Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Different Diet Documentaries, One Unified Low-Carb Message

The lingering aftershocks of the September 2007 release of Gary Taubes' blockbuster book Good Calories, Bad Calories has only just begun. Over the next year, there will be at least two major pro-low-carb documentary films to be released that will share the positive message of livin' la vida low-carb with the masses unlike anything that has ever hit movie theaters before. The truth will be laid out for all the world to see and quite frankly I am waiting with pins and needles to see these films do their thing.

Complementing the work of Steve Yu's INSPIRED: The Movie, which has more of a motivational message in mind for viewers who want to make essential changes in their lifestyle to transform their entire outlook on life, there are two other projects underway and likely to release sometime in 2008 that are geared more towards the actual dietary changes that are needed to bring about meaningful results for people struggling with diabetes, obesity, and related diseases.

The first documentary is CJ Hunt's In Search Of The Perfect Human Diet. I've shared with you about this incredible journey to find the best possible diet for humans to live on by a man who once died at the age of 24 and was given a new lease on life. Hunt is now using his skills as a professional filmmaker to illuminate the lessons he has learned about healthy living.

You'll recall this blog post from a few months ago when he asked the readers of my blog whether livin' la vida low-carb was just another diet you've tried to lose weight or if it is something more than that. Most of you know how much low-carb changed my life for the better, so it is MUCH more to me than just a simple weight loss diet. Telling everyone I know about the miracle of low-carb is the very mission of my life right now and I wouldn't have it any other way.

CJ Hunt is also on a mission with his movie and has finally revealed a little taste of what he's been working on for everyone to enjoy. Here's a little snippet of In Search Of The Perfect Human Diet he posted today at YouTube. Be sure to leave a comment about the video, give it a 5-star rating if you liked it, and add it to your favorites. Sign up for updates from CJ Hunt about this exciting film, including more clips and news about the forthcoming release.

The second documentary is one that I only recently learned about. It's billed as the "anti-SuperSize Me Movie" because the filmmaker couldn't stand how Morgan Spurlock perverted the numbers in his breakout documentary a few years back to force culpability for obesity on McDonald's and the fast food industry. While they are certainly not completely blameless in this epidemic, ignoring the role of the individual and what they are putting in their mouths is irresponsible.

That's why comedian Tom Naughton has created a new documentary called Fat Head. Right now there is not a working web site, but Naughton has secured the URL when there is content to be displayed. Keep checking back at that location for more information about this film.

There is a brief, but very pointed 2 1/2 minute video from Naughton featuring a sneak peek at Fat Head that has YouTube all abuzz right now. Check it out:

Go to the direct link to the video on YouTube and leave comments, rate the video, and make it one of your favorites. Did you see what he wrote in the "About This Video" section for this clip? WHOA!

"Guess what? Fat and cholesterol don't cause heart disease. The theory was based on bogus science from the very beginning."

YEAH BABY, that's what I'm talking about!!! Tom Naughton is sharing pure unadulterated dietary truths and that has to make people who still buy into the low-fat lie absolutely shaking in their boots. Ornish, Fuhrman, McDougall, Oz...EAT YOUR HEART OUT!!!

I have a feeling this movie is gonna get a LOT of attention, especially when Naughton nails down a major movie distributor willing to give Fat Head the spotlight it deserves. Just you wait and see! In the meantime, sign up for updates on Fat Head and take a look at his other clips "Blaming Fast Food," (why McDonald's isn't to blame for making you fat) "Spurlockian Bologna," (how Morgan Spurlock fudged the calorie numbers in SuperSize Me and "The Guy From CSPI" (a hilarious spoof of Michael Jacobsen from the Center for Science in the Public Interest).

My favorite clip is "The McGovern Report" where a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet was created because of politics and not any scientific evidence. The USDA followed suit and decided to create low-fat dietary guidelines based on overzealous bureaucracy rather than solid sound data. Dr. Mary Dan Eades and Mary Enig, noted low-carb supporters, appear in this video.

I will be watching an advance copy of this documentary soon and blogging more about it as it gets closer to being available for public release. Also, Tom Naughton has agreed to an interview here at my blog, so I'll be bringing that to you soon as well.

Let's show our support for these two different documentaries with one unified low-carb message. With success will come accessibility to the masses and the furthering of the uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring theme that low-carb living is indeed a viable long-term and permanent solution to the weight and health problems modern society faces. Now more than ever we can grab this bull by the horns and run with it!

Thanks to CJ Hunt and Tom Naughton, that's EXACTLY what we're about to do!

11-29-07 UPDATE: A reader named Richard asked some interesting questions regarding Tom Naughton's upcoming anti-SuperSize Me movie in the comments section of this blog post. I wanted to give Tom an opportunity to respond and here's what he wrote:

Hi, Jimmy -

Sure, I'd be happy to answer the comments:

First off, as a former journalist and voracious reader (40-50 books per year, plus magazines, online articles, etc.) I would never suggest - and didn't - that anyone consider watching my film as a substitute for reading Gary Taubes' book. I began this project over a year ago, before I'd ever heard of his book, and I plowed through a dozen books and more articles than I'd care to count as part of my research. Read, people! Read, read, read!

I haven't read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" yet because my wife informed me there will soon be a copy under our Christmas tree, so I can't honestly tell you where Taubes and I would agree or disagree. But I will offer my take on your questions.

Exercise is not the only key to losing weight - there is no single key - but it's an important component. Our diets have changed for the worse in the past several decades, but our activity level has changed even more. When my brother was constructing pools for a living, he was, by his own admission, an eating machine. He was also muscled and cut like a wide receiver. Later, when he became a disk jockey, he ballooned up even though he was eating less.

The honest low-carb proponents, like Dr. Mike Eades, state specifically in their books that to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit. Exercise can and should be part of that deficit. Exercise also increases your output of human growth hormone, which helps to burn fat, and builds your muscles, which also helps to burn fat. And if you don't exercise at all, I don't care how thin you are - you're not healthy.

If you think research funded by government is somehow less biased than other research, you haven't been paying attention. The grain-based, low-fat diet theory is specifically endorsed by our government, and they use federal funding - or fear of losing it - to bludgeon researchers into supporting the theory. I recently spoke with Dr. Kilmer McCulley - who was fired from Harvard for disagreeing with the lipid hypothesis - and he told me the university bigwigs were afraid they'd lose their government funding if they kept him around. That's your government at work. I'm sure we would all love to see honest government funding of health research, but to date, government involvement has been more of a problem than a solution.

As for my approach being mean, well, that's a rather strong statement to make without having seen the film! In the film, I recount my own history of becoming fat as a teenager and then spending much of my adult life trying to lose weight. If anyone has sympathy for fat people, it's me.

But accepting fat people for who they are - including their right to choose pleasure over long-term health - isn't mean. Trying to convince them they should all prefer to be thin - which is a white, upper-class attitude left over from our Puritan heritage - well, that is mean. That's trying to impose someone else's value system on them.

The desire to be thin is hardly universal. In fact, as Dr. Oliver explains in his book, in many cultures being fat is considered a sign of beauty and success. My wife worked in Africa for two years and was surprised to learn that when girls approach marrying age, their parents try to fatten them up to make them more appealing to men. Among African-Americans, describing a woman as "thick" is a compliment. In an episode of my favorite sitcom ("Scrubs"), a white doctor about to go on his first-ever date with a black woman asks a black doctor for advice. "Oh, it's just like dating a white girl," his black friend answers, "But if she asks, 'Does this dress make my butt look big?' you better answer 'Hell, yeah!'"

As for diabetes and obesity, of course there's an association; where you see one, you often see the other. There's also an association between tobacco-stained teeth and lung cancer, but no one thinks brown spots on teeth cause lung cancer. They're both caused by smoking.

Loading up on sugar and starch can make you fat, and can also lead to diabetes. My point is that being fat does not cause diabetes. According to the government, I am (or was when I started filming) obese, and yet my triglycerides were only 70. Meanwhile, my rail-thin father-in-law developed Type II diabetes at age 60. He loves sugar and starch. I don't.

Thanks for you questions, and thanks, Jimmy, for the chance to address them.

THANK YOU for providing feedback, Tom! I'll be interviewing Tom Naughton about his film very soon, so keep reading to see that in the near future. THANKS for the questions, Richard!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Richard said...

Hey Jimmy,

I have been reading your blog for some time, and really enjoy it. Thanks for your good work.

I am really nervous about this anti-Super Size Me movie - i think it will be counter-productive.

Gary Taubes' book deserves to be enormously influential, but for those who suggest that Naughton's anti-Super Size Me movie is something that can serve as clif-notes for Taubes' GCBC, or is something that will help Taubes reach his goal of spurring better nutritional science, I suggest you reconsider.

Do you think Taubes agrees with Naughton that there is no real obesity epidemic in America?

Do you think Taubes agrees with Naughton that the association between obesity and Type II diabetes is weak, or that the underlying relationship between the two is somehow unclear?

Do you think Taubes agrees with Naughton that particular foods (fast foods, starches, sugars) are not addicting, or that the addiction is somehow weak and easy to break?

Do you think Taubes agrees with Naughton that poor people tend to be more obese because they have an "I'm fat and I don't care" attitude?

Do you think Taubes agrees with Naughton that exercise is the key to losing weight?

Do you think Taubes agrees with Naughton that people are fat because they run a caloric surplus?

Do you think Taubes wants less government involvement in scientific inquiry and public health as Naughton suggests, or does Taubes' book instead call for more government funding of better science leading to better public health recommendations? I read Taubes to say that the government needs to be doing more - much more in terms of funding the right sorts of experiments. Taubes is realistic enough to say that government funding is the only hope for getting real answers on the competing hypotheses on diet and health.

Gary Taubes' book is carefully thought-out and loyal throughout to the principles of scientific inquiry. I don't know what to think of Naughton's movie, except that it will only cause more confusion about Taubes' critically important message.

On another note, one reason people are drawn to Taubes is because his inclinations are so humane - point out to Taubes that fat people drink diet soda and he'll say "Of course, they are always on diets. They don't want to be heavy.” In everything Taubes says about modern American diets, there's this real sympathy for obese people who feel like they've somehow lost control of their bodies and their health, and are incapable of finding decent medical or public health advice about how to turn things around.

Naughton just comes across as mean. For him, the obese "happen to value immediate pleasure more than long-term health" and then he quips "that’s your choice." Does anyone who read Taubes book honestly believe that Taubes thinks that obese people choose to get fat?

11/29/2007 5:13 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

It's 'Hybrid Carbohydrates' gang, that's what's at the bottom of all this. Hybrid Carbohydrates is what all of our fruit and vegetables and grains have become. (good work Jimmy)

11/29/2007 10:06 AM  
Blogger Richard said...


Wow. Thank you for giving such attention to my comments.

I am ambivalent about responding to Tom Naughton's post but I feel like the main issue is still hanging out there unaddressed.

Gary Taubes' GCBC is a thoughtful and balanced exploration of the science surrounding human nutrition and public health.

There is much in his research and conclusions that people find convincing. Certainly some people will focus on some small aspect of Taubes’ overall reporting – that the Center for Science in the Public Interest is misguided, that ad libitium consumption of fat and protein won’t make you fat – without getting the whole picture sketched out in Taubes’ book. And, of course, that’s fine.

And, of course, some people may latch on to elements of Taubes’ research for more sinister reasons.

For one example, there are a lot of former tobacco lobbyists out there.

Many of them eventually found work representing Coca-Cola and McDonalds, and the trade groups to which they belong.

A prime example of this is the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), run by former tobacco lobbyist Richard Berman. CCF, funded by fast-food and soft-drink companies, lobbies on specific matters like keeping sugary drinks in public school vending machines, but also advocates for a general sentiment: that government ought to get out of business of health research and have people make their own decisions – presumably without benefit of the information needed to make those decisions. That latter notion is right out of the old pro-cigarette playbook.

I have seen all the clips of Naughton’s film posted on YouTube. Regardless of what one thinks of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (I happen to think their recommendations and advocacy are not helpful), there is no denying that Naughton’s criticism of CSPI are nearly identical to what you find at the CCF website and that his opinions on obesity are indistinguishable from the opinions on the CCF website And his attitudes on government funding of science track the opinions on the web site.

Let’s put aside all the ways in which Taubes’ book casts doubt on Naughton’s statements on the insignificance of obesity, the role of personal choice in getting fat, the absence of any addictive elements in food, and the role of sedentary behavior in chronic disease, and instead let us just look at this issue of government funding of science and public health research.

Anyone who reads Taubes’ book would have a hard time being against government funding of nutrition science. Nearly all the miraculous research Taubes reports on, confirming various elements of the carbohydrate hypothesis, was paid for through government funding. So was most of the bad research supporting Key’s hypothesis. Oh well.

The notion that government funding somehow requires certain conclusions be reached or demands that scientist only support the status quo is just wrong on the face of it. Ask Krauss or Albrink or Reaven or any of the hundreds of researcher’s Taubes interviews who continue to do government-funded work that supports some aspect of the carbohydrate hypothesis.

We know, for sure, that Naughton never read Taubes. To me that makes sense. The arguments I hear from Naughton are way closer to former-tobacco-lobbyist Richard Berman than to anything one hears from Gary Taubes.

11/30/2007 12:13 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The only thing I'd like to add to this is that Dr. Eades has since changed his opinion about the caloric deficit. In his books he does make certain statements, but in his blog he has changed many of his opinions based on an improved understanding of the science. This is a response I received last week when he seemed to suggest in his response to Colpo that a calorie deficit was necessary:

Hi Charles–

You’ve basically restated the thesis of Gary Taubes’ book. I believe he and Pennington are correct.

The problem that the a-calorie-is-a-calorie people have is that they seem to think that calories in and calories out are independent variables, which simply isn’t true. They think that if you simply cut calories you will lose weight, and that if you cut calories by 3500 kcal over a week’s time, you’ll lose a pound of fat. Which would be true if calories in and calories out were independent variables, but they’re not.

It has been shown in numerous studies that when people cut calories they also cut the amount of energy expenditure. Same when they increase calories - they increase energy expenditure. On a low-carb diet people seem to be able to cut calories better without decreasing their energy expenditure than they can cutting calories on higher carb diets, which is where the metabolic advantage comes from.



Just wanted to set the record straight regarding Dr. Eades' opinion.



12/03/2007 12:13 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home