The Obesity of Nations — Introduction

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of

Introduction

Purpose. That’s a play on the famous Scottish economist-philosopher’s tome of 1776. Adam Smith. Why that’s so will become apparent over the course of this series. It’s not just a coincidence, but a factor in the multifactorial cause of why people get fat.

Because of the need to sell books and courses and coaching and counseling and drugs and supplements and special foods and the list goes on…it’s always more profitable to confine yourself to a single cause for a problem; in this case, obesity. Why? Because a single cause means a single solution, implying a safe, easy, and effective time of it. Humans love to be told that something is safe, easy, and effective. They’ll line up for anything…

There’s one thing all popular diet programs on the planet share: they’re all “evasion” diets. People are trying to evade something. What are they trying to evade? Well, first, what do people seek most? Pleasure. So, conversely, what do they seek to avoid the most?

How do you lose weight, i.e., fat? Through pain, both physical and mental. But since people hate and avoid pain, you can’t sell pain. The market for S&M is outlier, limited and, thus, likely saturated. You have to dress it up in magic clothes where there’s no pain, and miraculously, it works even better than the full-pain approach. Conveniently, only a few people figure out that you’re lying “marketing” for a good cause, do the pain anyway, and have success. For the rest of them, they get to keep buying each successive new product where ok, finally, now it’s easy…

What a world we live in.

If I want to sell memberships to this blog for people to read what I have to write in this series, or if I intend to turn it into an eventual book that people wish to buy, my task—if I’m being integral and honest—is to admit and disclose that it will be painful to achieve success. Accordingly, it’ll never make me rich. But just like an effective, painful, iron-pumping manual for the gym, its rewards can be worth it.

(I learned my lesson, putting out and talking up my own highly effective workout manual touted as “sucky-fun” with super-proven personal results. Interest? Near zero. Did making it free, even to the public, change anything? Nope. It wasn’t about the money. It’s about something else. Guess.)

Moreover, there are less painful and more painful ways to go about things, so I am identifying the less painful—or you could say the more enjoyable and knowledgeable—approach. But overall, my purpose here is to make clear to people why we get fat without resorting to simple explanations. Simplify, but not too much. If I simplify too much, then I’m doing marketing and selling, delivering mere sizzle, not informing, where you then do what you want with the knowledge I’ve assembled and present to you.

My goal would be that people have a clearer understanding that makes sense to them. If they understand clearly, and it makes sense—and that goes with a knowledge of what cannot possibly be true, so cannot possibly work—then they’re on their own to sort out the details for themselves without illusions…and perhaps even without any purpose of evasion.

What it’s not. Obesity doesn’t have a single cause. If it did, it would be obvious, and we would know exactly what it is just like when you drink a poison, it’s the unequivocal cause of death. How do we know it doesn’t have a single cause? Easy, and I’ll give you an example. There are others. Maybe you can think of one.

We know there’s no single cause for why everyone is getting fat and fatter because every proposed single cause is thoroughly falsified. That means there are plenty of people doing that one thing that supposedly causes obesity, yet they’re not obese. They’re not unhealthy. They even live long and happy. That’s called falsification. It means: your hypothesis or theory is fucking bullshit. Get a job.

I’ll give you an example from way back in the early days, my Paleo Daze, when I was somewhat of an influencer. “Paleo” commonly comes down to a relatively low to moderate carbohydrate diet for many fans. Accordingly, there were many low-carb diet adherents in the Paleo diet movement, or at least allies of it. But that meant there were also people who were not necessarily low-carb or, in some cases, advocated for much higher carbohydrate intake.

One of those guys was a shit-stirrer named Matt Stone. This is probably nearly 15 years ago, but I remember distinctly he used to ask a question, and I never saw an answer to it.

For at least 10 years now, I have been asking the very same question, getting the very same result. I’ve asked it hundreds of times. Hundreds of times. Let me repeat that. I have asked it hundreds of times in every medium imaginable—social media, comment threads, here, there, and everywhere. Want to guess how many times someone has taken up the cause and explained to me that although billions of Asian people eat upwards of 300 grams daily of carbohydrate in the form of white rice, and they’re not obese; they’re healthy; with low blood pressure; with low civilization diseases; and often, very high on the longevity spectrum… How many people have ever said, “Oh, that’s easy to address in the context of limiting carbs, or you’ll get fat; here, here’s your answer…”

How many? Zero. Zero is the answer.

For a decade, I’ve been asking this. How many doctors or diet researchers have even attempted an answer? Have you ever seen someone write an article titled “Carbohydrates Make You Fat, But Here’s Why Billions of Asians Who Eat Tons of Carbohydrates as White Rice Aren’t Fat?” How many articles have you seen like that? They simply ignore the question as if it doesn’t exist, as though the Western hemisphere that are not rice eaters exists in a different reality.

To explicitly not address this because it’s inconvenient to honestly address it is disingenuous and disrespectful to an audience looking for solutions.

Wealth makes you fat. It’s almost too obvious to talk about, yet it is the primary cause of obesity, duh. How many systemically dirt-poor countries have many fat people? None. None is the answer. You don’t even have to look it up (or get up off the couch, which is what a priori means, I’m told).

And, this aligns with “complainers” like my cordial acquaintance, Gary Taubes, who isn’t claiming that it’s not eating too much too often that ultimately makes you fat, but rather, asks what is it that kicks off that overeating cycle? He seems to think it’s because of carbohydrates (the egg). But I say that can’t be because many chickens eat plenty of carbs and don’t produce obese eggs.

At any rate, the correlation between the wealth of nations and obesity is stark, consistent, and shows up in every wealthy country.

… And it’s not like we don’t already know this. We call it “diseases of civilization,” but then move on as though we don’t need to stop and say something like: “your ass is fat because your wallet got fat first, and now you can eat too much too often whenever you want, and rather than use your brain and will power a little bit, you eat too much too often whenever you want.”

Eating fat with carbohydrates makes you fat. This part of the series will introduce a proximate cause of obesity that will be entirely new to many people. The reason for this is simple: diets are predominantly focused on the trade-off between fat and carbohydrate intake. Some diets focus on limiting the amount of fat you eat, while others focus on limiting the level of carbohydrates. Conversely, diets that limit fat encourage higher carbohydrate consumption, and those that limit carbohydrates encourage higher fat consumption.

It’s important to note that both approaches can and do work for many people, but the reasons they work are entirely different metabolically. Let me say that again: both approaches work for many people, but why they work is wholly different—night and day. So, what I’m going to do is synthesize a new paradigm for you. Rather than focusing on how much or how little fat you eat or how much or little carbohydrates you consume, consider how you consume them side-by-side (or not side-by-side).

This concept is scientifically understood or known as oxidative priority. I will introduce a scientific paper on the subject. The lead author of that paper is Ray Cronise, a long-time friend of mine. I can tell you now that making just one simple change, by keeping in mind the oxidative priority of foods, will answer all of your dietary questions forever.

In other words, when you consume a meal with a bunch of stuff—alcohol, protein, carbohydrates, and fat—understanding how the body deals with those nutrients in the hierarchical terms of processing, storing, and later accessing them will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your diet. This is a guarantee. This is the promise of this series. Chapter 1 drops soon. Have your membership cards ready.

Over nutrition makes you fat. There’s a paradox here that needs some untangling. We know the highest quality foods are the most nutritionally dense. I mean, foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, and trace elements and compounds—the kind you find in animals and seafood. Surf and turf. But are these the foods that make people fat? No. People get fat on the cheap stuff, the crap that’s basically empty calories. Mostly empty fat calories and mostly empty carbohydrate calories—starches or sugars, take your pick.

When you break down food into the three macronutrient classes—protein, carbohydrate, and fat—you can start making sense of it. Protein is the nutrient food. Meat, eggs, fish, shellfish. These are loaded with every nutrient required for human life. So, if you’re getting your nutritional needs met through protein, then carbohydrates and fats become your energy sources. But there’s a crucial difference. Carbs are your short-term, immediate fuel. Fat is your storage fuel for when carbs aren’t available or to smooth out the spikes from quick sugar hits.

This raises a crucial question: How much nutrient food—i.e., protein—do you really need if it’s primarily for meeting your nutritional requirements, while carbs and fats supply your energy needs? One way to approach this is by understanding the synergy, or perhaps the lack thereof, between fats and carbohydrates. Eating them together is unnatural, with a single exception, and I’ll show this. Keep them separate, and you’ve got a new dietary paradigm. And that’s a primary focus of this series. Not elimination of either, but separation, one from the other.

Remember, if you’re wealthy enough to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, you need to be mindful of how you combine foods, primarily fat and carbohydrates—or don’t combine them (as mentioned earlier). Fat as fuel allows you to go longer periods without nutritional intake or carbohydrate energy intake. This is beneficial for managing weight gain and also for housekeeping—resetting your system. It’s what fasting is all about.

Fasting isn’t just some trendy gimmick. It’s a tool for managing fat accumulation or weight gain and resetting your body’s systems. It’s about taking control of your intake and understanding how different fuels work together—or against each other—in your body. If you’re serious about your diet, you need to be serious about how you combine your foods and how you use fasting as a tool.

In sum, the trifecta of this dietary paradigm is understanding that protein is for nutrients, carbs are for immediate energy, and fat is for long-term storage. Combine them wisely, and you’ll master your diet and your body.

Everybody is both right and wrong. All diets work. That’s the brutal truth. Diets persist because enough people find success by adhering to them. It’s also why no diets work—because of a lack of adherence. But as long as there are some success stories, these diets will continue to be advocated and maintain a degree of popularity.

The main battleground in the dietary world is the trade-off between fat and carbohydrates. But let’s discuss a different approach that’s often overlooked: high-protein diets. Whether you’re limiting fat or carbohydrates, you can still use high protein as a strategy within that dietary framework.

Protein does two crucial things. First, it provides essential nutrients. Second, it is highly satiating. When you target protein, whether you’re eating high or low fat, or high or low carbohydrate, there’s a good chance you’ll naturally eat less of them.

Consider oxidative priority, and the picture becomes clearer. Fat-focused diets can succeed or fail. Carbohydrate-focused diets can succeed or fail. And this will be a primary focus of this series. Understanding the nuances, the fine lines between success and failure, is where the real insight lies.

Calories count until they don’t. Another antagonism intertwined with both fat-focused and carbohydrate-focused diets is energy balance. You have those who assert that no matter what, you need to eat less and move more. If you eat less, move more, and use whatever tools at your disposal to determine your energy intake versus your energy expenditure, and you intake less than you expend, then you will lose weight—preferentially fat.

But then there are those who complain, “Sure, this is true, but it doesn’t explain why some people eat too much too often and others don’t.” So, is it the type of foods people are eating that motivates them to eat more than they should, even in the face of weight gain? It’s a strong motivation, but as I mentioned earlier in this introduction, that’s partially accounted for by the factor of wealth. When you don’t have sufficient financial means, for some people, food takes a back seat to other things; for others, food comes first. These are individual preferences, and at least there is a confounding variable that interferes with or assists in that decision process. It highly depends on the individual and what they like.

Take people who use some of their money for drugs or alcohol as a prime example. If they have limited funds, it comes down to a choice between some form of inebriation to escape or having a satisfactorily full belly. Some choose the former. And they’re leaner.

So both are right: calories count until they don’t. When it doesn’t matter what the energy balance calculation is, the person is still going to overconsume, and we want to know why and help them. Everybody’s right, everybody’s wrong.

I like to use the phrase “eating too much too often.” On a personal note, I used to drink too much too often. Now, I could’ve sat around for a long time and wondered why and that’s a helpful thing to know, but ultimately, I had no choice but to stop drinking too much too often. With eating too much too often, you don’t have the luxury of being able to just stop eating, as I stopped drinking two years ago. So it’s a harder, longer-term problem to manage. But the bottom line is, you’ve got to either figure out some sort of incentives or motivations or whatever it is that you need to meet that bottom line by an easier means, or you simply have to eat less less often but with lots of cold turkey.

What I propose is to give you a middle ground that is not quite as painful as you might think. For people who prefer the approach of limiting their fat intake but miss the fat, I’ve got a better way for you. Similarly, for those who prefer to limit their carbohydrate intake but miss the carbohydrates—whether it’s bread or fruit, for example—I’ve got a better way for you.

How AI will solve obesity on individual levels. I had a conversation with FreeTheAnimal’s ChatGPT-4o based Chatbot Zon about how she could help people one-on-one with weight loss, incorporating the ideas to be revealed and outlined in this series. Some of this entails AI tech that has already been demonstrated recently but is not yet available to the public (but soon will be).

Here’s what she said.

Chapter 1 drops in a few days. Have your membership cards ready.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.

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