Gary Taubes once again has the front page of the New York Times with an article titled “Is Sugar Toxic?” This is a recurring theme in his work, that fat isn’t nearly as bad for you as researchers in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s claimed, and that starches are underappreciated for their ability to push people into unhealthy places. Understand, almost everything Gary says is followed closely by diabetics – perhaps not the researchers but diabetics themselves, because he seems to talk a diabetics own language.

It’s a general contention when diabetics get together on the Internet that most researchers are a few years behind what the garden variety diabetic already knows. It took decades for the conservative side of the medical profession to embrace individual blood sugar meters, for example. And groups of diabetics will laugh anyone silly who tries to talk about the dangers of saturated fat.

My feeling is he’s interesting, but that Michael Pollan touches on many of the same topics with a more nuanced and less dogmatic approach. My ought two? Read him, but keep your own council. Diabetics, as anyone with the disease does know, are as individual as snowflakes.

A reader recommended I read this book, and so I have been, taking my time of it. Gary Taubes is a prize winning science journalist, and in this book he documents how the current dogma of high carb – low fat diets emerged.  What Mr Taubes proves deftly is that the case against fats is hardly proven. Further, the sheer number of societies that had essentially no heart problems or diabetes until they adopted Western ways and a Western diet is simply overwhelming. And the one things that’s new in these diets are refined carbohydrates. Many of them, such as the Masai and the Inuit, were eating plenty of fat before converting to Western ways.

That doesn’t necessarily make carbs the smoking gun. It could be more what Dr David Kessler blames: that the combination of sugar, fats, and salt working as a hunger enhancer, encouraging an orgy of overeating that actually leads to the diseases of modern civilization. That said, Gary’s writing at least puts the interested reader in a position to judge the data for themselves, and he’s proven convincing to a number of doctors and PhDs who now think that fats are hardly the beginning and end of the problem in the Western diet (especially since, as we eat fewer and fewer fats, these diseases are becoming more and more prevalent).

For a quick review of the ideas in this book, you might check out the text “What if it’s all been a big fat lie?” in the New York Times. For a different point of view, more directed at sugars, there is a nice review by David Mendoza. For those wondering how saturated are animal fats (turns out they have a plurality of fats made from oleic acid) please see this chart. And for some post publication comments by Gary Taubes, there is this article on the Protein Power site.