Competing Theories of Overweight and Obesity

God, help us figure this out

A few months ago, several of the bloggers/writers I follow were involved in an online debate about two competing theories that attempt to explain the current epidemic of overweight and obesity. The theories:

  1. Carboydrate/Insulin (as argued by Gary Taubes)
  2. Food Reward (as argued by Stephan Guyenet)

The whole dustup was about as interesting to me as debating how may angels can dance on the head of pin.

Regular readers here know I’m an advocate of the Carboydrate/Insulin theory. I cite it in Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet and The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer (2nd edition). But the Food Reward theory also has validity. They’re both right, to an extent. They’re not mutually exclusive. The Food Reward theory isn’t as well publiziced as Carbohydrate/Insulin.

Dr. Guyenet lays out a masterful defense of the Food Reward theory at his blog. Mr. Taubes presents his side here, here, here, here, and here. If you have a couple hours to wade through this, I guess I’d start with Taubes’ posts in the order I list them. Finish with Guyenet.

You’d think I’d be more interested in this. I’m still not.

Moving from theory to real world practicality, I do see that limiting consumption of concentrated refined sugars and starches helps with loss of excess body fat and prevention of weight regain. Not for everbody, but many. Whether that’s mediated through lower insulin action or through lower food reward, I don’t care so much.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Dr. Emily Deans

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