How People Get Fat
“You’re fat because you eat too much.”
True of False? Through the continuous repetition of a very natural cognitive error, the above quote has come to encapsulate the popular notion, extremely prevalent in our culture, that obesity is caused by eating too much.
It’ll make sense to you, too, so long as you promise not to think too hard about it. Just observe fat people; look at how much fucking food they’re eating!
True story: I was in line at a CVS a few weeks ago and witnessed a morbidly obese man purchasing one of those big packages of Oreos. You know, the ones with three columns, maybe 15-20 cookies per column.
He was about six spots ahead of me in line. He paid, left, and took a seat on a bench right outside the store. By the time I had paid for my merchandise and exited, he had finished two full columns of the cookies and was ambitiously eyeing the third column of now-quite-nervous-looking treats. This guy was in it to win it!
Most people who are stuck in the “you’re fat because you eat too much” paradigm would witness this and find irrefutable confirmation of their beliefs. No wonder this dude is so fat! Look at how many calories he just ate in one sitting!
However, just because 1) he’s fat and 2) he eats a ton of food does not necessarily mean that he’s fat because he eats a ton of food.
There’s surely a fancy latin name for this fallacy, and you bet your sweet ass I spent the 45 seconds to Google that shit! It’s “cum hoc, ergo propter hoc,” which literally means, “I’m too drunk to taste these olives.”
Seriously, it means “with this, therefore because of this.” A classic example is:
“A high concentration of police cars causes crime.” It’s obvious, really. If you flew a helicopter over a low-crime area, you would quickly see that there are almost no police cars anywhere. But if you flew over a high-crime, bad part of town, you would notice a whole lot of police cars; one on almost every block, in fact. Having concluded that police cars cause crime, you’d think, “No wonder there’s so much crime here; just look at all those police cars!” It’s consistent, repeatable, and therefore must be true. But, as we know, just because there is 1) high crime and 2) a lot of squad cars does not necessarily mean that there’s high crime because there are a lot of squad cars. By concluding that the police presence is causing the crime, you have committed the same mental error as the person who thinks that the overeating is causing the obesity.
It’s equally as silly as, “Playing basketball makes you taller,” “Becoming a professional racehorse jockey makes you thinner,” and “Getting a job in porn will make your Crank huge, bro.”
It’s a mistake of cause and effect.
The mistake: “You’re fat because you eat too much.”
The truth: “You eat too much because you’re getting fatter.”
What actually happens in an otherwise-healthy person with a Carbohydrate Allergy is this: they eat chronically-excessive amounts of carbohydrate. This causes a hormonal situation, primarily mediated through the actions of the hormone Insulin, that causes the person’s fat tissue to begin absorbing energy and increasing its stores while simultaneously keeping any energy already stored from being released for use by the rest of the body. In effect, the fat tissue is “hogging” the energy that’s coming in.
So the energy (food) is intended for its End Users (muscles, bones, organs, connective tissues, etc.) but in the presence of elevated Insulin levels gets shunted instead into the fat tissue. The End Users, having not received any food energy and unable to access existing body fat reserves (because Insulin inhibits this process), send out signals that they still need food. The person experiences these signals as “hunger,” becomes “hungry,” and eats more. But some of this food is also, in the presence of elevated insulin, shunted into the fat tissue instead of going where it’s needed.
How Someone With A Carbohydrate Allergy Gets Fat
- The fat tissue hogs food energy intended for End Users and increases in size; you become fatter.
- The End Users cannot access your own body fat stores to make up the difference.
- Because the End Users have not received sufficient energy, you become ravenous.
- Because you are ravenous, you (over)eat.
- Because not all that energy gets to your End Users (see #3), and they still cannot access your own body fat, you remain ravenous.
- Because you are still ravenous, you (over)eat.
#1, or “becoming fatter,” causes you to overeat. You overeat because you’re getting fatter.
So what causes #1? High levels of insulin. What causes that? Carbohydrate, primarily.
Keep in mind that this process only takes place in those with a Carbohydrate Allergy. Looking at our nationwide obesity numbers, I would put this at just over half the population, maybe 60% or so. So this whole process doesn’t really apply to those without a Carbohydrate Allergy, like your skinny friends, or you if you’ve always been thin.
The obese do not suffer from a moral defect. Being lazy and overeating are the effects of their obesity. They have vast stores of energy that they cannot access in the presence of elevated insulin levels. So their bodies lower their energy output (“sloth”) and increase their hunger signals (“gluttony”) to compensate for this energy deficit. The obese eat like they do because they are starving on the inside.
Berating, harassing, and condemning a starving person for eating a lot of food is not only wrong, but even worse: it doesn’t even make any sense.
As I watched this fat guy destroy the third and final column of Oreos, I did not judge him as morally weak, a glutton, or someone who just didn’t care. Just like all of us, he’s a human animal. And he was literally starving. His End Users were calling out powerfully for him to eat more. He couldn’t have used his willpower to deny himself food any more than you or I can use our willpower to hold in our piss for ten days or hold our breath for ten minutes. Eventually, you’re gonna pee. Eventually, you’re gonna exhale. And eventually, the hunger wins. Every time.
You’re not fat because you eat too much; you eat too much because you’re getting fatter.