Monday, May 19, 2008

High Carbs/Low Fat--Not Such a Good Idea

A book that has changed my life is Gary Taubes's Good Calories, Bad Calories. In this book, Taubes explains how Ancel Keyes hypothesized that high fat and high cholesterol produce heart disease. By carefully picking their data, and controlling who was allowed to be influential in the scientific discussion, Keyes and his colleagues were able to persuade the American medical community that carbohydrate should constitute 70% of our diets and we should eat no more than 15% fat.

When Americans began increasing carbs and decreasing fat, heart disease did not decrease. Obesity, however, increased. Experts said that Americans were exercising too little. Americans started exercising more, but as they continued to eat high carb/low fat diets, they continued to get fatter. The graph above comes from the Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. Look at the line labeled "Obese, 20-74 years." In the 1970's, about 13% of adult Americans were obese. By the early 1990's it was about 21%. By 2000, about 31% of adult Americans were obese. In subsequent posts, we may be able to gain some insights into the reasons for this trend.

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