The anti-obesity establishment has decided to pull out all the stops in the battle against America's obesity crisis.
Anti-fat's top three heavyweight organizations -- the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - have just joined together to produce an HBO special, entitled The Weight of the Nation, which begins airing May 14.
The TV show kicks off "a nationwide community-based outreach campaign" to save America from itself by "sounding the alarm" about our obesity problem - particularly childhood obesity.
Pardon me, but this is more like calling the fire department after the house has burned to the ground - especially if you saw the headlines from their own report predicting that half of the US population will be obese by 2030.
So the IOM, CDC, and NIH have come up with a brilliant new idea that will turn this deadly trend around. Are you ready for this?
"Stop eating so much - and, please, get more exercise!"
In other words, we're fat because we're lazy and have no willpower.
If we could just control our impulses and push ourselves to exercise more, the obesity problem would shrink to nothing.
We need an HBO special for this?
Isn't this the same tired advice they've been clobbering us with for decades?
It hasn't worked then - and it won't work now (no matter how many more millions they spend to spread the word).
The only thing this advice has accomplished is to make Americans feel bad about themselves because they're so weak-willed.
But the real reason we have an obesity crisis is because the advice we've been getting from health officials is stuck in the Dark Ages - and completely out of touch with science.
"Too many calories" isn't the problem
Thank goodness we have writers like Gary Taubes, author of "Why We Get Fat" and "Good Calories, Bad Calories," to blow away this public health smokescreen and clear the air.
In his cover story "Why the Campaign to Stop America's Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing" , in the current issue of Newsweek, Taubes reminds us that our weight problem isn't caused by how much we're eating -- but rather what is going into our mouths.
It's about the sugar, stupid
Taubes argues that certain foods-mainly sweeteners and refined grains-are at the heart of the problem because they trigger insulin, the hormone that regulates fat accumulation.
It's not that we can't control our impulses, but that our entire food system is dominated by sugar and cheap carbs - both of which are extremely fattening.
These carbs represent the cheapest calories in our food supply (thanks to generous government subsidies) - and the most attractive (because of massive ad campaigns).
They're also the biggest profit items for food companies, which can afford to pay today's sports heroes to endorse them - and Washington lobbyists to make sure the food industry receives favorable legislation.
The insulin connection
A few weeks ago I described in detail how insulin makes (and keeps) us fat.
In a nutshell, insulin traps fat in your fat cells so it can't be burned as fuel by your body.
Consuming sugar, sweets, sodas, and refined carbs keep insulin levels high, so our fat cells never get a chance to empty out. It's a vicious cycle.
Taubes correctly points out that the real reason this new anti-obesity push won't work (again) isn't because we're not heeding the "experts" advice - or that we're weak-willed.
The fault is the guidance we've been getting. It just doesn't jibe with the science of how the human body gains and loses weight.
And the next time someone admonishes you to start exercising to drop some pounds, tell them this…
"Exercise is pretty useless for weight loss."
That's the conclusion of Eric Ravussin, head of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolism at Louisiana State University (LSU), quoted in a TIME magazine cover story entitled, The Myth About Exercise; TIME magazine (August 17, 2009).
Research conducted at LSU randomly assigned overweight women to four groups.
Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 minutes, 136 minutes, or 194 minutes every week for six months. Women in the fourth group (the control) were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their eating habits one bit.
The findings were surprising to say the least:
All the women lost weight, but those who sweated it out with a trainer several days a week lost no more than the control group did. Any many of the exercising women actually gained weight -- with some adding 10 pounds or more!
In fact, exercise has never been proven effective for losing weight. But this doesn't stop the experts from pushing this wrong-headed belief on overweight people.
I'm all for exercise and physical activity. It's part of my daily life because it keeps me strong and energetic -- and I love how good it makes me feel.
I also know my regular workouts will lengthen my life and protect my brain, while fostering peak mental performance and emotional well-being.
But one benefit it won't provide me is weight loss.
Just do the math…
As Taubes points out, ittakes a significant amount of exercise to burn even a modest amount of calories.
A three-mile run burns up roughly the amount of calories in a single candy bar, according to Cornell University researcher Brian Wansink.
And because exercise stimulates your hunger, you're likely to eat that candy bar - and then some - after your workout.
Here too, the science is very clear: It's what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that makes the difference when it comes to losing weight.
So please stop torturing yourself.
And another thing…
Despite plenty of good science to the contrary, the anti-obesity establishment continues to place the blame for our weight woes on meat, animal products, and dietary fat.
Since the mid-1970s, public health agencies have brainwashed us into believing that these foods cause colon cancer and heart disease (because of the saturated fat) -- and now, because they supposedly makes us fat as well.
Yet, while the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars (our tax dollars, mind you) trying to prove that salt and saturated fat are killers, it has spent virtually nothing on warning us about the dangers of sugar.
So what should we eat?
The very best way to lose weight, as many of us have been saying for years, is to restrict sugar and refined carbs (because they trigger insulin production) - and fill your plate with green leafy vegetables and "clean" animal products, including fish, meat, eggs, and hormone-free (or raw) dairy products.
The pounds will fall off you like crazy on this diet. And if you want to exercise, it will accelerate the process (and improve your overall health).
What else can we do?
They even suggest an end to farm subsidies to giant agribusiness corporations to make food prices more competitive. Finally, the coalition wants cities to provide more sidewalks and parks so we all can become less dependent on our cars.
Will these ideas help?
I'd like to know what you think of these proposals - and about your ideas for how we can turn the tide against the obesity tsunami.
Have you lost weight lately? What worked for you?
Please share your ideas here so we can all benefit from your experience.