LA TIMES Live Web Chat, 6/6/11, with Gary Taubes on “Weight Gain”

Yesterday I joined a live web chat with Gary Taubes, author of “Why We Get Fat:  And What to Do About It,” “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” and numerous diet and exercise articles.  Taube’s writings focus on scientific controversies, particularly in the field of nutrition in recent times.  The theory that weight gain is the result of “calories in” measuring more than “calories out” has been challenged by Taubes who suggests instead that fat, or weight gain, is the result of the sugar and carbohydrate consumption driving the insulin levels up.  Taubes’ background in science includes studies in physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford, writing for the journal of Science, and prestigious awards for journalism and science.   This interactive web chat was sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and two questions appeared regarding infants and the obesity epidemic.  I would like to share those questions, along with Taubes’ answers, here:

Question from Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine:  “The top source of solid food calories for most babies in the US throughout their first year is refined white flour, which we call rice cereal and many doctors still recommend.  I can’t think of a good reason to recommend this, can you?  Would you support the idea of ending this 20th century habit?  Do you think it would make a difference in the childhood obesity epidemic?”

Question from Donna Eshelman, author of  “I have read about the increase in obesity among infants. Can you comment on this please?”

Reply from Gary Taubes to Dr. Greene:  “Having two young children, I’ve experienced the rice cereal thing with my own kids (Unfortunately I’m not the only parent determining their diet).  Yes, I think rice cereal is a mistake and that it certainly isn’t helping the obesity epidemic.  Nor is the high-fructose corn syrup/sugar content in some of the inexpensive formulas.”

Reply from Gary Taubes to Donna Eshelman:  “Hi, Donna.  As for the increase in obesity among infants, I think some of it, as I just suggested, is due to the sugars in formula.  I suspect some is due to feeding even young children fruit juice–the ubiquitous juice box–and some is due to the fact that their mothers are heavier, more diabetic, gain more weight in pregnancy, and eat higher carbohydrate and sugar diets than ever before.   This is what’s known as intra-uterine effect, where mothers who have high insulin levels or higher blood sugar prompt their unborn children to develop more insulin secreting cells which makes for both fatter babies and kids who are at increased risk of getting fat and diabetic later in life.  So, it’s sad, but its quite likely that we’re passing the obesity epidemic onto our children in the womb.”

If you are interested in this topic you can read Taubes’ articles, books, or his blog at, or read the rest of the chat at


  1. Cool info if you ask me. Thank u a lot for sharing this information.

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