I’m fascinated by a small segment of people — those who have read and apparently fully understood the Lipophilia Hypothesis about obesity and who have chosen to reject Lipophilia in favor of the tired, wrong and ridonkculous notion that I call “Causal CICO” but which the rest of the world calls Eat Less Move More.
How can you still believe in Eat Less Move More after you’ve been exposed to enlightening evidence, such as the terrible tale of the starved-to-death-obese Zucker rats? Here’s the money quote again, for anyone who missed it:
From pg 366 of Good Calories, Bad Calories:
[Certain genetically obese mice] will fatten excessively regardless of how much they eat. The obesity is not dependent on the number of calories they consume… ‘These mice will make fat out of their food under the most unlikely circumstances, even when half starved,’ [researcher Jean] Mayer had reported. And if starved sufficiently, these animals can be reduced to the same weight as lean mice, but they’ll still be fatter. They will consume the protein in their muscles and organs rather than surrender the fat in their [fat] tissue. Indeed, when these fat mice are starved, they do not become lean mice… they become emaciated versions of fat mice.
Francis Benedict reported this in 1936, when he fasted a strain of obese mice. They lost 60 percent of their body fat before they died of starvation, but still had five times as much body fat as lean mice (!!!!!!)* that were allowed to eat as much as they desired.
*[bolded font and exclamation points are mine!!!!!]
Eat Less Move More. The rats tried it. Not a great outcome for them, eh?
“Fine, fine,” retort the Calorie Wizards, “but the starved-to-death-obese rats constitute just ONE data point, and we have all this other evidence that proves that Eat Less Move More works!”
If obesity science were an actual science, as opposed to a pathological pseudo-science, then your first reaction to evidence like this should be to questions your hypothesis. If you accept that Francis Benedict’s starvation experiment got the results that it did, then the onus is on the defenders of Eat Less Move More to explain that evidence within the framework of how you think nature operates. If you cannot do that — if you can neither reject the evidence, nor explain it in the context of the ELMM hypothesis, then you have no choice – NO CHOICE – but to a) scrap your hypothesis or b) modify it somehow to accommodate the new information.
But the ELMM people don’t do that. They offer no hint of scrapping their hypothesis or even of modifying it to accommodate this information.
For instance, I would be overjoyed to hear something along the lines of:
- “Well, the rats do show that, in very special situations, there can be more to fat loss than just “eat less move more,” but I still believe that ELMM is an appropriate/the best way to deal with obesity in the vast majority of situations.”
- “I am dubious of Francis Benedict’s experimental results. Until I see them replicated, I am going to hold firm to the ELMM hypothesis.”
Either answer would totally work for me and would be totally scientific! But the ELMM crowd ain’t saying that, at least as far as I can tell.
Look, the rats don’t tell us all that much.
Sure, the rats starved-to-death-obese, but that doesn’t mean that insulin causes obesity or even that ELMM might not be a sound – or even the best! – way to treat most normal cases of human obesity.
What the rat experiment convincing shows, however, is that the standard model for treating obesity, that 99.9999% of humanity believes – “just burn off more calories than you consume” – is, AT BEST, an oversimplification. It is not an appropriate solution for ALL cases of obesity that we see in nature.
Science is not a democracy or a courtroom. A “preponderance of evidence” doesn’t cut it. One “off” data point – one SINGLE PIECE of annoying evidence, such as the starved-to-death-obese rats – in and of itself has the power to bring down/modify an entire paradigm. Or at least it should, if you want to call what you’re doing a science.
So why does the “hard” version of ELMM persist, even among those who’ve read what you just read?
This interesting aricle in Scientific American may begin to explain it. Check it out.