Posted in Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating

Obesity in America: The Culprit and The Cure

Written by Jesse Richardson on June 02, 2011 with 81 Comments

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Greasy burgerThe United States takes the top title for many things in the world. For one, the U.S. is the world’s oldest living democracy. Also, the country has one of the most (if not the most) sophisticated defense and military establishment, albeit the benefits of that are debatable. The United States also pulls rank for one last thing: a huge population of unhealthy people, where the disease largely stems from lifestyle.

Rather than war, famine, or rampant illness, the U.S. is being assailed by the cheeseburger, 64 oz of soda, and recliner. As time goes on, states are seeing a relentless rise in weight-gain. In fact, “two thirds of Americans are now either overweight (defined as a body-mass index (BMI)of 25 or higher) or obese (A 30-plus BMI).”

To us, we just see different types of delicious food. But to our bodies, food is a molecular compilation of different nutrients, energy sources, and uses. That said, what is going on in our lifestyle that is leading to this obesity?

Macronutrients – What are they and how do they work?

For some brief review, let’s take a look at how food works.

There are three types of “macronutrients”. These are called “macro” because they are large in molecular standards, and our bodies must first break them down before we can begin to use them, as well as because they represent three major nutrient groups. First, we have protein – a macronutrient crucial for the creation of amino acids. Next, there are carbohydrates – the current primary energy source for our bodies in the average diet. And finally, there is fat – which has a number of molecular functions, promoting blood clots and preventing us from bleeding to death would be one example.

While there is no “most important” macronutrient, each has its details. Protein, for example, is something that must continuously be supplied from food. Essential amino acids actually get their name from the fact that we must obtain them from our diet, either from food or supplements. Despite it not being a popularity contest, fat is the macronutrient America should be interested in because fat is what many health care professionals think we’re getting too much of.

It should be noted that fat, although associated with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle, isn’t a “bad” thing. Certain types of fats – namely trans fat and saturated fats – are arguably “worse” than others (especially when over consumed), but they are all useful. Omega-6 and Omega-3, for example, help promote good balance between vasodilation and vasoconstriction, keeping blood pressure in its correct range. Over consumption of any fat (or any macronutrient in general), however, can lead to health problems.

What’s Recommended and What’s Consumed

Numerically speaking, the problem really is percentage; we are just consuming a disproportionate amount of one of the macronutrients and not exercising enough. Because each macronutrient has different chemical uses, when we consume them, our bodies treat them differently. Fat, for example, is easily stored when it is consumed in excess; hence the overabundance of body fat among Americans.

Want to get an idea of how off the chart America is? Daily caloric intake stems from these three macronutrients, and experts offer a suggested daily recommended intake (DRI) for our sources of energy. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and depending on your goals, you may want to adjust your macronutrient distribution accordingly. (Recommended is for someone with a very active lifestyle, not looking to build mass; alt recommended is for those looking to build more mass; consumed is average consumed today).

Calories from fat –          Recommended: 10-15%       Alt. Recommended: 25-30%      Consumed: 30-35%

Calories from carbs –     Recommended: 65-75%       Alt. Recommended: 40-60%      Consumed:40-50%

Calories from protein –  Recommended: 15-20%      Alt. Recommended: 25-30%      Consumed:15-20%

After looking at the numbers, it’s clear that fat should be consumed the least, but is actually consumed in twice its suggested proportion. Some may ask, what’s the difference? The answer lays in the fact that fat is a poor energy source for our bodies. Furthermore, because of our more sedentary lifestyles – lots of eating, and little (if any) exercise – we are more prone to fat storage rather than fat use. Even worse, the consequences of this trend can be life-threatening.

“But,” as many also ask, “why this is happening now? Why haven’t we seen signs of this from the past?” While the answer is more complex here than with the simple difference between macronutrients, many point to the fact that our daily lives have changed and the quality of food has gone way down.

First, unlike any other time in history, we aren’t functioning as an agrarian society. In other words, we aren’t farmers. Perhaps in another time, this writer would be working with a plow rather than hunched over a computer typing away. The vast majority of the nation fits this analogy, with each of us committing little time to maintaining our bodies. Little exercise is one thing, but a poor diet is another.

So yes, it tastes delicious and there is more of it, but the actually benefits of eating a cheeseburger are slim to none. It doesn’t provide our bodies with a square meal. In fact, it provides us with a product full of sodium, refined sugars, and fats. Remember, our bodies look at food on a molecular levels, not through the lens of a taste test. Unfortunately, as consumers we face fast food meals that have 50 percent of their calories from fat. Most of our foods are fried in a lot – a lot – of oil, meaning that we become fatter and fatter each day.

The Result

Because of the increase in fat and the more sedentary lifestyle than in the past, people are becoming obese. For the same reasons, the instance of cardiovascular disease in America is skyrocketing along with diabetes and different types of cancers. The human body is just like a machine: for good performance, you need to use good fuel. And here in America, we are eating ourselves to death.

Who’s winning here? Jack in the Box, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., McDonalds. Their “meals” are cheap to make, and on average, they supply consumers with about half of the caloric intake per day with the poorest quality of food. This amounts to profit, profit, profit.

What can we do? Stop eating so many fatty foods and get off the couch! Unfortunately, anything that has ‘trans-fat’ in it tastes delicious, but in the pursuit of better health, it’s prudent to cut back. In addition, people must begin exercising more. Stretching daily along with a light to moderate exercise can help with overall health tremendously. The power of consumer demand is the best tool for any person worried about fast food. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your neighbors: a poor diet is easy to brush off, but it can lead to some serious consequences when coupled with low to no activity.


There are currently 81 Comments on Obesity in America: The Culprit and The Cure. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. I actually believe that fat can be very nutritious and a far better energy source than carbs. The problem with the fats Americans eat is that they are highly processed, rancid vegetable fats. Grass-fed lard, tallow, butter and saturated tropical fats are essential in assimilating many micronutrients. Heavy carb intake as the US dietary guideline recommends is based on improving Agricultural profits, not human nutrition. We have only been consuming grains in such proportions for the last one to two hundred years as industrial agriculture emerged. If we are going to question why our population is fat, we need to question the government’s policies as well. Their nutrition policy is definitely not one that I find admirable.

    • You make some good points, Christina, but I point to one major problem: the United States hardly consumes grains at a rate of other countries. China consumes about 128 million tons of rice per year. The US consumes about 4 million (1). Even after holding population, there is a huge discrepancy. Here, 1 in 3 people are obese. There, 5% of their total population or 1 in 20. It’s even more interestingly to find out that grains have been a staple of their diet for thousands of years!


      [In case the link doesn’t work, you can find it on page 11 of this PDF:

      • I suspect the lower (but climbing) rates of obesity in countries with rice as a staple are more to do with the type of fats they dont eat and western countries do. Trans fats etc! you will notice htat the obesity rate in those countries is increasing especially in places where the traditional foods are becoming westernised

        • That’s an excellent point, Cecilia. Some places in China, they have about 20% obese (a rate we see in many states today). That seems to substantiate the argument that fat may be a strong factor, but with specific importance to those ‘unhealthy’ fats like trans fat.

      • I also understand your fervor, Jesse, and laud the place from which your passion is based. It is just that saying “fats” and “grains” is just to simplistic, even. We have not been eating the same type of refined, processed, packaged, sitting on a shelf for months grains for longer than we have been obese. These are relatively new to our diets as is anything created for shelf-stability. I also erred in not stating that I was primarily concerned with the current hybridized version of wheat the nation is consuming in frightening amounts, rather than the rice your were referencing. Nutrition is such a fluid, changing “science” that seems to never be fully understood. I never fully trust any “expert” and try to keep my ears and eyes open for emerging information. Much of what I have been reading lately points to seriously flawed understanding of lipids and carbs over the past forty years. Of course, we could get into all sorts of debates over the other ways even unpackaged foods such as irradiated vegetables or good old American (pasturized, homogenized ) milk and dairy have contributed to the erosion of the American public’s health.
        Meaning, the debate is a hot one because it is so very complex. And yet, the answer seems so simple: eat real food that has nothing to do with a factory or wharehouse.
        Overall, I completely agree with the statement above that “The system is flawed. It’s not that they believe they’re not right. It’s that the system shuns alternative views until they become profitable.” This model can be applied to so many of our culture’s ills. It is kind of like how industry is suddenly awash in “green” businesses. While I appreciate their efforts, we all know that the truth of the environment’s threats were around long before there were profits to be made off of them. When Americans can profit by something, it is wholly embraced. Hence, my wariness at the recommendations to gorge on high priced commodity foods ;)

      • The people of Okinawa (most people who live to be 100 or more) eat so much pork and lard that they refer to their home as “Pig Island”. They eat almost no rice, very little fish, plenty of sea veggies, only a very specially fermented tofu and sweet potatoes. I agree with Christina, carb make us fat…. Not to mention that science journalist Gary Taubes has been researching this very thing for more than a decade, and there is no evidence whatsoever that fat makes us fat- in fact, just the opposite. Fat helps us stay slim. The only exceptions are trans-fats and the excessive Omega-6s and rancid O-3s being touted as “healthy” in place of the more stable and wonderful saturated fats that we ate until the middle of the last century.

        Primitive man spent very little time working for food- 14-20 hours a week. His diet was full of saturated fat and animal food and he was lean. The farmers that followed may have worked as much as 14 hours a DAY. And that’s when we start seeing obesity, tooth decay, degenerative bone disease, protein deficiency diseases, etc.

        If eating a high whole grain diet and getting lots of exercise was the answer, those farmers would have been far healthier than their primitive hunter ancestors… but they weren’t.


      • It’s not grains in general that Chinese consume. They consume WHITE RICE. The difference is the lack of lectins in white rice compared with wheat, barley, etc. So, what’s the deal with lectins? I dont want to get to scientific here, but they determine leptin resistance. So what? Well, it looks like it mixes with energetic metabolism, long story short… regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. From that to insulin resistance and later to diabetes, is just a matter of time…

  2. Where do you get your information from, the U.S. GOVERNMENT??

    Everything you say is WRONG!! Fat is not the enemy!!! Carbohydrates in the form of GRAINS, SUGAR, CORN, SOY, WHEAT, RICE, BARLEY, PROCESSED PACKAGED CRAP are all to blame for Americans being the fattest nation in the world!!

    Watch the movie FAT HEAD!! find it on!!

    Fat, Protein, Carbs…60, 35, 5…there’s your macronutrient ratio you should live by.

    Everything you know about food is wrong!! Don’t believe me, do the research!!! I can give you hundreds of articles and pages that refutes everything you say in this post!! Don’t believe the hype people!! FAT IS NOT THE ENEMY!!! I eat bacon, meat, eggs, fats, coconut oil, evoo, butter, avocados, nuts and fruits, and am losing weight no calorie counting, no carb counting…JUST EAT REAL FOOD!!

    I hope this comment is posted, the truth needs to be told!! This article is not TRUTH!! IT’S LIES!! I have proof!!

  3. We need to break the stranglehold of incorrect nutritional information that’s being passed on as “truth”. The fact is, fats – when naturally occuring, rather than industrially manufactured – are very nourishing (and that includes saturated fats). Fake fats – like most industrially-processed vegetable oils are actually very damaging to our bodies.

    It’s sad that so many people are cutting good fats way back in their diets on the misguided and simplistic precept that “fat makes you fat”. In fact, fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormonelike substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.

    We need to stop fearing fat, and learning how to eat whole, real, nourishing foods containing all the macronutrients in good balance (and it’s not what the USDA suggests).

    Get the skinny on fats here:

  4. This article makes me so very sad. This misunderstanding of the macronutrient fat is exactly why we’re getting fat. Overabundance of SUGARS – soda, pasta, flour, bread, and GMO grains is why we’re fat. I am the mother of 4 beautiful children and all of my kids eat protein and fat at every. single. meal…because it is needed to fuel and protect their brain and nerve cells and keep them full and fueled throughout the day. If I fed them cereal for breakfast, even the “grain, heart healthy” ones, they’d be starving by 9 am and unable to focus. The insulin spike-and-crash to follow that breakfast is not something I’d wish on them or anyone. We eat whole foods in our home, free range organic eggs, nitrate free bacon and turkey, grassfed beef and pork, and we cook our veggies in the fats.
    We are following this way of eating because we feel better this way. We’ve been strictly no-grain, high fat, and protein for 6 months. I am in the best shape of my life and all our skin is clear. WE feel amazing. Most of my extended family now follows the Paleo way of life and have experienced similar things – relief from depression, sleeping through the night, weight loss, clear skin, great mental focus…. I
    I hope you’ll do some more research on the subject and get a bit better educated. There are plenty of good resources and studies (the latest of which is from Johns Hopkins) supporting the fact that all this time, fat has been unfairly villianized.
    Good luck to you in your search.

    • Very well said, Nicole. I wholeheartedly agree, although i don’t completely want to villainize grains either. We continue to eat modest amounts of properly prepared (sprouted, freshly milled) grains and legumes but do not make them a mainstay.

    • Hear hear! After 2 years of veganism ballooned me to 300lbs, caused diabetes, elevated cholesterol and pizza face, I went with a primitive diet– grain-free, high in pastured animal foods and saturated fat, and I lost 100lbs, my cholesterol dropped over 200points and I am disease free. It’s disgusting the stuff that passes for “science” these days.

      > “We’ve been strictly no-grain, high fat, and protein for 6 months. I am in the best shape of my life and all our skin is clear. WE feel amazing. “

  5. No scientific studies referenced —> article is nonsense.

    The decline in human health in particular in the last 50 years is due to excessive refined carb intake (especially fructose). Animal fats are the primary natural fuel for the human body; the lipid hypothesis is dead.

    Off to eat some red meat covered in butter… hopefully I’ll wake up alive tomorrow hey USDA. ;-)

    • ^ This. ^

  6. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for you enthusiasm on this subject.

    Despite what you may think, the information here is not controversial. The number of Americans who are obese can be found at the CDC ( What’s more, the article doesn’t attack fat as a bad macronutrient – it is essential (maybe you missed the few references to this point?) Now, the thing to be aware of is the proportionality of these macronutrients in a 21st century diet. I’ll repeat this for clarity’s sake: fat does not make you fat. One more time for good measure: fat does not make you fat.

    It is lifestyle. That’s the culprit. That’s the cure.

    Everything here is not wrong; in fact, it is all correct! There are many compelling arguments and articles out there that add a piece of explanation, but it’s a bit erroneous to refute numerous academic studies and professional opinions, especially if it’s just based on a single documentary (which I will be sure to check out!) and a few books. That, as a researcher would tell you, is not research.

    Regarding your macronutrient suggestion, of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs, I would be very curious to see any evidence to substantiate your claims. Even if you are living healthy, I hope our reader understand that such a diet would need to be complemented by regular, rigorous exercise. The ratio I suggested comes from the Pritikin diet, a diet I was first turned on by Dr. R. James Barnard, PhD Professor and Researcher, Department of Physiological Science, and author of over 190 academic studies on studies focusing on diet, exercise, and disease prevention. I understand your vigor, but this man spent his life researching the human body and optimal nutrition. I am, and I’m sure many of our readers are, more prone to agree with researched science than the apparent coordination of several pro-fat comments.

    Again, though, I urge you to actually read the article. You mention there are no scientific studies cited – if you follow the hyperlinks, you’ll find information to reputable sources (I’ve added the CDC link above for your perusal). What’s more, the bulk of this information (indeed the entire premise) is based on a book called “The Culprit and The Cure: Why lifestyle is the culprit behind America’s poor health”, hence the title.

    I urge all of you to actually read the article! Did you notice the thesis? “The United States also pulls rank for one last thing: a huge population of unhealthy people, where the disease largely stems from lifestyle.” Perhaps you missed the note on fat, too: “It should be noted that fat, although associated with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle, isn’t a “bad” thing.”

    Regardless, while all of these comments are very passionate, I have never run across a health professional arguing ALL people should eat a high fat diet and expect to be healthy. Until I see that academic research (or until I see a professional argue on behalf of it convincingly), I can’t – in good faith – tell readers they should double their fat intake.

    • Do some REAL research; how many times have I heard ”Oh the Government are always lying” and ”Never trust a politician” So why trust them when it comes to nutrition? Use your head.

      Yes you are correct about the lifestyle… a lifestyle of 4 litre bottles of coke, krispy kreme for breakfast (seriously, what is that about? A dessert for breakfast!), bread, chips, sweets. These are not natural.

      You ask your clinical research. Great ok. Show me a double blind clinical study that proves that fat (saturated fat as well) is in anyway a cause of heart disease, obesity or any other Disease of Civilsation and I’ll buy you a steak dinner. :-) I’m afraid you won’t find one. Look at the history, where low fat diet came from and how unscientific it is.

      A shepard calls; and the sheep follow.

      Do some real research please.

      • You should know that professors at public universities are not politicians. Dr. Bernard spoke endlessly about the problems of government subsidized GMOs, synthetic pesticide use, artificial fertilizers, and poor diet as a result of mass media. He also consistently praised organic farming, sustainable living, and open sourced knowledge for nutrition.

        Regarding the double blind study, I’m afraid you’ve committed the logical fallacy of burden of proof. Asking for a single casual study, then saying it doesn’t exist, and using that to refute all other proof is a fallacy. I’ve cited at least 3 academic studies and include resources from a few more health professionals.

        Again, I appreciate the fervor, but I’d like to remind the commenters that Organic Soul is a place of deliberation and discussion. No inflammatory comments please (I’ve done my research and I scoff at the claim I’m paid by big business).

        • No indeed they are not; but they are under a huge amount of pressure to promote the Government view. Do you think a Professor who said that saturated fats are good for us and that the real problems are much more along the lines of chronically elavated insulin levels and highly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids; would get very far at all? :-)

          The system is flawed. It’s not that they believe they’re not right. It’s that the system shuns alternative views until they become profitable.

          The logical fallacy of burden of proof. You can try to confuse people with that nonsense statement but it don’t work on me. :-) I am a physicist. The burden of proof is on the positive claimant. Of course there’s no single cause. If you are aware of logical arguments as it appears you are then you must known how unreliable survey and observational studies are. If I could go back in time and announce that wearing a blue hat raises the risk of heart disease (which is of course nonsense) then I assure you that if we did an observational study now that those who abstained from wearing blue hats would be in better health.

        • Totally agree with Tiger. I am in a university and the pressure is great in all areas. We have to be seen to support the current popular government view or you just done pass the grade, you don’t get published. End of story.

    • You are a repeater. You didn’t do the research for yourself, you just repeated someone else’s conclusions.

      When you read the studies yourself you find that the FDA and USDA’s claims are unsubstantiated. They recommend whole grains because our country’s ECONOMY depends on them, not our health. Just last year there was a HUGE meta-analysis of 111 studies on saturated fat and heart disease and the conclusion was that there is no evidence of a correlation between them. Anyone writing about nutrition is remiss in not getting the data directly from the source- the science journals themselves. You don’t even need to subscribe, you can go to PubMed.

      You say you need to see evidence that you should change what you recommend, but apparently you don’t feel you should PROVIDE evidence when YOU recommend it. Why should any of us take you at your word? If there is data to support your claim, just show it to us. The recommendations from government agencies isn’t enough.


  7. Your article is obviously biased in one direction. Your information is not correct just because it comes from the CDC or other government and corporate studies. These have OBVIOUS flaws. There ARE some great resources out there for quite a variety of studies, research, and information that ARE scientific studies without bias. I suggest you look at some of the University of Minnesota’s nutritional studies as well as many others posted on PubMed. Also, there are numbers upon numbers of practitioners out there that have full reference to studies that DO contradict your “studies.” Try looking into studies by Dr. Robert K. Su, talks by Mat LaLonde (an organic chemist), and the MANY other professionals, scientists, and individuals who have healed themselves and others by going “AGAINST THE GRAIN.” Learn about the biochemistry of the body, and you will realize how wrong the macronutrient make-up you think is the end-all be-all really is. Trans-fats…yes, they are toxic and extremely bad for the human body. Saturated fat…not hardly. Here:

    This one page lists MANY studies you can see reference opposite of what you think you know:

    Weston A. Price Foundation has some great resources for education as well:

    You can also check many links on my own blog…as I DO reference them when I cite them…right in the blog!

    So, I ask you to please consider learning more before you continue the spread of deadly information.

  8. Yes, they are under pressure but I assure you not all of them cave to it. Regarding the burden of proof logical fallacy, that isn’t a nonsense statement. It’s a rhetorical understanding that was researched as discussed as far back as when Artistotle was developing the Aristotelian outline.

    Yes, I am the positive claimant, arguing that high fat intake coupled with poor, sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy and at the root of the US’s recent obesity rates (we’ve been eating grains longer than we’ve been obese). I supplied my evidence (I really do urge you to check out the hyperlinks). It isn’t logically sound to say those are wrong because “those are wrong”, and since you’ve deemed them wrong, whatever you say is true because I have the burden to disprove it, even if you said blue hats reduce risk of heart disease. That is the heart of the burden of proof fallacy.

  9. I’m sorry you’re failing in your ambition to “help better inform”, Jesse. Before passing on information, you really need to check it, and the information in this article is unscientific nonsense.

    ˚ It isn’t fat that causes blood to clot, but Vitamin K and air.
    ˚ Macronutrients are not given the prefix “macro” because they are complex molecules, but because they are umbrella terms covering the bulk of typical nutrition.
    ˚ Carbohydrate is not the primary energy source for our bodies. That is fat.
    ˚ While trans fats are unhealthy, saturated fats are not.
    ˚ Fat, when consumed in excess is not stored, but excreted.
    ˚ Carbohydrate, when consumed in excess, is stored in adipose tissue (making us fat).
    ˚ The “experts” you cite seem to be Nathan and Robert Pritikin. Nathan Pritikin’s ideas largely drove the McGovern Committee, which issued the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in the teeth of strenuous opposition from many better-informed experts. Pritikin himself was hardly a poster boy for good health.
    ˚ As Prof. Robert Lustig points out, the fact that six-month-old babies have been shown to be obese demonstrates that this is NOT a problem of lack of exercise, but of improper nutrition.
    ˚ If you eat the cheeseburger without the bun and the fries and the fizzy drink to wash it all down, it is not only harmless, but tasty and very nutritious.
    ˚ Fat consumption in the US, according to Department of Commerce statistics, has been falling steadily for over 20 years, so how come the obesity rate has been going up?
    ˚ Exercise does nothing to reduce obesity. This has been shown in many properly-controlled scientific studies.
    ˚ The actual fat consumption of Americans, according to your own figures, is 35%; by a strange coincidence, that is the norm suggested by the authorities here in France, where obesity and heart disease are very much less common than in the USA. In fact, most French people consume considerably MORE than 35% of calories as fat.

    Please do your readers a good turn—provide them with accurate, reliable information.

    • I appreciate the sound list, Archie. Again, though, I really urge everyone to read the academic studies listed in the article. Also, I urge you to again notice that I’m not targeting fat! It’s a combination of poor dieting and lack of exercise.

      My sources are in the article – can you provide me with some links to reputable sources? I’m very open to learning more, but the bulk of comments (most of which our filter won’t even publish) are just inflammatory and include nothing besides their own claim.

      I would really enjoying reading more on this, but I’m stuck with just believing comments from people I’m not sure are qualified (and I don’t mean that as an attack on your characters).

      • Thanks for your very polite and positive reaction, Jesse.
        An excellent way to continue with your research is by reading Gary Taubes’s “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. He includes 66 pages of bibliography backing up the kinds of ideas I and others have expressed, and refuting those of the USDA and the Pritikin camp.

        Besides the movie “FatHead”, Tom Naughton’s blog at is superb. Naughton has made a tremendous effort not only to absorb and understand the vast amounts of science being produced, but to explain it all in a lively and entertaining way.

        A further source of scientifically accurate information is Dr Barry Groves’s “Trick and Treat: How ‘healthy eating’ is making us ill”. He also has a superb website at
        Dr Groves is one person who might satisfy your request for examples. For the first five years of their marriage, he and his wife gained weight steadily. Annoyed by this, Groves, an engineer by profession, began researching obesity, and adopted a low-carb high-fat approach. He wrote up his research, and was awarded a PhD in Nutrition by thesis alone, a very unusual academic honour. He has now lived in that way for over 40 years, and is a slim, vigorous, youthful 74.

        Another “n=2″ example is that of my wife and me. I have now lost a total of 21 kg through low-carb, high-fat eating, have reversed my incipient Type II diabetes, and have more energy and better concentration than many men half my age (55). My wife has quite a different story. Ten years ago, she had a liver and kidney transplant, and has of course to take immunosuppressant drugs, which invariably produce weight gain. No amount of caloric restriction, exercise, or whole grains could prevent the apparently inexorable rise in weight, as well as the typical slow deterioration in her blood markers. Switching to low-carb reversed the weight gain, and her blood results are now as good as those of a healthy non-transplanted person, making her the poster child for her transplanters.

        Good luck in your researches!

      • There are no academic studies listed in your article, only links to other agencies and articles.

    • “Fat, when consumed in excess is not stored, but excreted…”

      So what, exactly, is all of that stuff that people are carrying around on their bodies? If people excreted excess fat, there would not be an obesity epidemic.

      Personally, I believe that fat is a very important part of our diet but strive to get all of my food food from fresh sources and I believe that eating a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables is far more important than eating large quantities of fat. Our bodies require a balanced range of nutrients, many of which are not found in:

      ‘If you eat the cheeseburger without the bun and the fries and the fizzy drink to wash it all down, it is not only harmless, but tasty and very nutritious…”

      If you are referring to one of the larger fast food chain’s burgers, I feel very, very sorry for you. Full of salt and hideously processed meat (fed on a dizzying array of drugs). Very healthy!!

  10. Jesse,
    I have to respectfully disagree with the article (which I read in its entirety today before posting it to the ‘high fat’ Facebook group, which is why you are seeing the responses you are) as well as to your response. First, it doesn’t appear as though anyone here is disputing the statistics from the CDC as far as the rate of obesity in this country goes. Also, I believe (and know from experience) that fat does not make you fat, and that lifestyle is the cause and the solution. It seems we agree on these points. What I disagree with is the form this article says that solution should take, in particular the macronutrient profile you suggest is ideal.

    I’m not scientifically inclined, partly because I work in an academic medical library, and know that anyone can use scientific evidence to prove any point of view they want. However, I did research the paleo/primal way of eating for awhile before I began eating this way, just because I wanted to know what I was doing, and why. At any rate, the only evidence I can present to you is based on my experience. When I eat a diet that is approximately 50% fat, 40% protein, and 10% carbs, I have lost weight (and continue to do so) and gained muscle tone, my skin is clearer, and I have more energy. (Incidentally, none of this food is processed; it is real food cooked from scratch. Very little food I purchase comes in a container with a nutrition label telling me what the government thinks I should eat.) I have a strength training routine that I do 2-3 times a week for maybe 20 minutes at a time, and I walk everywhere. It is regular, but not exactly vigorous. With this diet/exercise ‘routine’, I’m finally coming into the best shape of my life. At one time I was 80 pounds overweight, and most of that weight gain was during the nine years I was a vegetarian, when my diet probably was 65% carbs (namely breads, grains, and starches). When I chose to exercise during that time, I had to work a lot harder-vigorously, as you put it- and didn’t see nearly the results I’ve seen over the last year.

    The results I’ve had with a high fat/paleo/primal diet line up with the evidence presented in the books (based on scientific research) I’ve read and documentaries I’ve viewed, which I won’t list here, as it seems others have beat me to it. I’ll just say that the books mentioned refute much of the evidence you say is linked in your article. And using the CDC or any other governmental agency as the authority on what should be considered healthy is a joke. To me, MyPlate does little to clear up the confusion began by the USDA’s various versions of the food pyramid. It comes down to this for me: eat real, unprocessed food. Grains, pastas, breads, and most other carbohydrates (excepting most fruits and vegetables) are processed, and a lifestyle of consuming these types of foods initially caused my problems, and is indeed the culprit for millions of obese Americans today.

    • Thank you for the constructive response, Gail. I’m setting up right now to watching Fat Head, so maybe I’ll be able to pull some resources from that. I also appreciate the personal response; it’s good to know that people are seeing individual results from dietary switch. I’m definitely intrigued by the regimen switch for exercising – there must be something there for the diet to be so physiologically successful.

      • Jesse,
        I hope you’ll post what you think of it here after you’ve seen it. :)

        • I will! In fact, I’ll be sure to do a review on the movie so I can share it with other readers :)

  11. I can only share my own experience. In my thirties I was eating a lot of grain (whole) and consuming a lot of sugar as well. I went to my doctor depressed, 70lbs overweight, with my hair falling out in clumps in the shower. I switched to a gluten/sugar free lower carb diet, dropped 60lbs in a few months, my cholesterol fell from 208 to 152 with a huge increase in my HDL. When I went back to my doctor, he said I was so much healthier, but it couldn’t possibly be from eating more meat and fat, and no bread and pasta. I was so sad that he would not take living proof to investigate further the numerous studies that show grains are a poor food choice. I have access to Up To Date, an online research tool for doctors, and when I looked up carbs, it listed over and over studies proving the link between eating these and heart disease, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, etc. I am healthier in my 40′s than I was in my 20′s and 30′s,. and would run my blood work against any low fat/whole grain person I know, any day of the week. Also I would challenge them to strength, endurance, and immunity testing. I never call in sick at work, resist every bug that comes though the emergency room and though the staff. My carb eating co workers call in all the time!

  12. Hi, Jesse!

    “Regarding your macronutrient suggestion, of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs, I would be very curious to see any evidence to substantiate your claims.”

    These particular numbers were recommended by Dr. Atkins in an interview some time ago, and pertain only to induction. These statistics change over time as carbs are added back in (usually after the first two weeks).

    Exercise is not necessary with Atkins, per se. In fact, my Dad lost 80 pounds on bed rest with a broken back in 6 months with Atkins ’72. I, myself, in 2004, following the 2002 Dr. Atkins plan, lost 115 pounds in 7 months, largely without exercise.

    I believe when we nix the processed stuff, and eat the way our ancestors did, we drop weight without the effort that I had to perform when I struggled with Weight Watchers and exercise–and lost very little in the process. Do I think Atkins/low carb is for everyone? No, but it would be a shame to discount it without giving it a shot. :)

    Thanks for listening.
    Live, love, lunch,


    • Thanks for the commentary, Jamie. I have yet to research much into Atkins, but now that I know those figures come from that plan, I’ll be sure to read up on it. And that’s amazing with your Dad (congratulations on the weight loss, but condolences on the broken back). I totally agree – we need to get rid of the processed stuff (hence the frightening picture used on the article).

      I appreciate the info and I’m going to try to find a few good sources to revamp the suggest macronutrient distribution. There may be a few factors I need to consider (or reconsider).

    • New York Times:

      “…the publication in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday of details from Dr. Atkins’s confidential medical report. The report concludes that Dr. Atkins, 72, had a history of heart attack and congestive heart failure and notes that he weighed 258 pounds at death.”


      People in England were convinced for a short time that the high fat, low carb diet was the way to go. But when the guy making all the money from writing the book on the subject ended up with those health problems they found themselves second guessing the approach! The trend is now looked back at in amusement. It is amusing to see that there is such a devotion to it still thriving here in the US. Apparently it is a sure fire path to excessive use of emoticons during communications. Sad face.

  13. I’m AMAZED that Organic Soul published this article demonizing fats. As many others commented before me, this article does not suggested ways to get thin. On such a diet, we get fat. FATS DON’T MAKE YOU FAT — CARBS & SUGAR ESPECIALLY DO. I love reading Organic Soul posts — but this one is really off base in so many ways.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way, Joyce! But again, like I’ve done with several readers now, I want stress we’re not demonizing fat (I say that at least 2-3 times in the article – perhaps I should bold it for emphasis), but rather the combination of poor diet and lack of exercise.

      • I understand that you’re saying you’re not demonizing fat, but a newbie looking at such an article would not get that impression. There is enough misinformation out there regarding fats. I have to bite my tongue all the time when I see people cooking with low-fat products and feeding their toddlers skim milk, etc. If your article is about diet and exercise, you didn’t make that your major emphasis as many of us have pointed out by our disagreement. I love your articles (other than this) so keep up the good work.

  14. Thanks, Jesse! If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help! I can point you in the right direction. I’ll bring the bacon. :D


  15. Both Macro- and Micro-nutrients are involved with how we metabolize our food. Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates are broken down by our digestive system, absorbed into our blood stream, and delivered throughout the body to be used in cellular processes. When looked at scientifically, fat itself is not the culprit that is fueling the Obesity Epidemic. However, the type of fats we eat directly affect our physiology. Let’s take cholesterol for example. For starters, it is the building block for many hormones that we use to maintain balanced metabolic function (anabolic/catabolic). Also, our cell membranes are composed of a lipid bilayer composed of phospholipids, glycoproteins, and cholesterol. Therefore, it is important that we are ingesting adequate amount of fats, including Cholesterol. I am not talking only talking about animal based cholesterol, but cholesterol derived from vegetables (plant sterols).

    The amount of each macronutrients embedded within our cell membrane depends upon the type of cell and its function. But for the majority of cells, phospholipids are the most abundant. In Red Blood Cells (carry Oxygen and remove Carbon Dioxide), 30% of the plasma membrane is composed of fats/lipids.

    For balanced nutrient intake, I advise my patients to stick to a 30% protein, 30% fat/oils, and 60% combined vegetables and carbohydrates in their meal plans. Yet depending on what they would like to accomplish, these ratios change daily with each meal (time of day) until the desired results is accomplished. With this being said, each person is unique in their dietary needs.

    It is is not so simple as a percentage per meal of macro-nutrients to determine how we gain and store fat, but also involves micro-nutrient co-factors that are essentials for optimal energy productions and bioenergetic function. The most important factor that is not being discussed here is not just food, but increased stress levels. Increased stress levels and the manner in which we deal with them can be detrimental to our health. Poor stress management is one of the mechanisms that both initiate and perpetuate Obesity and altered body composition. Obesity and altered body composition are associated with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease.

    So what about the carbohydrates? Well, carbs may as well be called sugars because that is what they are broken down to. Sugars are primarily used for energy production (oxidative phoshorylation), but are also important both structurally and functionally. But in a nutshell, we should be steering clear of processed or fake sugars, GMO’s, processed grains, and trans fats (we do need healthy fats). We should rather lean towards meals that have low glycemic loads and are rich in good quality fats, proteins and carbs. Fresh organic foods are always my first recommendation.

    To close. Each individual is unique in their need for specific macronutrient ratios. This not only depends on the time of day the meal is being ingested, but whether male or female, time of day, time of month, time of year, genetic predispositions, heritage, stress levels, epigenetic trends, etc. You get my drift. There is no one meal plan/diet that fits all here. Maintain awareness of types and ratios of macronutrients that you take in daily. Maintain moderate daily physical activity, drink enough water to maintain adequate hydration, and last but not least….make sure you are getting ample sleep. Lack of recovery from our daily routines may be as much associated with obesity as what we are eating.

    It is nice to see everyone on their toes.
    Excellent commentary!

    • Dr. Berka,

      Whole grains do NOT have low glycemic loads. In fact, the brown rice that was touted as a ‘feel-good’ food a couple of days ago has a glycemic load of 21. There is no such thing as a low-glycemic-load grain.

      >>> “We should rather lean towards meals that have low glycemic loads”

      • I agree. Grains are NOT low on the Glycemic Index. However, when you mix good quality grains (rice, oats, quinoa, etc.) with proteins, fats, and other forms of carbohydrates (veggies, fruits, etc.), the glycemic load is decreased leading to more balanced blood glucose/insulin levels and healthier glucose metabolism. Eating more fiber can also help to reduce the effect of high glycemic index foods by lowering the total glycemic load of your meals.

        It is not only what you are eating, but how it is combined. I also agree with the Paleo diet. It is clear from medical texts written thousands of years ago (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), that peoples’ lifespan began to decrease as people increased their consumption of refined grains.
        Now with GMOs circulating through our food supply, it more important to eat organic than ever. Thank you for sharing.

        • The difference isn’t that significant, Dr. Berka. A cup of white rice has a glycemic load of 23, while a cup of brown rice is still a load of 21. The fiber makes a difference of only 2 points. We hear all the time that mixing foods will reduce the glycemic load, but no studies have been able to demonstrate this. When you use the tools dedicated to determining the glycemic load of a recipe, the load isn’t an average than can be reduced by adding in lower glycemic food- it’s a straight tally. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’m very eager to read about it.

  16. Carbs made me incredibly ill and caused many inflammation problems. I was in and out of hospital with infections that were even causing internal bleeding and shock. I was not even eating processed carbs. I have always eaten a whole food diet. Since going paleo and eating high amounts of tallow and coconut oil I have never been better. I have had no inflammation, no colds or flu, better cognitive function, more energy and I am a permanent size AUS10, which I think is only a 6 or 8 in US sizes. I am well muscle toned, my skin is perfect, my hair is glossy and I look like I am 30 years old and I turned 43 last week.
    I eat about 30% fat, 50% grass-fed organic meat, and 20% vegetables.
    For the record, my doctor is the same. He also did a lot of research when he was performing autopsies. What he discovered was that those who spent their lives on low-fat, high carbohydrate diets had shrunken brains because the brain needs saturated fat. He said that these people also sufferred from forms of dementia as a result. It was my doctor who put me onto the paleo diet. He cured me with food, not drugs. He cured me with saturated fat and protein……
    Another thing that most people don’t realise is that fat from organic grassfed animals contain a lot more fat soluble vitamins and nutrients than factory grain-fed animals.

    I spent years believing what the goverment and trained nutritionists were telling me too. But is was all wrong. I have spent about 20 years researching and studying the human body and nutrition. I am now paleo. I am now healthy and strong and young again.

    • If you are anywhere near Brsbane I would love your Dr’s name :)

      • Hi Cecilia…sorry, not close to Brisbane :o (

    • I love your personal testimony of the paleo way of eating. Brain shrinkage from low fat doesn’t surprise me at all, but it’s the first time I heard of that – wow! Thanks for your note!

  17. Jessie,

    I highly recommend Gary Taubes’ lecture “Big Fat Lies” as well.

    He makes the science VERY understandable.

  18. I agree with Paleo. I ate a piece of toast the other day and had a seizure.

  19. Cardiovascular disease and cancers in America is skyrocketing because:

    1. Huge ammount of Sugars consumed (close to 1 lb in the Standard American Diet)
    2. High Fructose intake (Included in Point #1 but worth mentioning separate)
    3. Transfats
    4. Lack of real Omega 3 Intake from natural sources, not pills/concentrates
    5. Pesticides
    6. Heavy Metals & Radiations
    7. Lack of exercise
    8. Other poisons, recreational or medicinal including approved drugs

    Other causes too, but these are the ones worth mentioning…

  20. Obesity is not a disease that can be cured by adjustments in eating and good nutrition balanced with an exercise program. That only treats the result of the illness. The disease exists in he brain or mind of the person. If all anyone had to do was eat right and exercise the whole world would be in great shape. But obesity is a mental illness that causes the person to compulsively eat more food than the body can use, resulting in extreme weight gain. I’m writing a book about this. Feel free to contact me.

    • Obesity is not a disease at all. You are correct in that it cannot be cured in good nutrution balanced with an exercise program although that will sometimes result in some weight loss. My sister who is 15 months younger than me and I were adopted. We grew up the same home, eating the same food and often did the same kinds of activities. For most or her life, she looked anorexic while I’ve been obese for most of life. I am now a fat vegetarian and I exercise 3-5 times a week while my sister is still a slender meat eater who is active but never actually “exercises.” I don’t think you can explain away obesity as a mental illness. And I have a whole lot of fat friends who would strongly disagree with your comments. There is an eating disorder called Binge Eating Disorder, but even the folks from the Binge Eating Disorder Association would say that not all folks who are fat have it. They will also tell you that there are folks who have it but are not fat. Society really needs to stop judging and knowiing everything about obesity. It’s complicated to say the least.

  21. Don’t be greedy, share with a loved one, eat natural grown foods, and enjoy an active life style. Plain and simple. White carbs, white sugar, white fat, if eaten at all should be eaten in moderation and for the pure joy of it, not in the guilty, emotional, race. Your day to day diet should leave you feeling energized and renewed, not drained, uncomfortable and guilty. You should never feel confused and unsure of what you choose to consume. Rather be left feel satisfied and appreciative, ready to give back you best.

    • feeling*

  22. Having some knowledge of the way meat is produced in the US I would not eat a single ounce of it. Take beef (or not!) cows fed on GM grains, kept on massive factory farms and then slaughtered while covered in their own muck. Does that make healthy meat?

    Then there is the huge lobby from the US meat industry and US fast food companies. They want you to eat more meat. They are also desperate to push up the consumption of their products in response to the negative publicity of recent years. Might they even sponsor ‘research’ to prove their point?

    The reason there is obesity in the US, and many other countries, is because people eat too much – too many calories. If you want to be really healthy eat a Mediterranean diet. Check out the low levels of many common diseases in that part of Europe.

    • Can someone find the dollar amounts for government/USDA sponsored research vs. corporate sponsored research? That would be an interesting analysis. Of course the corporations are funding research, but I’d bet it pales in comparison to sanctioned governments research grants.

  23. Hello, Firstly thanks for informations. USA people must donate excess money to African People. Because African people is not Fat and Obesity.

  24. Why not just eat a balanced diet composed of fresh, unprocessed foods? Organic (or better) meats, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, good sources of fat and most importantly: learn how to prepare your own food – that way you know exactly what goes into it!

    Buy local, and get to know your food producers – they should know what’s going on in their own food!

    • Throw some exercise in there and we’re on the same page, Gavin :)

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