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Science as a Candle in the Dark

by Fred Hahn on October 2, 2010

nhanes obesity

That of course is the subtitle of the late Carl Sagan’s 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. (Affiliate link.) A book I read on my honeymoon 14 years ago on the island of St. John. A book that changed the way I view everything.

Not many things in life affect a person profoundly (though I believe that more things should.) We are often numb to things that should have great meaning to us and rather than embrace the experience, concept or idea, we give it short shrift or ignore it completely. This is a shame because we have such precious little time here. We are all too often walking in our sleep.

While sauntering around in our human fog, it’s commonplace to kid ourselves and talk about things – things we know little or nothing about – with staunch conviction. We often blindly accept concepts that we do not understand; concepts we have not researched or studied but which require such. And one of them is nutrition.

The USDA recently came out with its 2010 guidelines. The major changes from the last published guidelines are:

1. Eat even less saturated fats
2. Eat less salt

That’s about it.

The table at the top of this post indicates the rising levels of obesity in the U.S. since the USDA has introduced its guidelines. Yep – we’re getting fatter – a lot fatter. The excuse of course is that no one is following the darn guidelines! But that is not true. Take a look at the NHANES data for macronutrient consumption:


As you can see, we have indeed complied. We have decreased total fat intake and increased carb intake.

Many of the proponents of the current guidelines poo-poo this and state that this is because the type of carbs that people have been eating more of are the refined carbs, not fruits and vegetables.

OK but the refined carbs are what the USDA wants us to ea the most of. Take a look-see:


So we have indeed complied. And we have indeed gotten fatter and sicker. Since the powers that be are clearly motivated by profit and impervious to nutritional reality, who do we call for help? Ghost Busters?

Enter the Metabolism Society. Enter Science as a candle in the dark.

If you care about your family, if you care about yourself, if you care about your fellow man you will read this paper in its entirety.

Here we go. Paul Revere would be proud.

I've been involved in exercise ever since I became a member of The Charles Atlas Club when I was 10 years old. In 1998, I founded and established Serious Strength on the Upper West Side of NYC. My clients include kids, seniors (and everyone in between), top CEOs, celebrities, bestselling authors, journalists and TV personalities.
my book. my Gym.

in Current Affairs,Health/Fitness,Nutrition,Science,weight loss/diet · 3 comments


Brandon Schultz, D.C> October 3, 2010 at 10:55 AM

It’s a sad state of affairs, our dietary recommendations! All we can do is promote what biochemistry and physiology have dictated for millenia and educate as many as possible.

I run into the same problem with my profession, Chiropractic. Lots of good individual and small group case studies and even large scale studies sponsored by BCBS of Illinois point to DC’s as primary care promote huge decreases in hospital and pharmaceutical use and increased overall health. BUT, what get cuts first when a company cuts back? Chiropractic care!

Keep fighting the good fight Fred, I promote the Metabolism Society’s work to my patients and yours as well. One at a time until the minority becomes the majority…

In health,

Audley October 4, 2010 at 11:08 AM

From the New York Times. Interesting read on doctors and nutrition.

insane grok October 4, 2010 at 4:34 PM

it still amazes me that people blindly follow this drivel! they turn their nose up at me because i tell them i eat about 60-70% of my calories are from animal fat…but they think that their breads and whole grains are whats healthy!

at least my family eats lots of bacon!

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