6

votes

Anyone read this article? Called "The Fat Trap" in the NYT

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 05, 2012 at 9:03 PM

I'd like to know if any of you are a part of the weightloss database of people who have lost significant weight and kept it off for a year or more. Is there any truth to this article? I does piss me off that they follow people doing the same old low-fat high carb diets and find that they have some major difficulties with maintaining the loss. Are we just programed or is this just bogus "science"? I have to say, it depressed me to think that this had any merit. Should we start our own Paleo database?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/tara-parker-pope-fat-trap.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=weight&st=cse

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on January 06, 2012
at 08:34 PM

That is totally me. I was a chubby preteen. Then lost it all in high school with veganism and extreme calorie deficit and then blew up between the ages of 19 and 25. I'm now finally losing it but it's really slow to come off.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on January 06, 2012
at 04:36 PM

Hi Beth - see this link below for a good example of why 'Eat Less, Do More' is such a poor piece of advice: http://paleohacks.com/questions/25926/happy-medium-between-conventional-sad-wisdom-and-paleo/25954#25954

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on January 06, 2012
at 04:35 PM

Hi Beth - see a good example here of why 'Eat Less, Do More' is such a poor piece of advice"

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 06, 2012
at 03:11 PM

Though I admit that it's not what I was looking for (which is what weight the average obese person started at before the first dieting attempt). However, I need to earn my rent, so back to work. But now I'm curious, so I'll try to look it up later.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 06, 2012
at 03:09 PM

But here's something interesting: a study saying that people seeking bariatric surgery tend to have a history of multiple successful dieting stints (i.e., losing significant weight), starting in adolescence, which then resulted in massive weight gain over time. http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v14/n3s/full/oby2006285a.html

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 06, 2012
at 02:52 PM

I have no stats to back it up off-hand. I guess it's mostly anecdotal. Most people I know (men and women) who are severely overweight/obese weren't obese children, they were chubby kids who at some point, usually in high school, decided to stop being chubby, dieted, and then battled their weight up to astronomical heights. I'll hunt around and see if there are any studies on this.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on January 06, 2012
at 01:40 PM

How many seriously overweight people are mildly chubby dieters? I'm guessing not many. Do you have information to the contrary?

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 06, 2012
at 04:20 AM

Thanks for the link.

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7 Answers

8
6984d31d0c639b4f470dc7ae15783929

on January 05, 2012
at 09:50 PM

I like that the article takes a step away from "calories in, calories out." However, its "hormone determinism" is depressing. In other words, the message seems to be: if you're overweight, we're no longer going to accuse you of sloth and gluttony. It's down to your hormones ... but by the way there's nothing you can do about that." I would hope that upon finally recognizing the role that hormones play in fat accumulation, the next question would be "and is there anything we can do--maybe related to what we choose to eat--that can correct those hormones"? To me, that's what Paleo is all about.

BTW, Taubes has written a response, to be submitted as a letter to the editor of the NYT, and is soliciting co-signatures, particularly from doctors and medical researchers.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/response-to-nytimes-the-fat-trap/

The password is goodscience if you want to add your signature.

4
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on January 05, 2012
at 09:40 PM

This article from Dr. Barbara Berkeley -- The Fat Trap: My Response -- of Refuse to Regain is a great response. Me, I think it's fair to acknowledge that "eat less, move more" has been a terrible public health experiment, and crash dieting (like the kind referenced in the research at the top of the article) is not the answer.

That said, I also don't believe our current weights are necessarily our destiny.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 06, 2012
at 04:20 AM

Thanks for the link.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on January 06, 2012
at 04:35 PM

Hi Beth - see a good example here of why 'Eat Less, Do More' is such a poor piece of advice"

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on January 06, 2012
at 04:36 PM

Hi Beth - see this link below for a good example of why 'Eat Less, Do More' is such a poor piece of advice: http://paleohacks.com/questions/25926/happy-medium-between-conventional-sad-wisdom-and-paleo/25954#25954

4
Medium avatar

(10601)

on January 05, 2012
at 09:23 PM

Yes I am, and I'm one of the rare males in the Brown NWL population. I don't eat low % fat but do watch portion size and no longer stuff myself. I keep the weight off with exercise.

Why not just join the database? Where would the paleosphere find a university sponsor like Brown? Atkins made an effort to get their dieters to join it a few years ago, but it will take a lot of participants to skew the results.

3
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on January 06, 2012
at 03:15 PM

While I agree that without taking into account our best weight loss tool (carbohydrate restriction), the situation looks deceptively bleak. However, there is some truth to the idea that the obese will never be the same as thin people, no matter how much weight they lose, and moreover, even with a proper diet, some may never achieve the degree of thinness they hope for at all.

3
Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

on January 06, 2012
at 12:18 AM

Losing weight and keeping it off long term is not easy.

The sooner people come to terms with that, the better.

There are a couple key things I think help, and tracking successful dieters backs me up.

  1. Measure often. Don't let the weight creep back on.
  2. Be flexible in your approach, I don't think a beer/pizza free life is sustainable nor do I recommend it unless you have celiac's (most don't).
  3. Be permanent in your new, more satiating food choices and habits. You cannot ever go back to your old habits for any length of time. This necessitates 3. to some extent.
  4. Exercise. Helps more in maintenance than in fat loss in my opinion. And 'chronic' cardio is certainly useful. I'm not talking marathon sessions, but 2-3 hours of light cardio a week is certainly helpful.

Paleo is no magic bullet.

3
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on January 05, 2012
at 11:12 PM

Actually, I like it. I like anything that's honest about how hard it is to keep off substantial weight. I like it because I think that dieting and regaining is generally worse for people than never dieting. If people really aren't going to be able to keep the weight off, I think it's often better to just aim to be healthier at their current weight.

For some, obviously, weight loss is necessary. But for a lot of dieters it's not. How many seriously overweight people started out as mildly chubby dieters and ended up in a yo-yoing hormonal disaster which lead to much worse weight problems? If those people had just stayed mildly chubby and ate better/exercised, they'd be a hell of a lot better off.

And I actually agree with the end of the article, where she says it's actually inspiring. If I were overweight and was looking to lose a lot, I'd really want to know what I was in for. It's got to beat getting down to the goal weight only to suddenly realize you're doomed to a life that you've thought of as temporary. Better to go in with your eyes open.

Plus, the fact that dieting is a life sentence might mean that people would choose funner life sentences (paleo!) over horrid life sentences (slimfast!).

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 06, 2012
at 03:11 PM

Though I admit that it's not what I was looking for (which is what weight the average obese person started at before the first dieting attempt). However, I need to earn my rent, so back to work. But now I'm curious, so I'll try to look it up later.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 06, 2012
at 03:09 PM

But here's something interesting: a study saying that people seeking bariatric surgery tend to have a history of multiple successful dieting stints (i.e., losing significant weight), starting in adolescence, which then resulted in massive weight gain over time. http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v14/n3s/full/oby2006285a.html

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on January 06, 2012
at 08:34 PM

That is totally me. I was a chubby preteen. Then lost it all in high school with veganism and extreme calorie deficit and then blew up between the ages of 19 and 25. I'm now finally losing it but it's really slow to come off.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on January 06, 2012
at 01:40 PM

How many seriously overweight people are mildly chubby dieters? I'm guessing not many. Do you have information to the contrary?

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 06, 2012
at 02:52 PM

I have no stats to back it up off-hand. I guess it's mostly anecdotal. Most people I know (men and women) who are severely overweight/obese weren't obese children, they were chubby kids who at some point, usually in high school, decided to stop being chubby, dieted, and then battled their weight up to astronomical heights. I'll hunt around and see if there are any studies on this.

2
Medium avatar

on January 06, 2012
at 12:15 AM

I kind of take issue with the notion that the amount of activity that these people need to do in order to maintain their weight loss is excessive or somehow outside of what is either evolutionarily consistent or even encountered in our recent history. Think of just how much energy it takes in order to exist as a hunter-gatherer or early pastoralist or even someone in 1900. A study of people in East Africa found that just fetching water was 240 calories a day. Every little thing that has to be done by hand requires energy. We now live highly comfortable, mechanized lives alongside absurdly energy-dense food. Couple this with an appetite that evolved to keep us hungry enough to overcome the great energetic cost of existence. This appetite cannot account for a sedentary lifestyle, nor should it. Always lean or usually fat, everyone should be at least that active.

Sure, there are some who effortlessly navigate that minefield and inexplicably remain lean, but clearly most need to keep an eye on things. The existence of these people is irrelevant and doesn't mean that you're entitled to do what they do.

There must be a genetic predisposition, but the real issue is probably adipocyte hyperplasia/leptin receptor damage, which would mean that the first time someone gets fat, it's their fault, but every time after that their hypothalamus is simply in direct opposition to a return to healthy weight since it thinks they're already there and anything below that is starvation. There must be a way to reprogram it, and to regenerate the leptin receptors, but I really don't have any answers. I suspect that simply eating a diet comprised of whole foods (with all meals made from scratch) for long enough will help a great deal since all of the toxic fats, excitotoxins etc. are removed.

The food we evolved to eat was largely energy-sparse with intermittent feasts on meat when we could get it. The idea that fatty meat at every meal is even possible is absurd (even in the tropics with poison arrows). There just aren't that many Inuits. Most meals consisted of fallback foods that took (generally quite substantial amounts of) energy to acquire such as digging out tubers with sticks that you located by walking around for miles. You then have to gather materials to build a fire for roasting them etc. etc. Life used to be tough.

So, you used to be obese and now weigh the same as your neighbor who eats shit food to satiety. You have to eat whole foods to satiety and exercise on top of that! You no longer eat flour or sugar but your neighbor can eat crap all the time with no issues! Sounds to me like you're healthier, will probably live longer and that your curse turned out to be a blessing whereas their blessing is actually a curse. The existence of people who inherited all of their money and don't have to work doesn't make me shake my fist at the universe. I still get up and go to work. (and eat real food and exercise a lot, even though I don't have to maintain my weight...only my health).

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