Fat Fiction Fat, lies and measuring tape


The rise of hunger – pt 1

I drew a blank on illustrating hunger, so here's a hungry dog

Alright, it’s been a while – again. I was going to write some easy hit pieces how UK has fought off hefty competition to gain the award of the fattest women in Europe (go Team GB!). Too easy. Or on the US congress ruling resulting from lobbying lowlifes that deigned pizzas to be a vegetable that can be served daily in school canteens. Too obvious. Or the scientific research revealing that a toast sandwich is the best meal for an austerity Britain. Too dumb. Then I caught up properly on the recent posts from Taubes, Guyenet and Stanton and it spurred me to write the final chapter of this blog.

For those who haven’t read them, the highly abbreviated version: – Guyenet thinks people overeat because it’s damned tasty, Taubes thinks people eat to level their blood sugar and insulin drives obesity, I think people eat because they’re hungry due to nutrient deficiency. Stanton has solidly woven together all three viewpoints in an excellent series, so well in fact, there’s nearly nothing left to say on obesity. Nearly. But not entirely.

The last chapter

All of these views still leave you with a paleo-ish diet as a solution. That’s not in dispute (well, not here at any rate). The only real question left is why. Rather than regurgitate what I’ve already done, I’m going to take all these views, including my own, to their logical extremes to test them out. And hopefully by the end of it come up with a couple of experiments that would prove that greed, overeating and saturated fat are not the driving forces behind obesity. What we’re really seeing across the world where now over 1.5 billion people are overweight isn’t a rise in gluttony, it’s a rise in hunger.

Food reward as Guyenet describes it, is simply another word for hunger. Sure it’s not the same kind of hunger as someone who hasn’t eaten for days but none the less, it’s a compulsion to eat. And in the back of my mind I’m remembering ‘The Hoover’ from a previous workplace– a guy so named because he’d scour every meeting room for left-over sandwiches and waddle back to his desk before caning through what could only be described as a bread mountain.

Was he greedy? Possibly. Round? Certainly. Hungry? Definitely.

And while you didn’t have to be Gillian ‘Doctor in the Loosest Sense of the Word’ McKeith to figure out that his fatness was directly related to the number of meetings that we held in a given week,  it misses the real question. Why, oh why, was the Hoover furiously tearing through sarnies like a kid opening presents on Xmas day, when the rest of us left them to one side?

The blurred line between greed and hunger isn’t all that helpful at any rate. If you define greed as where  people eat beyond the point of satiety, then you can’t define someone as greedy unless you know how hungry they were. This isn’t an aimless philosophical piece of chin-scratching of where physiological desire ends and pleasure seeking kicks in. When you’ve got the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor telling the country they’re greedy, then there better be some decent evidence. And there is, but I promise you, it does nothing to support her views.

To really dig into it, you need to ask some pretty fundamental questions, starting with the next post, which is ‘do fat people need to eat?’ I realise this is the kind of question that 4-year olds ask, but the answer’s not as obvious as it might seem. More later.

A side note

Someone sent me this … turns out they’ve turned this entire blog into a TV experiment – the Food Hospital on Channel 4 has an experiment to see if you can get rid of gallstones. In errr, 6 months.

You’re welcome for the idea chaps.

For a moment I thought that paleo had gone mainstream. But no, on another page, it’s back to low fat high fibre advice. The cognitive dissonance is getting deafening eh?

Dog picture copyright Giorgio Montersino

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Good stuff Mike. I enjoy your writing style and your perspective. I was listening to Robb Wolfs podcast yesterday ep 104 I think, and near the end he talked about a theory of his where gall bladder disease is caused by a neurological/muscular degeneration from gluten and like substances. He didn’t go into detail but talked about how that idea could drive him to get his PHD and do some research if he could get the funds. Its very much inline with your idea as well. I could see them both being true. In the end if your not a nutrition nerd (like us) I just tell people to eat real food #JERF go Sean. Funny how its kinda simple in the end.
    Have you seen much out there on alcohols affect on this whole thing? In my social circle I see a lot of drinking, but don’t see the paleo peeps talk about it much. Wondering with all the excess drinking going on why its not on the list of neolithic agents of disease.

  2. Hi Ryan, thanks. I still think the causes are right – processed grains and sugar – but the solution is still pretty elusive. Good you mentioned Robb as well. I read his book after I started delving into all this and it’s very close; essentially the same cause but different mechanisms. He’s got the credentials to do the research justice, so hopefully he will go for it as this needs more than desk research and samples of one.

    Not read a thing about alcohol and gallstones/ or paleo perspective, and hadn’t even considered it till now. Still it is Christmas, so probably one to park until the new year… !

  3. Can’t wait for pt 2.

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