For such a talented writer and thinker as Taubes, it’s a shame that we don’t get to read more of his work more often. Thankfully, however, he published recently in the New York Times Sunday Review. His article, Why Nutrition Is So Confusing, explores familiar territory while maintaining a sense of profound urgency.
First off, if Gary Taubes is not a familiar name to you, go read and watch all you can of his works. We have a pretty solid collection of Gary Taubes’ public talks, his articles, and his books, so start there.
For those already familiar with Taubes, his latest NY Times post will recapitulate some familiar themes:
Current dietary advice isn’t even based on scientific experiments. In fact, much of the advice is based on predictions about what the actual experiments would have revealed, had they been done:
Since [the 1960’s], advice to restrict fat or avoid saturated fat has been based on suppositions about what would have happened had such trials been done, not on the studies themselves.
In fact, this approach is not generally recognized as “science” at all! Taubes calls it “sort-of-science”:
As it is, we have a field of sort-of-science in which hypotheses are treated as facts because they’re too hard or expensive to test…
As a result, the conclusions we can draw from such approaches are rather ridiculous and unhelpful:
Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.)
So…there’s not really a lot in this article for someone who is already low carb literate. Why then am I excited to see it in the Times?
Mainly because it gets the message out. For every one of us reading this blog, or one of Taubes’ books, or any of the thousands of excellent low carb resources out there, there are millions of people who consider low carb to be fringe, dangerous and a fad.
If nothing else, Taubes is one of the few voices around that can successfully enter a public arena as visible as the New York Times Sunday Review and engage in the debate. Even if it seems familiar to us, he’s raising important issues about nutrition, obesity and healthy eating that most people are simply unaware of…even as their waistlines increase.
- Why Nutrition Is So Confusing. Gary Taubes, New York Times (Sunday Review). Feb 8, 2014.