So, I just saw A Mathematical Challenge to Obesity posted on Google News. It was written by Carson Chow, a mathematician for a division of the NIH. He argues, essentially, that it's calories in v. calories out concluding that "There’s no magic bullet on this. You simply have to cut calories and be vigilant for the rest of your life."
The other day, I saw Taubes' argument on The Daily Beast (Why the Campaign to Stop America's Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing). Most people here probably have a good idea of what this article says: Taubes places heavy blame in insulin impacting foods--that insulin spikes cause fat fat cells, which therefore causes fat humans.
If we could put these two in a room together to debate obesity's causes and solutions, who would win and what would the argument look like?
As a corollary question, what do you think of Marianne Cusato's condemnation of the Taubes' article as "short-sighted and dangerous"?
(The question title is an homage to The Big Bang Theory and Numb3rs, both of which had episodes with convergence in the title.)
The Calories In / Calories Out (CICO) model is a silly reductionism and serves only to screw up any intelligent attempt to understand the complexity and beauty of the human body. We are not just incinerators, that would be a daft oversimplification! It's like saying if I pour 10 litres of water into a pipe 10 litres will come out the other end -- wow, big deal. Our bodies are not pipes, they are extremely complex machines with interacting processes and stores that respond and adapt in a vast multitude of ways to what is consumed. The insulin hypothesis describes one important mechanism of the body and is in no way negated by the CICO attempt at reductio ad absurdum.
I think Taubes has fallen in love a little too much with his hormone hypothesis and presents it in a way that kind of undermines what I found to be the most interesting part of his book Why We Get Fat. It's not that calories in/calories out don't matter. The question is why people are driven by their bodies to consume more calories than they take in: the feedback loop of insulin spikes leading to hunger leading to more spikes. I was kind of disappointed that his Daily Beast article glossed over this point.
I actually think it's a misreading of Taubes that he is saying calories in/calories out simply don't matter, but it is his fault that his point is so easily misunderstood because he presents it so poorly in a quest to establish his own niche.
Taubes likes to tout that what you eat matters more than how much you eat. Conventional wisdom says that how much you eat matters more than what you eat.
The very reasonable middle ground is that what you eat (calories in) affects your metabolism (calories out). And it's still energy balance that determines weight loss/gain/maintenance.
I agree with Jeff. Taubes makes a lot of sense, even if he did take it too far the other way. Hormones play a HUGE role in this equation, so to simply imply calories in - calories out doesn't take that into effect. You have to reset yourself if you want this whole situation to be long term. Otherwise you'll lose some weight at the beginning and then level out, followed by more gain. Taubes was on the Oz show and argued this point. Oz agreed somewhat but still brought it back to calories in calories out.
Anyway, I don't think anyone would win or concede any points. Just my two cents here.
Those two have been in a room, on more than one occasion, though not alone. Carson Chow is one of the two "young NIH biophysicists" Taubes has referred to in emails to me, interviews, etc. He and Kevin Hall (the other biophysicist and frequent co-author with Chow) confronted Taubes on his glycerol phosphate nonsense on at least one occasion (I think two). This resulted in Taubes reluctantly removing it from his lectures and WWGF.
No way Chow says that it all doesn't matter anyway because insulin so fundamentally regulates fat accumulation as Gary claimed.
Thanks for that link, I hadn't seen it!