April 4, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Gary Taubes/Obesity

I was impressed by your line by line refutation of the Taubes supporter.

You quote Gina Kolata of the NYTimes - "[Gary Taubes] ignores definitive studies done in the 1950s and ’60s by Jules Hirsch of Rockefeller University and Rudolph Leibel of Columbia."

Maybe my research skills stink but I can't find any study done by Hirsch and Leibel dating to the 1950s or 1960s.

Have you read it yourself?

-- "RicoVado"
Via the blog

Allow me to point you in the right direction.

The actual studies are a little hard to access unless you have access to various medical and nutrition journals, but there are other ways to get informed.

This 2007 International Herald Tribune article excellently summarizes Hirsch's (pictured at left) research from the late 1950s.

This short article from the National Institutes of Health archives
discusses Leibel's findings (the quintessential "a calorie is a calorie" philosophy that Taubes loves to refute).


RicoVado said...


Those were helpful tertiary sources, but I was kind of interested in knowing if you've read the study itself.

I can't find it. I do have access to medical and nutrition journals - they are all online, and anyone can access them for about $8 per article - and I still can't find this report. Nothing from Hirsch and Leibel in 1950s or 1960s.

I have just basic questions about the study - how big was the study (how many people tested) etc - but I can't find that out without finding the original report.

Have you read it? Can you say how big the sample was, duration, etc?

Anonymous said...

Rudolph Leibel and Jules Hirsch published the study in 1992. The abstract is here:


For more information, see Taubes's response to Kolata's review:


Is Taubes correct about the carbohydrate hypothesis? I'm not certain. But I do know that he is not a crank, and his book is a highly impressive piece of scholarship. Refuting his arguments is far from a slam-dunk.