Thumbs up review, “The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?”

Where does the formula “1 pound equals 3500 calories” come from? Zoe Harcombe checked with all the major British organizations including the British Dietetic Association. The best answer, or worst depending on how one perceives this topic, was, “We don’t know.” Some of the other questions one sees in a list towards the beginning of the book are: Does energy in equal energy out? Does the law of thermodynamics apply to humans? Can you prove saturated fat causes heart disease? How does exercise relate to weight loss or gain?

When dealing with weight loss the public is bombarded by misinformation concerning calories which are a measurement of energy. According to Harcombe when you see the statement, “energy in equals energy out” you are getting a misapplication of the laws of thermodynamics. The first law doesn’t state energy in must equal energy out; it states that energy in a closed system is neither created nor destroyed.

The calorie theory, i.e., counting calories for weight control, was tested in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Thirty six healthy men participated in the study, with the goal being to reduce their weight by 25% in 24 weeks. A control period was utilized to figure how many calories were needed to maintain weight at a specific activity level. During the starvation period of the experiment, while trying to maintain the specified activity level, the participant’s diets were cut by 1640 calories. At this point the weight loss didn’t meet the researcher’s goal, so the participant’s calories were cut even further. According to the “Gold Standard Formula” promoted by so many so-called experts, “1 pound equals 3500 calories”, each participant should have lost 78 pounds; by week 20 all reached a plateau, and the average weight lost was 37 pounds.

Once the men were allowed to eat, they couldn’t get enough. Even when they were stuffed, the men still complained of hunger. None of the men had eating disorders prior to the experiment; it was clear according to the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, that no one can tolerate calorie deprivation over an extended period of time.

The people who do research as generalist/specialists in the area of obesity (Barry Groves, Gary Taubes, Sally Fallon Morell are the forerunners) have all come to the same conclusion – we must eat real food and not processed food. Man is the only chronically sick species on the planet and the only one eating his own food. (I would add that we have also given our pets obesity, diabetes and other modern illness, by feeding them our processed junk ). “Eat food as nature intends us to eat it” is surely classic common sense – but government, dietitians and doctors tell us instead to “Base our meals on starchy foods” and they have developed the Eatbadly Plate (I refuse to call it Eatwell), which could not be more different to what we have evolved to eat. (Do take a look at this plate and see for yourself sugar, cornflakes, weetabix, white flour, bagels, white pasta, sugared baked beans, fruit in syrup, Battenberg cake, sweets, coca-cola and so on. No wonder Kellogg’s sponsor the British Dietetic Association obesity conference!)

The Obesity Epidemic” has a very simple message; everything you think you know about eating right and weight loss, is way off the mark. With a mound of references to support her well stated arguments, Zoe expounds the truth while dissecting the dietary BS promulgated by industry, health agencies, doctors and dieticians. There is no doubt that the world is experiencing an obesity epidemic and it’s a shame that money not evidence based research is guiding our behavior. Anyone interested in the correct natural way to a healthy body, needs to read this book.


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