Everything you think you know about nutrition is wrong, says writer and researcher Gary Taubes. Billionaire John Arnold, ranked 129th on Forbes’ list of wealthiest Americans, has taken notice of Taubes’ certainty, and is giving millions to find out what is actually true about how food affects humans.
His charitable organization formed with his wife, the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, is providing the seed money to fund the newly launched Nutrition Science Initiative – a non-profit dedicated to finding out definitively what constitutes a healthy diet.
As reported by NPR, NuSi’s mission is to discover what causes obesity and, through that, to reduce the epidemic of obesity in America. Its founders, one of whom is Taubes (pictured right), question the conventional wisdom that consuming less fat equals weight loss.
Taubes, author of the New York Times Bestseller Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories, says current federal dietary guidelines and recommendations about physical activity are based on flimsy scientific studies and may actually be making us fat instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle.
For instance, at the base of the food guide pyramid is carbohydrates, like bread, grains, and pasta. At the top is fats, which are to be eaten sparingly. So, a low-fat diet would necessarily be high in carbohydrates. That’s what the medical world has told Americans to eat for decades – but what has happened? Obesity has continued to skyrocket, as well as obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which used to be called “adult-onset diabetes” but cannot anymore because of its prevalence in obese children.
NuSi wants to get to the root of this issue to discover what foods are healthy and which ones truly are not through unbiased, long-term research studies. The initiative is not funded by the food industry, unlike many other organizations that study nutrition and therefore get skewed results.
Which brings us back to Arnold. How did a 38-year-old former hedge fund manager decide to donate $5 million of his foundation’s money to such an unorthodox organization bent on shaking what the scientific community believes about food? He heard a podcast interview of Taubes and became intrigued.
As his foundation’s website, arnoldfoundation.org, states, “Philanthropists should take an active role in their own projects.” There’s not many roles more active to take than figuring out if what you and the majority of the population is eating is making us fat and shortening our lifespans.