Taubes on the Hall/NuSI Results

In a recent interview on Jimmy Moore’s Livin La Vida Low-Carb Podcast #1223, Gary Taubes talks about his (in)famous metabolic ward study with Kevin Hall, the state of his non-profit foundation NuSI, and it’s future outlook.

It’s an interesting look into Gary Taubes’ mind, as he’s fairly unguarded in this discussion.  For whatever reason, from his perspective:

  • “To me, the nutrition obesity research community is effectively a noise generating machine.” (As opposed to generating “signal”, i.e., meaningful results.)  [21:35]
  • “I would say virtually everything [went wrong with the Hall study].” [23:30]
  • “They let a $4.5M study be run by someone who […] had done maybe one clinical research experiment in his life.  So, I admire Kevin, and I think he’s an impressive guy.  But from my perspective he didn’t have the experience that we were looking for.  And it wasn’t they way we had hoped it’d turn out.” [23:45]
  • “In this field when researchers publish that contrary to the belief system of the authorities, the authorities tend to ignore it.  So, that’s why you [Jimmy Moore] and I can say things like we believe, things absolutely for certain, and everyone we know believes them, and yet it’s considered quackery by the mainstream community, which doesn’t see the evidence we see.” [24:20]
  • He doesn’t remember being involved in the design of the study’s diets.  [25:20]
  • 8 oz of sugary beverages every-other-day in the high-carb, 20% sugar diet was enough of a reduction to fix the Standard American Diet (SAD), so it was too healthy as the control diet.  [26:45]
  • Because energy balance wasn’t achieved in the run-in diet (as per study design), the experiment was a failure, and the results can’t be interpreted as planned.  [29:45]
  • There was a lot of fighting and disfunction between the investigators and NuSI, where Taubes believed he was more of the theorist, and that the investigators were more of the experimentalists/empiricists.  [15:20]

Gary Taubes doesn’t drive me crazy anymore, as I now understand his perspective, so what he said doesn’t bother me.  (I know he can’t see any evidence opposing his carb-insulin hypothesis and other low-carb beliefs.)  However, he should be careful to not just throw around blame at everyone and excuses for everything, otherwise Occam’s Razor may suggest who’s more likely to be right.  If it was obvious and simply that carbs and insulin, not calories, drove weight gain, it’d have been seen a long time ago.  No tilting at windmills required.