20 Responses to “The men who made us fat – Episode 3”

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  1. avatar Alan says:

    I watched the Robert Lusting “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” lecture on August 3rd and together with yours and all the other stuff out there, I finally get it.

    I all but packed in alcohol on January 13th 2012. OK, I’ve probably had 20 pints since then with Sunday dinner at the pub and all that sort of caper but one can’t be perfect. It’s better than my old 2 pints per night habit.

    Having had the final step of enlightenment from Dr Lusting, I also gave up fruit sugar on August 4th and that means all of its derivatives too.

    OK, so here’s the deal since August 4th:

    – I eat only pretty much single ingredient food. I’m really looking to avoid sugar and not too worried about it being pure single ingredient but chemistry sets are off the menu. Why are they putting sugar in the bread? Annoying that is!

    – I’m eating to my hunger signals and stopping on my full signals only. After my 80 mile cycle, my signals said to eat loads that evening and again in the morning but after that they said enough. Without the sugar in the diet, these signals seem to be trustworthy.

    – I’ve dropped 5lb. I’ve still been cycling 160 miles per week but before August 4th I was a rock steady 11 stone / BMI=22.3 and had been for a good few weeks. But it’s just fallen off and I’m 10st 9lb / BMI=21.6.

    – I’m drinking less on the bike, like 50% less. I drink on demand and I’m just not demanding it.

    – My urine is clearer. I guess that’s less uric acid from metabolising less fructose.

    – I’m much more energetic and not wanting to sleep for so long; probably 6 hours now instead of 7 previously.

    – I’ve got faster on the bike; I estimate something between 10-20% more continuous power output and that does not happen overnight. This is interesting and needs more investigation because unfortunately I crashed the bike into a dry stone wall on August 3rd on the Cat & Fiddle descent (puncture at a very bad time ran me wide and I got dragged along it at about 25 mph), so my ribs are nicely bruised and I’m only on 90% lung capacity as the last 10% still hurts when I stretch the old rib cage. I also gave blood last night, so need to make that back too as that will not help. I’ll report my findings in a few more weeks.

    – The bike feels a lot easier to ride. For example, there’s a road called Long Hill, which is 4.4 miles of continuous uphill at 3.2% gradient (no flats or downhill sections to take a breather). I went up it last Friday August 10th (6 days off the sugar) and not only did I get my personal record time (19:43 compared to 22:46 the week before; which is an amazing improvement in itself) but it felt so much easier. In fact, I only came home after 80 miles because I had to pick my daughter up. I’m postulating that this is due to increasing insulin sensitivity, so reducing my base insulin level and allowing better transport to and from the muscles but I’m no biochemist.

    – My peak heart rate measured on the very steep mile long climb through Pott Shrigley Brickworks went up to 182 bpm, compared with 178 the week before. I got a PB on that too and wasn’t all in by the time I got to the top like I usually am.

    – I’ve had to buy 30″ jeans. I not long ago bought the 32″. The whole bottom half of my wardrobe is now a problem as I’ve got cycling legs. Time to put another hole in the belt for now.

    Domestic harmony not good but there we go. My wife is to sugar as Nico-Teen was to cigarettes if you recall that public information film from the 80’s. “Sugar is empty calories”, she trots out as she gives my daughter yet more sugary whatevers. Not happy and struggling to bike lip. I have said I’m OK up to the ~45g GDA (although I think that’s too high anyway) but she said it was fine to double that. Aggghhhh!

    I’ve got my mother in law here tonight saying something about not abusing my body. Hmmmm, right on! I did my calorie balance for a typical day when I’m doing 2 hours on the bike (1500 kCal expenditure) and didn’t have a family meal and it’s 33% from carbs, 35% from fat and 32% from protein, total kCal=3100. I forget what the balance should be but that looks pretty reasonable to me for what I’m doing. A bit short on the calorie balance for the day but I felt so full I couldn’t eat anything else.

  2. avatar Alicia L. says:

    I agree overall–the first episode was a great start but it went downhill after that. I was frustrated with how Peretti continued to use the description of “fattening foods,” but failed to connect the dots with the first episode about how sugar is fattening, not fat. I have a feeling this was misleading and only continued to perpetuate the idea of calories in/calories out and the conventional wisdom of following a low-fat, low sodium and high-carbohydrate diet.

    Second, I too disagree about the use of the stop-light nutritional labeling for the same reasons you mentioned above. Additionally, I think it also far oversimplifies nutrition and makes it even less informative for people. The general population is so confused by nutrition to begin with, and giving them a stop-light system to follow further removes the onus for them to understand it. The program also described the “halo” effect of people eating more of what they perceived to be a healthy item (eg. Subway sandwich vs. McDonald’s Big Mac). Slapping a green label on something is likely to promote that same over-consumption of a “healthy” food (it’s low-calorie, low-fat, etc–I can eat as much as I want).

  3. avatar Alan says:

    Since I posted above, I’ve been doing some cross-research and I’m coming around to your way of thinking (looking back, manufactured pork products and biscuits have been my most major downfalls). I’m experimenting with avoiding manufactured “food” and sugar to see how my body reacts. I’m continuing to do 150 road bike miles per week, so I’ll see if I reduce BMI and don’t reduce training volume and reduce my time trial time. I have to say that a few more chickens are now gainfully employed and I’m starting to cringe when I see what my child is craving but I’ll have to take small steps to maintain domestic harmony. I shall report back in a month.

  4. avatar Linda says:

    Food labelling can be so misleading, particulary the traffic lights system. Sausages can be given a ‘green light’ for sugar, whilst candyfloss can be given the same rating for fat content. Go figure.

  5. avatar M says:

    Hey Alan, when I lost 2 stones my family started calling me “elegaunt”. Haha! Have to say I found it amusing because they were right: too many harp strings under the neck and collar bones I could drink soup from. After a certain age losing too much weight isn’t necessarily flattering. I now try to balance my weight so that I have a little more fat on my face and neck. Unfortunately, this leaves me with too much on the belly. Can’t win.

  6. avatar Denis says:

    Did anybody know/notice that this series was produced by Fresh One? This is Jamie Oliver’s production company and might explain Sainsburys’ positive coverage.

  7. avatar Peter Jenkins says:

    Could not have put it better myself, M. But as in all things, isn’t it a shared sense of responsibility. Its only because I went after the correct information and purged the family cupboard of the processed junk, that we now all sit down to home cooked real food. But as Zoe and Jacques indicated, its in darn near everything you buy that comes in a packet. Until supermarkets put their responsibilities towards national health before the bottom line, all we will ever get is window dressing. The information as it stands is just bewildering. For most of us, we want something simple to follow and of course a company like Weight Watchers panders to this, but they are still just a taxi plying for hire. What a shame the supermarkets could not plug this gap themselves, but with good, responsible and ethical marketing.

    I now view supermarkets in a whole different light; they are just full of rows and rows of brightly-packaged, interesting ways to fill me with sugar, salt, refined carbs and a host of Es. (BTW, Zoe, I am just 2lbs away from losing 10% of my body weight. All I’ve done is to change my diet in the above way, started to swim to exercise my heart (its a muscle like any other). I have shed this in 7 weeks.

    So in the final analysis, its easier than you think. Look at all of these rows of food in their bright tinsel-clad packets and where you see an inviting picture, imagine you’re seeing a skull and crossbones. Zoe’s analysis on the Kellog’s mini bites illustrates this beautifully.

  8. avatar Alan says:

    A very interesting series and I was pretty horrified to see how the food industry manipulates its customers. It’s just a pity I couldn’t get my wife to watch it and she’s the one that should based on the daily rituals of “it’s baked so it’s OK” etc. foods that she consumes (the truth hurts those that are affected, so they switch off). Personally I like a bit of cake and the like from time to time, so I don’t go with total vilification of the food industry per se but it’s a question of balance and I dont; care what anyone says but there IS an aspect of individual self control that we need to use.

    To me it’s only one side of the problem, whereas an equal part of the problem is the proliferation of the car. Together, poor food and the lack of need to use one’s legs are a seriously bad combination. I would like to say “roll on high petrol prices” but there are implications for the whole economy and based on my wife’s view, she would continue to use the car irrespective of the cost, so that’s not necessarilty going to work.

    Personally, I rejected alcohol and rediscovered my bicycle last year. I lost 3 stone and this has now moved on to an extent where the bicycle, walking and running are my primary means of transport within the 50 mile range when I am alone. I now get called “gaunt”, which I find offensive in the extreme as I now have a BMI of 22.5 (spot on the centre of what the doctor would recommend). Unfortunately, society wants to drag everyone to their level of sloth because as individuals they do not want to make the effort necessary to improve their own health. Yes, unhealthy food is pushed at us and yes it’s lovely and yes I’ll be the first to demolish a whole packet of fig rolls but at the end of the day, I CAN leave them on the shelf or I can look at the calories and equate that to the number of miles I need to do. The difference is, I’ll do the miles, whereas most people will demolosh the food and not balance it out on the exercise.

  9. avatar M says:

    Fair summary Zoe. Although this episode missed the mark in some ways, it did highlight how ingenious food manufacturers and advertisers are. Coupled with the recent documentary about how the health message is being hijacked by the manufacturers I think the public can admit they have been warned. We simply must accept that whatever the zeitgeist; food manufacturers will find a way to capitalise on it. That is their business. Our business is to take care of thyself by avoiding fillers masquerading as food. Consumers are driving this whether we care to admit it or not. People love the convenience and high palatability of these counterfeits. Until consumers seek out info and educate themselves it won’t change.

    Btw I enjoyed your talk at the Real Food Summit over at Underground Wellness. Great series of talks they were.

  10. avatar Jessica says:

    What a shame about the saturated fats!! I was shouting at the screen, “Come on, you started off so well, this is just going to damage all the stuff you told us in the first programme”.

    I have no problem with labels as sometimes it helps me rather than hinders me. I treat myself to a simple Thai curry sometimes, and discovered by chance that the half-fat tin of coconut milk contains half the carbs of a full fat one. It is one exception where I will buy half fat not full fat. Carb values are what are important to me (plus we SHOULD be divulging how much sugar something has, just to keep getting through to people that everything has too much).

    I’ve just been told by my diabetic expert that if they had put me on the 600 calories a day diet now being recommended for type 2 diabetics, I would no longer have diabetes. Now, this diet works. I suspect it works since 600 calories a day, now matter what the mix, is going to be considerably less than what you are eating at present. Second, it more than likely DOES shock your liver into releasing all its fat and you start reacting normally to insulin again. However, I don’t know if it’s a long term solution, nor (if you haven’t learned eating disciplines in the way I have, from trial and error and strict control) how many people will go back to eating high sugar, high carb foods which will give them type 2 all over again. Won’t this just turn into yo-yo dieting, which is supposed to be really bad for us?……….

    OK, so governments are not afraid of the food industry………Yeah, OK, whatever. I sighed when I saw that.

    Catherine, I eat full fat everything, and my cholesterol is 4.1. I think these figures are rubbish. A friend has just been through everything the doctor has told her to do to lower hers, and it has now gone up to the 7 mark. She’s pretty much giving up now. I will take statins up to the point where they affect my health and then they will go into the bin.

    Zoe – any comment on the study of youngsters who watch more telly than others being fatter? Is it that more exercise lowers BG levels? Not that it will be put down to that of course. And how about “Dispatches” – they won’t print my comment on their website trying to point out the REAL myth…..

  11. avatar Catherine says:

    I didn’t see the programme, but did see the article on the BBC website, which actually contained the three comparisons: McDonalds & Pret salad, Innocent smoothie and Coke, and the Krispy Kreme Donut and the yogurt. I was moved to send the BBC a rather outraged email in response to this, as I felt the implication was “you might as well eat the donut because it’s got fewer calories” ditto for the Coke and the McDonalds. I have had no response other than the standard “thank you for your email”, but I did note that the article had disappeared the next day (often, they keep such things “live” for a few days after they first appear). I didn’t realise that the three comparisons came from the TV show (I’m not sure it was mentioned in the article, actually). I had a rather interesting discussion with colleagues this morning about fat and cholesterol. One’s level is 5.5, and he’s being told this is “high”, and that he’s considered obese because of his BMI figure – he’s a slim, active firefighter, for heaven’s sake! The other, who has type 2 diabetes, was put on statins instantly he was diagnosed, despite his cholesterol having been only 3.2 prior to the diagnosis. The first one says he’s trying not to worry about his cholesterol, and the other says he’s not worried by “having” to take statins. The second one, who is in his late fifties now, has a brother who also has Type 2, and had another brother who died at 50, of heart disease of which no one was aware. His father died young, of heart disease, too. I wonder if their cholesterol was ever measured? Do you think it likely that theirs was also low? A most interesting point! It’s a shame that the “Men who made us fat” programme didn’t slam home the argument against calorie counting, despite clearly making some good points and raising some brilliant questions. It’s clear to me that Ms Milton hasn’t got a clue about calories or how many per person that massive figure represents. That’s a Digestive biscuit, I reckon, 74-100 calories. Simples!

  12. avatar Alex Kilbey says:

    Hi Zoe,

    Once again thank you for summarising this. Again I agree that the programme lost momentum after the first episode and was probably the most disappointing of the three.

    Sadly, my maths evaded me for a minute when I missed a significant digit in my head and thought that the government wanted us to drop 1,000 calories per day. I was temporarily apoplectic about how we would all go into starvation mode before realising that there are only 100 50millions in 5 billion, then thought that it was all pointless anyway. Strange woman, Anne Milton, I found her scary, condescending and defensive all at the same time.

    Again I was annoyed by the comments about saturated fat and especially how the traffic light scheme would cause problems. But, in general I felt it fell flat.

    A word of advice to the director would be to stop the arty camera-work and focus on the content. Peretti’s method of talking to the side of the camera was very off-putting as he appeared to be talking to my cat on one side of me or the empty settee on the other. Documentary makers should talk to the camera.

    A good series but a few opportunities missed, I feel,


  13. avatar Edna says:

    I’m not sure I’d describe the Pret no-bread sandwich as ‘processed’ – it is just a salad. What was your reasoning? (It contains the following: ham, lentils, egg, rocket, peppers, pine nuts, balsamic salad dressing). http://www.pret.com/menu/sushi_salads_soups/no_bread_italian_prosciutto_lentil_PUK4920.shtm

    • avatar Zoë says:

      Hi Edna – ham is invariably processed meat and no doubt the dressing has sugar and other stuff in it. I did indicate that this was processed to a lesser extent so it is about as good as you can get out and about in a city.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  14. avatar Tom Welsh says:

    “Chandon’s second finding was – having thought the sandwich was healthier, people were more likely to ‘treat’ themselves to a dessert or a “full calorie drink”. (Oh dear – why did he have to be a calorie counter? Why couldn’t he just stick with low fat food is fake and bad?)”

    You may be doing him an injustice – constant exposure does tend to make one hyper-sensitive! Maybe he just meant a “sugar-loaded drink”.

  15. avatar Travis Koger says:

    The argument about the government being scared of the food industry, and how much power Tesco wields within this debate is not taken into consideration with the cost to the NHS and lives lost due to obesity.

    Also, Valerie Vaz is mistaken about nothing having changed regarding the obesity epidemic… in five years time there *will* be something to show at the end of it, there will be more obese people, the costs to the NHS will be higher and everyone at the top will once again be blaming the *fat* people for not being able to control their eating. It will of course not be the fault of the food industry and yet more studies will be released showing how people are even less active than they were 30 years ago. The food industry will also be able to point to the failures of each campaign as proof that the campaigns do not work and that it is still the people who are at fault.

    All the while, carbs will be consumed in even greater numbers than they are today in an effort to *get healthy* and there will be Drs yelling at the fat burners about how they are doing it all wrong.

    Enter Dr. Peter Attia’s NuSI to provide some actual hard data showing how fat is not the enemy.

    Thanks for the review on the episode Zoe.

  16. avatar PDL says:

    5 billion calories per day is how much per person per day?

    UK population is projected in 2020 to be 67.2 million …
    5 000 000 000 / 67 200 000 = 74.4047619

    So their “pledge” is to reduce the daily intake by 74 calories … can’t Peretti point out that the maths is practically embarrassingly small? It works out to just 3% off a 2500 calorie / day (4% off 2000). Not that all calories count the same, but even then it’s paltry.

    Big numbers need context to be weighed properly.

    • avatar Zoë says:

      Hi PDL – We went the same route! I worked it out in this post at the time as 100 cals per person. This was an England obesity strategy with Wales, Scotland and Ireland having devolved health services. This was why (as the blog post said) the simultaneous announcement of the recommended daily calories for men and women going UP to 2,079 and 2,605 for women and men respectively.

      They seem to be telling English people that they need more than they thought but should be eating 100 fewer calories anyway. As this video hopefully shows – cut 100 calories of quality meat/fish/eggs and you’re lost health, not weight; cut 100 calories of sugar (better still the whole 400 that the average Brit consumes daily) and the health and weight of the nation would be transformed. Trouble is – the people in charge of obesity know less about the topic than many of the people they preside over!
      Best wishes – Zoe

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