Just goes to show: we still know Jack

The Man Of My Life emailed me this article today.

It’s about a professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University who deliberately went on a diet of junk food… and lost 27 pounds over 10 weeks. Apparently Mark Haub ate 1800 calories a day with two thirds of that coming from junk food; the rest was from vegetables (canned beans and celery stalks) a protein shake and a multivitamin. And funnily enough as well as losing weight his health indicators didn’t suffer –

“Haub’s “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his “good” cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.”

Of course, the writer of the article couldn’t help but quote the usual ‘expert’ saying that diabetes, etc, are all caused by extra adipose tissue, but Haub himself seems to be less willing to make a definate stand either way. He admits that there could be other, long-term health costs of his ‘diet’ that can’t be measured (and I find it interesting that he hid his junk food eating from his kids) but he also says:

“”I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it’s healthy. I’m not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it’s irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn’t say that.”

Haub assumes that his weight loss shows that it is the total amount of calories that a person eats that determines weight loss and perhaps health (that good ol’ ‘calories in-calories out’ theory again!) rather than what they eat. It’s an interesting idea but I don’t think that’s what his experiment shows at all. After all, Dr. Linda Bacon’s research on HAES has shown that eating more calories than a typical weight-loss diet, but with a HAES approach, improved health indicators too. And no-one yet has been able to demonstrate a way to lose weight and keep it off long term (especially large amounts of weight). My conversion chart tells me he lost about 12 kilos… which isn’t that much, really. At this point we have no idea if the weight will stay ‘lost’. And of course an experiment with 1 subject can’t be relied upon to make any conclusions.

I think Mark Haub has simply highlighted how little we know about the human body… how it handles adipose tissue and how it creates ‘health’ and whether there is any real connection between the two. I think he has simply proven that the human body is a wonderfully complex organism that acts/reacts to an infinite number of stimulae. As the Fatosphere keeps saying – you cannot tell a person’s health by looking at them and their body. We still know Jack, I think, about how it all fits together. And I find that refreshing. While a part of me likes pat answers the other part of me likes the idea that maybe – just maybe – ‘health’ (like faith) is an individual state which each of us reaches in our own way, doing our own thing.

Advertisements

2 Responses

  1. I think Mark Haub has simply highlighted how little we know about the human body… how is handles adipose tissue and how it creates ‘health’ and whether there is any real connection between the two. I think he has simply proven that the human body is a wonderfully complex organism that acts/reacts to an infinite number of stimulae.

    Indeed.

  2. Ultimately, it is always about energy balance and nobody has ever demonstrated otherwise. The problem is that energy balance requirements change depending on your nutrition history. The body of someone who has dieted will extract more calories from the same food than someone who has never dieted – but the ex-dieter who tries to eat the ‘correct’ calorie balance for their new body will find themselves hungry all the time.

    This guy took a terrible risk. Twinkies and other heavily processed dessert foods will make you hungrier over time, because of the way they spike insulin. He will also need to maintain his loss by eating less than will satisfy him. It would be interesting to see him now, a year later – has he regained it all?

    The other issue is that male bodies react differently to female bodies. It’s much easier for a male to strip fat off their body than it is for a woman because of the hormones involved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: