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    I encourage you to continue learning about the human metabolism. Indeed for those unwilling to exercise or reduce their food intake, the metabolism studies may indeed be pretty important. For those of us who can control what we put in our bodies, however, don’t really need the intricate knowledge as it’s mostly irrelevant.

    You are 100% correct as usual, Marcus. The problem with the 98% percent of people who fail to lose weight on “eat less / move more” programs is that they lack your superior intellect, discipline, and willpower. Biochemistry has nothing to do with their failure to lose weight, and of course knowledge of metabolism is completely irrelevant for superior human beings such as yourself. Therefore, biochemistry need not be considered when designing weight-loss programs. If only everyone was just like you, there would be no obesity problem today. I thank you for explaining it to me.

    Reply
  15. Marcus

    @ Tom

    Well that’s certainly true by definition. I’m not obese, so if everyone was like me, we wouldn’t have an obesity problem. See, you *are* learning.

    Now, as for my diet (which we know works), here is what I do: I make sure that I burn more calories than I eat. It’s hard sometimes. Having that 4th beer is fun. Eating at McDonald’s can be a joy. A nice slice of seared foie gras is delic. But hey, who said diets were easy?

    The great thing about my diet is that you can eat whatever you want. Carbs, fat, whatever. Just don’t eat more of it than you burn. Pretty simple philosophy, really. Difficult in our society since we’re used to overconsuming and huge portion sizes, but it can be done.

    But it does take willpower. You got that absolutely right.

    My suggestion for you would be to relax. Maybe have a beer. (Oops, you can’t.. too many carbs – I forgot). In any event, try to calm down and realize that you don’t have all the answers. Some of us with old ideas might actually have a point. 😉

    You are 100% correct, Marcus. The mere fact that I’ve spent so much time showing up on your blog and arguing endlessly and pointlessly with you without actually offering any evidence that your views on metabolism are wrong speaks volumes about my need to relax. I will try to stop obsessing on you, get a life, and cease being an annoying jackass with a weird compulsion to endlessly repeat my uninformed but nonetheless strong opinions. This will be difficult for me, since I’m not blessed with the superior willpower, intellect and discipline that keeps you thin, but I’ll do my best.

    Reply
  16. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    Just doing my part in educating your audience on some, *ahem*, more scientifically sound viewpoints. 😉

    I appreciate you sharing your deep understanding of metabolism and fat accumulation with my audience, Marcus. Most of them were completely unaware of the theory that losing weight is simple matter of eating less, moving more, and exerting superior willpower. I suspect they’ll all try that method now — most of them for the first time ever.

    If only someone could get your message across to the population as a whole, I’m sure the obesity problem would soon be a distant memory.

    Reply
    1. JStheguy

      Marcus, you are the hero America needs. Your compelling argument of “MOVE YOU FAT PRICKS!” has changed my life forever, Michell Obummer is going to send you a loaf of hearthealthywholegrain bread, just for you.

      Reply
  17. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    I encourage you to continue learning about the human metabolism. Indeed for those unwilling to exercise or reduce their food intake, the metabolism studies may indeed be pretty important. For those of us who can control what we put in our bodies, however, don’t really need the intricate knowledge as it’s mostly irrelevant.

    You are 100% correct as usual, Marcus. The problem with the 98% percent of people who fail to lose weight on “eat less / move more” programs is that they lack your superior intellect, discipline, and willpower. Biochemistry has nothing to do with their failure to lose weight, and of course knowledge of metabolism is completely irrelevant for superior human beings such as yourself. Therefore, biochemistry need not be considered when designing weight-loss programs. If only everyone was just like you, there would be no obesity problem today. I thank you for explaining it to me.

    Reply
  18. Marcus

    @ Tom

    Well that’s certainly true by definition. I’m not obese, so if everyone was like me, we wouldn’t have an obesity problem. See, you *are* learning.

    Now, as for my diet (which we know works), here is what I do: I make sure that I burn more calories than I eat. It’s hard sometimes. Having that 4th beer is fun. Eating at McDonald’s can be a joy. A nice slice of seared foie gras is delic. But hey, who said diets were easy?

    The great thing about my diet is that you can eat whatever you want. Carbs, fat, whatever. Just don’t eat more of it than you burn. Pretty simple philosophy, really. Difficult in our society since we’re used to overconsuming and huge portion sizes, but it can be done.

    But it does take willpower. You got that absolutely right.

    My suggestion for you would be to relax. Maybe have a beer. (Oops, you can’t.. too many carbs – I forgot). In any event, try to calm down and realize that you don’t have all the answers. Some of us with old ideas might actually have a point. 😉

    You are 100% correct, Marcus. The mere fact that I’ve spent so much time showing up on your blog and arguing endlessly and pointlessly with you without actually offering any evidence that your views on metabolism are wrong speaks volumes about my need to relax. I will try to stop obsessing on you, get a life, and cease being an annoying jackass with a weird compulsion to endlessly repeat my uninformed but nonetheless strong opinions. This will be difficult for me, since I’m not blessed with the superior willpower, intellect and discipline that keeps you thin, but I’ll do my best.

    Reply
  19. Marcus

    @ Tom:

    Just doing my part in educating your audience on some, *ahem*, more scientifically sound viewpoints. 😉

    I appreciate you sharing your deep understanding of metabolism and fat accumulation with my audience, Marcus. Most of them were completely unaware of the theory that losing weight is simple matter of eating less, moving more, and exerting superior willpower. I suspect they’ll all try that method now — most of them for the first time ever.

    If only someone could get your message across to the population as a whole, I’m sure the obesity problem would soon be a distant memory.

    Reply
    1. JStheguy

      Marcus, you are the hero America needs. Your compelling argument of “MOVE YOU FAT PRICKS!” has changed my life forever, Michell Obummer is going to send you a loaf of hearthealthywholegrain bread, just for you.

      Reply
  20. Wanda

    Any low carber in my little hick town would probably share my frustration in that there isn’t really any good restaurant to get a decent sized low carb meal. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is predominantly italian, which means LOTS of handmade pizza and pasta, and not much else. We don’t even have a seafood restaurant. All meals are pretty much your standard 6-8 oz of meat or fish, with pasta, potato or rice sides and bread on the table.

    The biggest problem is that when we do go out, I usually end up disappointed, knowing that I would have done a much better job of the meal at home, portion AND flavour wise. Maybe i should open a low carb restaurant– if I did you can be sure that it would be a whole lot more than just bunless burgers, and bacon would not be considered junk food!

    That would be frustrating. I’m glad there are plenty of steak and seafood restaurants around here.

    Reply

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