A Dietary Conundrum

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I found this article interesting, informative, and compelling in an anecdotal sort of way, supporting observations I have made over the course of years and providing a little insight into what I have often seen as paradoxical and anti-scientific.

“It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared with those who have low energy expenditures. So far, data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling.”

The question of weight gain would seem to be a simple physical equation--calories in>calories out--gain weight, calories in<=calories out--maintain/weight loss. But that hasn't been the experience of many in my acquaintance, and I have often wondered why. I become convinced that the implication of HFCS in weight gain has a compelling metabolic element to it. Does the addition of so much high-fructose corn syrup to the American diet actually promote obesity? Again, anecdotally and perhaps coincidentally, the evidence suggests that the answer may be yes. But how does one go about addressing the issue?

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If HFCS (nasty stuff) has an impact, it can only be in how our bodies use the calories. The equation has to hold, because otherwise we would be in violation of the law of conservation of matter. Or would somehow be pulling matter out of the air, which is unlikely.

I try to avoid corn products, mostly out of bitterness and rancor over ethanol subsidies, which have, gradually, over the years, twisted into a general mistrust of corn.

Well, I exempt tortillas, tamales, polenta, grilled corn on the cob, corn whiskey (ethanol was made to be drunk, not burned!), corn relish, corn bread, Cornish game hens, but I do try to avoid corn-fed meat. Yuck. Cows eat grass. It makes them taste better.


I'm told this time and again, and yet time and again, I can show you how the equation does not APPEAR to hold. My suspicion is that HFCS metabolizes differently and slows basal metabolism to such a point that the usual body functions are not consuming what they would under unsaturated conditions.

Frankly, I have no beef with corn at all and like most of the things you listed. But I'm highly suspicious of a wide variety of things coming from corn disguised under other names. And I suspect that as with gluten, the allergy to corn is more widespread and perhaps has broader consequences than has been previously envisioned.

Thanks for stopping by.



Oh, I completely doubt the gluten allergy. Of all the people I have met with "wheat allergies", they are all neurotics and liberals (and generally of the sort who believe in Chiropractic). I have simply yet to meet a conservative with a wheat allergy.

I suspect you are right on the HFCS, and what it does to metabolism, which would still keep the old conservation of matter in tact, because it would really be changing the rate at which the body consumes calories, thus lowering the "energy expended" part of the equation.

All I know is that when I leave the Bay Area, I feel skinny. And I am not a skinny guy. Something is ballooning these people up. I suspect that it might be all the not smoking, too. A very dangerous thing to do: not to smoke. Endangers the soul as well.

I note that the author of the linked article is Gary Taubes, whose New York Times Magazine article, "What if it's all been a big fat lie?," made the Atkins diet a nine months' wonder five years ago.

That article has been widely discredited, with several researchers Taubs quoted to support his conclusions claiming their opinions were misrepresented.

So I think I'll reserve judgment on the judgments reached by this article.

Dear Tom,

Thanks for the input. It reinforces two points:

(1) I had debated letting the post go through because it was not by nature the kind of thing I wish to promote. On the other hand, neither was it offensive nor off the point, and so weighing that all out in the decision, it seemed better to allow the post to stand.

(2)And another reason for letting it stand is the necessity of bringing everyone to the awareness that so-called nonfiction is only as reliable as its purveyor. In the case of the stuff of agendas, one needs to be aware of the agenda/bias, have some measure of its strength, and be aware of the necessity of checking any categorical statement regarding the truth against both logic and other sources. This is one of the reasons I have largely left off reading nonfiction--it is, at root, nearly completely unreliable if what one is looking for is the unadulterated fact of the matter. Nonfiction, like fiction, is art--it packages reality for the consumer, and because it wears that pristine aura of nonfiction it is given a pass for the truth. But it is a selective truth, a piece of the truth, or the truth viewed through a lens so that it doesn't look much like itself. If more people would accept that neither Anne Coulter nor Al Franken really come close to the truth in what they write (not that they lie, but rather that want they want to be true is so overweening a consideration in what they write that they make it so), we'd all be a good deal better off.

Thank you for the reminder of that fact. Always check against other sources, always check the reliability of your own. Yours provides a good deal of information against which to check the facts.



Eric: you are wrong.

My older brother is conservative and a Republican. He has a gluten allergy (Crohn's, in fact), and so does my unrelated godfather. Sean currently lives on the East Coast, but was born in the Midwest; my godfather still lives in Ohio.

Sean is also allergic to wheat, buckwheat, certain squashes, and an array of other foods. Until we found this out, Sean was perpetually pasty and overly skinny; he could not gain weight, spent tons of time on the john, and also had ulcers. Now he is normally slim, has color in his face, and doesn't leave half his caloric intake in the sewer. It makes a huuuuuge difference!

My mother found out she was allergic to corn and yeast, in a related development. Believe me, this isn't something she wanted to know!

Dear Maureen,

Thank you for contributing that. Erik, at times, leads a shockingly sheltered life in pro-fascist Spain. :-D But we like him not in spite of, but because of those very monarchical tendencies.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 3, 2007 9:40 AM.

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