Nutrition

Taubes recycles Taubes

Published 7.30.2017
I don't write all that much about Gary Taubes, though I have highlighted the studies that he funded and help design that have falsified his pet hypothesis as to the cause of obesity. Taubes is flogging his latest book, which makes the case against sugar, but apparently wanders through all of his favorite talking points from his previous books as well. I guess he needed to pad his page count to meet his contract.

I've read plenty of article authored by Taubes, and listened to speeches and interviews, but I've never actually read any of his books. I have no intention of reading his latest either, particularly after reading Seth Yoder's very long and very detailed review of it.

If you’re thinking of buying the book, definitely read the review before you do so. Yoder has read many of the source Taubes cites, and points out when Taubes either copies word for word from those sources or misrepresents what the source says.

Seth Yoder has reviewed and dissected Taubes writing previously. He tangled with Nina Teichholz and pointed out her plagiarism too. Apparently, the review got under someone’s skin, because the review was briefly unavailable because someone complained about the quotations he cited. The limited quoting definitely falls under the definition of fair use, so my view is that Taubes or his minions are concerned that the review will be persuasive.

Taubes has staked his career on his alternative hypothesis for obesity, which is not supported by the research— not the research that Taubes cites, nor the research that Taubes himself has funded. Based the title you’d think sugar is the main topic of discussion, but instead Taubes rehashes much of the material from his earlier book.

Obesity comes down to the energy balance. This was true in the 1930s research that Taubes likes to tout and its true now. Taubes can’t allow that calories matter, because if he does his hypothesis falls apart. The man is on record admitting that he will never admit he’s wrong, no matter the evidence.

Chapters actually discussing “Big Sugar” actually get a pass from Yoder, who’s not a fan of the industry. Unlike Taubes, he notes that all industries do this. Taubes slanders Ancel Keys (again) and Himsworth (an early diabetes researcher who cured patients using a high sugar diet.

Yoder goes chapter by chapter through the book pointing out errors as well as where Taubes has cut and pasted either from his own nprevious works or from source material. the claim (unlike with Teichholz's book) is not plagiarism because everything is cited— even if what's actually in the source is misquoted or selectively quoted to change the context.

Taubes in the Times

Once again, the New York Times provides Gary Taubes a platform to spew his nonsense.

Cutting carbohydrates out of your diet cuts calories, period. It also eliminates a great deal of what makes life and social events fun. It’s also completely unnecessary. However, because Taubes and his followers are unwilling to look into the mirror honestly, they have to concoct new afflictions. There is no such thing as a “carboholic.” Alcohol is a toxin to the body, carbohydrates are the backbone of the diets of the longest-lived people on the planet. The body can handle moderate amounts of alcohol, but can survive without. Alcohol is food, food is necessary for life, alcohol is not.

Carbohydrates, for Taubes and the sheep in his flock, means grains and sugar. Taubes never discusses legumes (beans) or vegetables. Carbs means bread, and more recently soda, though occasionally the poor potato gets maligned. There is no reason to cut carbs from your diet, if you can accept that all food sources add calories and calories (the energy balance) is what matters. Taubes denies the reality of the energy balance and ignores the very real nutritional imbalances that can result if fruits and vegetables are avoided.

My observation is that low carbers begin by cutting grains, and then as their results slow or reverse gradually begin to eliminate other fruits and then even vegetables. Weight loss may or may not resume, but in the meantime other issues crop up (constipation, leg cramps) that are directly related to lower mineral ingestion. The dirty little secret is that to get all the needed nutrients from animal products you have to eat the whole animal, guts and all. Most people only eat muscle meat.

Most people also find it hard to resist joining in normal social behaviors too— in fact, that's how this piece begins. Apparently Taubes himself finds that he can't always say know to carby treats when in a social or family setting. Take off the hairshirt, Gary. If you accepted that calories matter, than you could eat whatever you wanted, just maybe not as much as you wanted. However, if you didn't have so many forbidden fruits, perhaps you wouldn't feel the urge to eat more than you need.

Calorie denialism is dangerous and damaging.