Some of us are desperate enough to find the secret to losing weight fast. Sometimes, just hearing the word “fat” would make you want to skip the fat-filled food, but do we really even know what’s putting on the pounds? Better yet, do we know what is bad for our health? With countless studies about the multitudes of dietary plans, why is obesity still a pressing issue nowadays? It does not only prove the loopholes in a lot of researches on dietary science but also speaks about the common misconceptions.
A good argument done by a group of scientists today may be refuted by a better point tomorrow, as is the case with many pieces of researches on nutrition. One of the most debated topics is whether fat or sugar is the devil behind the health problems we face today. Jerome Groopman of New Yorker focused on two health books “The Secret Life of Fat” by Sylvia Tara and “The Case Against Sugar” by Gary Taubes, which, although presented valid points, may have supporting details that stem from complex ideas.
Sylvia discussed in her book the three forms of fat, which were classified according to color – brown, usually on the neck, heart, and back, is filled with mitochondria; white, the kind we need to burn and stores energy; and beige, which becomes brown if we work out.
She cited physician Gokhan Hotamisligil’s findings that molecule TNF-Alpha is the causal link between Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The former disease happens when the body is not able to use the insulin produced. The results showed that the said molecule is made by fat and is the reason for resistance to the peptide hormone that breaks down sugar – the findings amazed the author, although she forgot to mention that the experiment was done on rodents, not humans.
The writer also said obesity may be linked with viruses, noting of a certain kind called Ad-36, which could make chickens fat. Sylvia said that there were more antibodies for it found in overweight people than those with slender physiques. Jerome points out that there is yet to be a study saying Ad-36 can be passed on to humans.
How Fat Became Our Enemy
During the postwar years, University of Minnesota physiologist Ancel Keys laid out the first sustained attack on fat. He specifically looked at the increasing rate of businessmen who had heart attacks. Thereafter he concluded that it was the saturated fat usually in meat and dairy products that are the culprit, which had jolted the public at the time.
Meanwhile, Taubes tout sugar as the bad guy, so much so that he held it responsible for a host of diseases like heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer, along with other related issues like gout, polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, varicose veins, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. However, Jerome accused the author of cherry-picking studies to support his claims, including one where those from a developing world who moved to the West became obese.
Taubes believes that if sugar causes obesity and diabetes, then it could also be the suspect for the other diseases mentioned. Jerome contradicts the claim, saying there’s still no science that proves these are closely related.
Manufacturers’ Moves to Mask Sugar Risks
Moreover, Taubes tried to show how the industry attempted to conceal the bad effects of sugar on our bodies, teaching that fat was not the devil’s incarnate. When sugar was touted as an empty calorie in 1943, manufacturers devised a plan in which they would tap experts to countersign the idea that the product doesn’t have health risks and is a source of energy, and to use the scientists as part of their public relations campaign.
Jerome said that while there are promising and contradicting studies that pop out of nowhere, it is best we focus on what he called gradual advances, including the commonality among the studies that trans-fat worsens cardiovascular illnesses.
A BBC documentary titled “Fat vs Sugar,” meanwhile, put twin brothers to test, one with a low-carb diet, the other with a low-fat plan. The result showed that the low-carb person shed 4 kilos while the other, 1 kilo. The show later on concluded that what’s best is to stick with a plan that avoids processed food that has sugar and fat altogether.
The Premier Physicians Network also said that there is no one answer as to which of the two is worse, but it highlighted the importance of a balanced diet. The National Institute of Health suggests decreasing intake of bad fat and sugar for a nutritious diet.