“Fat Head”

March 13, 2011 at 7:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments

[Edit as of 8/25/2011:  http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/paleo-diet  This is a ranking of the “paleolithic diet” recommended in “Fat Head.”  If you’re reading this post, judging by the comments I’ve received, you’re most likely a die-hard fan of the film.  Please just click the link and read that article before reading mine.  Or skip mine; that would be fine too].

Tonight my man Rocket Scientist and I watched the 2008 documentary Fat Head, a response to Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me.  Here I am, having awoken at 4:30 AM – what would have been 3:30 yesterday – driven from my bed to write about it.

First off, I tried to find some criticism of the film, but a Google search on “Fat Head criticism” brought up only fulgent praise as far as I could find.  Since it was released nearly three years ago, that seemed odd.  This is the internet, after all.

Tom Naughton sets out to disprove Spurlock’s criticism of McDonald’s by losing weight on an all-McDonald’s diet.  His main thesis is that a diet rich in animal fats is necessary for good health, while a high-carbohydrate diet is responsible for both obesity and heart disease, though there is in fact no obesity epidemic.  He advocates personal responsibility and common sense in maintaining health.

At the beginning of Naughton’s documentary, he tells us that he is cutting his daily caloric intake from 2500 to about 2000.  A cursory glance at his food log shows that it sometimes dips below 1800.  This tells us everything we need to know: portion control is the only reliable means to weight loss.  That’s why Jared the Subway sandwich guy still has a job.  It is true, as Naughton demonstrates, that there is no reliable formula to calculate calories in/calories out to pounds lost, but he doesn’t say that portion control actually works.  I’m 5’4″ and I might lose weight on 1800 calories a day!

Naughton points out that it took him some effort to find visibly obese people for his film, as part of his message that the obesity epidemic is an artificial creation of government statistics.  I rarely see obese people on my daily trail run, or in the aisles at Whole Foods, either.  Yet the majority of my friends and family (sorry, guys) are indeed visibly obese.  Naughton seems to have two conflicting messages: 1. Perfectly normal-looking people are technically obese, and 2. Americans really are obese and suffer heart disease, it’s just not the fault of junk food.

The normalization of overweight and obesity has crept up on us.  My father-in-law pulled out his high school yearbook over the holidays and showed us “the fat girl” in his class – he’s 68.  She would certainly have been considered “normal” or even “thin” now.  “Fat” in the 50’s and earlier was a question of 5 or 10 pounds.  It’s also notable that she was the only “fat person” in the entire school.  The reason the book came out is that my in-laws are generally appalled at “how fat everyone has gotten.”  Naughton claims that “obesity epidemic” statistics are inflated naturally by the aging of the population; yet it is a purely cultural assumption that age leads to weight gain.  Historically the image of an elderly person has been skeletal, not fat, compared to a younger person.

Naughton makes good comedic mileage out of “man on the street” interviews, in which average people demonstrate that they know full well that fast food is high in calories and that nobody forces them or their children to eat it.  This is an empowering message for anyone who wants to lose weight.  Yet Naughton doesn’t interview any visibly obese – OR athletic – people.  In The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler explains that the one factor overweight people have in common is that they are less skilled at estimating calorie consumption than thin people.   Obviously, elite athletes will shy away from fast food.  You can’t run on that stuff.

An advocate of personal responsibility, Naughton reminds us that nobody is forced to eat fast food.  Good point.  Yet he seems to go out of his way to absolve the fast food industry completely of any similar responsibility.  It’s precisely like blaming the individual homeowner for the mortage crisis of 2008, and leaving the corrupt and bloated finance industry alone.  Where did the 44-oz soda cup come from?  American-style fast food restaurants have normalized a particular style of meal, and their spread across the globe has brought Western-style obesity and Western-style health problems with it.  Much of the problem stems from portion inflation – the point Spurlock wanted to make – and the reason for that is that the profit margin is higher for soda and fries.  Remember what a “large” soda looked like in the 80’s?

Naughton lays the blame for the non-existent obesity epidemic (?) at the feet of government, which is apparently influenced by radical vegetarians, who are in the pocket of… the soy industry.  “Follow the money,” he says at least three times.  Right.  I followed the money straight to the billion-dollar fast food industry, as supported by industrial agriculture.  The largest consumer of soy is actually the modern cattle feedlot.  Naughton, surprisingly, has plenty to say about grain-fed people but nothing to say about grain-fed beef.  (“Surprising” because Atkins people are often quite vocal about this).

Naughton is out to get Spurlock’s goat, claiming on the one hand that Spurlock could not have eaten the calories he claims by following his stated rules, and on the other that he shouldn’t have gained as much weight as he did by eating that way.  He takes him to task for refusing to provide his food log.  While Naughton does provide his McDonald’s food log, he goes on to follow a different diet for a month, artificially high in saturated fat, yet does not keep a food log for that.  It’s petty, but this annoyed me.  Why not just do it again, if it was so great, and post the new one?  As for Spurlock, he began his journey on a diet rather different from Naughton’s, was at a quite different fitness level, and was also younger.  Whichever film you might find more convincing, both make the unavoidable argument that soda and french fries will make you fat.

Spurlock’s claim that he felt “addicted” to McDonald’s, although the food made him want to vomit, sticks in Naughton’s craw.  He summarily dismisses the idea that a particular type of food can be addictive.  Let me offer an anecdote.  I once eavesdropped on a visibly obese woman at a Denny’s restaurant, and she told her dining companion that she felt a “food rush.”  They went on to discuss how they felt high from the meal.  Naughton’s film has nothing to offer about psychological or physiological addiction issues around overweight, perhaps because he is lucky enough not to have any.  Kessler begins writing The End of Overeating precisely because he “can’t stop eating Snackwell’s” and wants to know why – and concludes persuasively that manufactured food is deliberately engineered to be addicting.

Animated cavemen show up in Fat Head, as an illustration of the idea that primitive people ate more meat and animal fat and were healthier.  All I will say about this is that someone who finds this convincing might research the longevity of these primitive people.  Both Stone Age and agricultural societies prior to the Industrial Age were quite physically active.  The Amish eat a diet heavy in starch, but have low incidence of Western diseases, because they are also very physically active.

There is nothing wrong with eating fast food, according to Naughton.  Perhaps this is true in the arena of weight maintenance for the variety of person who finds it easy to track and control his eating.  (According to this article, Naughton would most likely fit in the “B” quadrant, the group that finds it easiest to lose weight and keep it off).  Yet the health effects of fast food are only one of a long list of issues for which the industry should be held accountable, including:  trash generated by disposable packaging; land and water use; corporate welfare from agricultural subsidies; labor relations; pollution; an ugly cityscape; targeted marketing aimed at children, which I personally find egregiously tacky; misleading advertising and a sordid history of lying to consumers; various e. Coli deaths; and, of course, animal suffering.  (Yes, I’ve been vegan for 14 years, which should come as no surprise, though the fact that I walk among the living might be to some).

As a member of the “radical vegetarian” cabal that is quickly taking over the world, I will state quite clearly that I agree with Naughton about excess carbohydrate consumption and the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.  I also agree that we should all take personal responsibility for our habits.  Where I disagree is that industry bears no responsibility (while government does?); that ‘pineapple tofu’ represents a typical vegan meal (tofu is not to be served to amateurs!); that what we choose to eat should be based only on whether it makes us fat; and that Naughton looks normal and fit.

Before you comment: Did you read the whole post?  Are you currently at your desired weight?  I wear a size 4, can run 8 miles, and I am currently training for a half-marathon in September.  I am much fitter at 36 than I was as a teenager.  Would you prefer to be able to say that, or stop walking after three miles like Naughton?

I know what I’m talking about!

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44 Comments

  1. I haven’t heard of this movie, although I saw “Supersize Me.” I am astonished that Naughton had a hard time finding visibly obese people to interview. Where did he search? In Beverly Hills?

    I suppose my own view is skewed because I am a nurse on an acute care orthopedic/trauma unit and at least 80% of my patients are overweight or obese. To have type 2 diabetes is almost routine. The lack of physical conditioning is appalling. I had a 19 year old patient argue with me that his high blood pressure (176/100!) was justified because he had just been walking in the hall. I said, “You’re 19 years old and you’re telling me that you’re so out of shape that a slow walk to the end of the hall and back will elevate your blood pressure to this degree?”

    I have no idea how much fast food my patients eat, but I am painfully aware of the devastating effects of being obese and out of shape (and also on the detrimental effects on *my* health as I regularly injure myself trying to move these people).

    • I chuckled when I saw your name – you probably get that joke all the time, because it must take real patience to deal with your patients. It breaks my heart to see how deeply in denial people can be about their health and fitness level. Nobody ever thinks, “Oh, I’ll die in pain in a hospital but oh well, it’s worth it.”

  2. What I find most interesting is that someone felt the need to rebut Spurlock’s movie. I am not saying everything in Supersize Me is beyond critique, but I didn’t find Spurlock’s message so polemic as to inspire someone to go to such lengths. I eat plenty of meat, and I love me some good junk food every so often. But I am also fully aware of the personal and environmental destruction that most fast food wreaks. And I don’t quite think Spurlock was putting the onus of obesity on animal fat alone. I also recently read that McDonalds new “healthy” oatmeal has more sugar than a Snickers bar.

    • It’s a sad irony that the “healthy” options at McDonald’s tend to be the least healthy. I read that the salad can have more fat than the burger!

      One of the worst things I ever ate was a McDonald’s pancake. I was a starving student in those days and I couldn’t eat 1/4 of it. Which was worse, the pancake, the fake butter, or the fake syrup?

  3. I think I’ll just stick with another viewing of Supersize Me.

    • That, or just read a novel… I think I’m about done watching food industry-related documentaries for a while.

  4. I think some of the points discussed above an in the comments section are missing the intended point. The BMI is crap. This is no way of indicating obesity. I am 6’1, 220. I run, play basketball, baseball, swim, and occasional hockey. My blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is great. I am considered obese by BMI. Complete nonsense. People suddenly aren’t fat, the definition of fat (by government) has suddenly changed.
    The point of the film is that special interest groups are pushing agendas that are simply self-serving. If you want to be vegan/vegetarian… good for you. If you want to eat 4000 calories a day… good for you. Why do government and special interest groups get a say in what me, my wife, and my three daughters get to eat. The trans fat story in fast food restaurants is a great example of this.

    • Andrew, thanks for writing.

      I believe I did understand the point of the film – I just happen to disagree with it. Personally, I don’t eat fast food because I think it tastes, smells, and looks bad, it costs more than cooking from scratch, and my family enjoys eating at home. There is nothing that could be added to or subtracted from a fast food menu that would suddenly make me want to eat fast food again. I guess none of it really applies to us.

      My husband is 6’2″ and weighs 240, down from a former high of 303. He and I are both 25% body fat. He can outrun me, do pushups with me on his back, and he’s a former football and hockey player and even used to be a logger. He’ll be the first to tell you that the 20 lb roll around his waist qualifies him as fat. It’s totally possible to be fit and fat. Agreed, the BMI is crap, but unless a person is an elite or professional athlete, it probably *does* correctly indicate that a person is overweight.

      I have a cousin who has a similar complaint about the BMI chart. She says “gee, it says I’m morbidly obese but I can still climb a flight of stairs and tie my shoes.” The four adults in that household together top 1200 lbs. None of them have a fitness program of any description, and two of them have sleep apnea. They brag that they eat fast food three meals a day, and they are all big soda drinkers. The trouble with a film like Naughton’s is that it provides a very reassuring message to people who are in denial about their health and want to stay that way. The majority of morbidly obese people believe they are merely obese, while the majority of obese people believe they are merely overweight. Doesn’t anyone aspire to climb a mountain or run a marathon any more?

      Just because most people we see have a fat roll around their waist, doesn’t make it healthy. Sure, we can all choose not to care, but then we wind up with the situation in which the military has to lower its fitness standards because few recruits can meet them. We have one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced cultures the world has ever known – it would be interesting to see us use some of those resources to enjoy more physical activity.

      The next time you go into a fast food restaurant, look around and ask yourself how many of the folks you see could and would meet you in three hours for a run.

      “The government” and “special interest groups” are never going to shut down fast food restaurants, partly because the beef, dairy, and fast food industries are big campaign contributors. I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you, I would just encourage your kids to remain active like you.

  5. For anyone who’s curious, I am 5’4″, I weigh 131 lbs, my cholesterol is 141, and my body fat is 25%. The picture of my husband and me on our wedding day is both of us after a couple months of pre-wedding bingeing!

    I’m vegan, he’s omnivore.

    I took up running three months ago and dropped 2% body fat, while maintaining the same weight to the 1/4 lb. I run 12-15 miles a week and I’m training to do a half-marathon next year. My maximum body fat percentage was just under 35%, at a weight that qualified as “overweight” by two pounds. I am a little cheesed off at the BMI chart, too, because it told me I basically had nothing to worry about. I like measuring my health with quantitative data, and if I’d known my body fat was too high I would have started exercising years ago!

  6. I am almost 16 years old, run 15-18 miles a week, and a “pescatarian,” that is a vegetarian+seafood. I became a pescatarian a little over a year ago, around the same time I started running. Since then, I have maintained a weight of 122-125 pounds at a height of almost 5’4. I only lost around 8 pounds, but my overall body fitness has changed dramatically: I can run almost 10 miles, run one mile under 7 minutes, and have excelled in all the sports that I thought I couldn’t do (soccer, for instance, I thought was impossible because I used to have problems running a mile straight).
    All the while, I have become extremely interested in health: I often read Women Health and Runner’s World articles, my mom sends me NY times recipes, and I am always quick to learn the science behind a healthy body. (ok.. where am i leading to….)
    Well… this whole interest, and utter devotion to my own the world’s health status began with 2 documentaries and many (many.. mannnnnyyy) articles: Food Inc and Super Size Me and vegetarian blogs. These videos filled my mind with the firm belief that the meat industry (as well as farmed fish, which I do not eat… and many dairy products.. which I do, because I enjoy cheese) are what is destroying the planet. They are both unjust to the lives of animals, unnatural, and are the leading causers of obesity and diabetes in America (and the rest of the World). On top of this, these two documentaries have ingrained a deep hatred for fast food in me (to the point that the McDonalds sign gives me a sick feeling). Nearly all of my friends bug me about this, as well as my dad who is an Argentinian meat-lover.
    Fathead gave me such a headache that I need to see an opposing side. I no longer know if meat is wrong… or bad to eat. Is saturated fat suddenly… heart healthy? Is the extra-virgin olive oil on my table wrong? Should my mom be taking Lipotor to lower her cholesterol? Should I not have my oatmeal in the morning because it will simply spike my sugar? Is the american population only 1/3 overweight by government standards, but truly healthy? Is vegetarianism, a weird fad that counters everything humans were made to live on?
    Please help.

    • Hi Soraya,

      If you’ve been having success with your particular eating and fitness plan, stick to it! Judge your progress by how far and fast you can run. If you eat something and it makes you feel like not working out, don’t eat it. Don’t worry about the rest of it. Just keep in mind that your schedule and your metabolism may change as you age, so don’t lose track of your plan later in adulthood.

      As I said in my post, I’m a vegan. I haven’t eaten meat in 18 years, and I haven’t used any animal products at all in 14 years. I ran 8 miles on Saturday and I would say I feel healthier now than I did when I was your age (when I still ate “regular” food). A lot of people will tell you vegetarianism is some kind of abomination, but if it works for you, ignore them. Oh, and oatmeal is definitely good for you.

  7. I understand your point of view on this movie, but I also (mostly) disagree with it. I don’t think he was saying that fast food is good for you. After all, as he ate fast food, he completely modified his diet to be low in carbs, which is not something that is particularly easy to do in these establishments. I think his point was that if you are going to eat fast food, avoid the carbs and you might find that you drop some pounds. After all, these are what make your blood sugar levels spike and cause your body to hold onto fat. I also believe that fast food companies should be help responsible to an extent, and that people can be psychologically addicted to food. I will agree with you on that. But I think this has to do with all junk food in the world much more than fast food alone. I think people consume fast food so much because it is fast, easy, and cheap. He also talked about how people are eating out in restaurants more and being served giant portions (usually of of starches). This is addressed much less in society than the hazards of fast food.
    I think his point also had to do with what is natural is what is healthy. Natural oils, animal meat, vegetables, nuts. I of course believe fast food meat is not what should be eaten, but I do think humans are naturally meat eaters. When I smell a burger being cooked, or a steak, I want it. And I know it isn’t because I’m addicted, because I rarely eat meat myself. I just think it is natural to want it. You talk about Amish eating a lot of starch and having less western diseases (such as cancer, I assume), but maybe this doesn’t just have to do with physical activity, maybe it has to do with oils and artificial ingredients. How often do Americans consume partially-hydrogenated oils? Those oils are in almost everything. They are completely unnatural and very much linked to cancer. Most other cultures do NOT use these oils. He made a big point in the movie about these oils, which I had cut out of my diet long before seeing this movie.

    • Hi Christine,

      I agree with you about eating natural foods and avoiding artificial ingredients. I also agree about junk food, not just fast food, causing much of the problem.

      I disagree, though, that people are going to come away from watching “Fat Head” with a desire to eat natural, whole foods. If that was really Naughton’s point, why didn’t he make a cooking video? Cooking shows are hot right now. The selling point of this film is that you can eat fast food if you do it in a certain way. (Not the way the majority do it, though).

      It’s true that fast food alone can’t be blamed. I think it would be harder, though, to make a film like this about junk food, because there are so many thousands of choices. Choosing one fast food restaurant means you only have to deal with a couple dozen foods.

      As for smelling meat and craving it, well, the reason I stopped eating meat was that the smell and appearance grossed me out. I do believe some people crave meat, but not everyone does. Maybe it’s based on blood type or something. More for you, right?

  8. I think everyone on this blog has missed the total point. Fatloss. Not BMI, not corporate subsidiaries, not meat vs vegan, but how the body uses fat. I watched supersize me when it first came out and just watched this documentary today. I should probably rewatch supersize me first, but I’m astonished at how much weight he lost walking 12-15 miles a week and eating fat while controlling carbs and sugar. I always new that cholesterol and fat helped produce testosterone, but I had no idea that carbs turned into glucose the same way sugar does which explains a lot! Maybe I just lack research skills, but I wish I knew that a long time ago. I can reformulate my whole diet.

    • Hi Austin,

      Sugar is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates all break down into sugars. The difference is that they do it at different rates depending on their glycemic index. Broccoli is a carb just like white sugar, but because broccoli digests more slowly, your pancreas will release insulin at a slower rate. Also, broccoli has nutrients that are not present in white sugar.

  9. Thank you so much for this well written piece. I recently viewed this documentary as well and heard a lot of praise about it from people I know and I also found it quite difficult to find any critisizm. Thank you so much.

  10. I’m not a vegan but I agree with most of your criticisms of this film. However, your argument that paleolithic man, who consumed large quantities of meats, had a shorter life span compared to the grain eating post agrarians because of his diet is invalid. Cavemen (hunter-gatherers) died early not because of diet or impending heart disease…they had to survive the elements and an unreliable food availability. Agriculture insured a food source was reliable and plentiful for everyone which extended life expectancy by preventing starvation but didn’t necessarily improve health overall. The most visible changes you notice in the skeletal remains of people consuming staple crops like wheat and corn present themselves in the form of rampant tooth decay among other health issues.

    An example of this is people in countries like Bhutan, who largely follow a vegetarian diet because of their Buddhism but have a very low life expectancy. Does it have to do with their diet? No! It has everything to do with poverty. Longevity and diet are not always connected.

  11. I turned this film off halfway through due to the sheer ignorance and hypocrisy of Mr Naughton’s suggestions. These are my observations on the first half I watched (I’m not anti fast-food, nor vegetarian, I just hate one sided propaganda ‘documentaries’ trying to tell me how to think.

    First, he complains that Spurlock purposefully tried to make poor people look stupid and uneducated about calories. So to disprove him he took to the streets of Los Angeles (Outside a massive tourist attracting restaurant in Musso & Franks no less) and proceeded to ask mostly foreign people (not a wild guess to assume they are tourists, thus have money and most likely educated – being a major tourist attraction) about their thoughts on high calorie fast food. He then asserts that because this people knew about calories, bad education couldn’t be the problem and everyone knows what they should and shouldn’t eat (why he didn’t follow this up by asking the same questions in a low income area I don’t know).

    Secondly, as he is so proud of he does display his food diary. On one day for lunch all he eats is just a Jack in the Box burger and then follows it by having just a quarter pounder with cheese for dinner. He can say what he wants about it being possible to diet with fast food but anyone in their right mind knows that he must have been stupidly hungry all day after consuming these as his ‘meals’.

    Thirdly, I have a massive problem with him saying that McDonalds playgrounds are ok and the company is not to blame at least partly for kids going there. He attempts to shift the blame onto the government for this and even makes the wild assertion that kids who go to the McDonalds play ground don’t even eat their food. Yes, parents can say no to their children when it comes to food, but McDonalds marketing everything towards children makes it much, much tougher and if they are allowed to do it then why can’t the tobacco companies, surely parents could just say no to that too? Studies have shown (including super size me) that fast food is also extremely addictive and is part of the rising problem of obesity.

    Fourthly, I have a huge issue with his assertion that ‘It took me this long to find x amount of fat people WALKING AROUND OUTSIDE so therefore there can’t be that many’. Not only is this a ‘bologna’ scientific method, didn’t anyone tap him on the shoulder and say ‘Hey, Mr Naughton….could it be that a lot of obese people don’t walk around in public for any number of reasons (sedentary lifestyle, insecurity around others etc etc) and we should probably broaden this search to people in their cars, or actually inside the food places/their homes any number of other ways as a large reason for this obesity IS LACK OF MOVEMENT. This would be bad enough if he hadn’t already told me a number of times that obesity isn’t related to fast food, it’s related to lazyness.

    I had another point about him having a problem with that science group saying people were stupid yet people know how bad fast food is and the importance of exercise but obesity is on the rise. I don’t see another cause for this other than stupidity/lazyness. Anecdotal evidence yes, but I worked full time and attended college on a small budget and still managed to find the team to exercise and fluently learn a language in my free time. It’s difficult yes, but we all have it in us if we really want it.

    I also think this guy completely missed the point Spurlock was trying to make. I didn’t see it as him telling me all fast food was evil, I saw it as him experimenting with what would happen if you eat McDonalds all the time and to make a general point about the obesity problem (just McDonalds was the easiest way of demonstrating this as it’s something that we all can relate to). Why it generated such a polemic retort I don’t know and I really wouldn’t be surprised if fast food companies had a hand in making this.

    /rant

  12. Oh and also I think he needs to go reread his history of hunter/gatherer societies as to what they ate. He says the biggest part of their diet was animal fats, when in reality (as is still the same in modern hunter/gatherer communities) most of the diet consists of vegetables/nuts/fruits and only occasionally do they get animals to eat. I’ve watched countless documentaries on these communities and taken numerous Anthropology courses at University and they have all made that clear, that any meat caught was a ‘bonus’ to the subsistence diet that these people lived off.

    • I watched this film last night. I believe in this film there was a learning process that was reached by gathering information as he was shooting. In the beginning Naughton thought losing weight was all about calories in vs. calories out. Naughton talked to health professionals who have done research and realized low fat diet is not beneficial to some people. There were many facts in the film. Carbohydrates do turn into sugar in your body. Your body can be damaged by consuming too many carbohydrates. As a vegetarian it is possible to still eat unhealthy.

      Three months ago I was 365 pounds and went to my doctor feeling completely defeated. My doctor introduced me to a low carbohydrate high fat diet. I have tried every diet including weight watchers with fail every time. I felt extremely hungry eating a low fat diet. My doctor tells me the reason I have failed is because low fat diets that are high in carbohydrates make you feel hungry. So portion control for some is not as simple as only eat a little. Now I consume less than 2000 calories a day (sometimes I creep a little over even) and feel amazing and full all the time. My fat grams are at around 150 or more a day. I have lost 65 pounds and I am now 300 pounds. My cholesterol levels are normal. My blood pressure when going to the doctor was 190/160. I just had it checked and it is now 118/78. With a high fat diet you cannot just go crazy and eat 5000 calories of high fatty food. This diet allows me to eat 2000 calories a day, feel full, and allow my body to burn fat for fuel. I did not believe in this diet until my doctor encouraged me to give it a try and it not only has worked but worked incredibly well.

      As a child I never ate that much and I have always been overweight. I saw my friends who were thin eating way more than me. Even when younger I tried low fat diets with portion control and could not lose weight. As I grew older I began to eat a lot more though. At my highest weight I was eating a lot of calories not knowing why it took so much to make me feel full. If I knew then what I know now and realized, by taking out the bread, wheat and sugar I could have been like my friends I would probably have a much different life. I can not go back and change the past. I can only focus on doing what is right for me now. I am not saying that a high fat low carbohydrate diet is for everyone. I am not a doctor or have done research on it. I am saying that it may be right for some and I know it is right for me. There is a lot of criticism to this kind of diet. A lot of people saying so much protein will damage your kidneys and so on. The truth of that matter is I am actually consuming about the same number of protein if not less. I now feel full I probably eat less and that has contributed to my loss as well. With the equation of calories in vs. calories out it does not equal 65 pounds in three months. There has to be some truth to the science given in the movie. Naughton is not a scientist but his information came from a Gary Taubes book. Taubes is a scientist with research in this subject and I have read his book “Why We Get Fat, And What to Do About It”.

      • Thanks for writing, and congratulations on your work to get your health back!

        My husband struggles with his weight as well. He topped out at 303, was at 270 when we met and is now down to 235. We both agree that the secret to feeling full while eating the appropriate amount of calories is FIBER. If you ate 2000 calories worth of butter and bacon, you would probably feel sick, not full! There is a lot of confusion over ‘carbohydrates’ but it’s pretty straightforward: bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, muffins, white rice, and other starches are ‘carbohydrates’ but they don’t contain much fiber. Vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, and collard greens are ‘carbohydrates’ but they are almost entirely fiber. My husband was thrilled to find that there were “zero point” foods on the Weight Watchers plan, and it’s true: you can eat as much zucchini as you like and not gain weight off it.

        The average American supposedly eats only about half the amount of fiber recommended. This would explain our national obesity statistics pretty well, in my opinion.

  13. “Yet Naughton doesn’t interview any visibly obese – OR athletic – people.”

    One of the men Naughton interviews is definitely obese. He even lifts up his shirt, grabs an enormous belly and claims, “I had to work at this. I just ate 4 hot dogs.” The point is well made. By far, most people are aware that the typical fast food meal is very caloric. Food labeling, whether it’s on a website, flyer or directly on the packaging has made zero difference in obesity rates climbing or people eating these meals. In New York restaurants where the laws required them to put calorie counts directly on the menus, people were found to be consuming even more calories. Labeling does not work. People can identify caloric meals just fine. Ignorance of the conventional wisdom is not the cause of obesity. We need to move on and figure out what it is.

    “Where did the 44-oz soda cup come from?”

    Why would any industry suddenly give away more product for free? Generosity? An evil ploy to increase the population’s addiction to sugary sodas? No. For the most part corporations respond to customer demand. Naughton isn’t so much attempting to absolve the fast food industry from blame as he is pointing out that the increase in demand and the corporate responses to demand are symptoms of obesity, not the cause.

    “All I will say about this is that someone who finds this convincing might research the longevity of these primitive people.”

    The conventional wisdom of primitive longevity is false. The “35 year” average is artificially low because of high rates of infanticide and death by traumatic events (snake bite, crushed by a mammoth, etc.). Exclude those and primitive people lived up to a ripe old average age of 85, high on average than modern people.

    “Vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, and collard greens are ‘carbohydrates’ but they are almost entirely fiber.”

    Fiber isn’t digestible so from a dietary perspective, we shouldn’t be counting them as a carbohydrate even though, from a chemical perspective, they are. Most carb counting diets subtract it from the carbohydrate count. Some European labeling doesn’t even include fiber in the carb count.

    As Naughton shows in his graphs, those high fiber foods along with most others that primitive people had available to him have a low glycemic index. Along with meat, humans evolved on low glycemic foods. It’s the refined carbohydrates that are making us obese. It’s not explicitly stated in his documentary, but his quibble certainly isn’t with fiber. Most low carb advocates like Naughton, Eades and Taubes encourage people to eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, something you would probably agree with.

    • “People can identify caloric meals just fine.”

      I disagree. While people generally have a strong sense that certain foods are “bad for you” they tend to be very poor at guessing calorie counts accurately or estimating how much they have eaten. http://www.dailyhealthreport.org/people-find-estimating-calories-to-be-difficult/432/ See “The End of Overeating” for more about this. I would contend that there is a subset of the population that celebrates the eating of unhealthy foods as a sort of tribal identifier, such as the patrons of the Heart Attack Grill in Dallas, and that would lead to choosing higher-calorie foods off a menu as a form of bravado.

      Granted, it’s been a few months since I’ve seen it now, so I don’t remember just how big the “fat” interviewee was. I do remember that my husband paused the DVD at some point because we were both so frustrated that no really large people seemed to be showing up. We have a half dozen friends between us who weigh over 400 lbs each, and we know five people who have lost significant amounts of weight after gastric bypass or lap band surgery. I don’t think we can leave such people out of the discussion without being disingenuous. Naughton’s main argument is that people choose to eat the way they do, and don’t feel emotionally attached or physically addicted the way it is shown in “Super Size Me.” But that’s not the message I’ve gotten from friends and family over the last 15 years. For example, my dad quit smoking cold turkey after 30 years, while my mom has been struggling with the same approximately 80 extra pounds since about 1985.

      “For the most part corporations respond to customer demand.”

      Again, I disagree. I remember the introduction of larger sizes of drink cups in the 80s, and at least where I lived, people were bewildered by it. It crept up on us. If corporations increased portion sizes on demand, we’d be getting a lot more gasoline for the price. Breakfast cereals, crackers, and cookies are other examples where the packaging of the product is changed to disguise the fact that fewer ounces are included for the same old price as the old box. Fast food portion sizes are large to give the illusion of greater value; the profit margin on soda in particular is huge, and it’s a relatively easy way to draw in customers. How many other products can you think of, edible or otherwise, that come with free refills?

      “…primitive people lived up to a ripe old average age of 85…”

      It looks like you think I am confusing longevity statistics, how old people can potentially become, with mortality, the average lifespan including death by all causes. I stand by my statement. I would love to see you cite your source on the 85-year figure. Part of the neolithic diet fallacy stems from the fact that primitive peoples ate radically different diets with extremely different nutritional profiles depending on what part of the world they lived in, so we can’t make an effective generalization other than to say that they didn’t eat modern processed foods. The Inuit have the worst longevity statistics in North America, and the Maasai have the worst in the world overall.
      http://www.stoneagedoc.com/Short_lived_Stone_Age.htm This article states that about 10% of Stone Age people lived past the age of 60, while about 20% of modern hunter-gatherers live past 60. Anyway, nutrition is a big component in infant mortality regardless.

      Incidentally, the “paleolithic diet” (or our modern interpretation/implementation of it) was ranked 20th out of 20 by the US News and World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/paleo-diet Whatever we know or don’t know about what our forebears ate, evidently if we eat it now we’re not going to have much luck getting our weight down or getting adequate nutrition. #1 was the DASH diet, which is heavy on fruits and vegetables.

      “… we shouldn’t be counting [vegetables like lettuce] as a carbohydrate…”

      On the contrary. I talk to people who are struggling with their weight on a regular basis. Not a single one of them has been aware that they can eat large quantities of vegetables as a way to get their weight down without feeling constantly hungry. The average person seems to have virtually no knowledge of nutrition, and most people I meet can’t even cook a basic meal from scratch. I can think of no good reason not to promote greater vegetable consumption, no matter what else the person eats. Other large primates with life spans comparable to ours eat diets consisting of 60% or more plant material.

      I’ve enjoyed this discussion, though I admit that I am heartily sick of “Fat Head” at this point and I wish I’d never heard of it.

  14. I understand now why you made this article. You liked the movie that featured the hardcore vegan. You dislike Fat head because it promoted a more meaty protein diet. In order to get back at this movie you decided to start a criticism blog of the movie. Your article summary said you disagreed with the industry not being a problem, then you must also believe that common people lack the ability to make decisions for themselves. That the government must control what we eat. I
    Believe if you have problems with the industry then don’t associate with the industry. Don’t eat at fast food places. Now comment and tell me all the reasons I’m wrong.

    • Well, I’ll tell you a couple of things you’re wrong about, sure.
      First, I started this blog in July 2008 for the purpose of reviewing books. There are over 500 posts here, and only one of them happens to be about “Fat Head.” If you want you can look to see one I wrote about “Gladiator” – I think it’s the only other movie I’ve reviewed.
      Second, I don’t know whether Morgan Spurlock of “Super Size Me” is a vegan at all – his girlfriend is. Quite frankly, a hardcore vegan wouldn’t have made that movie because a hardcore vegan wouldn’t have eaten even one of those burgers.
      Third, I think your argument that industry should do whatever it wants and that people who don’t like it should just ignore it is the sort of thinking that led directly to the housing market crash and the banking crash. The fast food industry is not the only one that needs regulation.
      Finally, I wrote this post because I couldn’t find any other criticism of the film, and I believe I’ve made several valid points. If you want to challenge my logic or my documentation, go ahead, but what you have done in your comment is to put words in my mouth. I don’t see why this documentary should be somehow immune from criticism, unlike every other movie, television show, book, celebrity, political figure, product, or work of art that has ever existed.
      Part of what bothers me about this film is that it seems to be concerned with a political platform – government wants to take your food – rather than genuine health information. I’ll repeat again that the “paleolithic diet” recommended in “Fat Head” was ranked the worst of 20 by the US News and World Report.

  15. Kudos. Well written, well thought out. What disturbs me most about the fast food industry is the way they market to children. Market all your horrible food to me all you want, I’m and adult, I can handle it. But market it to my kids? Really? We all know children are unable to make well thought out decisions in the same manner as an adult. You say it is “egregiously tacky” I would go farther and say it is unequivocally immoral, unethical and should be illegal (this coming from an essentially libertarian philosophy, so yes I feel that strongly about it).

    The other major problem i have with the movie is the denial that this type of food is addictive. It has been shown in innumerable scientific peer reviewed articles that this type of eating stimulates the brains pleasure center in nearly the exact same manner as drugs and sex. In fact, it has been demonstrated that obese people have a greater activation of this center in their brain when they see or smell this type of food than fit people. This increases their desire. When they eat the food, there is less stimulation of this brain center than fit people. Therefore, they have to eat much more than the fit person to acheive the same level of satiety. People who are overweight or obese have to take personal responsibility, yes. But to deny that there is a physiological and psychological component of addiction to this way of eating is flat out ignorant, uninformed and unintelligent.

    Thanks for the thoughtful review.

  16. First of all, I agree with the nutritional science aspect of this documentary entirely (with regards to saturated fat not being the enemy). The much bigger problem is, without a doubt, sugar and excess starchy carbohydrates. However, there are some things I did not agree with/understand whatsoever. First of all he starts off by dismissing that we even have an obesity epidemic, but he then spends the 2nd half of the movie explaining to us how the government and carbohydrates are the route cause of our obesity epidemic (that doesn’t exist?). The second problem I have (and this problem is with Super Size Me as well) is that in both documentaries the experiments were completely bogus and really did not prove what, either Spurlock or Naughton, intended. In SSM, Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. But not only did he just eat McDonald’s for 30 days, he ate in excess of 5000 calories worth… per day! He also didn’t do any physical exercise whatsoever (apart from walking.. minimally). This does not “prove” that McDonald’s is responsible for making him fat. Had he increased his calorie intake to this level on any diet, while greatly reducing the amount of calories he was burning per day, a similar result could be expected. As for Naughton’s losing weight on his McDonald’s diet; he openly admitted in the movie that he was going to reduce his daily calorie intake from 2500 per day to 2000 (it actually ended up being 1900), at the same time he upped his exercise from 2-3 times per week to 6! He consumed, on average, 600 fewer calories per day over this period and doubled his weekly exercise! How can he say that this experiment proves anything about losing weight while eating eating Fast Food? It simply proves what we already know, if you create a substantial enough caloric deficit you will lose weight! Finally, I really don’t see what the purpose was of Spurlock including the whole “Fast Food isn’t as bad as we make it out to be angle” he should have stuck with debunking the saturated fat myth. Just because McDonald’s is full of saturated fat and saturated fat isn’t bad for us doesn’t mean Fast Food such as McDonald’s isn’t horrible for us – saturated fat is the least of Fast Food’s worries. It still contains ridiculous amounts of sodium, sugar, trans fats and genetically modified meat from sick animals.

  17. Thanks for this review. It is by far the most helpful I have read online. This is a complex subject and it is important to parse through all the evidence. Your points are well thought out and valid. I am a physician and am still trying to sift through the fog, so I can appreciate my patient’s confusion and frustration.

    • Thank you for your kind words! As you can see by skimming my readers’ comments, it is a polarizing issue, and I have considered removing this post several times. I think there are two major factors behind the appeal of the Paleo/low carb/Atkins phenomenon: It can work in the short term for sedentary people who are accustomed to the taste of a high-fat diet, and many people are simply irritated by the ideological claims of the whole food/plant-based movement. A plant-based diet can also be more labor-intensive. If you haven’t already encountered them, I would highly recommend The China Study and Forks Over Knives.

  18. ‘Naughton claims that “obesity epidemic” statistics are inflated naturally by the aging of the population; yet it is a purely cultural assumption that age leads to weight gain. Historically the image of an elderly person has been skeletal, not fat, compared to a younger person.’

    While I find your critique generally well balanced, I think you missed Naughton’s point in this specific case. The population’s shift to a higher average age has nothing to do with obesity. If people are living longer, thereby increasing the size of the older adult segment of the population, children become a smaller segment of the total population. Children weigh less than adults, and even less than “skeletal” elderly people. Not normalizing for this would artificially inflate the average weight of the population. It is unknown if any normalization was performed on the statistics Naughton used to construct his argument, but it is certainly a valid point.

    • It would indeed be completely bizarre if no accounting was made for the fact that some people are infants while others are full-grown adults. I am inclined to believe my own impression that “people have gotten fatter” based on my own childhood memories, group photos from family albums dating back to the 1860s, and the increase in size of paper drink cups and restaurant plates. Statistics serve to reinforce a common sense observation: most people in Umy acquaintance are unhappy with their weight, believe they have “tried everything,” (including Paleo in at least a dozen cases), and yet I don’t recall this being an issue when my parents and their friends were the same age.

      • I don’t see why it would be “completely bizarre” and I’m still not sure you understand the point. It is not about accounting for the fact that some people are infants while others are full-grown adults. It is about accounting for the shift in age demographics, which is neither an easy thing to do, nor an obvious thing to do if the origin of the statistics isn’t related to any obesity study. For instance, the average height of humans has increased over the last hundred years, but those that gathered that data probably didn’t do so because they were studying the effect of modern nutrition. That theory was applied ex post facto to explain the data. In the case of average weight, it is entirely possible the numbers for weight were established independently from any notion of human longevity, so there might not have been an opportunity to normalize the data based on that factor. Naughton also might not have had any way to know this. So while his argument is potentially presumptive, it is no less relevant.

        Of course you can believe your own impression. However, your impression has nothing to do with the point being raised. Today’s population can absolutely have a higher average (age-adjusted) weight than in years past. It doesn’t necessarily follow that this constitutes obesity, or an epidemic of such. My impression is essentially the same as yours. The difference between us though is that I don’t trust my impression. I trust data. Since the data probably wasn’t normalized for the aforementioned increase in average human height either, our population may be even less overweight than Naughton argues. In fact, it’s worth noting the change in body image today from decades ago. Pin-up girls used to be full-figured. Today’s supermodel looks like a praying mantis. The belief that there is an epidemic of girls falling victim to the media’s depiction of unhealthy low body weight directly competes with the belief that obesity is an epidemic. At least as much as it concerns women, which is it? Thanks to genetic drift, it’s a far more rational hypothesis which states predisposition to eating disorders will fill in both sides of the curve.

        Again, I think your critique was well written. It’s just this one item that seems to be misunderstood.

      • Conceded. I am an historian with a very limited grasp of statistics, and mathematics in general.
        My expertise in this area is based mostly on my own personal experience in losing 28 pounds and keeping it off. This is why “Fat Head” annoys me so much; I truly think its message hurts rather than helps, and I am still waiting to hear from anyone who watched it and learned to lose weight and keep it off in the long term.
        I never bought the “media pressure made me anorexic” argument, frankly. My husband and I did some cursory research on this a few years ago and it appeared that deaths from anorexia were about 1/16 those from what were determined to be obesity-related causes. I know four people who have had gastric bypasses, several who weigh 400-600 pounds, at least half a dozen on CPAP machines – and zero who were hospitalized for an eating disorder.
        Anyway, I apologize for the lack of academic depth in my analysis. I did what I could.

      • I watched Fat Head last March and adopted a low carb diet, staying under 100 grams per day as Naughton suggests. At that time (3/1/11) I weighed 217.8 lbs. Yesterday, (3/27/12) I weighed in at 194 lbs. That’s a 23+ lb, effortless weight loss that I managed to do with no exercise. To top it off, during that time I also quit smoking while working a graveyard shift in a more sedentary job role; all factors that are highly associated with increased weight gain. Since I started down the path, I also cut out all wheat, sugar and processed foods (Paleo/Primal style).

        I’ve achieved this kind of weight loss before with conventional diets before but not without heroic levels of exercise and constantly craving all those “bad” foods. My meals always feel indulgent and delicious. I suffer no cravings and no sense of self-denial. Around Christmas last year, somebody left a big tin of cookies in the break room and I walked by it three times before I even recognized it as food. Needless to say, it didn’t tempt me at all.

        Like I said, this has been effortless and in fact, energizing. So much so that I took up weightlifting a few months ago because I WANTED to see what this new body could do, not because I felt like I needed to do it to lose weight. I already proved to myself that I didn’t.

        Besides the weight loss, my mood is much improved, my blood lipid numbers are vastly better, my hair and nails are stronger, my acne is practically gone, my blood pressure and heart rate are lower and I haven’t even had so much as a cold. My overall optimism, health, fitness and mental acuity are greater than ever.

        Obviously, the Fat Head message has really hurt me.

      • All right, no need for sarcasm. I am glad to hear that “Fat Head” helped someone. Four of our friends (two married couples) are currently struggling to follow a Paleo diet and maybe you could talk to them. I would describe them as true believers in the concept.
        My husband, whose top weight was 303 lbs, stopped eating fast food after reading “Eat This” and dropped from 270 to 240. That was also over roughly a year. He has tried following the strict high protein/low carb diet recommended by his personal trainer – twice – and complains that it gives him stomach upset, is totally unappealing, and leaves him irritable and lethargic. This year (transformation challenge) he is simply tracking calories and eating mostly vegan, and his rate of weight loss has escalated over last year. He has lost an additional 17 lbs since the end of January.
        I dropped from 155 to 127 on a vegan diet by adding exercise. Since I wrote this post, I have continued running and my pace is faster.
        After meeting me, a college-aged friend decided to stop eating meat. She has lost 20 lbs since last fall and seems pretty happy as the weight continues to melt off.
        There are lots of ways to lose weight. The method that works for one person might be a disaster for someone else. I strongly believe that sedentary habits coupled with a diet high in saturated fat is deadly.
        I stand by my critique of “Fat Head” and I would like to separate that from my issues with high-protein/low carb diets in general. This video series was done by a man who tried Paleo and felt the need to debunk its claims in scholarly detail: http://www.youtube.com/user/PrimitiveNutrition/. If you are afraid that someone will be scared away from Paleo based on the opposition of critics, you have a lot more to fear from him.

  19. Whenever people characterize low carb or paleo as “high protein”, it’s obvious to me that they don’t understand those diets. Authors like Ron Rosedale and Nora Gedgaudas recommend .36 grams of protein per lb of lean body weight. That’s the MINIMUM according to US dietary guidelines. Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades recommend a range from .5 grams to .9 grams per lb depending on activity levels (the .9 grams is only recommended for athletes who exercise several hours per day). That’s quite a moderate recommendation from a book titled Protein Power.

    Robb Wolf is the only paleo author with a relatively high protein recommendation at 1 gram per pound, but that’s intended as a temporary intervention to keep you from be hungry and sliding back into old habits. He also says that if that much protein makes you feel bad, eat less.

    There is a lot of variability within the low carb and paleo approaches and for the people who struggle, it’s usually a matter of finding the approach that suits their biochemistry and psychology.

    I won’t get into the Primitive Nutrition videos. I’ve watched some of those in the past and they’re so full of strawman attacks that they’re not worth deconstructing.

    That aside, I’m glad for those who experience success on vegan and vegetarian diets. As much as both sides of this debate tend to fight each other, I think we’d probably be best served focusing on what it is about both approaches that works. Could it be that it’s really more about what’s excluded? Both sides take a greater interest in overall health, cut out sugary sodas, sweets and other junk foods. Could it be that there are actual biochemical differences between people that make them better adapted to one and not the other? After all, “Fat Head” has helped many people improve their health and so has “Forks over Knives”. That’s a pretty interesting fact.

    • Agreed, both parties are opposed to the Standard American Diet so rich in sugars and other refined foods. Both parties agree that obesity is no fun.
      I also agree that different diets may suit different people, although it is unclear why. I couldn’t imagine feeling the meat craving that many people say is common, and I haven’t eaten meat in 19 years.
      The confusion between Atkins/Paleo/high protein/low carb comes from the many people I have known who have attempted one or more of those approaches. They seem to use the terms interchangeably. I have never felt the need to try any of these diets myself, so I can rely only on the reported experience of my friends. Among others, I had roommates in college who lived and breathed Atkins for a year. It seems that compliance is low and confusion is high. To me that appears to be because the guidelines are too complicated for the average novice dieter to follow.
      I am an endurance athlete. It requires a diet high in complex carbohydrates. I eat whole grains and fruit, and I find that this practice eliminates sugar cravings. This is another area where we can agree: primitive people had a high activity level, and it is desirable to have a high energy level to enjoy life.

      • As a side note, I would like to say that I believe my vegan diet also uses significantly fewer resources and generates less waste than a meat-eating diet. Slaughterhouse workers have one of the highest rates of injury of any occupation in the US. I believe these factors are important.

      • I think it’s an unfortunate myth that vegan diets are somehow more sustainable and humane. I agree that the modern feed lot and CAFO operations are an abomination, but they are no less so than monocrop agriculture. Your grains and vegetables are utterly reliant on plant and animal waste for fertilizers and pesticides, whether it’s from modern meat production facilities or manufactured from oil and gas (long dead plants and animals).

        Vegans appear to be completely blind to the fact that countless animals die in the agricultural process. Whether they are poisoned by pesticides, ground under plows or just displaced by cultivation, those animals suffer far more horrifying deaths than those that are intentionally raised and killed by methods designed to minimize suffering.

        A diet of exclusively grass fed, pastured beef would require no resources to be wasted on fertilization or irrigation and a single cow could feed an adult for over a year. That’s less than one animal per year versus the thousands that would get sacrificed for the sake of agriculture.

        Yes, the process of producing grains and feeding it to cattle is absurd and wasteful but that doesn’t mean that the problem is the consumption of meat. Cows should eat grass in open fields where they can be part of the natural ecosystem.

        Once you get past the superficial “meat is murder” reasoning, you can make a strong argument that a diet based on pastured animal products is actually more humane and sustainable.

      • Do you believe we can sustain current meat consumption levels after switching to 100% grass-fed? Do you yourself completely avoid factory-farmed animal products? You don’t mention your plan for reducing death and injury rates for slaughterhouse workers.
        I get all my produce from Capay Farms, a local organic family-owned farm. They have not used pesticides in the 30+ years the farm has been operational. At least 80% of my diet is locavore and has been for years.
        May I ask what your goal is, here on my blog? It strikes me that we can part on civil terms at this point, but unless you would like to start talking about literary fiction I’m not sure how much more we have to say to one another.

      • Thank you for this. I can rest easy now. I truly wish for people of all persuasions to be able to share meals together, even if we can’t break bread together.
        I share my home with my meat-eating husband and step-daughter and I pride myself on being as non-political as I can be. I feel that polarizing arguments serve to make people defensive, and sometimes even drive them to self-destructive behaviors as a way of acting out. (Witness the Heart Attack Grill).
        As for being locavore, it tends to happen item by item. We are fortunate to live in an ag area, and we even have a local butcher a couple miles away. I can get local tofu, figs, almonds, and grape leaves, not to mention the full gamut of more standard produce. We do CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) through Capay, and if you’re interested in that a Google search should be able to turn one up in your area. Ours also offers eggs and turkeys. There is a Locavore app for iPhone and there are usually regional groups with web sites. We grow our own herbs but don’t have space in our tiny paved yard for much else.
        Cheers to you, congratulations on your successful weight loss, and may you go on to help others follow a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

  20. I think it’s very cool that your diet is almost completely locavore. It’s a direction I’m slowly trying to adopt more fully as well. No, I’m not 100% there but I’m working towards it. If you have any advice about seeking out local food producers I’m eager to learn more. My wife and I try to make it to the farmer’s market for pastured eggs, local veggies and grass fed meats but we could definitely be more diligent about it.

    I really don’t feel obliged to present a plan to reduce the death rates for slaughterhouse workers. I wouldn’t expect you to present a plan to reduce the increased death rates of migrant farm workers, either. My point is, neither of those are part of the locavore ideal that vegans like you and paleos like me are championing.

    We’re both advocating for a return to real whole foods, locally sourced in sustainable, humane ways. The only difference is that the paleos include animal products in the locavore model. Meat and eggs have long been part of the farming model as the animal waste also serves as fertilizer. Including animal products and wild game also enables us to take advantage of non-arable land.

    Anyway, I’m really not trying to be a nuisance and will let it be at this point if you wish. I don’t have any particular agenda. You said you were waiting to hear from anyone who watched Fat Head and learned to lose weight over the long term so I’m speaking up and saying, for what it’s worth, here’s one person. Fat Head inspired me to spend hundreds of hours over the last year learning about nutrition, biochemistry and thinking more deeply about the sustainability of our modern food system.

    You raised several points that the paleo/low carb community spends a lot of time discussing so I’m sharing some a little more of what the current arguments are. In contrast to the meat-craving neanderthal caricature that gets painted of people on the “caveman diet”, it’s for the most part a community deeply concerned about many of the same things that vegan locavores care about: real food for real health produced in a local, humane and sustainable manner.

  21. Fathead is not a documentary at heart. It is a comedic critisism of Supersize Me with just enough science to be taken seriously. Anyone who watched Supersize Me has to know that the “documentary” has an agenda. Fathead exposed the agenda and the improper science and flawed basis for its conclusions. The idea that the fast food industry is soley to blame for obesity in America is completely off base. They are providing what the public wants. To do otherwise would create a very short lived business plan.

    What Fathead did for me was to open my eyes. Not to the idea that a diet of fast food is good for you, but to the Psudeo science that passes for dietary information. Even if you do not beleive the findings in the movie, if you reseach some of the issues such as the food pyramid and other scientific “health findings” that we the public have been fed over the years I found that much of what I beleived to be correct nutritional guidance to be complete bs.

    If you look at the Fathead website you find that Naughton admits that much of the science he based his findings on is untested and without sufficient studies. He also admits that there is no one solution to everyone’s weight problem.

    In the end Fathead was made as a comedic way to debunk the over the top and flawed findings of Supersize Me. That with just a couple of good choices a day and just a smidge of common sense we can get away from blaming the fast food industry for obesity. Regulation and money is not the answer. Information is. For me Fathead woke me up to the dangers of sugar and bad carbs. Here I was thinking that bacon, butter and oil were bad for me (and making me fat), but they are not. IN MODERATION they are just fine.

  22. Sorry, everyone. I am closing comments on this post because I am frankly tired of thinking about “Fat Head.” At this time it has been 18 months since I wrote this post. This is a literary blog, with movie reviews totaling maybe 4 out of nearly 600 posts. You can find a forum elsewhere to discuss how much you love the Paleo Diet. As for me, I believe it is unhealthy and based on pseudoscience and faulty rationales.


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