L. Neil Smith's
Number 221, April 28, 2003


Government is Fattening
by William Stone, III

Special to TLE

On April 8, 2003, as was his daily habit, Dr. Robert C. Atkins walked from his New York City home to his office, a distance of about one mile. At approximately 7:30 a.m. he fell and hit his head, suffering severe trauma. One of Dr. Akins' colleagues at The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, arriving at work at the same time, was able to rush Dr. Atkins to the hospital within minutes. It was determined that Dr. Atkins had suffered a subdural hematoma and that surgery was required to remove the blood clot from his brain. He survived for several days but eventually succumbed to complications on April 17. Dr. Atkins was 72.

Dr. Atkins pioneered low-carbohydrate dieting. He introduced the Atkins Diet with his 1972 book, Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution (currently The New Atkins Diet Revolution [Hardcover or Paperback or Audio CD] The Atkins Nutritional Approach faced stiff opposition from its inception. Dr. Atkins' theories are contrary to decades of government propaganda which states that fat is the root of all health evils. Atkins spent his life fighting industry critics and government pundits, often facing exactly the same "Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt" tactics with which Second Amendment advocates are all too familiar.

Dr. Atkins was a vocal opponent of government health policy. He proved, via decades of anecdotal and empirical evidence, that government health policy is wrong in every important respect.

Government propaganda states that a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet will control weight and help prevent other health problems. Yet all the evidence—particularly the increasing obesity of the American population after the FedGov began to champion the idea—belies the notion that low-fat diets can control weight. There has similarly been no scientific study that has made a positive causal link between dietary fat and conditions such as heart disease or cancer.

How did government come to be so horribly wrong? As usual: political expediency.

30 years ago, Senator George McGovern adopted the Pritikin low-fat diet program to great personal success. As with all statists, McGovern decided that if this diet was good for him, it must be good for everyone—and if everyone was too stupid to do what was good for them, he'd use government to force them to accept his diet.

McGovern's brand of left-wing statism believes that everyone is a little bit stupid and needs government to control them for their own good. One may contrast this with the right-wing statists' position that everyone is a little bit evil and needs government to control them for their own good.

This lack of meaningful difference between the two groups is what caused Bill Mahr to remark that America doesn't have two political parties, but rather identical political cousins played by Patty Duke.

In 1976, McGovern held two days of testimony on low-fat diets that largely excluded doctors and scientists. He then commissioned a former reporter for the Providence Journal—an individual with no scientific background whatsoever—to produce the government's "Dietary Goals For the United States."

In 1977, the Department of Agriculture championed up the cause of low-fat dieting, specifically referencing McGovern's Senate hearings. Ample contrary evidence was available and ignored.

The ultimate enactment of low-fat government policy became the official Federal Dietary Guidelines that entered its fifth edition in 2000.

In 1992, the USDA introduced the "Food Pyramid", a concept so pervasive that every first-grader in America is exposed to it. The Food Pyramid is designed to reinforce propaganda of the low-fat diet. At the pyramid's base are the foods the FedGov considers the staple of a healthy diet: refined carbohydrates such as bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Fats and oils occupy a space at the top of the pyramid, indicating that they should be used sparingly, if at all.

Dr. Atkins proved the Food Pyramid utterly wrong. In fact, it is 100% inverted.

Dr. Atkins led the crusade to end the myth of the low-fat diet. In the last few years of his life, Dr. Atkins' work began to come to fruition: his diet program and line of low-carbohydrate foods gained wider acceptance among both scientists and dieters, competing low-carbohydrate diet plans came onto the market, and even the New York Times wrote an article entitled, "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?".

As one might guess, I am an advocate of the Atkins Diet, having effortless lost almost forty pounds in six months—nor is my experience in any way unique. It's a particularly good diet for hypoglycemics such as myself, because it completely flattens sugar intake, thereby reducing or even eliminating hypoglycemic episodes. Additionally, as hypoglycemia is often a precursor to diabetes, using the Atkins Diet to control sugar intake significantly reduces the likelihood that it will develop.

Note, however, that as a philosopher of the Zero Aggression Principle, I would never suggest that anyone be forced to follow my diet.

Dr. Atkins' approach differs by restricting only one dietary factor: carbohydrates. Caloric, fat, and protein intake are ignored, though by default the diet tends to be high in protein.

Fat, Dr. Atkins discovered, doesn't make you fat. Carbohydrates— specifically refined carbohydrates and carbohydrates obtained from sugar—make you fat. There are any number of sound reasons why this is so, but they all boil down to the same basic fact:

Human beings evolved at a time in which the refined carbohydrates advocated by government were essentially unknown. What carbohydrates the species ingested came from vegetables and fruit as opposed to bread or artificial sources. Vegetable and fruit carbohydrates— called "dietary fiber" carbohydrates—and are metabolized totally differently than refined or sugar carbs. Indeed, the Atkins Diet excludes dietary fiber carbohydrates from total intake precisely because they have no adverse impact on weight loss or health.

Human beings didn't evolve to eat what the Food Pyramid espouses. They evolved as hunter-gatherers, and the Atkins Diet reflects this.

Once it's understood that the real problem isn't fat or calories but carbohydrates, one discovers that most low-fat foods are actually unhealthy. Food manufacturers discovered that removing fat from their products made them taste terrible: consequently, no one would buy them. To conform to government's edicts without going out of business, manufacturers added flavoring via additional sugar carbohydrates.

For a simple demonstration of this, go to your local grocery store and compare the nutrition labels on any manufacturer's Ranch and Low-Fat Ranch salad dressings. You'll find that the low-fat dressing is, indeed, much lower in fat—but correspondingly much higher in carbohydrates.

Remember, it's not the fat that's making you fat, but the carbohydrates. If you're dieting and pour low-fat dressing on your salad, you're actually making things worse.

As further proof of the myth of the low-fat diet, thirty years after the inception of the FedGov's propaganda, the American Obesity Association reports the following:

"The number of adults who are overweight or obese has continued to increase. Currently, 64.5 percent of U.S. adults, age 20 years and older, are overweight and 30.5 percent are obese. Severe obesity prevalence is now 4.7 percent, up from 2.9 percent reported in 1988."

This is particularly distressing for our children, as the American Obesity Association also finds:

"Approximately 30.3 percent of children (ages 6 to 11) are overweight and 15.3 percent are obese. For adolescents (ages 12 to 19), 30.4 percent are overweight and 15.5 percent are obese."

Via Unconstitutional, immoral policy, government is making us fat. It teaches our children lies about how to stay healthy. Its policies encourage health industries to advise and promote lifestyles that are actively unhealthy.

Low-fat dieting is a fairy tale. It is a myth. It is an urban legend. It is an old wives' tale. It has no more scientific basis than the Flat Earth Theory.

Yet, massive parts of our lives—education, food production, nutrition, medicine,exercise, legal practices, government agencies—are entirely based on it. The myth is so pervasive that even after Dr. Atkins' incontrovertible evidence is presented, most of those in the health care industry refuse to accept it.

Indeed, Dr. Atkins' evidence has generally been met with the same disbelief and derision as Copernicus' claim that the Earth orbits the sun. That's how successful and pervasive government's propagation of the lie of the low-fat diet has been.

Statists will wish to solve this problem by amending government health policy. They'll want to change policy to be low-carbohydrate as opposed to low-fat. Unfortunately, while the theory of low-carbohydrate diet is currently the best one we have, there's no guarantee that it will remain so. As with all fields of scientific endeavor, the evidence currently supports this idea, but at any moment, the next Robert Atkins could produce contrary evidence.

Science is not exact. Enshrining it in government policy absolutely guarantees what happened with the low-fat diet myth. Furthermore, both Constitutionally and from a Zero Aggression Principle perspective, there is absolutely no basis for government to be involved in the setting of public health policy.

Government's notions of what constitutes a healthy diet turn out to be complete fiction. The only way to solve this problem is to remove government from health policy forever. Free individuals are capable of making their own nutritional choices, and the free market will respond to their demands. Until such time as we prohibit government from being involved in medicine or science at any level, we we continue to be a nation of—not lard-butts: carbohydrate-butts.

William Stone, III is a computer nerd (RHCE, CCNP, CISSP) and Executive Director of the Zero Aggression Institute. He seeks the Libertarian Party's nomination for the 2004 Senate race in South Dakota.


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