Books of 2017, #9: The Case Against Sugar, by Gary Taubes

I am well aware that there are plenty of people who think Gary Taubes is bad at what he does—that his writing is too biased (such that it displays the same failings of fitting evidence to theory that he calls out in others), or that he is out-and-out untruthful, whatever.

On the other hand, I’ve now read all of his books regarding diet, and I find his writing to be open and honest about the possibility that he has incomplete or incorrect information, and that his hypothesis does seem to represent far simpler and more believable explanation for—to borrow one of his book titles—”why we get fat”.

In the end, the arguments against his hypotheses remind me of epicycles, the ever more elaborate explanations for observable movement of the stars and planets in a geocentric model. They had to become more and more elaborate and complex because they were working from a flawed premise that was dictated and enforced by the power structures of the day (the Catholic Church in this case), that the solar system is geocentric, not heliocentric.

When I then consider the simple observation that over the course of my lifetime—which roughly corresponds to the rise of the low-fat approach to diet—my peers and my country have become enormously fat, and that I can easily observe in my own body the effects of consuming carbohydrates and especially sugar…well, “Eppur si muove.”

All of that material is in his prior books, too; what distinguishes The Case Against Sugar is that it also goes into greater detail about the actions of the sugar industry—which shared both tactics and even actors with the tobacco industry. This new material is interesting…but at this moment in history, demonstrating the malfeasance of corporations and people in their employ is shooting fish in a barrel. It’s also a little dispiriting.

So if you haven’t read anything of his, I would stick with Why We Get Fat, which is short and to the point—an uplifting book trying to show a path forward. This is more like horror, showing the unfortunate things taking place around us.

Published by

Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.