If we are to make any progress in tackling the obesity crisis, we have to look again at what really makes us fat, an expert has claimed.
Gary Taubes, co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative, argued that our understanding of the cause of obesity may be incorrect, and that rectifying this misconception is “absolutely critical” to future progress.
“What we want to know,” he said, “is what causes us to gain weight, not whether weight loss can be induced under different conditions of semi-starvation.”
The history of obesity research is a history of two competing hypotheses of energy balance and endocrinology, Taubes wrote in an article published in this week”s BMJ.
Since the 1950s, conventional wisdom on obesity has been that it is caused by a positive energy balance – in other words we get fat because we overeat. The alternative hypothesis – that obesity is a hormonal or regulatory disorder – was dismissed after the second world war as being unworthy of serious attention.