Visiting lecturer challenges the common view on obesity

When it comes to weight loss, conventional wisdom has always said to eat less and exercise more.

But science journalist Gary Taubes has come up with a hypothesis which he says will turn this idea on its head.

Science journalist Gary Taubes

Science journalist Gary Taubes

Mr Taubes, who has written books on scientific and nutritional controversies including The Diet Delusion and Why We Get Fat? presented a lecture at the University of Buckingham on Tuesday.

In his lecture, he challenged the medical view that we get fat because the number of calories we eat is greater than the number of calories we expend, saying it was too simplistic an explanation.

He also cited several examples of cultures where obesity was prevalent, despite the fact people in those cultures worked active jobs and walked everywhere.

He said: “If someone got fatter they had to take in more calories than they spent. That’s a given. But it tells you nothing about why they got fatter or why they took in more calories.”

He said insulin was what made fat cells fat and was secreted in response to the carbohydrates in our diet, quoting diabetes expert George Cahill, who said: “Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat.”

But, Mr Taubes added, the science behind fat accumulation had been ‘removed from the discussion’ with a focus instead on ‘what made us hungry.’

“What makes a fat cell fat, is what makes you fat and that’s high blood sugar stimulating the release of insulin,” he said.