The Men Who Made Us Fat – part 2

The first part of the BBC series The men who made us fat was great, revealing the disastrous mistakes behind the fear of fat.

This second part – on the supersizing of our food – is not as great. But it’s still interesting. The problem is that they interview mostly experts stuck in an old paradigm. They fear calories and “calorie-dense” foods. But there’s nothing wrong with calorie-dense food, as long as it’s high quality food:

Quantity or quality?

Just about nobody got fat from eating meat, fish, eggs or olive oil. In fact, when told to eat as much of such food as they like, obese people lose weight quickly. More effectively than on other diets. Even though these are some of the most calorie-dense foods there are. Much more calorie-dense than French fries or donuts.

It just doesn’t add up. There has to be a better explanation – and there is.

It’s not the quantity of calories that is a problem. It’s the quality. Why? Because eating high quality food makes you feel satisfied, makes you eat less calories voluntarily.

But eating low quality food (sugar and starch) makes you hungrier, makes you want to eat too much. And pretty soon you’re happily supersizing your food and gaining weight.

What do you say?

What did you think about this second part?


Top comments

  1. moreporkplease
    Hi FrankG:

    "If portion-size and calorie-density are the keys to obesity then surely all a person trying to gain "weight" needs to do is chug down on 2 litre bottles of olive oil... any volunteers."

    So true. When I started my own journey, I began by reading Taubes. He introduced me to the study that showed how people actually won't overeat without the sugar, soda & white flour. Of course i didn't believe it - who would?

    And yet I remembered when I was a child, those great holiday dinners with my family and how full I used to feel, pushing away the plate. "Don't eat too much or you'll get sick, your tummy will hurt," grandma used to say. And it was true - I would feel full. Why didn't I feel the same way anymore?

    Why was I unable to finish a second plate of turkey, gravy and ham with green beans, pumpkin, and fruit salad "ambrosia," but now easily chowed down many pieces of "French" bread, pasta, potato chips, diet soda, low-fat "cookies," "healthywholegrain" granola/muesli, sugary low-fat yogurts, low-fat "ice milk"? Taubes claimed the difference was the fat, or the lack of fat, and the replacement with sugar.

    So I tried the butter test. I got out 1/2 pound of butter and tried to eat it with a spoon. I highly recommend everyone actually try this test themselves. Put the butter on a plate, sit at the table. Just start eating at a normal pace, don't force yourself, have a glass of water to help you out.

    i literally couldn't eat more than 4 tablespoons (1/4 c) butter. Not only did I feel full - for the first time in a very long time - I actually felt a bit disgusted. So I stopped eating.

    It's really a revelation. You really can't over-eat fat. Your body won't let you, as long as don't force-feed it or cram it down. If you sit down and just eat normally, your body will stop you. Even if you don't trust your body, it will work for you. That's the amazing part.

    I suggested this test to a guy a work, who managed 5 tablespoons before he too felt disgust. It really does work. And I came away convinced that for those of us trying to lose weight, fat absolutely had to be the mainstay of the diet to avoid overeating.

    You can easily meet people who gain weight eating "real food." And when you talk them about what they actually ate, you'll hear they mostly ate too much protein, often nuts or processed sausages. It's possible to gain weight eating too much protein and too many nuts, so the emphasis absolutely has to be on fat at a minimum of 60%, I do believe. You will sometimes meet people who binge on fruit, but they seem to be a little more rare.

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  2. FrankG
    @Grzegorz Adam Hankiewicz : "It felt as a simple statement: portions are bigger, therefore you eat more sugar and fat. By eating more carbs and fat you risk overeating and gaining weigh. Duh."

    I think you have missed the point of many of the comments here: humans (and rats for that matter) do NOT eat more simply because they are confronted with larger portions.

    For ALL animals when offered our natural diet, in whatever sized portions, we will naturally stop consuming when the body is satisfied -- biochemistry NOT behaviour is the ultimate driving force... physiology rather than psychology, if you prefer those terms.

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All comments

  1. Something just occurred to me today. In the UK over the last few decades the size of single serve packets of crisps has got smaller, as have chocolate bars. People have complained that this is effectively a price increase in disguise. My point is, if portion size was an issue as the programme claims, then surely the reduced portion sizes of crisps and chocolates should lead to weight LOSS. Of course it didn't, but the producers of this programme missed the fact that portion sizes of some processed items have actually been reduced. Poor research it seems to me.
  2. mezzo
    I just watched it and liked it. Their project was to show the food industry's role in the development of eating habits over the last fifty years. They did NOT set out to analyse diets for protein, fat and carbohydrate content. That may be a pity but that was not what the documentary was about. And within this frame they did a good job - especially in the bits that show, how the food industry lobbied the government, how commercials were made to get people to eat more snacks, etc. The only part that made me twitch was when they praised several European governments for having passed laws against unhealthy food - meaning Denmark with its ridiculous tax on fat. That appears to indicate that the authors still buy the "fat is the baddie" story. However, I am looking forward to part 3. Nothing like the good old BBC when it comes to producing a good documentary. And mind you - I would say this even if Germany had lost against England in the European football championship...
  3. Yossi
    One of the reasons we can't eat like we did 50 years ago is because our wheat is completely different. The short stalk, pest resistant strain introduced in the 60's is responsible for much of our health problems. Please read Dr William Davis' book "Wheat Belly", for more information.
  4. Garth
    The 3rd part wasnt on last night due to the tennis, has there been new date advertised yet?
  5. Laura
    Ooopps I missed it last night because of the UEFA cup and was hoping to catch it tonight on iplayer.....hmmmmm...previously it was listed under M for (the) Men who made us fat but now you cannot find it ANYWHERE...they do not want us to see the 3rd instalment...conspiracies abound
  6. tooticky
    @Laura, it was rescheduled due all the sports (Wimbledon, football etc.) BBC website shows now when it's broadcasted (next week if I remember it correctly).
  7. Laura
    Thanks for dispelling any conspiracy theory mists! I was joking anyway......:-)
  8. Tia
    Umm, I was going to search the sites of youtube and BBC to find out what happened to the third part of this documentation. Thanks for your updates!

    ;) Conspiracy? Yes, of course, because we Germans are not allowed to watch the live-stream on BBC sites.... LOL!

  9. Laura
    Tia...join the rest of world..outside the UK..not that we wish to be insular in anyway.
    THis last instalment better not disappoint...too much. I can see expectations build up! (Gary should be more than just a meer 'extra'! let him speak and enlighten the masses. Let him talk of the evils of carbs and insulin...we are the only cronically hyperinsulinic animal on earth apart from spoiled mis-fed pets and pooh bear)
  10. nod
    All 3 parts

    The Men Who Made Us Fat (part 1)

    The Men Who Made Us Fat (part 2)

    The Men Who Made Us Fat (part 3)

  11. Derek
    Doc, I completely agree with your assessment. Part 1 was good, and the following two were weak.
  12. shums
    Sometimes credibility comes from example. I would have a hard time as stop smoking coach if I was a chain smoker. I probably wouldn't be considered an expert on long distance running if I had never been a long distance runner and weighed 300lbs. As I said sometimes credibility and example are closely related. I find it a bit hard to take Dr. Kelly Brownell seriously as an expert when he is so obviously obese himself. I am not taking away his education, achievement or anything like that. I am also glad he cares even though I am not so sure I agree with his proposals. I just don't understand how someone can claim to have such a great understanding of our societal problem of obesity and what to do about it when he either doesn't care enough to try and lose weight or is unable to achieve it himself. Why should I listen to him? Why should we? I know that people have problems and I don't claim to be any expert on obesity. That is unless the qualifications are to tell you what it is like to be obese. I can fill that role. If I was a great expert who knew what the solution was I would use it on myself and be thin. If Dr. Brownell either doesn't want to or can't figure it out then why does he earn my trust or respect? Are his real motivations even sincere? Why doesn't he care enough to lose weight on his own? Seeing him in this series I just couldn't help but wonder these things. Seeing an expert on obesity that is so obese actually left a much stronger impression with me than anything he had to say. Is taxing fattening food going to work on him? I doubt it.
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