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The men who made us fat

I’ve just finished watching this terrific programme on BBC2 (Thursday 14th June 2012). It will be on iplayer for just a week from now here. Full marks to the presenter, Jacques Peretti for getting together such greats as Robert Lustig, Gary Taubes, David Kessler, Philip James and for honouring John Yudkin posthumously.

The programme opened with some facts about overweight and obesity:

– “More people are overweight than undernourished.”
– “Two thirds of British adults are overweight and one in four of us is obese.”
– “The average person in Britain is nearly three stone heavier than they were 50 years ago.”

Professor Jimmy Bell starts off by doing an MRI to look at the fat inside Jacques Peretti’s body. It is discovered that Peretti has very low levels of subcutaneous fat, but high levels of visceral fat. Four to five litres of internal fat in fact. Bell says that he would expect internal fat to be less than two litres. Peretti blogs here about having discovered he is someone who meets the expression TOFI – thin on the outside, fat on the inside.

Peretti says “These hidden fat deposits put me at risk of diabetes and cardiobadscuar disease.” Bell says “Long term this could be quite troublesome for your health.” My first challenge of the programme would come here – does obesity (internal or visible) cause diabetes and/or heart disease or is it the modern processed food that we are consuming causing all conditions – obesity and diabetes and heart disease? We need to take extreme care when making assumptions about causation.

“Britain has got fat in just 40 years – why?” asks Peretti and then travels to America in search of the answer.

During the Nixon years, housewives were protesting at soaring costs of food. Nixon needed farmer support to be re-elected. A man called Earl Butz was appointed secretary for Agriculture in 1971. He was described as “A friend of the farmers”. Butz’ vision was mass production/cheap food on an unprecedented scale. “Get big or get out” was his motto. Peretti proffered: “This surge in farm production would ultimately lead to a surge in obesity”

“Fence row to fence row farming” was the new agricultural order. As grain production became so high that grain surpluses were commonplace, Butz championed a process that would utilise cheap grain and the massive grain surplus resulting from this mass production policy. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was the (literally) golden product – a brand new industrial sweetener.

Peretti gave some Superbowl facts. This is the second biggest American feast after Thanksgiving. In one day Americans consume 14,000 tonnes of tortilla chips, 4,000 tonne of guacamole and one and a quarter billion chicken wings. There’s a great visual about 15 minutes into the programme where Peretti unwraps a burger and chips and shows that the beef in the burger has been fed on corn, the bread has been made with corn syrup, the fries fried in corn oil, the ketchup made with corn syrup and the soda made with corn syrup. Butz’s corn syrup has made it into everything. Peretti notes that the largest single source of calories in the American diet is soft drinks. In 1984 Coca-cola and Pepsi replaced sugar with corn syrup.

Hank Cardello, Marketing Director for Coca-cola between 1982-1984 was interviewed and talked about the switch from sugar to corn syrup, which needed to happen without compromising taste. Corn syrup was a third cheaper than sugar, so the economics were compelling. The cola companies were able to sell more and make more money.

Cardello explained that The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta didn’t start mapping out obesity until 1985 – so this change went under the radar. Peretti continues: “In two decades, consumption of soft drinks increased from 350 cans a year to 600.”

Enter Robert Lustig:  “HFCS has a sweetness index of 120. So it’s actually sweeter than sucrose. They should be able to use less, but they use more. The sweeter they make it, the more we buy.”

One of the best bits of the programme comes next. Peretti interviews Susan Neely, from the American Beverage Association. Peretti asks the simple question: “Do you think that soft drinks contribute to obesity?”

Neely replies: “No I do not.”

Neely follows this with: “The evidence says that obesity is caused by people consuming too many calories and not getting enough exercise to balance it out. Our soft drinks are a source of calories so if you’re consuming too many calories and watching too much television, you may have a problem”. She then uses the analogy – it’s like saying because you go in the ocean, you’re going to get bitten by a shark. Lots of people go in the ocean and don’t get bitten by a shark. (Hello – but if you get bitten by a shark, you’re in big trouble!)

Neely closes with “I don’t know that I’ve seen any study that shows causality.”

A guinea pig called Ken (a human really!) is then shown being fed shakes to trace where the sugars, including corn syrup, are metabolised and then converted into fat. About half way through the programme we see something I never thought I’d see on TV – fructose on trial! Fructose is singled out by Dr Jean-Marc Schwarz (the scientist doing this experiment) as being a key component in both sugar and HFCS (sugar is 50 50 glucose and fructose; high fructose corn syrup varies but the most common combination is 55% fructose and 45% glucose). A factoid is slipped in – “90lbs of added sugars a year are consumed by Americans”. Fructose is named as a factor for fat in the blood and therefore a problem for heart disease, fatty liver and diabetes. (The reference to blood fats is referring to Very Low Density Lipoproteins – VLDL. I also cover this in my book “The Obesity Epidemic” with reference to the study by Elizabeth Parks entitled “Effect of dietary carbohydrate on triglyceride metabolism in humans”. The study concluded: “When the content of dietary carbohydrate is elevated above the level typically consumed (>55% of energy), blood concentrations of triglycerides rise. This phenomenon, known as carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia, is paradoxical because the increase in dietary carbohydrate usually comes at the expense of dietary fat. Thus, when the content of the carbohydrate in the diet is increased, fat in the diet is reduced, but the content of fat (triglycerides) in the blood rises.” (“Effect of dietary carbohydrate on triglyceride metabolism in humans”, The Journal of Nutrition, (2001).) Please note that we are advised by dieticians and public health advisors to consume 55-60% of our intake in the form of carbohydrate. Hence this is not above a level typically consumed.

Lustig is back talking about the impact of fructose on leptin – our appetite regulating hormone. He explains how sugars – fructose particularity – can lead to obesity, disease and addiction through disruption of the hormone leptin and its signalling process.

Back to the UK and Peretti asks “How did we get fat in Britain?” The answer put forward is “snacking”.

In the 1970s we didn’t snack. Then the marketing departments did their best to change this. Milky Way was advertised as “The sweet you can eat between meals”  and snacking is now worth £6 billion a year. Remember “A finger of fudge is just enough to give your kids a treat”?

“Britain’s calorie intake went up” says Peretti. This is my second challenge – the evidence does not support this. Indeed the Food Standards Agency stated: “Since the 60s we’ve been consuming fewer calories from household food (this doesn’t include eating out). However, there are an increasing number of people who are overweight or obese. The reasons for this are not clear.” The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries & Food (MAFF) National Food Survey tells us that the average Brit was eating 2,290 calories per person per day in 1975 and, by 1999, this had fallen to 1,690 calories per person per day. Obesity increased almost ten fold during this time.

Terry Jones, is then interviewed from the Food & Drink Federation: “We lead busy lives, we have to graze from time to time. The food industry has provided nutritious products that match those busy lifestyles.” I would suggest that taking out the word nutritious would be closer to the truth.

Professor Philip James makes his first appearance “The industry love snacking – a huge burgeoning part of their profit.” The message is clear – ‘food’ manufacturers are not responding to a need – but driving it.

After talking to Paul Simons, an advertising consultant, Peretti reiterates “Calories went up massively” I reiterate – the evidence does not support this.

We then get the story that I present in my book and Taubes presents in his and Tom Naughton has done presentations about – the fat vs sugar debate. Peretti guides us through the story: In the 1970’s, heart disease was the issue and the question was – what caused heart disease? Sugar or fat? Lustig is back again (we can never get too much Lustig!). Lustig explained that Keys developed the K Ration (convenient supplies for the military) – he believed sugar was energy. In 1952 Keys did a sabbatical in England and saw an epidemic of heart disease and correlated it with the great British diet. He said that saturated fat had to be the culprit. He spent the next 50 years trying to prove himself right.

Lustig’s explanation continues: In Britain one lone voice contested what Keys was saying – John Yudkin – Pure White & Deadly (Reference to the 1972 classic). Lustig describes Yudkin as “a prophet”. I agree! “If you read Pure White & Deadly, it’s all there.”

The obesity crisis we face today is in part due to our ignoring the warnings provided by Yudkin. The industry provided more and more sweet foods. We move on to Dr Tony Goldstone next, who is looking at brain activity when people are shown high calorie foods.  We can see brain activity related to choices, motivation, drives etc – “the food industry spends a lot of time developing products that we will be motivated to eat and eat again.” “The brain activity is the holy grail for the food industry trying to get us to eat more and scientists trying to understand obesity.”

The experiment on brain activity was done on “Samantha”, who is waiting for a bariatric operation  -“I do try to keep to me fruit!” says Samantha. Bless her – she should listen to Robert Lustig’s expertise on fructose and try to avoid it!

David Kessler – former FDA Commissioner 1990-1997 had to appear on such a programme as this. He talks about food as the most socially acceptable fix in our society. Peretti and Kessler drive around anywhere in America and see outlet after outlet for fast food and drink. Kessler introduced the concept of hedonic response – Kessler believes that the industry is trying to process food to elicit a hedonic response. He sees the combination of sugar and processed food as dangerous, deliberate and fattening. Kessler believes that for some people their brains are being hijacked in effect – the emotional neural circuits are being activated. The same circuits that are involved in addiction. Peretti says that the mere idea of food addiction is highly controversial.

Back to Susan Neely for her view on food addiction (i.e. there’s no such thing). “We like to eat things that taste good. There’s a big difference between liking something and being addicted to it.”

In my books, Why do you overeat? When all you want is to be slim and Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight, I present four stages of food addiction:

1) We want a particular food e.g. chocolate

2) We want more of that food – one bar of chocolate is no longer enough, we want two and then three, daily

3) We feel bad when we don’t have the food – we literally get withdrawal symptoms in the absence of our fix

4) We suffer consequences – only these tend to drive people to seek help. The food addict gets fat or diabetic and only then has the motivation to overcome their addiction to their specific fix.

I absolutely believe in food addiction and I’ve yet to meet anyone addicted to salmon and green beans.

Back to America again and Peretti is to be applauded for including the story about George McGovern – who was given the task of setting the first dietary guidelines for Americans. Nick Mottern was hired by the committee to write a report on the matter. He gathered half a dozen nutritionists in the country. The report recommended moderate reductions in fat, salt and sugar but when it hit the press the food industry was incensed. Mottern – “I don’t think the government anticipated the kick back.” Mottern had a copy of an incredible document from The Sugar Association Inc. : One section said: “For 2 years now the sugar industry has had to live with 2 myths: 1) that consumption is increasing annually;  and secondly that consumption of sugar is directly responsible for death dealing maladies.”

In the media coverage following the report – sugar was barely mentioned. Reducing fat, as advocated by Ancel Keys was the concession that the food industry was prepared to make. Gary Taubes explains why: The instruction “people should eat less fat” gave the ‘food’ industry the invitation to produce low fat products. Then we’ll have junk foods that claim to be healthy – and that’s exactly what happened. Low fat became an industry – “It was genius”.

Dr Alice Pegg – a food scientist explains one of the challenges of the food industry. Fat stays in the mouth. This is because it doesn’t mix with water and wash away in the mouth. You have to completely reformulate food to replace the taste of fat. Many manufacturers replaced fat with sugar. Lustig again. Kids won’t drink skim milk, but put chocolate in it and then they will. SnackWells – low fat biscuits – flew off the shelves in America. Low fat doesn’t mean it’s not fattening!

Lustig again: “By the time anyone thought to to ask if it was a good idea to replace fat with sugar it was too late. ” If fat is the cause, it’s a good thing to do. If sugar is the cause, it’s a disastrous thing to do. ” I detail in The Obesity Epidemic how our consumption of fat has plummeted:

“The data in the National Food Survey says that we consumed 51.7 grams per person per day of saturated fat in 1975 and 28.1 grams in 1999. The food examples support this – all fat, butter, meat, whole milk and eggs – real foods and sources of saturated fat – are down. Dramatically in some cases – we eat half the number of eggs that we used to and one fifth of the butter and whole milk.” Meanwhile our consumption of cereals, cereal products, processed potatoes, ice cream, confectionery and so on – processed foods and primarily sugars and carbohydrates – has increased substantially.

Time for just one more story in the programme: In 2003, Britain and America were assembling forces to invade Iraq. Other US politicians had other battles to fight. In Geneva, the World Health Organsiation (WHO) was about to issue a report to set worldwide limits on the sugar in our diet. Marion Nestle was interviewed at this point to explain that the sugar industry mobilized its forces. The Sugar Association wrote to the WHO – threatening $406 million dollars of US funding would be withdrawn if this sugar limit went ahead. The US health secretary even flew to Geneva to put the sugar industry’s case to the WHO. The WHO never did make that recommendation. Geneva shows the power of the ‘food’ industry. The global body for health cannot come out and declare that we should consume less sugar.

Terry Jones is nicely timed to reappear at this juncture: “The food industry takes its responsibility very seriously. Playing our full part in public health.” etc Puh-Lease! As Peretti says “While obesity has boomed, so have profits”.

Obesity is costing the NHS over £4 billion a year. Maybe only when the costs to the NHS exceed the profits made from fake food will we wake up and smell the fries and milkshakes!

29 thoughts on “The men who made us fat

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  • Of course, the BBC follows all orthodoxies, so neglects to mention the medical recommendation for starches above protein and fats. All due to the simplistic correlation between heart disease and cholesterol levels, without any thought to other considerations, such as the state of the people who were part of the survey. Were they overweight? Did they have arterial inflammation? We don’t know. The other thing that I’m curious about is whether there was any mention of the most popular strain of wheat containing a protein that stimulates the opiate receptors of the brain.

  • Well, I’ve got the message loud and clear and after seeing this as my introduction to the subject, I have followed up by researching your stuff (Zoe), Lustig, Yudkin, Cleave and numerous randoms out there. It is interesting that Lustig is helping to bring out a third edition of Yudkin’s “Pure, White & Deadly” on November 1st 2012. I will be buying.

    The problem I have is that my wife doesn’t get it and she feeds our child a lot more sugar than I would like and suppresses knowledge due to a fear of causing anorexia in the child. I can’t win, so I gave to button my lip; not nice and she has told me to put on weight. My BMI is 21.5, hers is 33… Go figure!

  • The widespread use and consumption of high fructose corn syrup is causing increased cases of “fatty liver,” which if you were an alcoholic we would call “cirrhosis” of the liver. I have a very skinny friend who has fatty liver and cannot figure out why. Her doctor is dumbfounded as well. Yet I watch her consume a 6-8 pack of soda pop daily and wonder why her physician cannot make the connection. There seems to be a growing number of “skinny fat” people in the U.S. They are more difficult to educate since they see others as obese and at risk. It seems that perhaps all of us are at risk, regardless of what the scale says. Of more concern is the fact that the doctors seem to be as clueless as their patients.

  • J’ns – you really can eat well and cheaply. When I decided to change my life – for thats exactly what I did – I took away all of the processed cr@p from our cupboard. This meant things like ketchup, brown sauce, salad cream, mayo, as well as the obvious ‘killer whites’ like refined sugar, rice and pasta. In came whole foods and yes vegetables of all different sizes and shapes and colours, whole foods and fresh tasty but cheap cuts of fish and meat, though to be fair I am now following I would say an 80% veg diet – by choice! You do not have to go to expensive hippy happy clappy shops to do this. For example, the variety of whole nuts we bought were found in the bakery aisle of the local supermarket! Water, as someone has pointed out is virtually free, there are now bottles of wine and indeed any other booze in the fridge and our meals are now – without exception – prepared from scratch.

    I have always been a keen cook, so it was easy to adjust old habits into better ones. Cooking, I firmly believe, is an important life skill that we seem to be letting slip away. This, in the face of so many food programmes. The answer is fundamental we believe in our home. The relationship with food begins in childhood. So, already, even at the age of 2 1/2, our daughter will sit on the counter quite happily and will call out not only what the fruit or vegetable is, but what colour it is, whether it comes from the ground. A simple example; we had gotten into a habit of giving her things like ravioli from a tin. Tin open, microwave, plonk, there ya go and then saying well done when she had eaten all of it. Total prep time 3 mins, total meal time, 10 mins! By comparison, we made from scratch a potatoe rosti for her. ‘Whats this Harriet?’ ‘tatoe’ (give her a break, she’s only 2 and a bit) ‘you like potatoes don’t you?’ ‘yeah’ and on through all the ingredients. This went into a pan, was cooked inside five mins and was on the plate. fresh ingredients cooked from scratch and something she had been a part of from the word go. Its what I did with my parents and grand parents. Where did we lose this?

    As far as the processed foods are concerned, if you are struggling with the concept of whether you think its any good or not, just imagine all the fancy packaging having a skull and cross bones on the side. A bit like cigerette packaging! If this debate continues, I hope it may become a reality.

    Whole foods, natural sources, water, no booze, swimming. I have lost 21 pounds in 5 weeks. I have a mountain to climb, but I have at least left the base camp.

    Excellent write up btw, just a shame they seem to have lost the third and final episode. Flippin tennis!

  • Hi Zoe

    Have you read 4 hour body by Tim Jeffries? I think you would find it interesting.

    Take care

  • “We snack too much now” as an explanation for obesity sounds like more blame-shifting; another Taubesian reversal of cause and effect.

    We in the US and UK are now a highly insulin-resistant population who promptly lock away most of what we consume as fat and are forced to rely on remnant blood glucose for our energy. That’s a short-term fuel that must be replenished every few hours–small wonder people snack on carbs all the time and are officially advised to “eat 6-8 small meals during the day”!

    That used to be me, 8 stone and one epiphany ago. I now eat ONE lchf/Primal meal per day and haven’t the slightest inclination to snack.

  • glad you enjoyed the programme, it was a really interesting one to work on.

  • Hi Zoe
    I have been struggling for 50 yrs to lose weight. I was 13.5 st when I left school and gradually went up to 16 st. Numerous health problems made me seriously HAVE to lose some weight and I literally starved 3 st off. I just couldn’t go any further and gradually put 1 st back on over a year. Thank goodness I found Gary Taubes book! After reading it I KNEW where I was going wrong and it explained everything, just as your book does. I started again in March and so far have lost almost a stone and am finding it the easiest diet I have ever been on, but I am so, so mad at the people who are still peddling these lies about dieting and eating the right foods. I am also so glad there are people like yourself out there who genuinely care and stand up for us to make our voice heard in places we cannot go. I just hope one day they get their just deserts for leading so many people into a life of pain and suffering.
    I cannot thank you enough for the insight you have given me, and also the other researchers and scientists who are telling us the truth.
    June Bell

  • I belong to a forum that has nothing whatever to do with diets. There is a section for ‘general chat’ though, and we were discussing the fat-carbs problem. When I stated I had lost 2.5 stones since eliminating bread, rice, pasta, pastries and sugar (Sugar I never eat directly anyhow), I was told i was deluding myself. One member told me that I was in a hole, and I should stop digging. Good advice, when the hole you are digging is the wrong one. This came from a chemist, who was working for a ‘food giant’.(Need I say what they specialised in? he as at pains to call me a layman who knew nothing, whereas he was qualified . He went on to quote Ancel Keys almost verbatim. (Qualified? Huhhh!) The message isn’t really getting through Zoe. So what chance have we?

    I have given up shouting at the TV when someone tells us to eat less and do more. It just raises my blood-pressure needlessly. All the same I am incensed when my Doctor tells me the same thing. When I try to debate with her I am threatened with being ‘struck-off’ her register, if I don’t follow her dietary advice. We can’t win.

    Being in a majority doesn’t make these fools right, but it gives them the loudest voice; a voice that is being backed up by the grain and sugar industries. Trying to convince people otherwise is futile. However Zoe, I admire your efforts. I believe in your findings, and in those of Messrs Groves, Taubes, Kendrick et al. Since going low-carb, I am losing weight. But I wonder what would be the reaction if we complained to the advertising standards body, about programmes like ‘Embarrassing Bodies’, and ‘Fat Club’, which further promote the Cholesterol, and ‘over-eating, under-exercising’ myths?

  • Alas, got a response to say that they are undertaking the work on behalf of a pharmecutical company, so it’s not down to them why they do the research not what research they do. What a shame. Hey, did people see “Secret Eaters”? I’d love to know if Ronnie gets on with 1500 calories a day, I know I wouldn’t. She has PCOS, and I bet they don’t tell her that can lead to (or is caused by) insulin resistance. And she’s eating LOTS of fruit and veg, so I am not surprised she’s putting on weight. They even admitted that she is eating 2,300 calories on average a day, and so accused her of deliberately eating less that week, despite doing their usual, “Ha ha, you ate THIS!” which usually works to show people eating what they shouldn’t be. Unfortunately the most they could come up with was some dark chocolate. But instead of saying, “Hey, maybe this calorie thing doesn’t work” they simply stick her on a starvation diet and walk away, going, “That’ll work”.

  • Going to watch it on iplayer now! Daily Telegraph has had a letter about it.

  • J*ns , I’ve been following this way of eating for the last 3 weeks, I don’t find it more expensive, as long as you make menu plans for a few days ahead, and only buy what you need, you don’t have to be buying fillet steak every day. Bought belly pork last week cost £3.95 and fed four of us easily. Plus I don’t find I have bread going green and fruit rotting in the bowl anymore. If you just buy food that hasn’t been processed you will find your bills are around the same and maybe even cheaper.

  • Hi Zoe. Thanks for your wonderful article giving a permanent record of the details from this great TV programme which will be lost for ever when it disappears from iPlayer. I started making notes myself, but you have done a much better job than I would. I am recommending your books to my customers and incorporating these ideas into my page on weight loss.

  • No response as yet, but we live in hope! Zoe, I’ve been promoting you again on someone’s blog who insists that this programme should have made more of how important it is to control calorie intake *sigh*. I was wondering, all those high sugar drinks that athletes consume in order to replace those precious minerals that apparently wash away from their bodies in rivers whilst exercising, and contain all that “Energy” that they desperately need before they collapse into a pile of “sugar-free” exhaustion (spotting a slight sarcasm inflection in my tone?), are they not having a hurrendous affect on people who drink them? Perhaps these fit people dropping from heart attacks might want to look at what’s in their ‘water’ bottle?
    Also, quick Food 101 – can I take as a basic fact that sugar breaks down fat in order to release energy? I think that’s correct. So if your body has high amounts of sugar in the blood steam, might it try to protect the major organs by storing fat – lots of it? Round the heart and in the liver? Just a thought…..

  • I was most surprised and also pleased to finally see this subject being discussed on mainstream television. The fact it had both Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig in was brilliant. Both of them have produced excellent work into the truth of obesity, insulin resistance and associated health problems. I find the subject of sugar addiction very interesting and Lustig has written several papers on this subject. The fact that he has shown that frutose follows the same metabolic process as ethanol is very revealing (unfortunately they did not mention it in this program), and I suspect this has something to do with the addiction. Most studies focus on both high fat and sugary foods together and do not separate the fat and the sugar. However I would not be surprised to see that it is the frutose that is affecting the dopaminergic mesolimbic reward pathway in the brain and causing the dopamine receptors in the nucleus accumbens to down regulate.

    J*ns – healthy eating is not expensive when you buy cheaper cuts of meat that take longer to cook and don’t cut off all the fat. If you eat the fat it fills you up and you can then go for hours without eating.

    Shame they didn’t mention how fructose contributes to the aging process too.

  • Zoe ………….. Please respond to J*ns. They would seem to be the focus for your message

    This programe was unexpected viewing. I note that they made no mention of Atkins, his idea was right but the message was hi-jacked.
    Maybe they thought it too contraversial.
    I am already convinced and have been since 2007, As a T2 of the chubby variety my meds and weight were rising. I now eat all the “bad” stuff. Meat fish eggs fats green veg berries. Result weight down 3+ stone and stable since. Meds down to the bare minimum.
    As for snacking because of hunger pangs, it might happen once a week on a bad day.

  • J*ns – not everyone is a white male – Zoe for one !
    This way of eating doesn’t have to be expensive – there are plenty of cheap cuts of meat – belly pork, chicken thighs, tinned fish & fresh veg in season are pretty cheap. Water is free.

  • Please have Lustig write down his weekly food budget including everything he eats or drinks, at home, and at restaurants.

  • The men who live in a bubble:

    Who can afford the diet that Lustig, Cordain et el promulgate? Note the proponents of these “high off the hog” diets are all white males, with white male salaries, male privilege and entitlement, likely with women doing their shopping cooking preparing and clean up (some rare exception as performance). I am sick of this top 1 percent of the world’s population telling the rest how to live. We eat the way we do because they live the way they do, skimming off the creme.

  • Brilliant programme and I see you have written an excellent blog as well. I would only have one small argument with the programme which has been seized upon by “Fat makes you fat” sheeple, that of personal responsibility. I feel Jacques is seemingly trying to point the finger at large food corporations for how much we eat. Now, yes, I completely understand that sugar acts like a drug. When I gave it up, I actually suffered withdrawal symptoms. However, every day I have the choice of what I eat, and I choose not to eat sugar. No one has control of my mind and body : I do not eat it. I also think that whilst the message is getting confusing, cutting calories is not always a bad thing IF the amount is spiking your BG’s. For example, I have sometimes had a spike from eating too much protein. That’s just me. That’s how my insulin resistance works. But it’s worth noting.
    However, I wish we could get this message out more clearly. just think, I might not have type 2 if I hadn’t continuously bombarded my body with VOLUMES of sugar and cut down on the fat. And who else cheered at the appearance of Gary Taubes?!?!!? Gary, one of my heroes!!!
    I’ve just sent a mail to synexus who want me to take part in a study into heart disease by lowering my cholesterol levels. I have requested that they let me know that if in fact low level cholesterol causes long term damage, what assistance can I expect in the future? It will be an interesting reply, I suspect…..

    • Hi Jessica – do share the reply if you get one! :-)

  • Hello Zoe – I asked on the ’10 Diet Myths’ link if you’d seen it and what you thought of it. Looks like you were writing at the same time as me. I spotted the anolamies with what you’d written in the Obesity Epidemic so was interested in your opinion. I agree that it was a great programme and I have the follow-ups on ‘Series Link’. Thanks for the breakdown,


    • Hi Alex – I’ll write an opinion on the 3 progs together when I’ve seen them all. You’ll know from my book The Obesity Epidemic that I think the change in our diet advice was the smoking gun. Peretti got close when he looked at the McGovern committee but majored on the introduction of HFCS as being the smoking gun. The bit of logic that was missing for me last night was that – it’s all very well to invent a product that can make people fat and to observe the increase in obesity that followed but surely the change in public health dietary advice to tell people to base their meals on starchy foods – the UK Plate and the USA pyramid – was the key driver that changed what we ate as nations. Had we continued to be told – eat meat & 2 veg; butter is best; go to work on an egg etc, HFCS would have been rarely consumed, as junk was rarely consumed in the past. It was the instruction to citizens to eat bread, cereals, fruit, fructose at the expense of real food that enabled the products with HFCS to dominate our diets in the way that they have.
      Loving the series!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • This was indeed an excellent program. Even better than I had hoped! Its is so good that the word is getting out!!

  • Hi Zoe,
    Great to see the message is starting to filter through at long last. I was glued to this last night on TV and again on iplayer at two in the morning. This piece you’ve just written is amazing too. It should be in every newspaper. You must have been up all night.
    I’m 58 and last year I was 15½ Stone, with high blood pressure and heading for a heart attack or at the very least diabetes. My Doctor gave me a wake-up call following a blood test and I was searching the net for a suitable diet when I found Robert Lustig’s Lecture on Youtube and Gary Taubes’ books and articles. I managed to find a scanned copy of John Yudkin’s book too, and read that. Incredible to think now, that we ignored our own researchers like Yudkin, Dr Raymond Greene (Brother of the author, Graham), Thomas Cleave, George Campbell and Denis Burkitt, and blindly followed the American way. Even Robert Atkins was denounced with almost religous fervour with his diet. Now we see the result. The tragedy of it all, though is the thousands of people who have suffered from diminished quality of life, debilitating illness and died prematurely, of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer since then, because they were given the wrong advice on what to eat?
    I’ve just sent an email to Penguin books, with a plea to reissue Yudkin’s book. It should be read by every Doctor and Nutritionist so they can see where we went so badly wrong.
    This information has changed my life. After cutting out my dozen mugs of tea a day, with three heaped spoonfuls of sugar and all the rest of the junk food and energy drinks, the weight has just fallen off me and without any exercise too. My blood pressure is back to normal. I passed a glucose test, so no risk of Diabetes. I’m still on a low dose pill for my blood pressure and a statin for cholesterol. The latter under protest I might add, with what I know now about cholesterol, but I’m not quite down to my target of 11 stone just yet and I’ve got to deal with my smoking habit next, so I’ll stay on it for the moment.
    Please keep up the good work in educating the public. It seems to me that we can’t rely on the Government or the NHS advice to pull us out of this crisis. It needs the weight of the media and people such as yourself and Jamie Oliver, etc, to get the message across to the public at large. A lot of them don’t want to hear it, of course. They’ve heard it all before. Don’t eat this, don’t eat that. They’ve got used to fast food. As Robert Lustig says in the UCTV Series “The Skinny on Obesity”, “It’s fast preparing, fast eating, it’s portable and cheap, and in our busy lifestyles, we don’t have time for food”. I used to work shifts and nights in a warehouse so I know all about grabbing a snack when you can That’s where I started to put on weight. Now I have a full breakfast in the morning with eggs and bacon most days. Other meals are Meat, poultry or fish with lots of salad or steamed veg. Snacks are sometime s a problem but I haven’t fallen off the wagon yet.
    Kind regards
    Les Carey

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