Why do we get fat? In conversation with the Angry Chef

Sunday 3 November, 16:0017:15, Auditorium 1In conversation with dissidents...

Trying to lose weight has been a preoccupation for many people for a long time. William Banting’s Letter on Corpulence was a bestseller back in 1863. Newspapers and magazines ever since have featured adverts and articles for one miracle cure after another. The volume of new diet books and workout videos offering exciting approaches to losing the flab never seems to diminish. But there’s no risk of any magic solution putting the diet industry out of business because there has never been a consistently successful way to fight the flab.

Anthony Warner, author of The Truth About Fat, has not come to sell us a diet book but to damn the whole idea there is any simple way to get skinny. Warner came to prominence through his blog, The Angry Chef, and with a book of the same name published in 2017. His aim is to expose the bad science around healthy eating. In his latest book, Warner takes the same critical approach to the obesity crisis, which he argues is exaggerated. Indeed, he writes, the scaremongering about obesity has led to untold prejudice, moralism and misery for fat people.

Warner disputes the idea that obesity is the result of a lack of willpower or that it can be solved by the evidence-lite musings of skinny, well-to-do celebrities. Diets tend to fail in the long run, our bodies being resistant to attempts at semi-starvation. Instead, he argues that obesity is a complex problem involving recently discovered hormones, genetics and other factors. Simplistic advice to ‘eat less, move more’ is doomed to failure, he says – tragically so for those whose obesity is serious and disabling.

Is obesity something we should all be worrying about? Why do some people get extremely fat while others remain skinny without effort? What, if anything, should policymakers be doing about the ‘obesity crisis’?