David L. Katz has a sterling pedigree in the world of medicine: He is Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. Dr. Katz writes extensively and often controversially about topics in health, especially around diet and nutrition. His articles are almost always “different” in their take and equally entertaining and engaging. His latest piece, Fed Up, Confused, and Still Eating is really worth a read. He makes the analogy between sex and eating as powerful biological drives, the former under strict social control and the latter, run amuck:

So there you have it: being hungry is like being horny, but with no rules.

Katz goes on to deal with and put to rest the bogus issue of willpower:

Clearly, lack of will power does not explain epidemic obesity. There is no basis in either science or sense to infer that the current crop of 7-year-olds lacks will power that every prior cohort had – yet they are much more subject to obesity and diabetes. Kids are much the same as they ever were; their environment has changed. So, no, will power is not the cause.

As a public health expert, Katz’s view is necessarily 30,000 ft. He looks at obesity as an interplay between personal choices and environmental context, i.e., what’s available to eat. The two are an inseparable gestalt of foreground and background. His ongoing attack on those who rehash old theories while dismissing recent evidence is also significant. Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, have all been around in various incarnations for 100 years or more. Katz points out that singling out individual foods as culprits, even sugar, is a distraction from the real challenge.

But we are NOT clueless about the basic care and feeding of Homo sapiens, and much of the apparent debate is all heat and no light. Of course calories and energy balance matter, but just as obviously- so do the sources of that energy.

An important read. have a look.