Modern Scientific Controversies Part 4: The Obesity Epidemic

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen


Prologue:  This is the fourth in a series of  essays that will discuss ongoing scientific controversies, a specific type of which are often referred to in the science press and elsewhere as “Wars” – for instance, The Salt Wars.  This essay covers the Obesity Epidemic, aka The Obesity Wars.  The purpose of the series is to illuminate the similarities and differences involved in each of these wars.   Warning:  This is not a short essay.  Dig in when you have time to read a longer piece.

Trigger Warning:  This essay is about obesity – the condition of being fat or overweight.  It is about being overweight, body size, fatness;  it is about all the problems that accompany that condition.   If reading about these topics will cause you any emotional distress or make you feel unsafe or threatened in any way  – stop reading here.

Stephen Hawking is a very smart guy, a very very smart guy.  But like some smart guys in other fields, he can make very foolish statements based on ideas that are commonly believed but almost entirely inaccurate.

In a video produced by Gen-Pep, a Swedish non-profit organization “that works to spread knowledge and get people involved in promoting the health of children and young people”, Hawking made the following statements:

[Important Note:  Stephen Hawking, as you probably know, is and has been severely physically handicapped, suffering from ALS, and has been wheelchair bound since the late 1960s.  His experiences with diet and exercise are not, by necessity, the same as for you and me.   Neither human physiology nor human medicine are his fields of study.  I do not know why he was called upon to make this promotional video for Gen-Pep.]

Hawking starts off by saying: “At the moment, humanity faces a major challenge and millions of lives are in danger…”

“As a cosmologist I see the world as a whole and I’m here to address one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century.”

“Today, too many people die from complications related to overweight and obesity.”

“We eat too much and move too little.”

“Fortunately, the solution is simple.”

“More physical activity and change in diet.”

When Hawking says these things he is simply repeating the official opinions of almost every major medical and health organization in the world:

The US Surgeon General:

“… the fundamental reason that our children are overweight is this: Too many children are eating too much and moving too little.

In some cases, solving the problem is as easy as turning off the television and keeping the lid on the cookie jar.”

The UK’s National Health Service:

“Obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little.”

The UN’s World Health Organization:

“The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:   

an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat;


an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.”

The National Institutes of Health tell us:

“What Causes Overweight and Obesity?

Lack of Energy Balance

Overweight and obesity happen over time when you take in more calories than you use.

An Inactive Lifestyle

People who are inactive are more likely to gain weight because they don’t burn the calories that they take in from food and drinks.” 

Of course, the NIH goes on to list the following as “other causes…”:

“Environment, Genes and Family History, Health Conditions, Medicines,  Emotional Factors,  Smoking,  Age,  Pregnancy and  Lack of Sleep”

Everyone knows that the causes of obesity are eating too much and not exercising enough.  All the major federal agencies, the United Nations,  and the learned societies agree.

So how is this a Modern Scientific Controversy?

Simple:  They are all wrong. Just how wrong are they on this issue?  Just how wrong is Stephen Hawking on this issue?

Almost entirely wrong.

Bruce Y. Lee, associated with the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was so concerned by Hawking’s  message that he was prompted to write an article for Forbes magazine titled “Stephen Hawking Is Right But Also Wrong About Obesity”.

Let me be perfectly clear:  The obesity epidemic is a major challenge for medical science and public health because, quite simply, we have almost no idea whatever as to the true cause(s) of the phenomena, or, in another sense, we have too many ideas about the cause(s) of obesity.

In fact, Gina Kolata, in the Health section of the NY Times, says that Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of nutrition at Harvard,

“…likes to challenge his audience when he gives lectures on obesity.

“If you want to make a great discovery,” he tells them, figure out this: Why do some people lose 50 pounds on a diet while others on the same diet gain a few pounds?

Then he shows them data from a study he did that found exactly that effect.

Dr. Sacks’s challenge is a question at the center of obesity research today. Two people can have the same amount of excess weight, they can be the same age, the same socioeconomic class, the same race, the same gender. And yet a treatment that works for one will do nothing for the other.”

Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the obesity, metabolism and nutrition institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, is quoted by Kolata as saying:

“It makes as much sense to insist there is one way to prevent all types of obesity — get rid of sugary sodas, clear the stores of junk foods, shun carbohydrates, eat breakfast, get more sleep — as it does to say you can avoid lung cancer by staying out of the sun, a strategy specific to skin cancer.”

But wait, what about our beloved Stephen Hawking’s “Fortunately, the solution is simple.  More physical activity and change in diet.”?  Well, frankly, that is not just wrong, that’s utter nonsense.

Dr. Kaplan and his associates have identified, so far, fifty-nine (59) different types of obesity.

Dr. Stephen O’Rahilly,   head of the department of clinical biochemistry and medicine at Cambridge University, and his group,  have identified 25 genes “with such powerful effects that if one is mutated, a person is pretty much guaranteed to become obese.”

Many of these genetic disorders are on the rare side, but Ruth Loos and her team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, have other evidence – that any one of 300 different genes may be involved in the tendency to overweight, and that each gene can add to the effect of the others—add to the genetic propensity for overweight and obesity.  “It is more likely that people inherit a collection of genes, each of which predispose them to a small weight gain in the right environment….each may contribute just a few pounds but the effects add up in those who inherit a collection of them.”

There are more than three dozen available therapies (Dr. Kaplan claims to have 40 at his disposal) for overweight and obesity, and 15 different drugs.   Using them is guided by experience and plain old-fashioned trial-and-error.

Bariatric surgery, in which the size of the stomach is physically altered by various means, is a drastic last resort for the profoundly obese.

Only the last mentioned treatment, bariatric surgery, is universally successful at bringing about a major and permanent reduction in the body weight of the obese.

In June of 2013, the American Medical Association announced that it had classified obesity as a disease.  This event was covered by the NY Times – in the business–not science—section:

“The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments.

In making the decision, delegates at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago overrode a recommendation against doing so by a committee that had studied the matter.

“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” Dr. Patrice Harris, a member of the association’s board, said in a statement. She suggested the new definition would help in the fight against Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are linked to obesity.”

 “The vote of the A.M.A. House of Delegates went against the conclusions of the association’s Council on Science and Public Health, which had studied the issue over the last year. The council said that obesity should not be considered a disease mainly because the measure usually used to define obesity, the body mass index, is simplistic and flawed.”

The move by the AMA was hugely controversial within the medical community.  In fact, it prompted an editorial from the editors of the journal of the Australian Medical Association, Lee Stoner and Jon Cornwall,  titled “Did the American Medical Association make the correct decision classifying obesity as a disease?

“The American Medical Association (AMA) recently classified obesity a disease, defining obesity as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) measure above 30. This  decision went against the advice of its own Public Health and Science Committee, and has sparked widespread discontent and discussion amongst medical and healthcare communities. The fact that this classification has been made has potential ramifications for health care around the world, and many factors need to be considered in deciding whether the decision to make obesity a disease is in fact appropriate.”

“Are we classifying obesity correctly?

“Before considering whether obesity should be considered a disease, we must question the suitability of BMI as a rubric. The assumption is that the ratio between height and weight provides an index of body fatness. However, there is an imperfect association between BMI and body fatness, and BMI does not and cannot distinguish adipose type and distribution. While total body fat is important, studies have shown that central adiposity (e.g., visceral fat) poses a higher risk for developing disorders associated with obesity than overall body fatness. There are superior anthropometric indices of central adiposity, including waist-to-hip ratio, yet BMI continues to be the criterion owing to previous widespread and historical use despite its obvious shortcomings. Using the BMI tool, incorrect clinical categorisation of “overweight” or “obese” is common. Therefore, this editorial accepts that the AMA has selected an imperfect tool for classifying obesity, and will hereafter focus on the theoretical notion of obesity.”

“Undeniably, obesity is a risk factor associated with a clustering of complications, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and type 2 diabetes, each of which independently and additively increase cardiovascular disease risk. However, obesity is exactly that—a risk factor. Being obese does not necessarily equate to poor health, despite the hormonal alterations that are associated with high body fat. Strong evidence has emerged suggesting that an adult may be “fat but fit”, and that being fat and fit is actually better than being lean and unfit.”

The Australian Medical Association’s editorial wraps up with this:


Obesity has reached pandemic proportions, is strongly associated with myriad co-morbid complications, and is leading to a progressive economic and social burden. However, being obese does not necessarily equate to poor health, and evidence suggests individuals may be fat but fit. Perhaps most importantly, labelling obesity a disease may absolve personal responsibility and encourage a hands-off approach to health behaviour. This knowledge raises the question of morality, as individuals must now choose whether they will invest effort into maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to free society of the healthcare burden associated with obesity. Given the myriad issues surrounding the decision to classify obesity in this way, perhaps a new question should be posed in order for society to continue this discussion: who benefits most from labelling obesity a disease?”

And what about a cure?  Is it possible, short of radical invasive surgery, to help an obese person permanently lose enough weight to become a normal weighted person?

If the learned societies, and Stephen Hawking, are correct  in stating that obesity is as simple as eating too much and exercising too little, then the obvious cure is to take obese people, feed them less and exercise them more.

Let’s go back and look at the results from Dr. Frank Sacks,  professor of nutrition at Harvard, and his study “Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates”.


At 6 months, participants assigned to each diet had lost an average of 6 kg [13 lbs], which represented 7% of their initial weight; they began to regain weight after 12 months. By 2 years, weight loss remained similar in those who were assigned to …[the four diets, ranging from 6 to 9 lbs]…Among the 80% of participants who completed the trial, the average weight loss was 4 kg [ 9 lbs]; 14 to 15% of the participants had a reduction of at least 10% of their initial body weight. Satiety, hunger, satisfaction with the diet, and attendance at group sessions were similar for all diets; attendance was strongly associated with weight loss (0.2 kg per session attended). The diets improved lipid-related risk factors and fasting insulin levels.

 Digging in a little more, we find that:

“At 2 years, 31 to 37% of the participants had lost at least 5% of their initial body weight, 14 to 15% of the participants in each diet group had lost at least 10% of their initial weight, and 2 to 4% had lost 20 kg [45 lbs] or more (P>0.20 for the comparisons between diets).”

These are serious weight loss diets, closely supervised, with group and individual reinforcement sessions, for 2 years.  Only 2 to 4% of the participants lost truly substantial amounts of weight that would reclassify them as normal weight persons.   The rest of the participants lost those easy first 10-15 pounds in the first six months, but after a year, they began to regain their lost weight, despite staying on the diet and receiving group counseling, to end up with average loss, for 80% of the participants, of 9 pounds [4 kg], after two years of supervised dieting.

Let’s see what these results mean for those suffering from obesity:


 I’ve added three colored dumbbells, showing just what a permanent 10% reduction in body weight means for three sample obese patients.  Two have managed to move from Morbidly Obese to Obese, and one is still Obese.  We have not considered the more extreme cases, which are not rare – persons weighing > 286 lbs.    You can picture for yourself what the loss of 9 lbs would represent for you or someone you know who is far too heavy.

The real finding is that under a strict diet, most people can generally (but not always) lose 10-15 pounds if they are supported by counseling (professional or family).  With care, these people can keep most of those extra pounds off.  This benefits those whom who (h/t jsuther2013) are classified Overweight, but not generally those that are truly Obese, who remain obese after this weight loss.   Nonetheless, medical bio-markers do improve even with these fairly small weight loses.  Whether this improvement in bio-markers adds up to improved health and longevity is not known.

It is important to note that the above chart is based on the metric BMI which is under serious doubt within the obesity research community.

25 genes guaranteed to make you obese; 300 genes that add to each other to pack on pounds; 56 different types of obesity; 15 drugs; 40 therapies; three or four surgical approaches…definitely not simple, Mr. Hawking.

But that’s not all.

Erin Fothergill’s “Biggest Loser” study found:

“In conclusion, we found that “The Biggest Loser” participants regained a substantial amount of their lost weight in the 6 years since the competition but overall were quite successful at long-term weight loss compared with other lifestyle interventions. Despite substantial weight regain, a large persistent metabolic adaptation was detected. Contrary to expectations, the degree of metabolic adaptation at the end of the competition was not associated with weight regain, but those with greater long-term weight loss also had greater ongoing metabolic slowing. Therefore, long-term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation that acts to proportionally counter ongoing efforts to reduce body weight.”

What this means is that a person’s body fights back against weight loss and adapts its base metabolic rate to burn fewer calories while resting in an apparent attempt to regain weight lost by dieting and thus maintain a set weight point under conditions of lower caloric intake.  This study was such big news that it is featured in the New York Times’ “Medical and Health News That Stuck With Us in 2016”.

Eleonora Ponterio and Lucio Gnessi, in their study “Adenovirus 36 and Obesity: An Overview” report that:

“…the data indicating a possible link between viral infection and obesity with a particular emphasis to the Adv36 will be reviewed.”

Thus, the Obesity Epidemic might be just that, an infectious epidemic.

In a study titled “Trim28 Haploinsufficiency Triggers Bi-stable Epigenetic Obesity”, Andrew Pospisilik and team found that there are titillating hints that epigentics may play a role in determining who is fat and who is lean, even when they generally share the same genes (closely related individuals) , or in the case of identical twins, exactly the same genes.

No, the obesity epidemic is far from Hawking’s,  “Fortunately, the solution is simple.” And the solution to obesity is orders of magnitude more complicated than  “More physical activity and change in diet.”    In fact, universally reliable solutions to the problem of obesity do not yet exist.

There is nothing clearer from obesity research than that the simplistic policies of the federal health agencies and the learned societies – all of which were summarized by Stephen Hawking —  “Eat Less & Exercise More” are totally inadequate to address the problem and are not based on scientific evidence.  The “Eat Less & Exercise More” policies include the war on sugar and the war on soda – they cannot and will not make a clinically important difference in public health.


  1. The kernel of truth in obesity studies is that consuming more calories (food energy) than one expends can lead to weight gain–energy stored as fat.
  2. Reversing this does not lead to a remedy for obesity – eating less and exercising more is not a cure for obesity.
  3. The reality of the problem of obesity is vastly more complex and only vaguely understood at this time.
  4. Current public policy on obesity is almost universally based on #1 above, ignoring #2 and #3. Thus, this public policy – no matter how strenuously enforced through education, indoctrination, regulation of the food industry, punitive taxation, etc will not resolve the Obesity Epidemic.
  5. On a positive note, the recommendation that people “eat less and exercise more” will not hurt anyone [with the rare exception of the profoundly underweight, the  anorexic, etc] but, in general, will actually improve most people’s health even though it may have no effect whatever on their weight status.
  6. The Obesity Wars share the common feature seen in other modern scientific controversies —  public government agencies and scientific [and medical] associations forming a consensus behind a single solution, one known to be ineffective, to a complex problem – uniting in a broad effort to enforce the ineffective solution on the general public through regulations, laws, and mis-education. 

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Author’s Comment Policy: 

I have utilized only a tiny fraction of the information I have collected on this topic in the writing of this essay.  Readers familiar with the literature on the topic will notice this immediately.  This is not due to ignorance or laziness on my part – I have been constrained by the necessity of keeping the essay to a readable length, without unduly stretching the patience of you, my readers.

I realize that many readers here will want to move on immediately to discuss the Climate Wars – one of the distinctive science wars of our day.  I ask that you please try to restrain yourselves

The last essay in the series will be an attempt to lay out a coherent pattern of modern science wars and maybe suggest ways that the different science fields themselves can break these patterns and return their specific area of science back to the standards and practices that should exist in all scientific endeavors.

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ken h
December 17, 2016 11:02 am

BMI ignores muscle mass. I’m considered “overweight” at 5’7″ and 175 pounds, but the reality is that I have low body fat and plenty of muscle.

Reply to  ken h
December 17, 2016 12:09 pm

In general, the BMI index was created by desk jockeys for desk jockeys. After some time, some realized that BMI don’t apply for children, so there’s one index for them now too. BMI doesn’t include bone density/mass either. (The cAGW crew don’t bother about all important factors either. Only those which suits the propaganda …)
I have came across some doctors that truly believes in BMI and they have been comfused, when told that there’s a number of people that don’t fit into idea of BMI. This include very short, very tall and athletic people.
In many cases, it’s better to check for the existens of ‘love handles’.

Reply to  SasjaL
December 17, 2016 12:35 pm

“the body mass index, is simplistic and flawed.”
Oh what a surprise ! You don’t need a degree in medicine to work that out.
That’s about as dumb and simplistic as suggesting global mean temperature is determined by one factor like the atmospheric concentration of CO2.
The trouble is they assume the rest of the population are complete morons and if they present us with more than one explanatory variable we will be confused, go into neurological melt down and end up in a corner sucking out thumbs and rocking back and forth uncontrollably.

Reply to  SasjaL
December 17, 2016 1:21 pm

Isn’t BMI more of an insurance than a medical thing?

Reply to  rebelronin
December 17, 2016 2:17 pm

Could be. In Sweden, it is common in some kind of business (like heavy industry), to buy services from private healthcare companies, to make sure that their employees has good health and find out if the working environment might cause anything. Those healthcare companies I’ve been in contact with, are very keen on using BMI as tool to present the results for their customers. For the company buing the service, it could be considered as an insurance, sort of, albeit deceptive in some cases.
At the health checkup, when they are starting to talk about BMI, I present my view on the matter. As a result, they don’t bother to do any measures involved, as they know my arguments are true. I think that within the healthcare, they shouldn’t deal with something so inprecise/rough as BMI is.

Reply to  SasjaL
December 17, 2016 1:48 pm

HUH? Insurance is something that pays out when you are in trouble. BMI just says ” you’re fat sucker, your fault”.
No, BMI is : dumb it down so the morons can follow us.
CAGW is: we want to destroy capitalism but if we say so it ain’t gonna work, so we’ll say “carbon is bad, think of the children”.
We have not quite worked out what we want instead but we’ll work on that one later.

Reply to  SasjaL
December 17, 2016 3:43 pm

but we can have a global temperature…lol

Reply to  SasjaL
December 18, 2016 7:46 am

One rarely-reported FACT not covered in this article is that BMI’s between 27 and 33 actually live LONGER, with lower morbidity and mortality than “normals” and the thin. This is what “the science” ACTUALLY proves, yet no one wants you to know this due to billions of dollars in the diet and gym markets not to mention the vested interests of the fashion industry. In other times, robustness was considered a sign of health and wealth. There are many (odd) social factors today driving the desire to appear emaciated in the midst of plenty. Ref: “The Obesity Myth” by Paul Campos. Bottom line: Medically, “obesity” is a very gentle risk factor until you hit the extremes; it’s actually far worse to be too thin.

Reply to  ken h
December 17, 2016 1:31 pm

I was, too.
Older and plumper [and need to shed s little – a hundredweight, my doctors say – taking me to my weight at 13 – winning Borough Furlong sprint titles, then shot/discus hammer titles].
That said, the simplistic ‘Eat less, Move more’ will help.
Some folk. A bit. Much – not all – of the time. a Bit – sometimes.

Reply to  ken h
December 17, 2016 2:38 pm

ken h
I would say exactly the same. I’m 6 foot 1-2 and weigh around 100 kg, a little more after Christmas. I was athletic and did rowing in my early years and still run and work out occasionally and have muscle mass a little above average. On the chart I’m borderline overweight and obese, which is nonsense – I feel that I’m only borderline overweight. Or maybe global warming skeptics have heavier brains?

Reply to  ken h
December 17, 2016 5:01 pm

It ignores bone density as well. My bones are so dense that I am not a good candidate for chest x-rays for diagnosis of lung conditions, e.g. pneumonia (when I’ve had it). Two people of the same height, weight and gender could be drastically different in body appearance and composition based on their bones as well.

Anne Ominous
Reply to  ken h
December 17, 2016 7:12 pm

Indeed. One of the biggest problems in this “obesity epidemic” meme is the gross and consistent use of BMI as an indicator of obesity. It simply is not.
BMI was intended for other medical purposes. To use it as an indicator of obesity is the worst kind of statistical abuse: trying to apply population averages to individuals. It is well-known that racial profiling is a bankrupt crime-fighting technique for this same reason. Population averages tell us close to nothing about any given individual.
According to BMI, most serious bodybuilders are grossly obese; yet in fact they probably have far less body fat than your average person on the street.

Charles Higley
Reply to  ken h
December 17, 2016 8:13 pm

It is indeed possible to exercise and diet and gain weight as you exchange low density fat for higher density muscle. However, the big problem is that no one addresses the fact that we are not suited for consuming carbohydrates every day. It was never meant to be a regular part of our diet let alone a major portion of out intake.
We are 95+% carnivore and used to take large and small animals. Vegetables and fruits were only available in late summer and fall, and like bears, we would bulk up on carbos in the fall and put on fat for the winter. We are pre-disposed to produce fat from carbohydrates, which would be anything more than what it takes, in a a given meal, to top off our skin, muscle, and liver glycogen stores; the rest goes directly to fat. That is why carbo-landing the night before a major sports event was so stupid, producing only a mental advantage while the athletes themselves are fatter.
Until we admit that we are carnivores and cut out the carbohydrates, obesity and heart disease will continue. It is the high glucose concentrations that irritate arterial linings, thus allowing entrance of small lipoproteins (small because they are low on cholesterol) which cause further irritation and atherosclerosis, aka heart disease. With a higher cholesterol intake and low carbohydrate intake, the irritation is avoided because the arterial lining is not irritated and the larger lipoproteins cannot enter. Atherosclerosis, if ti has not reached the scarring stage, is reversible. There is even the possibility that the normal hardening of the arteries that is expected with aging is not even normal but an artifact of our messed up diet. Blood pressure does not have to go up as we age.

Reply to  Charles Higley
December 17, 2016 8:18 pm

I forgot to mention that polyunsaturated oils are also a negative as they are oxidation risks and much harder to metabolize. Saturated fats and cholesterol are completely normal and good for us. Males with higher cholesterol tend to live longer. One reason cholesterol rises in many people is the bodies effort to heal itself, Instead, we give people liver toxins to prevent the body from making the cholesterol it so desires. Statin drugs have not decreased heart disease at all but do increase liver failure and liver cancer. So, why are they pushing these drugs? It’s a billion dollar industry, that’s why. They are even making noises that we should put children on statins, basically just to sell more drugs.

Reply to  Charles Higley
December 17, 2016 9:30 pm

Human teeth, digestive tract and digestive enzymes are no way made for being 95% a carnivore. Carnivores have short intestines, big canine teeth and their molars aren’t made for doing lots of grinding chewing. Note the diet of the most similar creature to humans, the chimpanzee – they eat mostly fruits and nuts but they are occasionally predators. What humans are not made for is being sedentary.

Reply to  Charles Higley
December 18, 2016 4:18 am

Exactly. The last few years have seen the bio-chemists complete all the chemical reactions of the metabolic cycle literally from end to end. The Governments diet promote low-fat, low protein which means a high-carb diet. The thumbnail process is
1. eat carbs;
2. carbs are immediately converted to sugar;
3. sugars cannot be “eaten” by the cells directly
4. the body produces insulin to bind with the carbs, also almost immediately
5. the cells bind with insulin which is the pathway for sugars into the cell
6. eat more carbs, get more insulin.
7. the cells can only use so much energy, (insulin resistance)
8. more insulin is produced (sugars are really bad in the body)
9. the sugars, not able to be used by the cells, are shoved into the fat cells.
10. continue overeating carbs and you get profound insulin resistance which produces more fat.
11. the fat accumulates in the cells around the belly — obesity
You can walk around Walmart and pick out the folks that have insulin resistance. Most do.
Insulin resistance (used to be called metabolic syndrome) is the precursor to obesity AND heart disease. Obesity is the precursor to type II diabetes.
In a nutshell, its all about the diet. Oh, and most fats are just fine. It’s the trans-fats that are really bad. If you want to live without obesity, the solution is changing to diets that are high-fat, low carb. Even with very little exercise you’ll avoid obesity. Eat eggs,dairy products, olive oils, butter and protein and reduce as much as you can the carbs (SUGAR) that you eat. For example, if you eat a “healthy bagel” with a fruit jam you’ve just consumed over 100 grams of sugar (carbs convert directly to sugar). It’s like eating 4 or 5 teaspoons of table sugar.
Do internet searches on insulin resistance and diet. You can start with chemist Ivor Cummins for example: start at 5:35
(longer one )
It’s really simple — stop eating sugar (carbs and table sugars) by limiting carbs to less than 100 grams a day. Search the net for high-fat, low carb diet sites (example

Reply to  Charles Higley
December 18, 2016 7:18 am

Excess calories in any form make you fat, and pets get overweight on carb-free diets and get diabetes. It is helpful to read the Wikipedia articles on insulin and Diabetes mellitus type 2 – I consider that more credible than explanations by those saying eating over 100 grams of carbs a day is bad. Look at how much low carb diets are and have been promoted; there’s money behind that. Even grain farmers make more money if you eat more meat and poultry and less grain. I remember one saying that went around, obviously promoted by those who want us to eat more meat/poultry, is: “Carbs are what food eats.”

Reply to  ken h
December 18, 2016 3:45 am

This essay says nothing about the real controversy – about good quality research that challenges the dietary dogma about saturated fats and cholesterol, calories, polyunsaturated oils, “healthy” whole grains etc.
There are excellent books about this: Gary Taubes’ “Good calories, bad calories”, Nina Teichholz’s “The big fat surprise”, to name just two.

Reply to  ken h
December 18, 2016 8:16 am

I remember one of the members of the Athletic team, having skinfold measurements done as part of physical education. The result of this measurement was the was ‘Obese.’ He was one of the champion athletes. This caused me to research BMI and skinfold measurements, and decide not to worry about them
too much. Just eat healthy and keep fit, and not worry about them too much.
At the medical clinic that I have attended, they will weigh people dressed in full winter layers, then come up with the result that they need to loose weight. Funny how you weigh more in the winter, dressed in lots of clothing.
Does anyone here have any thoughts about the composition of flour in Eastern Europe versus the United States. I notice on my last trip to Ukraine I ate a lot, but did not put on weight, which surprised me. I ate a lot of carbohydrates which I tend to avoid in the United States, as I put on weight when I eat them.

Power Grab
Reply to  James
December 18, 2016 1:04 pm

Isn’t Roundup (Glyphosate) outlawed in Europe? If it is, and the farmers in Europe aren’t using it as a pre-harvest dessicant on their wheat, then that would be one big difference. Since that chemical is especially harmful to beneficial bacteria, avoiding it can help you maintain a healthier balance in your gut flora. So, avoiding that chemical can help you maintain a healthier weight (and avoid obesity).
I’d like to know if Europe uses chloramine in their tap water, like the US started doing in 2010 as a result of rule changes dictated by the EPA.

Reply to  ken h
December 18, 2016 5:22 pm

Goldrider wrote, ‘Medically, “obesity” is a very gentle risk factor until you hit the extremes; it’s actually far worse to be too thin.’
But isn’t that because the thin have a high % of individuals who smoke or are already ill. If you remove the smokers and the already ill, the ideal weight group- 10% below normal- has greater longevity than the healthy overweight cohort.

Reply to  ken h
December 19, 2016 5:36 pm

“The kernel of truth in obesity studies is that consuming more calories (food energy) than one expends can lead to weight gain–energy stored as fat.”
This is exactly wrong. Caloric imbalance is not the proper explanation. Obesity is a hormonal disease related to insulin. Without going any further, I’m passing along those links concerning Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian kidney specialist who, along with other doctors and researchers, is leading a paradigm shift in the understanding of obesity and its corollary, diabetes.
His web site:
The book he has recently published on the subject : The Obesity Code

Joe E
Reply to  ken h
December 20, 2016 12:11 pm

I got a good laugh from my doctor who said my BMI showed I was overweight as well. I’m also 5’7″ and weigh about 165-168 (depending), 57 years old and am an avid surfer, even in NY winters! He calls me one of his most healthful 57 year olds he knows due to other factors; low cholesterol, low blood pressure, low pulse and resting heartbeat. Should I lose the 3-5 lbs to get me into the “normal” range based on some good-two shoes bogus studies and conclusions? I think not…

December 17, 2016 11:02 am

If alarmists really wanted to reduce CO2 emissions, they would push cycling, which would have the added benefit of giving people exercise and being part of the solution to several problems at once. This is one of the many reasons that I doubt the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change.

Kaiser Derden
Reply to  Cameron Melin
December 17, 2016 1:20 pm

a bicycling human emits alot more CO2 than a sedentary human (or in the state preferred by the warmists, dead)

Reply to  Cameron Melin
December 17, 2016 1:24 pm

If Global Warming scientists were really smart they would spin this obesity epidemic into 24k gold by making the claim that increasing CO2 levels have in fact created the obesity epidemic.
It goes like this…
Increasing global temperatures due to CO2 emissions have decreased the amount of calories needed to keep our bodies warm. We then store those unburnt calories as fat which the graph below proves is causing this epidemic.
Notice the major obesity increase after the 1970’s cold snap followed by the decrease when “the pause” began around the year 2000? The science is now IN and the debate is OVER. I will not be answering any further questions from any obesity deniers.
Willing to perform more Global Warming science for $$$. Call me.

Robert B
Reply to  SC
December 17, 2016 6:20 pm

I’ll jump in here. I made a comment a while back on lies, damn lies and statistics. The Victorian (AUS) Department of Health had a press release on a study that showed Australian women were getting fatter since the last survey a decade before, creating scary news headlines. A closer look showed that only one category changed a great deal since the previous survey – women 110kg plus in the 45-65 category almost doubled. Looks like modern medical advances led to a huge reduction in deaths of women in their 30s and 40s from being morbidly obese so the average went up.

Anne Ominous
Reply to  SC
December 17, 2016 7:14 pm

That isn’t an “obesity increase”, it’s a “BMI increase”.
The two are VERY FAR from the same, and I for one would be very grateful if people would stop mis-using BMI as a general indicator of obesity. It isn’t.

Reply to  SC
December 17, 2016 9:55 pm

Those graphs correlate very well with and lag by a few years total calorie consumption since most people got cars and sedentary jobs. Have a look at
– which I got from
(That graph does not have a curve for total calories, but the graph does let one get a fairly good idea. I could not quickly find a similar graph with a total.)
As I tried web searching for such info, I found that the US government does not make it easy for me to find it in its websites.

Johan M
Reply to  SC
December 17, 2016 11:25 pm

Wooow!!! And what if increased global temperatures -> increased stored calories -> increased methane output (you know what I mean) -> …. increased greenhouse effect -> increased global temperatures …. 😮

Johan M
Reply to  SC
December 19, 2016 11:29 am

“We breathe more CO2, which makes our blood more acidic; this affects our brain, so we want to eat more.”

James Fosser
Reply to  Cameron Melin
December 17, 2016 2:09 pm

I cycled for years and wore all the protective kit including padded shorts and the best designed seats that my money could buy. Despite these precautions I ended up with numbness, incontinence and erectile dysfunction.So I hung up my bicycle clips and went back to walking but the damage to my perinium was done! Now I am no good to either myself or any adventurous partner I could ever find!

Reply to  James Fosser
December 17, 2016 4:34 pm

I rode a bike to school every day for twelve years and it did me no harm at all. But Lycra and Spandex hadn’t been invented in those days.

Reply to  James Fosser
December 17, 2016 9:58 pm

I have had many years as a bike courier with no damage like that described, and I didn’t wear anything special or use expensive special seats.

Reply to  James Fosser
December 18, 2016 2:54 am

The data show US all-age cycling participation fell from 56,308,000 in 1995 to 39,300,000 in 2012, a reduction of 17,008,000 or 30.2%. Most of the reduction was among <17yo although it extended to <30yo. 6-17yo participation dropped from 17,401,000 in 2006 to 12,397,000 in 2012, less and less kids enjoying one of the most regular forms of recreational fun during their bodies' formative years. Bicycle helmet laws/parental/school coercion are the main reasons for the decline. Similar results with all-age national helmet laws in Australia, the world's second-fattest country after the US.
I agree with half of Hawking's opinion. Reduced exercise isn't just sitting in a car, it's also sitting instead of standing up to change TV channels, pushing a button to dry clothes instead of hanging them on a line, having a petrol mower instead of having to push hard to make the blades turn, microwaving instead of chopping wood, etc, etc. Even using a manual typewriter required more Olympic toil for your fingers and arms than lightly tapping a modern computer keyboard. Thanks to technology, it's the lack of minute by minute necessities of staying alive that have created most of the sedentary lifestyle and resultant obesity. TV and the web are big contributors.
I don't agree that diet is a big part. The high sugar, high cholesterol, etc, arguments nowadays seem to pretend that in granny's day, everyday ate lettuce with low-fat yoghurt. You couldn't even buy yoghurt when I was a kid, let alone low-fat, and nowadays just about every product is low something or other instead of the olden days product with no choice but full cream, full sugar, full fat everything. Do people believe Coca Cola and burgers in the 1950s were made from water with a colour additive and full grain bread with lean veal cooked on extra virgin olive oil? Or that nobody drank Coke or ate burgers or ate too much?

Reply to  James Fosser
December 19, 2016 8:06 am

Consider how the size of the Coke bottle has evolved since the 1950s. There was a time when a usual Coke bottle had 8 fluid ounces of Coke. Sometime in the 1960s it was 12. Sometime in the 1970s Pepsi increased the size of their usual single serving bottle from 12 to 16 fluid ounces and Coke did likewise at a similar time. Sometime in the 1990s the usual soda bottle size increased from 16 to 20 fluid ounces. And sometime after 2000 one of the two big cola companies tried to make 24 fluid ounces their usual, but that did not catch on, and 20 fluid ounces is still the current usual size.
[The mods note (with distein) that the average size of the typical US beer bottle has remained at 12 fl ounces through this entire period of both anecdotal, analog and digital satellite-surveillance record. Worse, in these inflationary times, the typical six-pack remains limited to … six. .mod]

Lance Wallace
December 17, 2016 11:05 am

Can you provide links to your earlier articles in this series?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 8:35 pm

There is another war: the war against saturated fats. It must have caused numerous deaths, because now they say that the polyunsaturated fats are bad for you and can cause heart disease. These PUF fats may even lead to obesity, who knows.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 10:22 pm

Many studies on fat saturation and/or animal-vs-vegetable oil and heart disease that were done after partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils became common (for shortenings and margarine) did not distinguish trans fats (from partial hydrogenation) from other unsaturated fats. An unsaturated fatty acid molecule whose double bonds (unsaturations) are all trans-aligned has physical properties like those of a saturated one of the same carbon atom count, but it has higher presence in the bloodstream for a given intake rate because one of the two main fat metabolism mechanisms in the human body chokes on the trans-aligned double bond.

December 17, 2016 11:15 am

This is the topic that introduced me to the fact that scientists lie or mislead in their studies. The conclusions they write do not represent the actual data in their results, and studies are designed to prove one diet is better than the other – amusingly, even when weighted against its favour, diets not considered acceptable by the establishment (e.g. fasting or low carb) always did better than the recommended low-fat calorie restricted diet. As a result of having my eyes opened, I realised that scientific fraud exists elsewhere, which eventually lead me to here.

December 17, 2016 11:15 am

Did this really need a “trigger warning ” ?
Isn’t it about time people locks on their “triggers” ? It would be better for all of us.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:11 pm

You forgot the /sarc. We need more fat shaming, not less.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:38 pm

fat shaming? Aaagh , ahh, ahh, where’s the nearest safety zone, I can’t handle this.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 1:33 pm

I – at least – appreciate your comments!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 3:38 pm

Roger. Should have known sorry. 🙂

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 18, 2016 4:16 am

“Provided, as they say, tongue-in-cheek, in case any university students are reading here…wouldn’t want to upset the more sensitive of the little dears.”
Given your willingness to open your eyes to deceptive memes, I think it’s about time that you and others open your eyes to the reality about safe spaces: they’re largely effected by ADULTS for a relatively small subset of the young people that adults manipulate. Most young people, including college students are every bit as sick and tired of the nonsense as older people are; even moreso, because they have to live with ignorant people pointing fingers at them for being “snowflakes”. Try immersing yourself in young people’s worlds and not the bogus media representations of them. Indeed: while people around here are willing to see that climate panic is really a relatively small group of people who don’t represent the majority, the same holds true for young people.

Reply to  brainfan
December 18, 2016 12:45 pm

I really enjoyed your remarks.
It is unfortunate to see any one condemn the Digital Natives for what the Digital Natives are being put through in the educational system, and through extreme online SJW badgering. Or for being institutionalized, drugged and a little overweight.
It is very difficult. But the Millenials are maybe going to surprise every one! Thank you for your comment, it was well-made and perfect timing.

Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 11:16 am

I don’t buy into the “weight loss is way more complicated than Hawking says” stuff.
Here’s the way one thing we know for sure about weight loss: If your energy intake is less than your energy expenditure, then the energy stores in your body must decrease.
I grant you, achieving a state of energy deficit can be difficult and complicated for some, and many factors figure into it. But everything ultimately answers to basic thermodynamics, and there’s no getting around that no matter how much people try to obfuscate.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 11:38 am

It is definitely way more complicated, because the body is loaded with feedback loops. Decreased energy intake for a prolonged period leads to a change in metabolic rate, lowering the draw on energy stores. Different macronutrient profiles affect hormones differently, which in turn affect the whole process.
When I was experimenting with low-carb diets back in the 90s, at the instigation of someone who claimed they only worked because they naturally decreased calorie intake, I decided to see just how far I could increase calorie intake before weight loss stopped. It took increasing it to around 2200-2300 calories/day before weight loss ceased (I was keeping strict logs and weighing my food, so any inaccuracies would have been “on-the-box errors” or due to “box-to-box” variations in food nutritional content).
I then decided to test whether a traditional low-fat high-complex-carb diet would flatline at the same calorie intake as long as I kept up a consistent activity level. Not even close. I had to drop to 1600-1700 calories before weight gain stopped. Stepping up the activity level (i.e., increasing both workout time and perceived exertion level) let me increase calories to around 1800-1900/day without gaining,. So – at that point I was eating less (calorie-wise) and exercising more than I was at my low-carb stable point, but my weight was not going down.

Killer Marmot
Reply to  mstickles
December 17, 2016 12:06 pm

No, it’s not more complicated.
The law I stated is true. There are no ifs, ands, ors, buts, or exceptions. It holds. Period. The existence of feedback loops does not override it.
Feedback loops can be a factor when trying to achieve an energy deficit over a prolonged period, but that in no way negates the fact that what we are trying to do is achieve an energy deficit.
Every sensible discussion of weight loss should begin by acknowledging this basic fact.

Reply to  mstickles
December 17, 2016 1:10 pm

Being picky …
2200-2300 calories are not much at all. I assume you ment 2200-2300 kilo calories. Even some diet ‘experts’ don’t know the difference …
What kind of exercise matter and how it is performed, if you would like to loose some weight. Plain walking (in the same pace and flat ground) will generate some effect intially but not later, as the body becomes more efficient and adapted to the work load. The key is alternated exercises, then the body (simply put) has to change strategy and prepare ‘for worse’. As a bonus, it becomes more fun, compared to basically doing the same thing over and over again. Exercises with walk and/or jogg in hilly terrain (avoid asphalt and concrete!), cycling and swimming, all with various pace will fix it (Not close to or at max though …)

Reply to  mstickles
December 17, 2016 1:27 pm

I’ve done fasting ( real, water only fasting ) for ten days, a couple of times and I can guarantee that you lose both fat and muscle mass fairly rapidly: at around a pound day.
After about 48h the body starts digesting stored fat instead of sugars for energy ( a process called ketosis ) and reabsorbs muscle to fulfil basic protein requirements. Your breath starts to smell of acetone, a by-product of ketosis.
There is a lot of fairly complex biochemistry involved in fat digestion, stockage and reuse. Many of the processes involved in reuse of stored fat involve a number of B vitamins. Several of these B vitamins are stored in the liver. Older people often suffer from a lack of these “vitamins” : vital amino acids. They are ‘vital’ , although we often forget or are ignorant of the origin of the word vitamin.
Poor diet has a lot to do with problems of reabsorbing body fat. If you do not have the B’s to make the chemistry work you are going to remain fat and feel hungry.
Most major world religions include a fasting tradition, though it is often corrupted to the point of being worthless or even counter productive.
Starving yourself of food and water for 12h in a hot climate and then stuffing yourself after dark is probably one of the worst ways to eat.
The Christian fast of ‘lent’ has now become a farce that rarely goes beyond eating a few pancakes after buying an
extra box of battery farmed eggs at the supermarket and then buying lots of chocolate “easter eggs” available well before Easter.
One of the most interesting things about fasting is re-evaluating how we think about food: realising the much of the time we “fancy something to eat” more than being driven by real hunger.
The weirdest thing about fasting is that the hunger, rather than getting progressively more intense, goes away after a couple of days. After 7 days of nothing but water, I was quite happy to sit down with a table to 30 people full of delicious home-made food, wine, deserts without being tempted to break the fast of frustrated by having all that under my nose.
I could linger while passing a pizza shop and ‘feast’ on the aroma, getting more pleasure than have bought one. Animal instincts are heightened when the body lacks food.
People in India and Africa probably understand all of this from an early age but in the developed world we think it pretty tough if we eat a couple of hours late. THAT is why we are FAT and die of cancer.
Bottom line, if you can avoid manual labour for a couple of weeks, try fasting. It is an enlightening experiment.

Reply to  mstickles
December 18, 2016 6:02 am

SasjaL – I know it’s technically kilocalories, but I learned it as calories so that’s what I call it. It’s not the only measure that has different meanings in different contexts.
Killer Marmot – if we’re not trying to achieve an energy deficit, what’s the point of the discussion? It’s great to say:
Weight reduction (in kCal equivalent) = Energy output (in kCal) – energy intake (in kCal)
but when the same food intake results in different kCal intakes for different people (or even for the same person at different times in their life) and the same activity similarly can result in different kCal outputs, you have no way to effectively build upon it. The fact that it is true does not mean that it is at all useful for the desired purpose.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 11:38 am

The physics of energy balance is of course true, but ignores the biology – investigate basal metabolic rate which, as a sort of thermostat, regulates energy spent at rest.

Killer Marmot
Reply to  Bubba Cow
December 17, 2016 12:23 pm

Biology does not in any way change the veracity of what I said. Biology might interfere with someone achieving a calorie deficit, but that is a different matter.

Reply to  Bubba Cow
December 18, 2016 11:59 am

Killer Marmot, You don’t seem to be accounting for the biological processes involved. Insulin regulates body fat. Type I diabetics (before the discovery of injectable insulin) had extremely high blood sugar and were extremely thin, even if they ate a lot. Insulin regulates blood sugar by shunting it to adipose tissues. In a healthy body, insulin is produced in response to elevated blood glucose levels driven by the consumption of carbohydrates. Extremely high blood glucose levels would result in urine being high in sugar.
That is just one example. Calories in/calories out is a tremendously oversimplified model for human metabolism.
I’ve also seen research on Zinc-Alpha 2 glycoprotein, another part of the hormone signaling system. If you have high levels, you are thin. Low levels, you are fat. Inject it in obese mice and they lose 30% of their body fat over a period of weeks.
All calories are not created the same (we are not bunsen burners) and bodies vary in how they partition the calories consumed. Some store more than others. Some burn it off.

Killer Marmot
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 11:57 am

It is not a “kernal of truth”. It is the fundamental law of weight loss. It forms the rock-solid foundation of any successful weight loss scheme.
As I said, achieving an energy deficit can be difficult and there are many factors that go into that, but we must not be so distracted by that as to lose sight as to what weight loss is fundamentally about.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:14 pm

“because obesity is far more complex.”
As an example, I was of “normal’ weight before about 45 years of age then instead of having a full-to-the-point-of-nausea feeling at about 3/4 of that hamburger, began to lose that sensation and found that, if I wanted, I could enjoy two. Some years and ~30 lbs later I tried a high protein Atkins diet which was very effective @3/4 lb a day and after dropping off took about 6 months to regain the weight, primarily because I (think) that I missed sweets so much. That sensation shift is to the point that I want to “taste” food or a snack at the mere visual of food (TV ads are the worst). Would be great if those smart researchers knew what caused the re-set and how to correct it and perhaps this issue is a major part of those that are naturally obese.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 5:43 pm

Killer Marmot, Thermodynamics applies to actual energy, not weight reduction. We mislead ourselves by saying that we turn fat into energy when exercising. How much energy is represented by 20 pounds of fat? How many cities could be levelled by that much energy?
It’s about chemical processes, not energy per se, and the numbers aren’t as straight forward as you might think.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 18, 2016 7:23 am

Killer Marmot is absolutely right, it may be tasteless but true, there was no obese prisoner liberated from concentration camps.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 11:44 am

I’ve been experimenting with a low carb, high fat diet for the last 6 months for the purpose of energy efficiency for long distance running (as opposed to weight loss) and have been fascinated by the multitude of simultaneous interrelationships between energy storage and energy production depending on food source and activity levels. Even a cursory examination of how energy is stored and produced under different conditions in the body ought to convince someone that there is no “one size fits all” answer to obesity.
The oversimplified “take in fewer calories than you burn” is a little like saying the only thing you have to do to become a billionaire is take in more money each year than you spend! True in principal but the specifics are just as complicated as the body’s glycogen production and use.

Killer Marmot
Reply to  Dave in Canmore
December 17, 2016 12:12 pm

“take in fewer calories than you burn” is not oversimplified. If you do this over a long period of time you will lose weight — guaranteed. It is how you achieve weight loss.
Achieving a calorie deficit can be difficult and call in many factors, but you are allowing this to distract you from the basic simplicity of what you are trying to achieve.

Killer Marmot
Reply to  Dave in Canmore
December 17, 2016 12:21 pm

There is no “one size fits allow” scheme to achieving an energy deficit. I never said different.
But every successful weight loss program depends on producing a prolonged energy deficit. This is the common denominator that fits — and reduces — all sizes.
Hawking went straight to the core of the matter, as he should.

Reply to  Dave in Canmore
December 17, 2016 4:33 pm

If you want to lose weight effectively and feel good have a relentless focus on reducing carbs and sugar as much as possible.
The “high fat” add-on to low carbs diets is a distraction. Focus on the carb/sugar reduction, eat more vegetables and keep fats to reasonable levels.
If you are interested, Dr Tim Noakes describes the carb diet issues quite well in scientific terms;

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 12:38 pm

Here’s the way one thing we know for sure about weight loss: If your energy intake is less than your energy expenditure, then the energy stores in your body must decrease.
Agree, plain and simple physics. I have a number of years of experience as an athletics coach and have seen what exercise can do to children with overweight.
Looking at the human history, it is easy to see that we are made for moving around and not to sit. This worked fine, when we still were ‘hunters and collectors’. Due to technological development, in many cases, humans has become lazy. It’s about loosing that bad habit …
The main problem usally isn’t to loose weight. It’s to keep it. With high quality food in decent amount and continues execise, that’s possible.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 12:47 pm

Can’t beat thermodynamics. A pound of fat is 3500 Calories, be it butter or body fat. An hour of serious bicycling is only 500 – 700 Calories. “Nothing tastes as good as fit feels.”
I just spent three hours, in three one hour increments, shoveling 1500 cubic feet of snow, one foot deep on 1500 square feet of my driveway.

Killer Marmot
Reply to  Doug Huffman
December 17, 2016 12:52 pm

You need a shorter driveway or some serious snow-removal equipment.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Doug Huffman
December 17, 2016 1:33 pm

Sounds like global warming would cause you to be obese!
Yeah, yeah! I know, Killer. Energy balance, energy balance!

Soren F
Reply to  Doug Huffman
December 17, 2016 10:55 pm

Here’s a related metaphor: neighbors all received lots of snow on their yards, many started shoveling. One also erected tarps shielding the sky, thinking: less snow in – more snow out. Another did nothing, not even shoveling. Along came spring. In the end of course only the tarped yard had any snow.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  Doug Huffman
December 19, 2016 3:43 pm

Too simplistic. I’m 5’11” and weigh 250 pounds. Technically, I am “morbidly obese,” but mainly it just looks like I am overweight. My goal (endocrinological treatment and body-building exercise) is to lose 50 pounds, at which point I will look like a killer…but I will still be “obese” by the conventional standard. I have a strong interest in understanding all this, and I am totally convinced that carbohydrates are my most serious enemy. I concentrate on eating proteins, vegetables, and fruit (particularly those high in anti-oxidants). Is that a panacea? No proof, no argument, but I am at least trying to put Satan (carbs) behind me.
But, energy balance means nothing unless the fat is metabolically available. Carbs go in and the sugars convert to fat. Then what? If there is no hormonal or metabolic means of engaging the body’s mechanisms to burn the fat, then the fat might as well be a lead suit that you have to wear around. All the exercise in the world will do nothing to lighten the lead suit. You just wind up burning your own muscle mass. (The emaciated survivors of concentration camps are not just without fat, they are also without muscle.) So far, with a limited campaign of body-building (60-hour work week is also my enemy), I have lost 5 pounds. A pipsqueak amount, but, hey, I am grateful for whatever I can do to go in the right direction. (Especially since my wife seems to notice and approve of the slight changes.)
I suspect that the key lies in the metabolic pathways facilitated by the endocrine system. it doesn’t take much for that system to go out of whack, and not every endocrinologist is capable of looking at the facts with clear eyes. Someone in the thread above commented on how the body makes cholesterol in order to help the rest of the body, but conventional medicine looks at that situation and knee-jerks right into a Lipitor prescription. Bad idea. Bad side effects. Poor medical motivation. Huge profit motive (I have read that Lipitor is the largest-selling drug in the world…not merely the largest-selling cholesterol-control drug, but THE LARGEST-SELLING DRUG.) No consideration of the question: Why is your body making all this cholesterol? Is it needed? What are you lacking? As a result, I have been concentrating on anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant strategies. Inflamed blood vessels + cholesterol = plaque. Conventional medicine says “no cholesterol.” I say “no inflammation, thank you very much.” But do I shoot my cardiologist? Not today.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 12:53 pm

Don’t expect much support here. You won’t find it. I fully agree with you. I have been diabetic nearly 45 years. I can gain or lose weight at will because I understand how food works. While it’s true that too many episodes of low blood can lead to weight gain (I’m brittle), I adjust the insulin and food to allow the loss of that weight.
Examples here often talk about “testing the latest diet”, but that’s not a good way to find out how to lose weight. If you figure out how much a person eats, teach them about calories, find out their exercise level, etc, you can actually tailor a weight loss plan that will work. Their food tastes and lifestyle have to be kept in mind. You cannot, of course, make them follow it, but it will work if they do. Energy intake versus usage is what determines weight.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 17, 2016 2:19 pm

I agree. Look at school photos from before the 70s. Everybody is thin by today’s standards. After 2000, many if not most are fat. There weren’t 300 genetic changes to people over that time. Something simple happened. Dare I guess, television and video games.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 18, 2016 4:31 am

One of the problems with those who are “making it more complex” is what other people do with the complexity: use it as an excuse for not being able to lose weight or keep it off instead of even trying. But that doesn’t negate the reality that there ARE biological processes that impact what happens to various nutrients in various people. You’re right that a calorie reduction WILL result in some level of either weight loss or less weight gain. However, your charactization of it being strictly a matter of energy input/output ignores the existence of variations in energy use such as efficiency. For a simple example, you can have two vehicles with the same weights and engines sizes that have different fuel efficiencies based on how they’re designed to make use of the fuel.

Reply to  Ditzkrieg
December 18, 2016 7:06 am

No, it does not ignore that reality. What you are referring to determines how much gas is required to go from point a to point b. If vehicle 1 takes 15 gallons and you only put in 10, you end up walking. If you put in 20, you have left over. If vehicle 2 takes 10 gallons and you put in 8, you end up walking. If you put in 20, you can make the trip twice. If you put in too little, you walk. Extra, you can drive further. Same with weight. If a person burns 2000 calories a day—irregardless of WHY—and eats 2500, they gain weight. If they eat 1500, they lose weight.

Jaakko Kateenkorva
Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 19, 2016 12:18 am

Killer Marmot. Sure. But it seems fair to presume other things by the same token:
Thermodynamics doesn’t address hormesis and other biological processes, because human natural selection is unfavourable to individuals whose metabolism operates like a combustion engine.
Powers should be exercised as close to the citizen as possible. This topic must be kept far from obfuscating bodies, most notably political round tables.

R W Israel
December 17, 2016 11:17 am

It’s starting to look like real science is “anti-science”

Tom Halla
December 17, 2016 11:20 am

This is definitely a field with a large number of very confident statements by advocates that have no basis in reality. There is also a great deal of preaching.
Unreal standards are at least one part of the issue. I have been rather thin as an adult, but by the BMI standards, I have been “overweight” most of the time.
Another thing is the advocacy of unproven theories, like Ancel Keyes and the low fat is healthy theme, despite a lack of evidence to support them.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:07 pm

I had already seen the Kolata article, and the Sachs study seems conclude that there is no magic diet. I lived with a woman who was obese, and she resented that I ate much more than she did, and had no problem maintaining a stable weight. I was fat as a kid, so I can get interested in the why of weight gain. In the past ten years, I have been on a drug that induced a 30 pound weight gain, that took most of a year to overcome partly (I started out underweight, so it was a matter of losing 20 of it).

Tom Halla
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:39 pm

Which agrees with anything I have read that I took seriously (i. e. was not trying to sell a magic diet) and my family and personal experience. My sisters and mother were all about the same height, but never within 20 pounds of each other as adults.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 17, 2016 10:36 pm

Among my friends, the one who was most successful with weight loss did so to avoid a second heart attack. He started exercising more and he reduced his calorie intake, mostly his fat calorie intake. (He never was a soda drinker, so he could not reduce his soda intake.) That worked well because a gram of fat has 9 calories, while a gram of carb (other than fiber) or protein has 4 calories. His cardiologist says that because of this along with a statin, he cut his total cholesterol and his triglycerides almost in half and increased his good cholesterol – a much better blood profile outcome than his cardiologist’s other patients who did not make much change in diet or exercise.

December 17, 2016 11:23 am

Fat guy here. Not triggered.
Facts don’t care about your feelings. – Ben Shapiro

Killer Marmot
Reply to  Greg
December 17, 2016 11:26 am

Yeah, what’s with the trigger warning? That’s for children pretending to be adults.

Reply to  Killer Marmot
December 18, 2016 4:04 am

It was obviously sarcasm.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Greg
December 17, 2016 1:37 pm

Never mind trigger warnings. Tipping points is what worry me!

December 17, 2016 11:26 am

Calorie restriction is the only known way to move anyone from being obese to being overweight and from being overweight to being of normal weight.
Calorie restriction — reducing calorie intake from the calorie intake needed to maintain current resting body weight is the only known way to go from obesity to normal weight.
Kip Hansen simply is wrong.

charles nelson
Reply to  pjissocal
December 17, 2016 5:47 pm

I think Kip is a bit of a porker and has been ‘triggered’…got all sarky started firing off his little arrows at people ==>

Reply to  pjissocal
December 18, 2016 8:57 am

Calorie restriction is the only known way to move anyone from being obese to being overweight and from being overweight to being of normal weight.
Calorie restriction — reducing calorie intake from the calorie intake needed to maintain current resting body weight is the only known way to go from obesity to normal weight.

You, sir, are wrong. Calorie restriction is one factor, not the only factor. Weight loss is a result of negative net energy balance, i.e. more calories being used up than taken in.
Think of your bank balance as a reverse analogue (good and bad are reversed). You can decrease your bank balance by spending more than you deposit from your paycheque. A lower -paying job (reduced calorie intake) has the same effect as a higher spending (higher metabolism) rate. I.e. they both act to reduce your bank balance (weight). Similarly weight loss can be induced by any combination of reduced calorie intake, or increased calorie burning.
As pointed out in mstickles’ comment a low-carb diet can allow some people 2200-2300 calories/day for break-even, while a high-carb diet allows them only 1600-1700 calories/day for break-even.
Personal experience… I’m seeing a diet doctor in greater Toronto. Between vitamin supplements, and low-carb diet, I lose approximately 5 pounds from supper to breakfast the following morning. *THAT* has been the main weight-loss factor for me. And no, I’m not wasting time and money on a gym membership.

Reply to  pjissocal
December 18, 2016 4:13 pm

Calorie restriction…..or use more of the little chaps..
Don’t see too many overweight marathon runners

Walter Sobchak
December 17, 2016 11:30 am

It is very simple:
1. We used to smoke cigarettes. It kept us thin because of whatever, nicotine, smoke, oral activity, …, and who knows?
2. They made us quit smoking. I understand that smoking will kill you, and sooner rather than later. So quitting was a good idea.
3. But, .. once we quit we put on weight.
4. Non smokers live longer, but older people put on weight as compared to younger people.
5. Getting old and getting fat, caused us to be depressed.
6. So, they prescribed anti-depressants.
7. Anti-depressants cause excessive eating and weight gain.
8. At the end of trail, we are fat, we are old, but we are not depressed.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
December 17, 2016 12:48 pm

The “Obesity Epidemic” also correlates with the change in the food pyramid back in the 1970s. Coincidence? Or causation? We don’t know.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
December 17, 2016 1:33 pm

3. Food substitutes the nicotine. Carb’s affect the reward system of the brain, like nicotine (alkaloids) do.
4. Older people exercise/moves less (and sits more) then younger do. Also, older people get easier femoral neck fractures, due to lower bone density as a result of lower physical activity. We will see more of this in the future, as young people prefere to play with their computers and/or smartphones, instead of creating some sweat due to physical activity …

average joe
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
December 17, 2016 2:23 pm

Do you notice virtually everyone focuses only on quantity of years, and nothing else? The entire medical establishment seems to think the ultimate goal is to keep everyone living for as many years as possible. That just seems dumb to me. I say they need to factor in quality of life, and realize that living longer is not always better. Quality of life can be both a positive or a negative number. For example, someone going thru chemo, every day would be a negative quality of life. Being depressed would be negative quality of life. The goal should be, to have the highest score of quality and quantity combined. Getting old sucks. I look at my parents who are in their 80’s now. They have long lost the joy of living, because they can no longer physically do the things that used to bring them enjoyment in life. At this point life is a burden, not a joy. For them the highest life score would be to have died a quick, graceful, and painless death 5 or 6 yrs ago. It is a tragedy that our culture so frowns on people being able to quickly, honorably, and painlessly check out of this life when they decide it’s time. It’s painful for my siblings and I having to watch them go thru this, knowing that death is inevitable within the next 10 or 20 years. What’s the point of society insisting they need to go through this? If they could honorably and gracefully check out Kevorkain style, they happily would. Society is wrong in not giving them the option to check out with dignity and grace when they are ready. Our culture needs to change. Similarly, obese people can enjoy life with the things that give them pleasure and then check out when they have had enough. Or they can suffer through a life of denying what gives them pleasure because society tells them they need to, perhaps living longer but not better. What is the point of living if one is not enjoying their life? I ask this seriously. We spend way to much time trying to convince everyone it is their duty to live as long as they can. This is not right at all. People cursed with problematic genes should not be forced to endure a life of misery because society thinks they should. Most morbidly obese people I know of would prefer to check out at a young age. Why force them to live? It’s wrong.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  average joe
December 17, 2016 4:34 pm

average joe
December 17, 2016 at 2:23 pm
“Do you notice virtually everyone focuses only on quantity of years, and …”
I’ll be in my 80th year next year, however, I’m an active consulting engineer in the mining and metallurgical industry that exercises my muscles and my brain, so I’m fit on both counts. My biggest client at this time is opening up a mine, building a concentrator and a hydrometallurgical plant (chemical plant). I laid out the drilling program for measuring and sampling the deposit, and the hydrometallurgical process was invented by me (international patents) that I developed for this project. I speak a couple of languages well and can read also German and Russian; I’ve published a number of technical books and am a published author of short fiction; I’m a folk musician and have taught bluebgrass banjo (I even had a gig on TV);…..
I memorized the Mendeleev (periodic) table of the elements and their general physico-chemical characteristics about 60 years ago and I recite it every once in a while to check out my memory – apparently a fair number of chemists can’t do that.
The “quality” is something that you can put into your life. For those retired, there is a lot one can do. Tuition at universities in Canada is free for senior citizens; there are community play troops, art school lessons, choirs, bridge and chess tournaments (I and partner won a turkey at a bridge tourney some years ago and I was thrilled to bits!); I like handicapping horse races….
The “quality” is something that you can put into your life. For those retired, there is a lot one can do. Tuition at universities in Canada is free for senior citizens, there are community play troops, choirs, bridge and chess tournaments (I and partner won a turkey at a bridge tourney some years ago and I was thrilled to bits!); I like handicapping horse races….Give your parents a gift of something for them to do and enjoy – help them find some stuff to put some quality into their lives. Yours is the most depressing post I’ve seen in a while.

Reply to  average joe
December 18, 2016 4:16 am

Agree with both this post and the response. If you are lucky enough to still be healthy (at whatever age), good for you. But there are so many people that are simply existing, not living.
Also, I am always troubled, whenever I see these “obesity epidemic” articles. They always come over as “information operations”, aka indoctrination; not serious attempts to improve people’s welfare. It’s always about how we’re better than you are.

average joe
Reply to  average joe
December 18, 2016 8:58 am

Gary – turning 80 and life is good – good for you. But you miss my point. Which is, much, if not most, of the reason u r happy at 80 is because of your genetic makeup. Many are not so lucky. Who r u to insist that they must either keep on living, or else be dishonored and disgraced? Who r u to insist that they have no honorable and graceful path to leave this life when they choose? Of course they can always put a gun to their head. Why force this mindset that it is dishonorable to choose an early, painless death? You are wrong on this.

average joe
Reply to  average joe
December 18, 2016 9:07 am

Further, Gary, answer me this: You, and everyone else, are going to die eventually. It is highly unlikely you will be here more than another 20 years, and certainly not more than 30. When you get to where you are a burden on those around you, and you will, why carry on? In 50 yrs from now, it will not matter whether you died at 80 or at 105. You are gone. Why insist on everyone clinging to a cruddy life as long as possible? Your answer is likely that you believe it is the will of some greater power. And if that is your belief, you have no evidence of that, and are likely wrong. If that is your belief, u r not much different than climate scientists and their beliefs that CO2 is evil. I cannot find the logic in your thinking.

Power Grab
Reply to  average joe
December 18, 2016 1:47 pm

This may not be the most edifying response, but here goes:
Some say that cancer treatment is the only socially-acceptable method of suicide.
IMHO, they could take anyone off the street and do cancer scans on them and find something they think might be cancer.
You don’t really need a Dr. K character around. Just keep getting cancer tests done. They’ll find something eventually. Then you can wear the ribbon of the day and collect accolades on your way out.
/dark-subject-mode off

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  average joe
December 19, 2016 5:36 pm

Average Joe, I don’t buy your argument at all. Been there, done that. I was suffering from pretty close to terminal heart failure one day, having driven myself to the ER to check for heart attack. I was left on a gurney, while the doctor went to check something. My lungs were nearly completely collapsed from pleural edema and I was drawing very shallow, short breaths–with no time delay for exhale. It occurred to me that I might have no time left at all, and that realization came as a kind of unexpected surprise. Not that I thought I was immortal, but, you know, one does not expect a particular scenario to arise.
Well, they did things to put me out on the street again in 24 hours, but I needed corrective heart surgery pronto and, once I convinced my cardiologist that I needed it, they were like a fire station to make it happen. But it was open-heart surgery (the very best kind!) and my post-op experience was like…did you ever fall from a 6-story building–and bounce? After that recovery, which took 2 months, I arrived at my values clarification realization–there are only two categories in life: B.S. and Everything Else.
What does this story mean, Joe? It means that you are terminally insensitive to the absolute wonder of being alive. All this brave bluster about “dying with dignity” really amounts to the confession that one has run out of appreciation for life. There are those who are blind, deaf, crippled, deformed, mentally impaired, injured, and maimed–and they find life to be full of beauty, sensation, love, and the opportunity to overcome limitations. I think of Helen Keller and Stephen Hawking and I contemplate the perils of old age. I would be ashamed to think of my old age as being a worse burden than they have experienced. I have read Solzhenitsyn’s books on the GULag Archipelago, and there are worse things than the burden of old age, or even of illness.
At some point, we always die. God did not put us on Earth merely to die. He put us on Earth to live, hopefully to learn what we need to know in order to live forever. And what is the point of living forever? It is to continue living in that beauty, and sensation, and love given us for eternity.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
December 19, 2016 12:46 pm

Response to Walter Sobchak comment on 12/17/16 at 11:30am
Your comment combines humor with wisdom, and is concise.
And when I stopped laughing I had some serious concerns:
If every internet comment was that good, people would be online every hour they were awake, and no one would get any work done. Nations would collapse. The world would end as we know it. You, Mr. Sobchak, have inadvertently contributed to the end of the world.
Your comment is also much better than the original article, which I did not like.

December 17, 2016 11:36 am

‘The obesity epidemic is a major challenge for medical science and public health because, quite simply, we have almost no idea whatever as to the true cause(s) of the phenomena, or, in another sense, we have too many ideas about the cause(s) of obesity.’
Far as I got. The ‘obesity epidemic’ is as fake as Putin helping Trump win.
We do not know what people weigh in the United States. There is no data. None. Declaring an obesity epidemic without out data if fake news.
The United States conducts annual phone surveys of about 30,000 people asking how tall they are and how much they weigh. The red flag should be visible now. It is self-reporting, with no verification. IT IS NOT VALID SCIENTIFIC DATA.
Then it is ‘adjusted’ by government employees whose jobs are in part dependent on the results they report.
It’s junk science through and through.

Rhoda u
Reply to  Gamecock
December 17, 2016 8:35 pm

Go to Walmart, look around.

Reply to  Rhoda u
December 18, 2016 4:46 am

Anecdata isn’t science.
Additionally, the weight of people at Walmart is none of my business, nor the government’s. I don’t see a big person at Walmart and think, “We need to get the government involved with that person!”

December 17, 2016 11:37 am

This is a must watch for anybody seeking the Truth
“What You Need to Know About the Four Types of Sugar in Food”

Michael Carter
December 17, 2016 11:38 am

The bell curve applies. Lets forget the fringes. One can hardly justify applying the term ‘disease’ to the masses in the middle. Richer nations have fatter people. It has changed in relation to generations and time too.
I am interested in the term ‘metabolic adaptation’. Some research shows that a person who has been very active in youth carries a certain capability throughout their life e.g. an ex athlete finds it much easier to come back to such activities after extended time of blobbing out or getting fat, than one who never has such a history.
So, the history of diet and activity while we are growing up is critical. The solution? : teach your children well.

December 17, 2016 11:40 am

Skip, nine lines below the graph. ‘Those whom are classified’ should be ‘those who are….’
Interesting article. When medicine can treat us individually according to our specific genes, and not based upon population statistics, we will all be better off. Cholesterol is another one of these issues. Some people live well with elevated cholesterol, others don’t,yet we treat everyone the same, with statins whether needed or not. Some smokers die young, others live to 100+ after smoking all of their lives.

Steve Case
December 17, 2016 11:40 am

What I didn’t see in the essay, and I did go through rather fast, is the notion that perhaps there really isn’t a problem. People today aren’t any more over weight than they’ve ever been. I argue with liberals on this one all the time. They see a fatty and say, “See!” What’s going on is confirmation bias. They’re told there’s a problem just like that topic we’re not supposed to bring up in this thread and so every time “Fat Albert” waddles by they remember the lesson our modern culture has taught them, and say “Oh dear! We must do something about it.”
I point out that when I was kid in the ’50s we had fat kids in our class. Everyone did. But today, we’re told the existence of a fat kid in class is a new phenomenon. It’s not. I also point out that we didn’t have exercise gyms with droves of people working out at 6:00 AM or people out jogging and riding bicycles everywhere. When you look around at ALL the people, what we’re being told and the reality don’t match. Again, just like the issue we’re not supposed to bring up here. Yesterday I went to the annual school concert to see my grandchildren sing. About 300 or so 4th, 5th and 6th graders. I had the corner seat in the gym and they walked single file right past me. I took a mental note and I’ll guess it was less than 5% that could be said were overweight.
If there is a statistic that points to a change, it’s no doubt rooted in demographics. Old people like me and the rest of the baby boomers are heavier than we were 40 years ago. And we constitute an ever growing segment of the population and will continue to do so for some time. Also there are some ethnic groups in the United States that have increased their numbers that tend to be heavy. The flip is some ethnic groups tend to be thin, but they generally live elsewhere on the planet.

Steve Case
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:25 pm

there are concerns that the lowering of the bar on obesity has spiked/hiked percentages of overweight and obese. What is now obese used to be overweight, and what is now overweight used to be the high end of normal.
Thanks for pointing that out.
You have the right idea in your “rooted in demographics”
I’m enjoying a very nice retirement and as such have travelled the world. I’ve been to those places where the ethnic groups I speak of originated. Some regions of the world people are mostly thin and other place support a large population segment that is heavy. You didn’t argue that what I said wasn’t so, but I just wanted to say it isn’t just from observation here in the United States.
but even to the casual observer, visiting your local WalMart to take an impromptu weight survey will reveal that there is truly a lot more heavy people now than there were in the 1950s.
That really needs to be verified.
I have often wanted to do a survey of crowd scenes in European classical paintings to check the % of heavy people
I am thinking of those beautiful Rubenesque women. Not fair? OK but as you pointed out the definition of obese has been inflated and the image of health, at least as far as women is concerned is a lot skinnier than when I was a kid. Marilyn Monroe was a bit chunky by today’s standards.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:55 pm

WalMart is self-selection of some sort.

Power Grab
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 18, 2016 2:19 pm

In my area, we can watch the old Lawrence Welk Show in syndication. One of my favorite things to do is watch for the crowd scenes, where they show the studio audience. There are almost no overweight/obese individuals in those shots of plain, everyday people. The show ran from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, so there is a long time period covered. The earlier shows were the ones with the fewest heavy people, and in those days people likely were drinking whole milk, real butter, and fried chicken, etc., etc.
Another item that comes to mind in discussions like these is this:
In the Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp”, when we first see Tramp, he has just awoken and is looking for breakfast. When he spies the French bakery, he decides against getting breakfast there, saying, “No…too much ______.”
Try to guess the missing word before reading further.
If you guessed “fat”, you’re wrong. The missing word is “starch”.
It always makes me chuckle, because in the early 1960’s even cartoonists knew that too much starch was detrimental to one’s health!
Finally, when the USDA came out with the Food Pyramid, I knew I couldn’t control my weight eating that way.
Apparently, many others are unable to control their weight while eating according to the Food Pyramid.

Reply to  Steve Case
December 17, 2016 12:18 pm

Steve Case, there have always been obese people. But the problem is definitely growing, and that has a direct upward push on medical costs. See data from CDC in my comment below.

Steve Case
Reply to  ristvan
December 17, 2016 12:31 pm

ristvan – at 12:18 pm
… there have always been obese people. But the problem is definitely growing, and that has a direct upward push on medical costs. See data from CDC in my comment below.

I don’t put much stock in data from outfits with a dot gov suffix.

Reply to  Steve Case
December 17, 2016 2:28 pm

My cohort only ever had one fat kid. He was notably ‘the fat kid’. By today’s standards he was very slightly overweight (ignoring the BMI BS). He didn’t even have man boobs. Probably 1 in 2 adolescent males have them now.

Reply to  Steve Case
December 17, 2016 3:11 pm

“I point out that when I was kid in the ’50s we had fat kids in our class. Everyone did. But today, we’re told the existence of a fat kid in class is a new phenomenon. It’s not.”
I also was in grade school in the 1950’s and 29 out of 30 kids in my class were skinny little things, and we had one kid who was obese. That ratio applied to all my grades throughout school. Mostly skinny kids, and very few fat kids.
Then, during the late 1980’s (right after the Challenger Disaster) I decided to become a substitute teacher as my personal effort to salvage the space program, and taught astronomy and space science to fourth and fifth graders, and I was really shocked at how fat kids had gotten compared to the time I was a kid 30 years ealier. At least half of the kids were significantly overweight.
I blame most obesity on the environment. There’s something in our environment now, that wasn’t there when I was a kid, and it is making people fatter. I suppose some of it could be genetics since there are much larger numbers of people around now than then, but I still think the majority of the problem is how and what you eat, and the lack of self-discipline.
To be obese, you have to take in a certain amount of calories. If you don’t eat too many calories then you won’t be obese. If you are obese and reduce your calory intake, then you will lose weight. It’s mind over matter for most people with normal genes.
Btw, the Atkins diet worked best for me, when I ate too much ice cream for too long and gained an extra 20 pounds. The Atkins diet took that weight off me in a very short time and I got back to my normal weight.
There may be something in the fast food people eat today. I have seen pictures of a McDonald’s hamburger and french fries displayed under a glass cover, and the meal looked like it had just been cooked, but was actually over two years old. What kind of preservative can do that? What does it do when inside the human body?
In the past, lots of skinny kids, and no fast food available. Today, lots of fat kids and lots of fast food available.

Reply to  TA
December 17, 2016 10:11 pm

Most of my relatives who tried the Atkins diet said it worked for about 2 weeks. Meanwhile, a lot of the calories in ice cream are fat calories. And how do you know that your weight loss was not simply from cutting back calories, which is an expected result of cutting back ice cream?
Have a look above at the graphs posted by SC on December 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm and my response shortly below that with link to a graph of calorie consumption by year and protein/fat/carbohydrate calories. Overweightness/obesity has tracked well with total calorie consumption with a lag of a few years since most people got cars and sedentary jobs.
However, I agree about fast food being fattening – it has high calorie density due to being low on fiber and veggies. Even fast food salads have a fair amount of calories if you use the dressings that come with them – most of which have almost as many calories per ounce as sugar does, with about 90% of their calories from fat. And many fast food sandwiches have 80-100 calories in mayonnaise alone – which has more calories per ounce than sugar, about 95% of them from fat.

Reply to  TA
December 18, 2016 5:54 am

“Most of my relatives who tried the Atkins diet said it worked for about 2 weeks. Meanwhile, a lot of the calories in ice cream are fat calories. And how do you know that your weight loss was not simply from cutting back calories, which is an expected result of cutting back ice cream?”
Donald, in my particular case, I probably ate as many or more calories as I was eating before dieting. I was told I could eat as much as I wanted on the Atkins diet, as long as there was no sugar involved. So that’s what I did, I ate until my hunger was satisfied, without even looking at the amount of calories.
And it was unbelievable how quickly the weight came off. I was really surprised that you could get on a diet where you could eat the amount you wanted, and still lose weight in a matter of just a few months.
I’m a firm believer in the Atkins diet. It certainly worked for me and was pretty much painless. There are plenty of good things to eat that don’t contain sugar. You can even buy Atkins prepared meals in the supermarket now, so you don’t even have to plan meals if you don’t want to.
My meal planning consisted of deciding whether I should stuff myself with hotdogs or cheese, or something similar. 🙂

Reply to  TA
December 18, 2016 6:09 am

On second thought, I was probably eating fewer calories, since I wasn’t eating any ice cream, but I was definitely eating enough calories to satisfy my appetite. Which is not all that big to begin with.

Steve Case
Reply to  TA
December 20, 2016 11:48 am

I went to the Christmas concert at a K-8 school this morning. The class sizes were about 40, so well over 300 kids. I saw one truly obese eighth grade boy and a “husky” sixth grader. The rest of the kids looked good. I didn’t have as good a seat as I did the other day, but I got a pretty good look at all of them.

December 17, 2016 11:41 am

Kip. Sorry.

December 17, 2016 11:44 am

“…the recommendation that people “eat less and exercise more” will not hurt anyone…” True except their self esteem if they aren’t comfortable with their weight because of other people’s expectations and they do eat less and exercise more. As appropriately pointed out there is more to the issue than “doing the right things”. I think the biggest problem is how we label people for physical appearance.

December 17, 2016 11:55 am

The three main causes of global warming:
(1) “Adjustments” to raw temperature data,
(2) Infilling of missing temperature data, and
(3) People getting fatter (they feel hotter than they used to when they were slimmer, so they unconsciously make “adjustments” and infilling that cause more warming)
You could look this up.

December 17, 2016 11:59 am

Doctors don’t have any training in nutrition, they are not able to cope with obesity.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 12:39 pm

They are merely drug dealers, anyway. So not much they can contribute in this case.

December 17, 2016 12:01 pm

“Obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little.”

True to a point, but actually your quote is maybe second, the result of number one which is dieting.
When we diet, we loose weight for a couple of weeks, then it drops off, but we continue to diet hoping for the best. What has happened is that our bodies sees and adjusts to an intake of fewer calories. It adjusts by turning down our metabolism burner. Now we can get along on less.
There is a way around this, and many body builders know about it. Not only do they eat smaller meals ( sometimes 5 very small meals a day), but besides they know how to prevent the metabolism burner from turning down. About once a week you need to eat more. The few times I dieted in my life, I called it my “pig out” day. If you diet 6 days a week, and then one day return to your previous intake, you still take in less fuel for the week, and the body doesn’t adjust towards the starvation mode. Your metabolism stays the same.

Reply to  Roy Denio
December 17, 2016 12:04 pm

And once you lower your metabolism, it is much harder to turn up the resting-state burner than to turn it down. Thus dieting is maybe the biggest reason for obesity in the US.

South River Independent
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 10:36 pm

I believe they did some weight gain and loss studies with conscientious objectors at Ripon College during WWII. That is where they identified the set point theory of body fat. If I recall correctly, they determined that aerobic exercise, nicotine, and amphetamines lowered a person’s set point. In addition, a person’s set point goes up with age.
You did not mention the various “body types” in relation to body fat. I assume body time is controlled by genes.

South River Independent
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 10:38 pm

Sorry – body type is controlled by genes.

South River Independent
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 20, 2016 10:04 pm

Thanks for your feedback Mr. Hansen.

Mark from the Midwest
December 17, 2016 12:04 pm

According to the most charts like this, and also the standard BMI crap, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith were morbidly obese during their playing years. Imagine what they could have done if either one of them had bothered to get in shape.

John M. Ware
December 17, 2016 12:05 pm

I am now 74.3 years of age, and recently I have noticed a pronounced slowdown in my metabolism. I am now somewhat overweight (5’11” and 210 lbs), with much of that weight having accrued during the last four or five years. I’ve gained that weight in spite of cutting back substantially on the amount I eat–not from any weight-loss regimen, but just because my appetite is less. If I go to a restaurant that has one, I order from the Senior Citizen portion of the menu, which typically simply omits one dish from the meal. Just a few years ago, I could easily eat a 10-12-oz. steak plus veggies at a meal. Now, I can’t–4 or 5 oz. is my limit for that. I used routinely to order the 3-pc meal at Col. Chicken; now, at most, I order the 2-pc, and sometimes I take one piece home for lunch the next day. Why, then, have I gone from 180 to 210 pounds? I still get out into the garden for 1-3 hrs a day of fairly strenuous work.
I’ll tell you why I think I have continued gaining weight in spite of eating a lot less: My metabolism has decided to slow down. (Also, I am taking Coumadin, a blood thinner, so I think my thin blood thinks the rest of me needs to thicken up.) I saw nothing in the article above about age, and yet I would bet that there are many of us who have passed three-score-and-ten who have noticed the same things I have. Do doctors notice that?

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John M. Ware
December 17, 2016 1:14 pm

Age usually brings you to wider & shorter. Seems blood pressure is correlated with these things, so you’ve got something else to watch.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  John M. Ware
December 17, 2016 2:24 pm

Mitochondria are the energy transducers of our cells. The evidence is that as they age they become less active and less efficient. The result is less energy, poorer body repair and degraded immune system function. We typically find our appetite reduces commensurately but as we also lose muscle mass, fat tends to accumulate. This is aging and has little to do with obesity up to about 40.

December 17, 2016 12:09 pm

It is true that obesity is a BIG multifaceted US problem. In 1985 no state had an adult (20 and over) obesity prevalence >15%. In 2015, no state had an adult obesity prevalence <20% according to CDC. Diseases directly associated with obesity include type 2 diabetes, hypertension/stroke, cardiovascular disease, and joint disease (knee/hip). In 2009 CDC estimated the annual direct medical costs alone of obesity about equal to those for cancer, ~$150 billion. Yet Obamacare expressly disallowed (via a buried provision in 'community standards') any insurance discrimination on obesity grounds. Affordable Care Act, NOT.
It is not true, at the most basic level, that obesity is not a problem of more calories in than out. The universal success of bariatric surgery proves that it is. bariatric surgery reduces caloric intake two ways: forced smaller portions, and forced less effective digestion. But it is also true that obesity is much more complicated than simple caloric input/output.
Race matters, but whether this is genetics or eating habits and social norms or both is unclear. Genetics matters, but the change in adult obesity prevalence suggets it may not matter that much.
Both the quantity and the quality (type) of calories matter. Sugar is worse than simple carbohydrates (e.g. white bread) than complex carbohydrates (e.g. Whole wheat bread with bran) than fats in meat. So does when and how those calories are ingested, because that affects the sensation of satiety.
Fitness matters both to obesity and to obese medical problems, directly because staying fit uses more calories, and indirectly because of altered metabolism set points.
There is emerging evidence that gut flora matters, implying obesity is 'contagious' literally rather than just through social acceptance. See Gordon's elegant series of experiments using obese/lean twins and humanized mice in Science 2013.
As Judith Curry likes to say, a wicked problem.
Will be interested to read your wrap up post generalizing 'science wars'.

Reply to  ristvan
December 17, 2016 2:17 pm

I have an obese relative who is dying because of being fat and diabetic. Unable to lie on any part except the back they have had bed sores/abscesses for ten years and the antibiotics have lost their power. Once the point of not being able to move is reached there is no way to lose enough weight to make any difference.

Reply to  ristvan
December 17, 2016 5:54 pm

An interesting comment (as always) by ristvan
His comments suggest that the BMI is useful in population studies overtime but is much less useful for individual cases as others have pointed out because of variations in both muscle mass and bone density.
As a type 2. Diabetic For 18 years but not using insulin I know the relationship between weight gain and my body’s increasing resistance to its production of insulin
I therefore watch my diet and exercise regularly and find that maintains a constsnt bidy weight of 77 kilos ( 17lbs)
and at age 82 can do 20 pushups but
I am aware that a few more grogs (alcoholic drinks) a day starts to add the kilos
At this Xmas time with parties every second day in warm weather downunder thats a trap which suggests that if I drank every day I start to hit 80+ kilos very quickly yet others I know remain lean while drinking each day
So there is much in the argument that what works for one individual wont work for another

Reply to  Thomho
December 17, 2016 5:56 pm

Correction 77 kilos = 170 lbs damn typo

Reply to  Thomho
December 17, 2016 8:02 pm

Thomho, highest regards. Alcohol is a classic empty calorie worse than sugar, hence your experience. Sounds like your are doing very well for your age, and are very ‘up for down under’ on health, diet, and exercise. Anyone doing 20 consecutive pushups (full, no knee cheating) at 82 is by definition fit. Most young Americans cannot do that.

December 17, 2016 12:11 pm

From a pathophysiological standpoint, obesity is certainly a multifactorial condition that includes, among others, the differential expression of several genes including neuroregulatory genes, individual-specific glucose metabolism genes and “glycemia sensitivity” genes and lipid metabolism genes. This complex scenario defines the individual’s propensity to obesity, as descried in this post.
However I think nobody can really prove Hawking’s statement (More physical activity and change in diet.” ) wrong since, at the end of the day human body must respect thermodynamic laws. Notwithstanding the articulated literature evidence , the Occam’s razor lesson should tell us that if the energy balance is negative (more calories burned than introduced) the body weight can only decrease.
Did you ever see an obese prisoner at Auschwitz?

Reply to  Charlie
December 19, 2016 4:26 pm

No the point is two individuals eating the same diet and performing the same amount of exercise almost always produce different results in changing body composition. Many people simply can not maintain a “healthy” body weight

December 17, 2016 12:13 pm

Please don’t confuse body composition with weight.
Initial “weight” loss efforts through diet and exercise = mostly water = positive feedback to dieter.
More exercise and diet = more skeletal muscle building perhaps also burning adipose fat (if aerobic exercise) = weight gains as muscle tissue is denser and therefore heavier than fat.
Even if caloric intake is held as constant as possible (just by calories), body composition changes can gain weight.
Throw away the bathroom scale.

Reply to  Bubba Cow
December 17, 2016 12:33 pm

Very true. Simple experiment: a chunk of beef fat floats, a chunk of lean beef sinks. The difference in density is ~1:4. That is why the BMI is a very poor metric. In his playing prime, MJ was obese by the BMI. It is also why overweight people who start to exercise more to lose weight actually gain it. Which is perhaps why overweight comedian Robert Benchly said, “Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” Funny, but a bad idea.

December 17, 2016 12:19 pm

I believe the governments of the world have the nutrition pyramid upside down…..the carbs should be at the top and fat and protein at the bottom.I can recommend Prof. Lutz book Leben one Brot ..Life without bread….he runs a very successful clinic in Austria…curing obesity and many chronic diseases simply by reducing carbs…..the book is on Amazon I believe

Roger Knights
Reply to  Blair
December 17, 2016 2:00 pm

The book’s title lacked the letter “h”. It should be, Leben ohne Brot. (Life without bread.)

F. Ross
December 17, 2016 12:26 pm

Very interesting. Thanks Kip.
Anxiously awaiting a “universal” cure; el Gordo ( ; – >)

Schrodinger's Cat
December 17, 2016 12:27 pm

The simple statement that most people are fat because they eat too much and do not exercise enough is probably true.
You are correct that there are many other factors, but that does not make the simple statement wrong. Leaving aside medical influences to concentrate on solutions within our control, here are some comments.
Food manufacturers and slimming aid companies get rich by making people obese and keeping them that way. Foods are either full of fat or full of sugar or both, for the simple reason that we love the taste. People cut down on sweets then eat prepared meals with huge sugar contents. Healthy food like a small yoghurt can have 20g of sugar. A simple roll with cheese and ham can have the same. If you want to cut down on sugar, read the small print. Exactly the same goes for fat.
There is a growing awareness that we evolved as meat and fat eaters. Then we were persuaded to give up dairy products and fats. Pasta was the healthy option. Bread, pasta and many vegetables like potatoes are full of carbohydrates, readily broken down to the sugars from which they are composed.
The diabetes problem suggests that we are rendering our pancreas ineffective and that suggests that we are consuming too much sugar either directly or indirectly. Just consider the calories in a glass of beer or wine.
Returning to the complex reasons for obesity, there is no doubt that metabolism to different foods plays a part. I would suggest that ignorance about what we are consuming is a major part. That, together with cheating on our diets because we are basically greedy.

Schrodinger's Cat
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 1:16 pm

I went on a very strict diet, 600 calories per day for 8 weeks. I started on 13 stones and went down to 11, improved my blood pressure and reduced my blood sugar to pre-diabetes level. Today, my weight has crept back up and normal dieting just reaches a plateau very quickly.
I think that we enjoy eating so much that we eat more than we need. As we get older, we reduce the energy output so really our consumption has to go down even further. A light breakfast, light lunch and normal main meal become more than we need but psychologically it it represents barrier that we don’t really want to breach. I should really have no lunch and that may be my next step.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 3:01 pm

There are multiple lines of evidence that obesity has increased in the US since the 1970s ( Any alteration to the gene pool which would have allowed genetics to become the predominant factor since that time would have required a selection pressure that is unimaginable. Epigenetic factors are possible- much of the world is still recovering from the starvation conditions imposed by the Industrial Revolution. However, sometimes the obvious is simply correct. We eat more and do astonishingly less. The increase in sedentary behaviour is well documented ( I liked the previous scientific controversies articles but this one needs a heavy slice from Ockham’s razor.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 19, 2016 1:01 pm

Reply to Kip Hanson comment on 12/17/16 at 12:41pm
“Unfortunately, the evidence in the obesity literature does not support those views, …”
You are ONLY talking about the subset of obesity literature that YOU choose to read and believe.
You write a lot of articles on a large number of topics.
No one is an expert in so many topics.
You are not an expert in nutrition and obesity.
I read the other articles in this series before making the following comment:
You have an anti-establishment bias.
Sometimes the establishment is right.
And they are on obesity.
This article is your Waterloo !

December 17, 2016 12:31 pm

Another angle here, and this has nothing to do per se with the mechanics of weight loss or gain, is the fact that the ‘obesity epidemic’ is now big business, with a vested core of interested parties: overweight people, academics, drug companies, dieticians, doctors, and, last but not least, a meddlesome government driven by meddlesome do-gooders. Not a one of these players has any reason to come out and say the problem either doesn’t exist or is being exaggerated. OTOH, I agree the weight gain process is complicated, but I’m with Killer Marmot on the physics and fundamentals.

Reply to  Titan28
December 17, 2016 12:42 pm

It may be big business, but unlike AGW, in my opinion justified because a big medical problem. On current trends, CDC says the direct medical costs of obesity (really the associated complications) will be ~1.5x greater than the medical costs of treating cancer by 2020 despite an aging population with concommitant increase in cancer incidence. And Obamacare expressly forbade insurance rate discrimination on obesity grounds, compounding the problem. I am a former college athlete who has exercised my whole life, eats healthy, am not overweight, and really resent paying via my medical insurance bills for overweight and obese people who didn’t.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  ristvan
December 17, 2016 2:29 pm

“…and really resent paying via my medical insurance bills for overweight and obese people who didn’t”
With government provided health care (e.g., one payer) that attitude could lead to another big area of government over regulation. Hell, we might eventually wind up like Cuba with the government providing (or at least specifying) what everyone will eat for their one meal a day. You might want to be a bit careful about complaining, my grandfather lived to be 92 and said the only exercise he ever got was being pallbearer at this athletic friends funerals. He might not have enjoyed paying for your medical costs.

Reply to  Titan28
December 17, 2016 12:48 pm

I don’t disagree with Killer, although Killer may think I do. I’m just pointing out that one has to consider the biological organism – which already has lots of stored calories to use and at least three different metabolic pathways to use them – and is not a straight physics problem. Not unlike climate science. Wicked.

Reply to  Titan28
December 17, 2016 1:18 pm

Agree 100%. I think most of the comments here are absolutely loony and demonstrate how turned around we can get.

chris watton
December 17, 2016 12:34 pm

As I have been training and changed my diet (permanently) for the past 2 years and 7 months, I think one of the biggest problems is what we all eat, most ‘normal’ (as in processed) foods contain way too much sugar. I do not believe that all calories are equal, and if people stuck mainly to unprocessed whole foods, it would make quite a difference, even if they did negligible training.
The first things I cut out completely were bread and sugar, and what a difference that made! Over 90kg in May 2014 down to 72kg in December that same year (But I was/am also weight training..)
People really need to read the labels, it a product states that it is low in fat, the chances are they have added the sugar, which I think is worse, to compensate for the flavour.

December 17, 2016 12:37 pm

“As a cosmologist I see the world as a whole…”
That sent the needle of my horseplop detector so far to the right, it wrapped itself around the stop post.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
December 17, 2016 2:24 pm

I have a digital BS detector and that statement made the damn thing just explode. Nearly set the den on fire.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
December 17, 2016 2:33 pm

Absolutely! As a cosmologist I look out from the world and am only interested and knowledgeable in every other part of the universe, which, by the way, looks pretty fat from here!

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
December 17, 2016 2:45 pm

Had simular thoughts. Hawkins missed that part himself, when he recently presented his view regarding the climate …

Schrodinger's Cat
December 17, 2016 12:42 pm

Check out the sugar and fat content for yourself. Look at the small print on the prepared food in your food cupboard and fridge. You will be surprised. An obvious example is orange juice. I used to drink it by the pint, believing that it was healthy. The 30 grams of sugar per pint probably contributed to my diabetes.
Being diabetic made me read the small print on other products. Just look at the sugar content of sausages or a can of baked beans. Trying to get below a few percent is almost impossible when around 10% is common.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
December 17, 2016 5:54 pm

I don’t think that the scientific medical community really has enough understanding about diabetes to be able to claim that people become diabetic because they ate too much sugar. I think the medicos know less about diabetes than they do about obesity.

Reply to  Alan Robertson
December 17, 2016 8:30 pm

AR, as someone concerned about health care costs, have looked into this in some technical medical detail. It is complicated, but not too much so. The pancreas’ islets of langerhorn beta cells produce insulin to enzymatically enable all body cells to metabolize simple blood sugars. Too much sugar too often, two things happen. In the first stage of type two diabetes, body cells lose ability to effectively use available insulin. Called insulin insensitivity. In the later stage, pancreas islet cells over produce in response to first stage insensitivity, ‘wear out’, then give up and die. Proof is that insulin dependant type 2 diabetics are indistinguishable from type ones where an immune response destroyed the pancreatic islet betas (usually in childhood). Oversimplified, but generally correct facts.
I spent 4 years as the senior business guy of a startup that thought we had a solution to this. Whether we did remains unknown, as the startup turned out also to be a medical development screwup that did not have drug analogs in the pipeline, and did not do dosing alternatives. We had a bolus dose of one peptide, with no alternative dosing or peptide analogs in preclinical,development. Yet we still met some (but not all) clinical,endpoints in a phase 2b efficacy trial. A long list of not to do things learned the very hard way.

Janice The American Elder
December 17, 2016 12:46 pm

What medical study was done, that demonstrates what an ideal weight is? And, as part of that study, what demographics would have to be included? A crude measurement, such as BMI, is simply a lazy way of computing a number which has no basis in reality, it is an irrational number. I would suggest that we cannot talk about an obesity epidemic, when we don’t even know what an ideal weight is, as it is not defined clearly enough.

Janice The American Elder
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 4:20 pm

Just like an ideal weight, there is no real-world definition of “being fit”. Dr. Hawking is perhaps fit, considering the group (demographic) he belongs to. There is no obesity, or fitness, problem, unless you can clearly define those terms. We need clear definitions of ideal weight, obesity, fitness and non-fitness, before we can even discuss whether there is a problem. On top of that, there is a massive amount of money being raked in by companies who are convincing people that they are not an ideal weight, or they are not fit. Therefore, any attempt to clearly define these terms could interfere with those companies being able to sell their products. Follow the money, and find obfuscations of terms.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 6:15 pm

Janice, as an entrepreneur who started a health care company in a related space but who has dealt with this up close and personal for now 16 years, I am going to push back rather hard.
I fully support the right of alcoholics and drug addicts to poison themselves to death slowly. Just not on my nickel. In a similar vein, the obese can overeat and the couch potatoes can nosh on Doritos all they want– again just not on my nickel. BMI is nonsense except for the unfit.
But there are general rules of thumb that can define overweight and fitness adequately for general health and medical cost purposes. 15% bodyfat in males, 20% in females (adult). Caliper or immersion tests. Resting to exercise heartrate in some time period given defined treadmill pace and incline (a standard ECG cardio exam). At a Colorado senior exec training session some 20 years ago (way above near sea level where I lived at the time) I was the only one of the ~40 class that passed the simple weight rep/treadmill heartrate tests for minimum fitness. Administered by a US Olympic team trainer. The other 39 were an unacceptable health cost risk in my opinion.
No problem with people doing whatever they chose. Just not on mynhealth care nickel. No different than auto insurance. Good driver discounts, bad driver surcharges. And the medical profession knows how to determine the actuarial cost of the average ‘driver’.

Janice The American Elder
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 18, 2016 8:00 am

ristvan, I have a lot of respect for anyone who can get a company started, and have it be successful. You obviously have much more experience than I will ever have. However, I am not questioning your business abilities. I am questioning where your general rules-of-thumb are coming from. The percent bodyfat, and resting and exercise heartrate are interesting, and may indicate some amount of health. However, who set the numbers? How were they arrived at? Where are the multiple studies that make these numbers relevant to actual health?
The problem I really have, with your comment, is what you say at the end. That somehow people should be punished (charged more), if they don’t meet these quite random parameters. At what point do we try and control other people? If someone is a skier, should they be charged extra, because of the chance of injury through their voluntary choice to do skiing? Or, if someone rides a bicycle to work, or played football in college, or goes surfing at the beach? Should the healthcare premiums reflect those types of healthcare risks?
Because of those questions, I believe that insurance should go back to being catastrophic healthcare insurance, with anything else simply paid out-of-pocket. The push to try and force people to be a healthy weight, when we don’t even know what that is, is truly ridiculous. We cannot enforce health, because there are too many variables.

Power Grab
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 18, 2016 3:02 pm

@Janice: I totally agree with your comments.
I would only add that, even though it’s a fool’s errand to try to let the government dictate everyone’s diet and weight, they don’t care about how useless it is because they will have so much fun trying to do it. It’s really just “Big Brother” surveillance on steroids!

December 17, 2016 12:48 pm

This was a fun article.
1. Trigger warning – LOL
2. Researchers have discovered a genetic component to obesity. Well DUH! We evolved as hunter gatherers. Until we invented farming (and even then) we were trapped in the cycle of feast or famine. Everyone thrived during feast, during famine the skinny people died.
3. The myth that weight loss is a combination of exercise and calorie intake continues. Exercise is a vital component of over all health, which in turn will affect weight. But the next time you are on an exercise bike with a computer, take careful note of how long you have to pedal to burn just 100 calories. Congrats, you just mitigated one slice of dry bread. Want to lose just one pound of fat? You’ll have to pedal 35 TIMES that amount!

Reply to  davidmhoffer
December 17, 2016 12:58 pm

On the other hand, Hoffer-san, as long as the exercise bike isn’t located in the kitchen, that will be 700 minutes spent without eating.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
December 18, 2016 2:49 am

Yes, of course there is a huge genetic component to obesity.
One only has to observe genetic selection in meat producing animals over the last 50 years or so. Especially pigs and chickens.
Constant selection for a lean, fast growing, feed efficient animal has resulted in huge phenotypic changes.
The overall growth rates and meat producing capacity of individual animals have increased every single year, and the rate of improvement shows no sign of slowing.
And yet, any large population of such animals, tested for all the paramaters of such improvement, will still reveal a wide normal-distribution curve for those parameters, The population mean has shifted, but there is still considerable genetic and phenotypic variation. Two animals of apparently similar genetics, fed exactly the same diet, can have very different fat levels.
And all that is probably compounded by the effects of epigenitics (people/animals raised in a certain environment do pass some effects of that onto their offspring.
And then there is the huge role of the biome, the details of which we are only now discovering.

December 17, 2016 12:49 pm

You do nice summaries Kip. In this case the history and research do suffer from too much focus on cardio studies and blood pressure. A few years ago I was blind sided with a diagnosis of cirrhosis and being an engineer I had to study that. Amazingly, since there are virtually no treatments for fibrosis medicine looks mostly at treating consequences in other organs. An interesting factoid that might enter your calculation is that fatty liver disease has increased about 20 times in the past two generations.
Fatty liver leading to liver disease is expected to be the leading cause of liver transplants by 2020.
This tracks well with the increasing obesity of our population so it seems clear to me that we do have a generalized problem with the society getting fat. When you dig into the bio-chemistry you find that the liver is the controlling element in the fat equation so it does come down to what feedstocks you are delivering and in what quantities.
There are certainly genetic differences but generally people who diet ultimately fail because they don’t permanently change the foods they eat so any losses will tend to be temporary. Your analysis that the current state of play is flawed is correct in my mind but a notion that lifestyle changes, in the nature of what you eat, aren’t substantive is a bridge too far. If your diet changes such that you are no longer driving your liver into storing fat inappropriately you will lose body fat as a normal consequence.
Your criticism of the research of past 50 years is valid and the political nature of the debate should annoy us all. Much of the early effort was focused on the wrong problem but more recent research is gradually leading us to a better understanding.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 1:38 pm

Well that is a bit overly broad, as you say. However, I think the research does show that the while the reduce calorie mantra ultimately has problems, when you design a diet richer in fats than is fashionable and stop “binge” eating you can lose weight effectively and keep it off. The critical pathway is the feedback loop between the liver cells processing triglycerides and the abdominal “brown” fat which is its key depot. The fat engine turns on that process and it is fundamentally driven by what you eat and our modern diet isn’t particularly kind to that chemistry.

John F. Hultquist
December 17, 2016 12:57 pm

A: I see too many very young (babies, tots, pre-teens) that are fat. In my neighborhood while growing up, this was not the case. (One young person had a genetic issue and was fat.) Perhaps our lack of obesity had something to do with being poor and not having televisions. Our only screen kept flies out.
B: A warning – Rapid weight-loss can cause weakness of the abdomen and may lead to hernia. You could do this with a severe diet or something such as Giardia.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 1:19 pm

Do an Images web search for “fat children” — and weep.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 2:12 pm

Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult onset. No longer. Direct 1:1 increase with childhood obesity. The long term medical complication implications are staggering.

December 17, 2016 1:02 pm

About ten years ago, when I was about 60, my doctor diagnosed me with high cholesterol, and I could either control it with statins or by diet. I told him I’d try diet. He told me mainly to limit my fat intake to FDA guidelines, especially the saturated fats. And to watch the sugars. Being someone that follows doctors’ orders, I went to the supermarket and looked at the fat content of foods, and began a diet of low-fat foods that would limit fats to the amount of grams recommended. Well, I am kind of hyperactive, and I am a runner (still am). My cholesterol dropped like a rock. Unfortunately, my weight also dropped like a rock. My friends told me I looked like I was sick, and my wife was about ready to kill me — she said I no longer had a butt. The medical people found that I had less than 10% body fat. I felt great, except I was cold all the time. So they sent me to a nutritionist, who told me I needed to increase my fruit and vegetable intake (yeah, right). So I switched over to taking statins, and eating more fat, and my body is maintaining a better weight.

Mike Smith
December 17, 2016 1:02 pm

I’ve spent time looking at this issue too. My conclusions so far:
* The impact of (moderate) dietary fat on obesity is overstated.
* The impact of sugars (esp. refined sugars) is significantly (possibly dramatically) understated.

son of mulder
December 17, 2016 1:09 pm

In temperate parts of the world we evolved without central heating. I tend to put on weight in the winter with the central heating on and lose weight in the spring/summer when the central heating is off. When I was young and we didn’t have central heating, weight was never a problem The body is similar to the planet except relatively more heat is produced internally, sourced by food and drink and cooled by perspiration, radiation and with energy content reduced by chemical and physical work. I accept all the myriad genetic, dietary and exercise issues are relevant but for the individual to lose weight ultimately energy output has to be greater than energy input with lots of influencing dimensions, some significant and some minor.

son of mulder
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 1:28 pm

As we lose weight so we have less bodymass to keep warm and our surface area reduces so we reduce perspiration and radiative heat loss so need even less food to sustain weight loss or more work has to be done to burn calories. This is the key issue why some sort of constant dietary/ exercise formula won’t work.

charles nelson
December 17, 2016 1:12 pm

The cause of the obesity ‘epidemic’ is the use of synthetic fat which the body can store but not recover easily.

charles nelson
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 5:37 pm

From your tone I’m guessing you’re a bit of a fatty…am I right?
But to answer your question…I got the idea from several sources. There have been scientific studies
indicates that trans fat may increase weight gain and abdominal fat, despite a similar caloric intake.[89] A 6-year experiment revealed that monkeys fed a trans fat diet gained 7.2% of their body weight, as compared to 1.8% for monkeys on a mono-unsaturated fat diet.[90][91] “under controlled feeding conditions, long-term TFA consumption was an independent factor in weight gain. TFAs enhanced intra-abdominal deposition of fat, even in the absence of caloric excess, and were associated with insulin resistance, with evidence that there is impaired post-insulin receptor binding signal transduction.”[91]
But more significantly there is simple observation and deductive thinking.
Sugar and carbohydrates have been freely available and plentiful in the western diet for the last 100 years (war time etc naturally excluded) so back in the 1960s and 70s when I was young people could eat as much sugar and carbs as they liked…yet morbid obesity was so rare that it was commented on.
What changed? Well…the introduction of synthetic fats into the food chain, hydrogenated vegetable oils, based cooking media, margarine and shortening all replaced the commonly used Lard.
Now gross obesity is ubiquitous…as is sarcasm.

Bill Illis
December 17, 2016 1:26 pm

We should be able to eat enough each day and each meal to feel satisfied.
This is a basic principle that should not be broken because whatever you do, you are going to feel compelled to move toward this basic fact of human nature and, indeed, ALL of nature. We are going to move towards eating enough food to feel satisfied.
And that amount is basically 1.5 kgs to 2.0 kgs of food. Like a really large plate filled to the brim till it is falling off. That is what our DNA designed us to eat in a day.
To lose weight, you have to keep the calories of the large-filled-to-the-brim-plate under your basal metabolic rate. To find out yours, go here.
Generally, just being alive burns the most calories. No matter how active you are, you are going to burn something up to 1500 calories by just being a normal alive person. Exercise adds a little (but not very much actually. Exercise is not really the answer because it takes a lot of exercise in a day to offset that hamburger). Calories burned goes up based on your basic weight to start with (the bigger you are, the more you burn). The taller you are, if you are a man or a woman, as you get older, you burn less.
I am at 2710 calories.
All I need to do to lose weight is make sure the food I eat is 2710 calories in those 2,000 grams of food I like to eat in a day to feel satisfied.
(I always default to basic math because it never lies and it tells you basic “truths” that are correct on their face).
Food to lose weight: 1.2 calories per 1.0 gram for me.
It doesn’t matter if it is carbs or soup or booze or steak. I need to stick really close to the 1 calories per 1 gram or 28 calories per 1 ounce (for the non-metric folks)
And you know, lots of food in that category tastes great. I medium baked potato with fixings on it is 200 calories and 200 grams. I could actually eat about 10 medium-sized baked potatoes in a day (2 for breakfast, 3 for lunch and 5 for supper) and still lose a lot of weight. And actually I would be very full on that diet and even bloated. But I would lose weight while still being more than full.
Let’s try pasta. Let’s make that 2000 grams of Penne pasta. 7,368 calories and now I am gaining one pound a day until I reach something like 800 pounds and then it would level off.
The worst foods are pasta, rice, pizza, hamburgers, lasagna and most breads as well. Most of the things labeled “lite” are actually NOT.
It’s all on the nutrition label. Keep the math at 1 calorie per 1 gram. and you will lose weight and reach an nice equilibrium weight. Here is a good one. 100 grams and only 32 calories.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Bill Illis
December 17, 2016 2:08 pm

What you are missing on the exercise score is that it boosts metabolism. The gains go way beyond what you actually burn during the exercise itself. Also, if you are building muscle, particularly during say, weight-lifting, then that muscle will by itself raise your metabolism, even while at rest.

Bill Illis
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 17, 2016 2:27 pm

How much exercise do you need to do to offset a hamburger and fries at lunch instead of soup and a sandwich.
You would have to do weight training for at least two hours.
How about a soup and sandwich for lunch and then do weight training for one hour. Now you are dropping pounds and gaining muscle.
That is the point.

December 17, 2016 1:27 pm

Lets start with salt. Now over the years we have added iodine to our salt as a supplement because it was an easy way to get it to those who did not eat enough of it in their food supply. Take away the salt and now you have iodine deficiency which acts very much like a slow thyroid but does not show up in test. I used to crave salt, ate it by handfuls.. a little iodine supplement and that crave goes away as well the weird lump on the side of my neck and about 30 pounds. Perhaps we should be looking at the quality and nutrient value of the food we are eating and not just quantity vs activity.. just sayin.

Mike Maguire
December 17, 2016 1:27 pm

In today’s world, being fat is a negative. Appearance and higher health risks are the most obvious reasons. However, this is only a recent dynamic. We are basing it on the overabundance of food TODAY, available anywhere at anytime. This contributes to an over-consumption of calories of course but it negates the benefits of being fat/having a slow metabolism that were endowed to people in the past.
Humans have been around for thousands of years. During most of the time, food was not always plentiful and at times, there were severe famines that lasted for years.
Crop failures and such, along with less ability to store food for long periods as we can today were serious issues, often causing numerous deaths from malnutrition and starvation. This still takes place in the undeveloped countries and other places but we will assume that most reading this, do not have to deal with such an environment as was very common not that long ago in human history.
I am 61 years old and can eat all day but not gain weight or get fat. My wife is the opposite and considers me to be the lucky one. Probably so here in 2016 but in the past, when there was a severe famine, guys like me would probably be the first ones to die of starvation. We certainly would be the first to suffer tremendous loss of energy because our bodies are not as efficient at extracting every calorie out of what we eat as is the case for people like my wife.
I guess people like me sheet out more calories and maybe some nutrients vs a fat person, with a slow metabolism that holds on to every scrap until the last calorie has been extracted.
What a great time it is to be a human being in this age of science, technology and comforts………….and overabundance of food!
I’ll eat to that (-:

Mike Maguire
December 17, 2016 1:31 pm

So being fat and having a slow metabolism was a genetic advantage in most of our past………when there were often life threatening food shortages.

Science or Fiction
December 17, 2016 1:32 pm

lbs, feet & inches.
I look forward to the day United States of America will start using international standard units.
“the international system of measurement now officially adopted by all but three nations in the world: Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Liberia — and the United States.”
America, Liberia, Myanmar: The Anti-Metric System Holdouts
Honestly, the system is really simple. All other people in the world have learned it.
Seriously – inches! there are 12 of them´s in a foot! There are 3.28 feet in a meter!
And we have a Base-10 decimal system – come on!
See how neat the SI system of units is:
Velocity: m/s
Acceleration: m/s^2
Force: kg*m/s^2
Work: kg*m^2/s^2
Effect: kg*m^2/s^3
Does it really matter? Yes it does:
“The Mars Climate Orbiter (formerly the Mars Surveyor ’98 Orbiter) was a 338-kilogram (745 lb) robotic space probe launched by NASA on December 11, 1998 to study the Martian climate, Martian atmosphere, and surface changes and to act as the communications relay in the Mars Surveyor ’98 program for Mars Polar Lander. However, on September 23, 1999, communication with the spacecraft was lost as the spacecraft went into orbital insertion, due to ground-based computer software which produced output in non-SI units of pound (force)-seconds (lbf·s) instead of the SI units of newton-seconds (N·s) specified in the contract between NASA and Lockheed. The spacecraft encountered Mars on a trajectory that brought it too close to the planet, causing it to pass through the upper atmosphere and disintegrate.” Wikipedia Mars Climate Orbiter
We are waiting for United States of America – please stop fooling around.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
December 17, 2016 3:04 pm

When I got my technical educationen in the first half of the 1980’s, we were told that USA had started to adapt to IS units. The military did, but the rest? Still waiting …

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Science or Fiction
December 17, 2016 3:16 pm

Many things in the US use the SI system. Wine has been bottled as such since 1979, I think. Tools and many other things are sold via both systems.
However, the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) used for much of the US is based on the chain, 66 feet (80 ch to 1 mile), to indicate land distances and in particular in surveying land for legal and commercial purposes. The “chain” was a physical thing that was carried about.
Use Google Earth and go to Pocahontas, Iowa. Zoom out just a little and look at the squares on the landscape. These are roads, set on the boundaries laid out at 1 mile intervals. Much follows from this. From the simple: miles to the next town; to the complex: property boundaries based on a marker far away.comment image
To convert all of this based on 1.609344 kilometers is not going to happen.

Science or Fiction
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
December 17, 2016 4:18 pm

I found pocahontas – which part was I supposed to zoom in on?comment image
Joke aside – that was an truly amazing landscape – Pochahontas, Iowa I mean.
What has already been made don´t have to be remade. You just have to start using SI units – eventually you will love it – or die trying.
Sweden decided in the seventies that they would stop driving on the left hand side of the road and start driving on the right side of the road – it can be done.
Obviously, it will take a while – probably 50 years to get rid of US customary units – but it will be worth it.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
December 17, 2016 4:24 pm

At work (metal machining), sometimes we get technical drawings from USA, some old (renovation work), some new. Always extra work with those, due to the conversion to IS units. That’s ok with the old ones, but the new ones … Especially when the product will end up somewhere in Europe.
We do have one US costumer that uses IS units, but those products are conststructed in the Swedish office and sold in Europe.

Steve Case
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
December 17, 2016 4:26 pm

B I N G O!
Fly over Illinois sometime. That checkerboard down there consists of square miles. Your house if you live in the United States is built on 16 inch centers and 8 foot ceilings. But, in my humble opinion, manufactured goods could and should be made to conform to the rest of the world.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
December 17, 2016 5:52 pm

My farm was originally laid out in eighth square mile sections using chains. Things got more complicated since.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
December 17, 2016 7:34 pm

People managed to do it in Australia, and many other places.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
December 17, 2016 3:21 pm

The international standard units are coming to the United States and support them every inch of the way.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
December 17, 2016 3:47 pm

I am very sorry to hear that you can’t cope with having more than one measurement system.

Science or Fiction
Reply to  Merovign
December 17, 2016 4:24 pm

I can cope with more than one measurement system – I just waste time on dealing with US customary units – and it represents a risk – also for yourselves.

December 17, 2016 1:33 pm

I’m just way too lazy to stick to a diet… I never gained weight in the first place

Bruce Cobb
December 17, 2016 1:37 pm

The goal should be physical fitness. Weight loss, if needed, should only be secondary to that. Physical fitness is a combination of both proper diet, as well as exercise. Exercise needs to be both aeorobic and muscle-building. Muscles are the shangri-la of fitness, and boost our metabolism, both at rest, and active.

4 Eyes
December 17, 2016 1:44 pm

Follow the money! Advertising encourages everyone to eat processed foods and drinks. And obesity scientists need the disease tag to get funding. And the disease tag gives a lot of, not all, people an excuse. Eat less and exercise more will solve most, not all, of the obesity problem. And stop eating while you think you are still hungry and wait 20 minutes – you’ll find that most of the time the hunger has vanished after 20 minutes. For me and friends who joined me in our own boot camp weight loss campaigns, losing weight is as simple as switching back to unprocessed food (vegetables, salads, lean meats) and water, and doing more exercise. I hear people saying they are on this or that diet but then I see them cheating by sneaking something sweet or having a 2nd glass of wine or skipping the 1 hour power walk.
I get the feeling obesity scientists may be heading the way of climate scientists talking up a problem for their own sake, not humanity’s, and not being able to see the forest for the trees.
Kip, I have no doubt that genes play an individual role but I just don’t buy the line that we have been struck down by fat disease.

charles nelson
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 5:44 pm

Kip. Lay off the pies man.
Stop searching for excuses beyond your own actions!

Henry chance
December 17, 2016 1:45 pm

In today’s world, we see political slants inserted often. We see people claim gun control will stop homicides. Have we tried blaming silverware? We see obesity and sure enough they use silverware. Paraphernalia.
My daughter went to college with a goal of gaining 7 pounds. She failed. She couldn’t get half of “The Freshmen 15″ (Heptathathlete Big 12) She ate a lot. She also studied all night many nights. Architectural Engineering. She is skiing today on 10” fresh goreflakes. I am sure she has calculations for calorie burns when she runs ultramarathons now.
I think building muscle mass offsets fat increase due to aging. She runs 400 miles a month and i ride a mountain bike 400 miles a month. I rode my bike 8 miles this week to see Doc for annual physical. They drew blood and my CO2 level was low. How could it be low? Lot of this science doesn’t make sense.

Reply to  Henry chance
December 17, 2016 2:02 pm

“My daughter went to college with a goal of gaining 7 pounds.”
Is that the same as losing 7 pounds or was she anorexic ?
” They drew blood and my CO2 level was low. ” Low compared to what. FFS.
I get so tired of quacks telling me that my blood pressure is ‘too low’. Compared to what ?! A population statistic based on a fat, obese norm, who smoke and have a history of heart and arterial disease, dying from brain haemorrhages.
Hey, I’m glad to be “abnormal”.
If you do a lot of cycling, your blood oxygenation is probably above “normal” and you have ‘abnormally’ low CO2.
I would not lose sleep about that.

Reply to  Henry chance
December 17, 2016 9:23 pm

There is an excellent YouTube video on a lecture by Dr. Ray Peat on the biological importance of CO2. The ingestion of a teaspoon of baking soda in water reversed the stroke damage of a hemiplegic woman within 15 minutes. Most fascinating. Dr. Peat also talked a lot about low thyroid function, and the dangers of polyunsaturated vegetable oils. He also subscribes to the findings of Dr. Gilbert Ling that the protein in the cells is responsible for the storage of potassium and that the protein structures the water. So no sodium-potassium pumps needed. The structured water on hydrophilic surface was further investigated by Prof. Gerald Pollack. This is extremely interesting stuff. This also explains the cell membrane potential.
And while we are at discussing interesting stuff about health, here is another one: the Zeta Potential and its key role for cardiovascular health. Read online the book by Thomas M. Riddick about colloidal stability and the Zeta Potential. And see Dr. T. C. McDaniel’s website on his Zeta Aid, he is 102 years old, he must be doing something right. I am taking it daily and my heart arrhythmia is gone. Furthermore, dental health is of upmost importance for cardiovascular health. Root canals are harboring anaeoribic bacteria that can easily get into the blood stream, forming biofilms on heart valves (partially damaged the heart valve of a friend of mine) or inside the blood vessels (my mom had stents set and two months later she had dental surgery because of an infected tooth, the infection spread to her jawbone!). When the Zeta Potential is strengthened then these bio films dissolve, it also dissolves kidney stones.
Gum disease and/or root canals can also cause arthritis. My mom’s care taker had swollen finger knuckles when I came to visit her in Germany in 2012. I offered her my ‘MMS’ (sodium chlorite activated by citric acid to form chlorine dioxide) she mixed 4 drops of the sodium chlorite solution with one drop of 50% citric acid, the proper stoiciometric ratio, and let it sit for 1/2 minute, then she added water and swished it around her mouth, then swallowed it. After the fifth day she no longer had arthritis! But such results can only be achieved with early onset of arthritis. So it can be ‘all in your head’ or mouth, so to speak. In Germany, I found the MMS with 9% hydrochloric acid. Here the proper stoichiometric ratio is a 1:1 drop ratio. I also studied the MDS sheet on sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide. At these small amounts it isvery safe to the best of myknowledge. It is less harmful then the RDA of table salt when comparing the LD50s. I think this is some of the most important health info that I ever came across.

Reply to  StephanF
December 17, 2016 9:31 pm

‘MSDS’ not ‘MDS’

Bill Powers
December 17, 2016 1:55 pm

The older I get the more difficulty i have in pinpointing events in my earlier life on a timeline. It seems to me that it was in the late 70’s or early 80’s that I went to bed an average man and woke up obese. That was the point in our historical timeline when the government officially adopted the BMI as the end all be all to classify and define it’s citizenry and i discovered over my morning coffee via the front page of my morning newspaper.
Now, it will not come as a surprise if someone corrects my time frame and I discover through this page that this took place in the 60’s or the 90’s nonetheless thanks to my Government I woke up one morning to discover that i was FAT and I dare not argue.

Reply to  Bill Powers
December 17, 2016 2:19 pm

“we EAT like CRAP.”
No, we EAT CRAP.
Being obese in India is as rare as being rich in India. Despite that, being fat is seen as a sign of “beauty”, because being fat means you are NOT POOR.

Steve from Rockwood
December 17, 2016 2:00 pm

We should point out that obesity is a modern problem. 50-100 years ago 1/3 of North Americans were not heavily overweight. That puts pressure on the gene-related theory which I think over-complicates a simple problem. We under-estimate how much we eat, we don’t realize how inactive we are and we EAT like CRAP.
Television, automobiles, take-out food, heavily-processed food, snacks and candy.

Adam Gallon
December 17, 2016 2:04 pm

Eat less, more exercise. Simples!

charles nelson
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 5:43 pm

Kip…why so prickly?
I’m guessing you struggle with your weight?
Try laying off any food that uses synthetic fats.
Incoming==>the body recognises them as fats and stores them…but is unable to recover and metabolise them<==. If you get my drift.

Philip Schaeffer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 17, 2016 11:38 pm

Kip Hansen Said:
“If it were only true…..what a wonderful world it would be.”
It IS true. That people underestimate the amount of calories they intake, and overestimate the amount of calories they burn doesn’t make it untrue. It means that people are the problem, not the concept of expending more calories than you ingest.
People who exercise enough to burn more energy than what they get from their food ALWAYS loose weight. Every time. Anything else would violate the laws of thermodynamics.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 19, 2016 1:16 am

Calorie were deemed obsolete in science after the SI system was adopted in the 1950’s

December 17, 2016 2:04 pm

A few points.
Any athlete knows the BMI is seriously flawed. Most ultra fit, lean, professional athletes, especially those in involved with strength such as contact sports and those who are taller, would classify as obese. These are people involved with what is considered to be doing what everyone needs to do-exercise more. Typical examples of rugby players for example around 6’2 and who are strong, fast runners can weigh around 100-110 kg, which is considered obese. They are not.
The body adapts to its environment-most non-contact tennis players and surfers for example need to be light and lithe, they can be tall, but they are light so they can move around easier; equivalent height footballers are nearly always heavier, even for the same body physique. The body distributes muscle mass where it knows it needs it, and lessens mass where it knows it doesn’t and can conserve- a tennis player doesn’t need strong thigh muscles, whereas a NFL player does.
Another point, you haven’t touched on one major factor, industry policies and regulation. It is plain obvious the reason there is so much sugar in virtually everything is because it sells-especially to children- because they are wired to both like it and seek it out. Accountants look at the numbers and realise that if they put extra sugar in breakfast cereal, it sells more, so that is why they do it, and in just about everything. Over the long term, this contributes to obesity.
Mcdonalds has the same issue with bread and meat ratios versus vegetables in its products; the more bread and meat and the less vegetable ratio in its products the more it sells those products, because vegetables are not the things the body craves, and Mcdonalds just looks at the numbers and adjusts its products accordingly. Over the long term this contributes to obesity, along with many other food market practices.
Coca cola and other soft drink companys have long known that people who are thirsty will tend to buy a drink regardless if there is no other drink option available, so they have made contracts with food outlets which are only allowed to sell their product. It is a form of monopoly; food outlets should be made to sell a range of products-especially drinks -which gives the buyer more choice.
You have touched on viruses and epigenetics, but there are many social factors that contribute-it is indeed a complicated issue, but one thing you havent mentioned is various examples of market failure, or market flaws such as monopolies on products etc: the market will supply the drug- such as sugar -and people will become addicted, if there are weak or ineffective regulations.