Doctors and nutritionists.

From the New York Times (free registration required):

Yep, that’s it. They’re fuckin’ with us.

They’ve been running around in circles on nutrition issues for years now. “Fat is bad for you! Eat lots of carbohydrates!” “No, wait, fat’s OK–avoid carbohydrates at all costs!” “Eat from the Four Food Groups!” “No, use the Food Pyramid!” “Eat lots of rice, like the Asians!” “Eat like the French: lots of heavy cream sauces, and wine, and wear black all the time!” “Drink fresh cow’s blood, straight from the vein, like the Masai tribesmen–hell, they’re all skinny.” “Chocolate is junk food!” “No, Chocolate is good for you; it’s an ‘anti-oxidant’.” (Of course, we’re all clinging to that last nutritional factoid like the Catholic Church is to orthodoxy; they could come out with 900 additional studies showing that in fact, Chocolate Is Death, and you might as well eat cyanide as eat a Hershey bar, and we’ll all stick our fingers in our ears and say “La la la la la”. On the other hand, if they came out with a study of 90,000 Swedish nurses or whatever that showed that eating lots of Brussel sprouts will add ten or twenty years to your life, we’d all be saying “Great! When can we get essence of Brussel sprout in a little pill that you don’t have to chew or taste?”) So, apart from “Don’t take in so damn many more calories than you burn”, it’s been painfully obvious for a long time that no one has a clue what sort of diet we should all follow.

But “y’all could stand to lose a few pounds”; that was bedrock. Everyone agreed with that one. What’s next? “A new study indicates that exercise is bad for you, and you’re really better off sitting on your ass and watching TV. Hey, Lost is really good.” Or maybe:

(And what the hell does “lower risk of death” mean, anyway? I thought the “risk of death” was pretty much 100%. Is there some magic weight–182 pounds, 6 ounces, 37 drams–where if I can just attain it I’ll live forever?)

Well, I’ve got to drive over to the grocery store and pick up some Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. It’s for my health, y’know.

I know what you mean, but it isn’t so much the nutritionists and doctors fucking with us as it is the media and the public appetite for novelty and An Easy Solution. Many of these nuggets of dietary research info come from studies that were carried out in a very controlled and narrow way - such that their findings, although interesting, have little application in the noise and hubbub of the real world.

But you know what you have to do to be healthy; we all know what to do - eat a varied diet including as much fresh or minimally-processed food as possible - avoid excess additives, keep the calories down, exercise and just treat yourself to something unhealthy once in a while for the morale boost - eat it without fretting (which I’m sure is baaaaad for you).

No, you won’t live twenty years longer if you only eat brussels sprouts; it will just feel longer.

[sub]Actually, I like sprouts*

No matter what you do and no matter how often or seldom you do it, you will die. That’s just the way it is.

I find that kinda comforting.

<Lewis Black>

20 years from now, you’ll be at your Doctor’s and he’ll say “Your cholesterol is through the roof! What have you been doing??” “I dunno, I eat right, I exercise.” “Yeah, but have you been using SUNSCREEN?? That stuff could kill you!”


I dunno about other people, but my goal in losing weight isn’t to live 'till I’m 187 years old. It’s to feel good now and in the future. I remember what it felt like when I weighed 15 pounds more than I do now, and it sucked. I got out of breath walking uphill while holding a conversation. I had much less energy. I slept poorly. I wasn’t exercising hardly at all and my flexibility and strength sucked.

Some of my friends are fond of saying, “Eat whatever you want! And why torture yourself by exercising? You’re just going to die anyway.”

Er, well, yeah. But whether I die in my 70’s or my 90’s, I’d rather be active and healthy in my old age, rather than sedentary and plagued by diseases related to obesity.

That’s what I say, “Fuck 'em.”

I’ve always been a fan of the, “I don’t over-eat, I just under-exercise,” school. I expect that most every food has some redeeming qualities (xpt lima beans and their ilk).

About three quarters of the women (and a few men) in this office are on one diet plan or another - not one of them is losing any weight, or making any effort to eat differently, or even observing their dietary regime; all you have to do, you see, is buy the book, or sign up for the course, or attend the meetings, or watch the video, or become a member at the gym and you’ll lose weight! - this isn’t weight loss, it’s a fucking exercise in psychological denial; these regimes don’t make people lose weight or even make them healthier, they just soothe their conscience and give them a range of handy excuses to do absolutely bugger-all;

Want to eat that huge cream cake? - it’s OK, because you’re going to the gym tonight, or maybe tomorrow or next week, unless there’s something good on TV…

Oooh, look! someone has brought in a box of chocolates! - it’s OK for you to cram a pound of them into your face because you’re allowed chocolate on Thursdays, and well, today isn’t actually Thursday, but when Thursday comes, you’ll abstain from the chocolate then. Although if someone brings in chocolates again on Thursday, you might just have to use next Thursday’s allowance.

A bacon sandwich and Doritos and a flapjack and a muffin and a coke? No, that’s probably OK because the muffin has raisins in (so it counts as fruit), the bacon in the sandwich is a great low-carb option (just a shame the rest of the sandwich, and everything else isn’t), and the flapjack is 60% fat-free, so that’s OK and anyway, you’re having just a light salad tonight. Unless the pizza place has a two-for-one offer.

Another pie? Sure! why not have two? - just rationalise some fucking lame excuse - you’ll still lose weight, because you’re on a diet.

Wow. All that from the Kingdom of Butter. Never saw that one coming.

My husband and I are going to write a diet book called “The Balanced Diet” and make millions. :smiley:

I’m about 40 pounds overweight, I eat pretty much what I want (which turns out to be fairly healthy when you listen to your body, not the latest nutrional fad) I walk about an hour a day, and my cholesterol and blood pressure are low to normal. In fact, I had the full battery of lab tests - they all came back just about dead-on normal.

I think the best advice I’ve ever heard on food and eating is make 85% healthy, and the other 15% can be anything you like. Oh, and exercise regularly.


So where can I buy the “The New Masai Tribseman’s Diet” book? Amazon doesn’t seem to have it, and it sounds promising. If no-one has yet written a book, perhaps I can get in the game! After people buy my book, they’ll want to buy genuine Metacorp brand Masai Diet Cow Feed[sup]TM[/sup], Metacorp-bred Genuine Masai Cattle[sup]TM[/sup], Genuine Masai Pygmy Cattle[sup]TM[/sup] (for single dieters), and, of course, Genuine Masai Hemodosis Urine Test Sticks[sup]TM[/sup] so they can be sure that their body is preferentially protagonizing the LH-factor in the cow blood to produce the fat-melting blood-born alpha-omega amino acids that the success of the diet hinges on!

And of course, lugging a cow everywhere is going to be impractical, so we’ll need Metacorp Deluxe Cow Blood Bars[sup]TM[/sup] and creamy, frothy, and delicious Cow Blood Shakes (best served chilled) for people-on-the-go. Oh, and since cutting down to an vein will get repetitive for both the dieter and the cow, we can also market some sort of implantable vein tap–like them heart plugs the Harkonenn’s had in David Lynch’s Dune movie!!!

My head is swimming with possibilities, here!

Oddly, that new study does make a bit of sense. Being slightly overweigh (well, “overweight” accoridn to what some pinheaded doc decided was normal becuse he felt like it) is the natural desire of our bodies. Being grossly overweight, aside from anything else, would make you a huge target for wild animals. Being a bit portly probably means you have large muscle mass and plenty of energy to use.

Eh. First, the NYT in my experience has a habit of overreporting new dietary findings; I wouldn’t get too worked up about it. Second, the basic idea of eating yer veggies and eating a varied diet and not eating too much seems pretty solid, despite whatever fads come along. Third, I’m kind of alarmed by the idea that only 8% of Americans are extremely obese.


I had the interesting experience of practicing medicine at a designated “weight management” clinic for about a year. During that time, the American Board of Bariatric Medicine held its annual meeting, several papers were read, and one study showed advantages to a diet plan other than the one previously recommended by the clinic.

Overnight, every patient was doing the wrong thing. Patient handouts had to be revised to conform to the latest plan.

Rationale: once approved by the ABBM, the new plan became the current “state of the art.” Physicians practicing in accord with its recommendations could not be accused of advocating experimental or risky and potentially harmful treatment.

People who limited their caloric intake and increased their activity did best at losing weight, and continued to do so.

I’m not knocking the ABBM, and I’m convinced that there’s a lot we don’t know about human metabolism. Still, I can’t help thinking that if a small modification in protein/carbohydrate/fat intake made a huge difference, we would have noticed it a long time ago.

I think the doctors and scientists are all sick of each other and sick of the public and sick of the media and have just given up.

“So doctor, what IS a healthy diet?”
“Fuck, I don’t know. Just eat whatever. I’m going to go cure cancer now.”

This data isn’t new - it’s been known for ages. The press release was issued to de-bunk the recently developed notion that being moderately over weight was a health risk.

That idea came into being when people assumed the problems of the morbidly obese also impacted those at any weight. And THAT occured because that’s the way everything is framed in this country. It’s either all good or all bad.

Americans seem unable to view dietary advice in anything but black and white terms. The concept that a little bit of something can be good, but too much of that is bad - Well, that’s much too complex. The fine distinction between being 100 pounds over weight and 10 pounds “over weight” is way too much to ask.

Just as the American scientific community has a big problem with recommending that people drink one glass of wine per day (which has been shown to have positive health benefits) because they are so worried that the American public will hear “We want you to become an alcoholic.”
The other big problem is that the standard height and weight charts are idealized numbers that were developed out of whole cloth. They are not the average of the healthy population. The actually average weights of the majority of the healthy population are higher.
There are now and always have been nutritionists who advocate moderation and balanced diets. Two of note are Dr. David Kritchevsky (who was once accused by one of his more militant peers as somebody who “overdoes moderation”:

and Dr. David Jenkins:

Plus a larger fat reservoir in which to store fat-soluble vitamins.

I read this story this morning and figured I’d find a thread about it. Here’s a link to CNN if you don’t want to register with the NYT. What I find most astounding is this part:

Maybe somebody should send a copy of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” over to the CDC. Seems like people are going to stop caring about real threats pretty soon.

While I’m here, can one of you smart folks explain this part to me?

Does that mean the 111,909 figure includes people who didn’t really die from being overweight?

Concluding that the doctors and nutritionists are fucking with us requires you to assume that the lay press has accurately been reporting all the various studies over the years. Does that seem just a little implausible to someone else?

Yeah, I’m not sure how that one worked either. Post in GQ.

I do think “study fatigue” as a result of the media echo chamber can be a problem. (“Eat this, eat that; do this, do that; you should weigh this much, no, you should weigh that much–ah, fuck it, I’m just going to have a pizza!”) Of course we the public are far from blameless in this. (“It’s all the media’s fault! They’re making me unhealthy!”) [whine]But we want a pill! We don’t want to have to exercise! And we want to eat everything in sight!*[/whine]

*(Er, no offense, Mangetout)


You like Brussels sprouts? Well, here, you can have mine.

A healthy lifestyle will interfere with my retirement plan, which is to die before retirement. Those who have met me know that, unlike most people, my retirement plan is working out beautifully.