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Why We Get Fat

And What to Do About It

By Gary Taubes
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  • Contains 12 key ideas
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Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat (2010) explains why certain types of carbohydrates are the main reason we get fat. The book not only shows why people gain weight, but why the topic is so controversial. It also talks about why some people get fat and others do not, the role genetic predispositions play in this process, and which foods we should all avoid. 

Key idea 1 of 12

People who consume more calories than they burn will get fat: a common misconception.

The first three blinks deal with the flawed logic that dominates our current view of the causes of obesity.

The vast majority of nutrition experts believe that there is a simple formula to explain why people get overweight: if you consume more calories than you burn, you will get fat.

They explain that the reason so many people are overweight today is because they consume too many unhealthy, high-calorie foods while using hardly any energy, for example because we spend too much time sitting in the car, at a desk, or in front of the television set.

Based on this theory, one might conclude that fat people are simply lazy and gluttonous, and that our body is like a balloon that stretches when we put energy into it and shrinks when we take energy out.

However, this oversimplification doesn’t do justice to the complex processes that take place within the human body – and it fails to address why, precisely, some people consume more calories than they actually need.

Also, many cases have shown that even impoverished and underfed people can get fat. For example, around the turn of the 20th century, the indigenous peoples of America lived in abject poverty and were forced to subsist on sparse amounts of food. While their children showed symptoms of deficiency, many mothers were extremely overweight – and it certainly was not because they ate more and starved their children.

Are we caught up in a dogma that sounds convincing but does not actually hold water?

At any rate, the prevailing explanatory models have not yet been able to stop the obesity epidemic or explain why, among people who share similar lifestyle, some are fat and others not at all.

In light of these contradictions, anybody who has seriously grappled with the question of how to stop being overweight should also question the established views on the subject.

People who consume more calories than they burn will get fat: a common misconception.

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