The author of The Case for Keto argues that conventional approaches to tackling obesity and diabetes aren’t working, and that low-carbohydrate diets could be the way forward
Over the past two decades, the UK’s rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes have spiralled, something that has invariably been blamed on our intake of saturated fat. Conventional nutrition science argues this leads to elevated cholesterol levels and a greater risk of heart disease, but journalist Gary Taubes believes we need to rethink this idea. Over the past 20 years, Taubes has suggested that fat has been unfairly demonised, and instead our excessive carbohydrate and sugar consumption is to blame for many of these societal health problems, a concept that has begun to interest increasing numbers of scientists. In his new book, The Case for Keto, Taubes discusses the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet, a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that is being studied as a potential treatment for a range of diseases, from obesity and diabetes, to even cancer and Alzheimer’s.
You’ve long been one of the biggest advocates for the benefits of low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets. How did this all begin?
I did an investigative piece for the journal Science back in 2001 on dietary fat and heart disease. I interviewed around 140 researchers and administrators, and I concluded that there was never really compelling evidence for this low-fat diet we’d all been told to eat since the mid-1980s. When writing the story, I had a National Institute of Health administrator say to me: “When we told everyone to go on low-fat diets, we thought if nothing else they’d lose weight, because fat is the densest calorie in the diet. And instead they started eating more carbohydrates and everyone got fatter.” So I always had it my head that one of the main things that caused the obesity epidemic was this switch to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.