Read an Excerpt: 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'

Author finds previous research on nutrition "inadequate."

ByABC News via GMA logo
September 26, 2007, 1:55 PM

Sept. 27, 2007 — -- What if everything you think you know about diet and exercise, even disease, turned out to be wrong?

A new book called "Good Calories, Bad Calories" suggests just that. And it's causing a storm of controversy-- think saturated fats are bad for you? Think again. Think exercise will slim you down? Not true. At least that's what Gary Taubes thinks -- he says he's reviewed the research and interviewed over 600 experts and has the evidence to prove it.

Read an excerpt from his book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories," below.

I have spent much of the last fifteen years reporting and writing about issues of public health, nutrition, and diet. I have spent five years on the research for and writing of this book alone. To a great extent, the conclusions I've reached are as much a product of the age we live in as they are my own skeptical inquiry. Just ten years ago, the research for this book would have taken the better part of a lifetime. It was only with the development of the Internet, of search engines and the comprehensive databases of the Library of Medicine, the Institute for Scientific Information, research libraries, and secondhand-book stores worldwide now accessible online that I was able, with reasonable facility, to locate and procure virtually any written source, whether published a century ago or last week, and to track down and contact clinical investigators and public-health officials, even those long retired.

Throughout this research, I tried to follow the facts wherever they led. In writing the book, I have tried to let the science and the evidence speak for themselves. When I began my research, I had no idea that I would come to believe that obesity is not caused by eating too much, or that exercise is not a means of prevention. Nor did I believe that diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's could possibly be caused by the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars. I had no idea that I would find the quality of the research on nutrition, obesity, and chronic disease to be so inadequate; that so much of the conventional wisdom would be founded on so little substantial evidence; and that, once it was, the researchers and the public-health authorities who funded the research would no longer see any reason to challenge this conventional wisdom and so to test itsvalidity.

As I emerge from this research, though, certain conclusions seeminescapable to me, based on the existing knowledge:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.

2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis—the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.

3. Sugars—sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.

4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.

5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior.