Calories Still Matter

The Centers for Disease Control's NHANES surveys documented a massive increase in obesity in the United States between the 1960-62 and 2007-2008 survey periods (1).  In 1960, 13 percent of US adults were obese, while in 2008 that number had risen to 34 percent.  The prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 0.9 to 6.0 percent over the same time period!

Something has changed, but what?  Well, the most parsimonious explanation is that we're simply eating more.  Here is a graph I created of our calorie intake (green) overlaid on a graph of obesity prevalence (blue) between 1970 and 2008:

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How Bad is Fructose? David Despain Interviews Dr. John Sievenpiper

In my article "Is Sugar Fattening?", I discussed a recent review paper on fructose, by Dr. John Sievenpiper and colleagues (1).  It was the most recent of several review papers to conclude that fructose is probably not inherently fattening in humans, but that it can be fattening if it's consumed to excess, due to the added calories.  Dr. Sievenpiper and colleagues have also written other papers addressing the metabolic effects of fructose, which appear to be fairly minor unless it's consumed to excess (2, 3, 4, 5).  The senior author on these studies is Dr. David Jenkins at McMaster University.  David Despain, a science and health writer who publishes a nice blog called Evolving Health, recently interviewed Dr. Sievenpiper about his work.

It's an interesting interview and very timely, due to the recent attention paid to fructose in the popular media. This has mostly been driven by a couple of high-profile individuals-- an issue they discuss in the interview.  The interview, recent papers, and sessions at scientific conferences are part of an effort by researchers to push back against some of the less well founded claims that have received widespread attention lately.

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Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Recently, Chris Kresser published a series on dietary salt (sodium chloride) and health (1).  One of the issues he covered is the effect of salt on blood pressure.  Most studies have shown a relatively weak relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.  My position overall is that we're currently eating a lot more salt than at almost any point in our evolutionary history as a species, so I tend to favor a moderately low salt intake.  However, there may be more important factors than salt when it comes to blood pressure, at least in the short term. 

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Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part III

In previous posts, I reviewed some of the evidence suggesting that human evolution has accelerated rapidly since the development of agriculture (and to some degree, before it).  Europeans (and other lineages with a long history of agriculture)  carry known genetic adaptations to the Neolithic diet, and there are probably many adaptations that have not yet been identified.  In my final post in this series, I'll argue that although we've adapted, the adaptation is probably not complete, and we're left in a sort of genetic limbo between the Paleolithic and Neolithic state. 

Recent Genetic Adaptations are Often Crude

It may at first seem strange, but many genes responsible for common genetic disorders show evidence of positive selection.  In other words, the genes that cause these disorders were favored by evolution at some point because they presumably provided a survival advantage.  For example, the sickle cell anemia gene protects against malaria, but if you inherit two copies of it, you end up with a serious and life-threatening disorder (1).  The cystic fibrosis gene may have been selected to protect against one or more infectious diseases, but again if you get two copies of it, quality of life and lifespan are greatly curtailed (2, 3).  Familial Mediterranean fever is a very common disorder in Mediterranean populations, involving painful inflammatory attacks of the digestive tract, and sometimes a deadly condition called amyloidosis.  It shows evidence of positive selection and probably protected against intestinal disease due to the heightened inflammatory state it confers to the digestive tract (4, 5).  Celiac disease, a severe autoimmune reaction to gluten found in some grains, may be a by-product of selection for protection against bacterial infection (6).  Phenylketonuria also shows evidence of positive selection (7), and the list goes on.  It's clear that a lot of our recent evolution was in response to new disease pressures, likely from increased population density, sendentism, and contact with domestic animals.

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HTC new phone sales delayed in U.S.

May 16 (Reuters) - U.S. availability of two new smartphones from Taiwan's HTC Corp will be delayed due to a customs review required after the company lost a patent lawsuit against Apple Inc last year, exacerbating its already declining sales in its once largest market.

HTC said in a statement on Wednesday that "the U.S. availability of the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed due to a standard U.S. Customs review of shipments that is required after an ITC (International Trade Commission) exclusion order".

Apple scored a narrow victory against HTC in a patent lawsuit in December over technology in the smartphones, one of many patent disputes in the fiercely competitive market.

Under that ruling, HTC phones with the technology covered by the lawsuit would be banned from the U.S. from April 19. HTC has said that it had a workaround to avoid the disputed technology, however all new phones are still required to undergo customs review.

Some shipments of the phones had reached the U.S. before the ban date, enabling their launch, but further shipments are being delayed, an HTC official in Taipei said.

In a separate statement, the company said it believes it is "in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with customs to secure approval".

HTC shares fell 4.3 percent on Wednesday, in a broader market down 1,2 percent.

U.S. operator Sprint originally scheduled to launch HTC EVO 4G LTE on Friday and it has been taking pre-orders on its website, while AT&T, which has been carrying the One X model in store since May 6, says the smartphone is "out of stock" on its website.

Sprint and AT&T both declined to comment.

"Previously, it was expected that general exclusion order from the patent infringement referred to only old models from HTC. However, the latest news suggest otherwise with all models (new and old) potentially at risk," Goldman Sachs said in a trading note to clients seen by Reuters.

It said the U.S. market was expected to account for 15-20 percent of HTC's second-quarter shipments, and this delay might post potential downside risk to company's earnings this quarter and possibly in the third quarter, depending on how quickly HTC could resolve the issue.

Last month, HTC Chief Executive Officer Peter Chou said HTC wouldn't return to the days when more than 50 percent of its revenue came from the United States, a market where it saw a big drop last year because of the fierce competition from Apple's iPhone 4S.

NBA Playoff Schedule, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Game one of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers kicks off tonight and if the Thunder play as efficiently as they did against the Mavericks, they can be finished by this weekend against Kobe Bryant and company. Of course, pulling that off would be an incredible feat and not likely considering the star power the Lakers bring.

Whether you're tuning in for the star power of Bryant and Kevin Durant, the startling play of Russell Westbrook or the tension between Metta World Peace and James Harden, there's a lot to like about this series. Here's the way the full series looks laid out over a full seven game stretch.


Game 1 - May 14 (Mon) L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City 8:30PM TNT

Game 2 - May 16 (Wed) L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City 8:30PM TNT

Game 3 - May 18 (Fri) Oklahoma City at L.A. Lakers 9:30PM ESPN

Game 4 - May 19 (Sat) Oklahoma City at L.A. Lakers 9:30PM TNT

Game 5 * May 21 (Mon) L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City TBD TNT

Game 6 * May 23 (Wed) Oklahoma City at L.A. Lakers TBD ESPN

Game 7 * May 27 (Sun) L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City TBD TNT

New MacBooks to debut at WWDC

Apple's next generation of MacBook Pros will be unveiled at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference, according to a new report.

Adding to claims made by 9to5mac earlier today, Bloomberg now says Apple will take the wraps off thinner Mac notebooks that feature Retina Displays and Flash memory at its developer-centric show next month.

Citing multiple unnamed sources, Bloomberg says the new MacBook Pros will be less than 0.95 inch (24mm) thick and sport Intel's third-generation Core series chips, code-named Ivy Bridge.

The report is the latest to suggest Apple is on the verge of updating its Mac portable line with a thinner design. Earlier today Apple blog 9to5mac said Apple was "putting the finishing touches" on a revamped version of its 15-inch MacBook Pro with a higher-resolution display and USB 3.0, all with the removal of the optical drive to shrink it down in size. Bloomberg's report makes no such mention of that feature disappearing.

Numerous rumors pointed to last month as the time when Apple would unveil new Mac notebook models to coincide with the release of Intel's latest generation of chips. Apple's last refresh of the MacBook Pro was in October when the company added a speedier processor, more storage, and upgraded graphics capabilities. It's been a bit longer for the MacBook Air, which was refreshed in late July to coincide with the release of Apple's Lion OS X software update.

It makes sense that Apple would wait until its developers conference to take the wraps off a higher-resolution screen technology. Developers would likely need to update parts of their software to take advantage of the new option. In recent months, Apple has been outed updating some of its own apps and icons to make use of the hardware feature.

Bloomberg noted, via a source, that next month could bring a release date for Apple's next OS X release, dubbed Mountain Lion. Apple took the wraps off that OS in February, giving developers time to ready their apps ahead of its release, promised in "late summer".

Apple's WWDC kicks off on June 11 in San Francisco. Like last year, Apple has promised it will show developers "the future of iOS and OS X". The show is also rumored to bring some changes to Apple's iCloud service.

BY: Josh Lowensohn

Lebron in elite group with third MVP

MIAMI -- Calling the honor "overwhelming" but pointing to a "bigger goal," LeBron James on Saturday became the eighth player in NBA history to win the MVP award three times.

James accepted the trophy and will get to show it off to Miami Heat fans Sunday afternoon when he's presented with the prize again by commissioner David Stern before Miami faces Indiana in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"Heat Nation, we have a bigger goal," James said. "This is very overwhelming to me as an individual award. But this is not the award I want, ultimately -- I want that championship. That's all that matters to me."

James won the award for the third time in four seasons. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone have won at least that many MVP trophies.

Abdul-Jabbar won six times, Jordan and Russell five times each, Chamberlain four times. Now, they're the only players with more than James.

Middle say 'I do' to gay marriage?

President Barack Obama's announcement Wednesday in support of marriage for gay couples answered one key question: Where does he and so his party stand? Now the big question is: Are Americans in the middle ready to accept this?

That answer can be yes, based on our four years of extensive research into that precise question if marriage supporters heed three crucial lessons about how the middle views this issue.

First, the "rights" frame is wrong. One word emerged during our nine rounds of research that described how Americans in the middle view marriage: commitment.

In fact, when undecided Americans were asked what marriage means to them, "commitment" came up four times as often as the word "love." "Rights" never came up not once. To folks in the middle, marriage is about making a promise to care for each other for a lifetime, through better or worse.

They often focused on the latter because that is what makes marriage unique from other relationships. To them, marriage is about one thing: the obligation and responsibility that comes with making a public promise of lifetime commitment.

Second, the middle needs to know that gay couples want to join the institution of marriage not change it.

In our polling, folks in the middle weren't sure why gay couples want to marry. When asked why "couples like them" might want to marry, the middle's answer grew out of their conception of the institution, with nearly six in 10 saying it is "to publicly acknowledge their love and commitment to each other."

But why do gay couples want to marry? A plurality said it is "for rights and benefits like tax advantages, hospital visitation or sharing a spouse's pension." Another 25 percent said, "I don't know."

Given that marriage advocates have long made their case by focusing on the rights and benefits of marriage, it only follows that many Americans in the middle are confused about gay couples' motivations.

But this misconception is dangerous. Most couples don't marry for tax advantages and visitation rights they marry for profound reasons of love and commitment. Among those who felt gay couples want marriage for other reasons, their feelings toward marriage for gay couples were skeptical.


Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part II

In previous posts, I described how Otzi was (at least in large part) a genetic descendant of Middle Eastern agriculturalists, rather than being purely descended from local hunter-gatherers who adopted agriculture in situ.  I also reviewed evidence showing that modern Europeans are a genetic mixture of local European hunter-gatherers, incoming agricultural populations from the Middle East, neanderthals, and perhaps other groups.  In this post, I'll describe the evidence for rapid human evolution since the end of the Paleolithic period, and research indicating that some of these changes are adaptations to the Neolithic (agricultural/horticultural/pastoral) diet.

Humans have Evolved Significantly Since the End of the Paleolithic

Evolution by natural selection leaves a distinct signature in the genome, and geneticists can detect this signature tens of thousands of years after the fact by comparing many genomes to one another.  A landmark paper published in 2007 by Dr. John Hawks and colleagues showed that humans have been undergoing "extraordinarily rapid recent genetic evolution" over the last 40,000 years (1).  Furthermore:
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Media Appearances

Last October, I participated in a panel discussion organized by the Harvard Food Law Society in Boston.  The panel included Drs. Walter Willett, David Ludwig, Robert Lustig, and myself, with Corby Kummer as moderator.  Dr. Willett is the chair of the Harvard Department of Nutrition; Dr. Ludwig is a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard; Dr. Lustig is a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCSF; and Kummer is a food writer and senior editor for The Atlantic
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Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part I

In the previous post, I explained that Otzi descended in large part from early adopters of agriculture in the Middle East or nearby.  What I'll explain in further posts is that Otzi was not a genetic anomaly: he was part of a wave of agricultural migrants that washed over Europe thousands of years ago, spreading their genes throughout.  Not only that, Otzi represents a halfway point in the evolutionary process that transformed Paleolithic humans into modern humans.

Did Agriculture in Europe Spread by Cultural Transmission or by Population Replacement?

There's a long-standing debate in the anthropology community over how agriculture spread throughout Europe.  One camp proposes that agriculture spread by a cultural route, and that European hunter-gatherers simply settled down and began planting grains.  The other camp suggests that European hunter-gatherers were replaced (totally or partially) by waves of agriculturalist immigrants from the Middle East that were culturally and genetically better adapted to the agricultural diet and lifestyle.  These are two extreme positions, and I think almost everyone would agree at this point that the truth lies somewhere in between: modern Europeans are a mix of genetic lineages, some of which originate from the earliest Middle Eastern agriculturalists who expanded into Europe, and some of which originate from indigenous hunter-gatherer groups including a small contribution from neanderthals.  We know that modern-day Europeans are not simply Paleolithic mammoth eaters who reluctantly settled down and began farming. 

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Lessons From Ötzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part III

There are two reasons why I chose this time to write about Otzi.  The first is that I've been looking for a good excuse to revisit human evolutionary history, particularly that of Europeans, and what it does and doesn't tell us about the "optimal" human diet.  The second is that Otzi's full genome was sequenced and described in a recent issue of Nature Communications (1).  A "genome" is the full complement of genes an organism carries.  So what that means is that researchers have sequenced almost all of his genes. 

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Lessons From Ötzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part II

Otzi's Diet

Otzi's digestive tract contains the remains of three meals.  They were composed of cooked grains (wheat bread and wheat grains), meat, roots, fruit and seeds (1, 2).  The meat came from three different animals-- chamois, red deer and ibex.  The "wheat" was actually not what we would think of as modern wheat, but an ancestral variety called einkorn.

Isotope analysis indicates that Otzi's habitual diet was primarily centered around plant foods, likely heavily dependent on grains but also incorporating a variety of other plants (3).  He died in the spring with a belly full of einkorn wheat.  Since wheat is harvested in the fall, this suggests that his culture stored grain and was dependent on it for most if not all of the year.  However, he also clearly ate meat and used leather made from his prey.  Researchers are still debating the quantity of meat in his diet, but it was probably secondary to grains and other plant foods. It isn't known whether or not he consumed dairy.

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Exercise and Food Intake

The New York Times just published an article reviewing some of the recent research on exercise, food intake and food reward, titled "Does Exercise Make You Overeat?".  I was planning to write about this at some point, but I don't know when I'd be able to get around to it, and the NYT article is a fair treatment of the subject, so I'll just point you to the article.

Basically, burning calories through exercise causes some people to eat more, but not everyone does, and a few people actually eat less.  Alex Hutchinson discussed this point recently on his blog (1).  Part of it depends on how much fat you carry-- if you're already lean, the body is more likely to increase hunger because it very much dislikes going too low in body fat.  Most overweight/obese people do not totally make up for the calories they burn through exercise by eating more, so they lose fat.  There is a lot of individual variability here.  The average obese person won't lose a substantial amount of fat through exercise alone.  However, everyone knows someone who lost 50+ pounds through exercise alone, and the controlled trials support that it happens in a minority of people.  On the other side of the spectrum, I have a friend who gained fat while training for a marathon, and lost it afterward. 

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Next Primal Chef Event Sunday 5/20

Gil Butler has been working on a television show called Primal Chef, where he invites local chefs to make creative dishes from a list of Paleo ingredients, in a designated amount of time.  The format is reminiscent of Iron Chef.  The food is judged afterward by figures in the Paleo community.  Robb Wolf was a judge on the first episode.

Gil has invited me to be a judge on the next show, along with Sara Fragoso and Dr. Tim Gerstmar.  The next day, Sunday April 20th, Gil is organizing a catered Primal Chef event in Seattle, with Paleo dinner, speakers, entertainment, prizes, and a screening of part of Paleo Chef episode 1.  You can read the details and sign up here.  I won't be speaking because I don't have time to put together another talk right now, but I will be attending the event. 

Lessons From Ötzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part I

This is Otzi, or at least a reconstruction of what he might have looked like.  5,300 years ago, he laid down on a glacier near the border between modern-day Italy and Austria, under unpleasant circumstances.  He was quickly frozen into the glacier.  In 1991, his slumber was rudely interrupted by two German tourists, which eventually landed him in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy. 

Otzi is Europe's oldest natural human mummy, and as such, he's an important window into the history of the human species in Europe.  His genome has been sequenced, and it offers us clues about the genetic history of modern Europeans.

Otzi's Story

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Global Meat Production, 1961-2009

Total global meat production per person has steadily increased from 0.13 lbs per day in 1961 to 0.29 lbs per day in 2009*, a 120 percent increase over the last half century (currently in the US, average meat consumption is about half a pound per day).  Since meat consumption in the US and Europe has only increased modestly over time, this change mostly reflects greatly increased meat consumption over the last half century in developing countries** in Asia, Africa and South America.  In 1961, it's likely that most of the 0.13 pounds per day of meat was consumed in affluent countries such as the US, with not much consumed elsewhere (with some exceptions).  Historically, meat has always been expensive relative to other food sources in agricultural societies, so it's eaten by those who can afford it.
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Eocene Diet Follow-up

Now that WHS readers around the globe have adopted the Eocene Diet and are losing weight at an alarming rate, it's time to explain the post a little more.  First, credit where credit is due: Melissa McEwen made a similar argument in her 2011 AHS talk, where she rolled out the "Cambrian Explosion Diet", which beats the Eocene Diet by about 470 million years.  It was probably in the back of my head somewhere when I came up with the idea.

April Fools day is good for a laugh, but humor often has a grain of truth in it.  In this case, the post was a jumping off point for discussing human evolution and what it has to say about the "optimal" human diet, if such a thing exists.  Here's a preview: evolution is a continuous process that has shaped our ancestors' genomes for every generation since the beginning of life.  It didn't end with the Paleolithic, in fact it accelerated, and most of us today carry meaningful adaptations to the Neolithic diet and lifestyle. 

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The Eocene Diet

65 million years ago, a massive asteroid slammed into the Yucatan peninsula, creating a giant dust cloud that contributed to the extinction of terrestrial dinosaurs.  In the resulting re-adjustment of global ecosystems, a new plant tissue evolved, which paved the way for the eventual appearance of humans: fruit.  Fruit represents a finely crafted symbiosis between plants and animals, in which the plant provides a nourishing morsel, and the animal disperses the plant's seeds inside a packet of rich fertilizer.

Fruit was such a powerful selective pressure that mammals quickly evolved to exploit it more effectively, developing adaptations for life in the forest canopy.  One result of this was the rapid emergence of primates, carrying physical, digestive and metabolic adaptations for the acquisition and consumption of fruit and leaves.  Primates also continued eating insects, a vestige of our early mammalian heritage. 

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In upcoming posts, I plan to pursue two main themes.  The first is a more comprehensive exploration of what determines eating behavior in humans, the neurobiology behind it, and the real world implications of this research.  The reward and palatability value of food are major factors, but there are others, and I've spent enough time focusing on them for the time being.  Also, the discussions revolving around food reward seem to be devolving into something that resembles team sports, and I've had my fill.

The second topic I'm going to touch on is human evolutionary history, including amazing recent insights from the field of human genetics.  These findings have implications for the nutrition and health of modern humans. 

I look forward to exploring these topics, and others, with all of you in the coming months.

Recent Media Appearances

Men's Health interviewed and quoted me in an article titled "Reprogram Your Metabolism", written by Lou Schuler.  Part of the article was related to the food reward concept.  I'm glad to see the idea gradually reaching the mainstream. 

Boing Boing recently covered an article by Dr. Hisham Ziauddeen and colleagues in Nature Reviews Neuroscience that questioned the idea that common obesity represents food addiction-- an idea that I often encounter in my reading.  Maggie Koerth-Baker asked me if I wanted to respond.  I sent her a response explaining that I agree with the authors' conclusions and I also doubt obesity is food addiction per se, as I have explained in the past, although a subset of obese people can be addicted to food.  I explained that the conclusions of the paper are consistent with the idea that food reward influences fat mass.  You can find my explanation here.

Food Reward: Approaching a Scientific Consensus

Review papers provide a bird's-eye view of a field from the perspective of experts.  Recent review papers show that many obesity researchers are converging on a model for the development of obesity that includes excessive food reward*, in addition to other factors such as physical inactivity, behavioral traits, and alterations in the function of the hypothalamus (a key brain region for the regulation of body fatness).  Take for example the four new review papers I posted recently by obesity and reward researchers:
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Xperia Neo L will be Sony's first ICS phone, but only for China?

While your Xperia might not have gotten its planned Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade just yet, Sony's come clean on its first phone to wield Google's latest straight from the factory: the Xperia Neo L.

Appearing on the company's Chinese website, we wouldn't expect a redux of the mostly 2011 hardware to go on a world tour anytime soon. Those buying will be treated to a 4-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) screen that's a smidge bigger than the original yet still carries a 1GHz worth of Snapdragon coupled to 512MB of RAM.

Unlike the archetype, though, the camera gets downgraded to a 5 megapixels in the rear while retaining the same VGA shooter in the front. Naturally there's no word on price or availability, but at least for diehard fanboys can have their ice cream and eat it too.

Speaking at AHS12

I'll be giving a 40 minute presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium this summer titled "Digestive Health, Inflammation and the Metabolic Syndrome".  Here's the abstract:
The “metabolic syndrome” is a cluster of health problems including abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation, high blood pressure and blood lipid abnormalities that currently affects one third of American adults.  It is the quintessential modern metabolic disorder and a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.  This talk will explore emerging links between diet, gut flora, digestive health and the development of the metabolic syndrome.  The audience will learn about factors that may help maintain digestive and metabolic health for themselves and the next generation.
Excessive fat mass is an important contributor to the metabolic syndrome, but at the same level of body fatness, some people are metabolically normal while others are extremely impaired.  Even among obese people, most of whom have the metabolic syndrome, about 20 percent are metabolically normal, with normal fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity, normal blood pressure, normal circulating inflammatory markers, and normal blood lipids.

What determines this?  Emerging research suggests that one factor is digestive health, including the bacterial ecosystem inside each person's digestive tract, and the integrity of the gut barrier.  I'll review some of this research in my talk, and leave the audience with actionable information for maintaining gastrointestinal and metabolic health.  Most of this information will not have been covered on this blog.

The Ancestral Health Symposium will be from August 9-12 at Harvard Law School in Boston, presented in conjunction with the Harvard Food Law society.  Tickets are currently available-- get them before they sell out!  Last year, they went fast.

See you there!

Qnexa, the Latest Obesity Drug

There are very few obesity drugs currently approved for use in the US-- not because effective drugs don't exist, but because the FDA has judged that the side effects of existing drugs are unacceptable. 

Although ultimately I believe the most satisfying resolution to the obesity epidemic will not come from drugs, drugs offer us a window into the biological processes that underlie obesity and fat loss.  Along those lines, here's a quote from a review paper on obesity drugs that I think is particularly enlightening (1):
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I just had a featured article published on Boing Boing, "Seduced by Food: Obesity and the Human Brain".  Boing Boing is the most popular blog on the Internet, with over 5 million unique visitors per month, and it's also one of my favorite haunts, so it was really exciting for me to be invited to submit an article.  For comparison, Whole Health Source had about 72,000 unique visitors last month (200,000+ hits).

The article is a concise review of the food reward concept, and how it relates to the current obesity epidemic.  Concise compared to all the writing I've done on this blog, anyway.  I put a lot of work into making the article cohesive and understandable for a somewhat general audience, and I think it's much more effective at explaining the concept than the scattered blog posts I've published here.  I hope it will clear up some of the confusion about food reward.  I don't know what's up with the image they decided to use at the top. 

Many thanks to Mark Frauenfelder, Maggie Koerth-Baker, and Rob Beschizza for the opportunity to publish on Boing Boing, as well as their comments on the draft versions!

For those who have arrived at Whole Health Source for the first time via Boing Boing, welcome!   Have a look around.  The "labels" menu on the sidebar is a good place to start-- you can browse by topic.


I've decided, on the sage advice of a WHS reader, to join the world of Twitter.  I'll be using it to announce new posts, as well as communicating papers that I find interesting, but either don't have time to blog about or think are too technical for a general audience.  My tag is "whsource".  Head on over to Twitter if you want to follow my tweets.

Justin Bieber: 18th Birthday

Justin Bieber reached driving age two years ago. But only now, as he turns 18, is he getting the car of his dreams.

Celebrating his milestone birthday Thursday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Bieber is presented by his manager with none other than a Fisker Karma - the highly coveted, ultra-exclusive plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan.

"You work really really hard," his manager, Scooter Braun, tells him. "I always yell at you, 'Don't get anything flashy!' You know, we're not about that. Be humble, be humble. And I kind of broke my own rule."

Braun adds: "We wanted to make sure, since you love cars, that when you're on the road you are always environmentally friendly. And we decided to get you a car that would make you stand out … I think you know where I'm going, and you're kind of freaking out right now. That's a Fisker Karma."

Bieber looks shocked as he walks over to the vehicle, the most-wanted car in the world. "That's for me?! That's crazy!" he says.

Leonardo DiCaprio got the very first Fisker Karma ever made, and Al Gore and Colin Powell were among the first people on the waiting list for one.

Bieber also has a gift for fans on Thursday, announcing that his new single, "Boyfriend," will be out March 26.

Taylor Kitsch wondered whether his John Carter director

Taylor Kitsch wondered whether his John Carter director "had a vendetta" against him while filming.

The 30-year-old Canadian-born actor plays the eponymous leading role in the upcoming Andrew Stanton helmed science-fiction action film. John Carter is a legendary comic superhero, created by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, who battles wars on Mars.

Throughout shooting, Taylor filmed extremely physical scenes under Andrew's direction.

The actor laughed about what a toll the hardcore sequences took on his body.

"There were many times when I personally thought that [Andrew] had a vendetta," he joked to Cover Media.

"But he made a great point when we were filming, I don't know whether that was to motivate or what, but it was 'The more we beat you up, the more you're going to be liked!'"

Taylor trained rigorously to take on the challenges of this role.

"To say the least, this was by far the most exhausting thing I've ever been a part of," he shared.

Taylor is aware of the great importance of his role. He is hopeful that his performance will satisfy both diehard comic book fans and general movie lovers.

"I think it's just being honest to the character," Taylor explained.

"It's funny, once I first got the role, you're in the mix for a while, and for months on end I was saying to myself if I got the role, I was going to get 'comic book big.' But then when I got the script and the role I wanted to get the happy medium between the escapism and also staying real. So I'm very happy with the happy medium we have."

John Carter is released in UK cinemas from March 9 2012.