Is the Solution to the Obesity Epidemic Launching Today?

Obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing across the world and the consequences are staggering. How will we stop it? Not by continuing to do what we’re doing, because it’s obviously not working.

We need to question some of our fundamental beliefs that are, amazingly, not grounded in good science.

Enter Gary Taubes and Peter Attia, the co-founders of the non-profit organization Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI, pronounced “new see”), which launches today. It’s goal is to make sure that the important scientific studies get done. We’re talking about very major studies on for example low carb diets.

After spending some time discussing it with Taubes and Attia at the AHS conference recently I was extremely impressed by their thinking and plans. I do believe that this could change the world.

I’ll write more about NuSI and post a video interview I did with Peter Attia on it. But for now see the video message from Peter Attia (above) and then check out their website:

NuSI.org

What do you think?

Also, both Gary Taubes and Peter Attia have posted on NuSI on their blogs today.

More about the free updates that people get.

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22 Comments

  1. Wow, I am really excited by this news! As someone who has spent the past few years learning extensively about nutrition, I have been increasingly disappointed by the utter lack of knowledge not only in mainstream society, but even within the scientific community. With the increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in the US, the current level of funding for research and education is inexcusable. As an engineer, it is heartening to finally see someone willing to truly apply the scientific method to these issues. I'm a big fan of Gary Taubes and I really hope this organization can make a dent in the general lack of knowledge and misinformation about nutrition.
  2. Honora Carroll
    Sign me up!!
  3. Stan
    If Peter ever decides on another career, he could easily assume the perfect voice and presence of a well-paid film/tv spokesperson. What a great voice and comfortable manner he has. Glad he's on our side (of honest searching for truthful science to find better nutrition) and not shilling for the grain/processed trillion dollar fiasco that's killing all of us to some degree.

    I and many others salute him and Gary for their vision.

  4. Dean
    This is great !!!!!
    We can't wait to see what comes out of NuSI.
    Thanks to you Doc, Peter and Gary my health and the health of my family has improved 10 fold.
    Thank you.
  5. Mary
    Wow this is very exciting!!!!
  6. Thanks for the update! Excited!!!
  7. Wade Henderson
    Wait a minute, just hold on. I go to the NuSI site and look over their
    Scientific Advisory Board
    Board of Directors
    Board of Advisors
    Our strategy
    etc

    So all looks good. Looks like some quality unbiased folks..

    However when I look at the blog of Peter Attia, NuSI President, Director I find the following,

    "Once people start to “get it” with respect to why carbohydrate reduction, or all-out restriction, leads to good things...,"

    I mean, is Peter Attia ever going to be able to run a unbiased scientific organization when he starts off with such a narrow vision?
    I don't even need to remind you of the other founder's bias, Mr Taubes.

    Since so much science is set up to prove x,y, or z, one wonders if any work will be done that looks in directions other than "low carb"...

    The entire endevor looks rather suspcious when it come to science.
    NOT that the low-fat crowd hasn't been doing similar science and finding what they set out to prove.

    Attia also says on his blog the following

    "How does the average person living in, say, Japan stay leaner and healthier than the average American while still consuming >70% of their caloric intake in the form of carbohydrates?"

    "I don’t claim to know the answer this question, but I’ve got a few ideas."

    So will NuSI also be looking at this question that Peter Attia has no answer for?
    Some how I kind of doubt it.
    Seems we might only get more science that discovers what they set out to prove.

    Just saying, I won't be holding my breath for "proof" of what they may be intent on showing is true.
    I could be wrong and of course it will take years for results.

  8. Tabetha
    "As to the mission itself, Peter and I have already had meetings with researchers from around the country to discuss and begin the design process of the research that NuSI hopes to fund. These researchers are all excellent scientists, and they’re all skeptical of the hypotheses that we hope to test — the ideal combination. The experiments will be human trials; they’ll all be rigorously well-controlled, and they’ll all be aimed at identifying unambiguously the causes of obesity and type 2 diabetes, elucidating the underlying mechanisms involved. If all goes well, we’ll move later onto studies that look at longterm effectiveness of dietary therapies based on what we’ve learned.

    Both Peter and I have our beliefs about what we’re likely to find, as do the researchers we’ve recruited to join the effort. As we say in our founder’s letter on the NuSI site, we’re not invested in particular outcomes, we’re invested in establishing reliable knowledge on the relationship between diet and disease and so scientifically-sound solutions to the health problems that beset us. " Gary Taubes

    "NuSI is not about me or Gary or low carb or low fat or even “diets,” per se. NuSI is about science. It’s about bringing the rigors of the scientific method, just as they exist in other disciplines of science, to the field of nutrition science. To support NuSI means just one thing: you believe the field of nutrition is at least as deserving of rigorous experimental science as any other field of science, and that our health is too important to gamble based on observations, correlations, best-guesses, or science lacking rigor." Peter Attia

    I believe them and even if I didn't you can be sure anything funded by NuSi is going to be scrutinized -- unlike the red meat kills you "science" that's regularly reported.

    Removed links.

  9. Tomas
    Peter could play in Apple's videos and talk about "the new iPhone". Excellent performance and great news.
  10. Jayceeehh
    I've been interested in low carb for a long time, however, I just came back from a holiday in Italy. Most people there are thin and there are carbs everywhere. It's a huge part of their diet. However, they eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and fish and meat together with the carbs. Maybe that lowers the GI of the food. No idea. Anyway, I've just got on the scales and no weight gain after a week of eating what I thought were huge amounts of everything. I'm more confused now than ever...
    Reply: #19
  11. Wade Henderson
    Tabetha, for two men who are "open" to what science will reveal, they, in their own writings, seem to have a very narrow view of what is and isn't the cause of our dietary problems.

    Each of them dismiss the Asian carb contradiction, even though each admits they can't fully explain it. Then each provides similar theories to possibly explain it, that seem to largely pulled out of thin air conjecture.

    As such, with that mindset, I think its reasonable to be skeptical about a organization they co-found. Time will tell.

  12. 1968
    Of course Attia and Taubes are in some degree "biased" because they have a hypothesis of their own, but so do every scientist. They have all made an "observation" and have questions they want to find an answer to (and have to limit the field of play), but it's in THE WAY they will conduct the studies/tests/sience that will decide if their findings will stand the test of competing theories/hypotheses. The problem with "conventional wisdom of today" (regarding health and nutrition) is the lack of scientific integrity amongst those who have done the old "science" a lot of people believe in today. Taubes' and Attia's mindset in regards to what they believe is the problem (their hypothesis) is not a big problem because their mindset regarding the scientific method is honest. Of course "confirmation bias" will allways be a hazard to everyone doing science...so... :-)
  13. Galina L.
    I hope in a future a LC diet will be an appropriate choice for people who have reasons to benefit from it, because now it is not the standard of care in medical communities. I just want it to be accepted.
    From what I see, the medical benefits could be significant also for people with autoimmune conditions, frequent infections, mental issues, hormonal changes, cancer. I hope to see a ketogenic diet to be the standard treatment for a person after a cardiovascular event, in a situation when bacterial infection is present or highly possible, for Parkinson patients. It all will be possible only after the stigma of a medical extremism will be removed from LC diets, and it is my hope for NuSI research..
  14. Jason
    Wade,

    You will simply have to read the studies and decide for yourself if they are giving low fat a fair chance.

    I will again refer you to the Diet Doctor's science page on this blog. He has not been able to track down 20 studies that are high quality that give low carb a fair chance.

    There are hundreds of studies that don't survive even the most gentle poking...I remember reading a study that said "low carb" was 40% calories from carbohydrate! Of course there was no difference between that and the "high carb," which was 48% calories from carbohydrate.

    So, the doctor's studies show 100% of the time, when given a fair chance, low carbohydrate works better for diet and health. If you have alternative studies that show differently, feel free to point them out, and we all together can figure out if they're actually fair. I'm confident that if we find a fair study that shows the benefits of low fat dieting, the Doctor will be happy to post it in his list.

    --edited for spelling

  15. Alan
    Wade,

    Was Darwin biased because he thought that evolution by natural selection could explain the origin of life on this planet? The quality of evidence and the multiple lines of interlocking evidence supported and support Darwin. Every scientist needs a hypothesis that is based on their understanding of the evidence.

    Of course people are people so things can get more complicated: problems can include subtle unconscious over-interpretation to outright falsification (maybe driven by money not science). But the test of time and multiple scientists trying to knock down hypotheses helps make science self-correcting.

    NuSi has their LCHF hypothesis (I think), and they invite other competing hypotheses. It seems great to put the LCHF hypothesis to the test. Let's see if LCHF can withstand long term isocaloric methodology. Maybe LCHF will pass and maybe it will fail. Maybe LCHF will be modified?

    I do have one critique of NuSi's interpretation of the scientific literature on diets--they claim that all of it is inadequate (as if all of the research done is not valuable). I think that there is some compelling, not perfect, evidence in favor of LCHF.

  16. Jaclyn
    Such exciting news! Cannot wait to see the results of NuSi! I'm a huge fan of Doctor Attia for it seems he always shows extensive research on himself to prove what he believes for health and nutrition. It's quite admirable.
  17. Stacy in USA
    Great News. I hope this organization has an impact.

    I agree that Attia is an effective spokesperson. Is he from the West Coast? He has that California mannerism about him (calm, open, expressive, articulate but not pretentious). I'm from New Jersey and we have a whole 'nother set of mannerisms. :-)

  18. Maggan A
    If NuSi turn out to be what they claim to be - it wont matter hwo is behind it, The science will speek for it self!!!
  19. David Salter
    Have you considered the likelihood that sugar consumption is the key issue, rather than all carbs. Grain based food has it's own issues concerning gut health, but less issues with obesity. Sugar also messes with the hormones and causes people to eat more of everything.
  20. Marcy
    Jayceeehh, the same thing happens to me when I go to Europe. I can eat way more carbs than I can here in the US, and not gain weight. I do notice that it is much more 'walkable' in Europe than over here. I do think most Europeans walk, because they can walk, much more than people here in the US and Canada. Things are just so big and spread out over here compared to there. Maybe it is all the extra activity in their day that allows them to eat more carbs. Just a theory.
  21. Rob
    Oh come on you just need to take a trip to the US and then a trip to an Asian country to understand the Asian Carb Conundrum. For those who haven’t been, I was sharing entree's with my partner when visiting the US (much to the disgust of the waiting staff who felt we needed to order an entrée each) and walking out of restaurants stuffed, while in Asia we had our own meals and walked away “content”. That aside, anyone pointing to Asian carb eaters as a picture of health are simply assuming skinny = healthy and we know that isn’t always true.

    Did anyone else pick up the fact that they are using researchers skeptical of the hypothesis they hope to test? This is like Galileo asking a couple Catholic priests to test his hypothesis that the earth revolves around the sun.

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