Standing on giants

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Tim Hauserman found the inspiration for his first story for us, “Fat? So?” (Dec. 27, 2007), right here in this column: “Goal to go” (Nov. 1, 2007). Both Tim’s and my story generated reader inspiration which appeared on the letters page and on our website in the form of readers’ comments.

Tim’s article further inspired me to assign a story based on the book Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I chose Tim for the story because I knew his opinions on what made people obese, so he was naturally a skeptic—in fact, he believed so much in the calories-in-versus-calories-out model that he was inspired to write a story that said, “Fat people need to eat less and exercise more.”

I’d recommend anyone who believes they know a lot about diet to read Taubes’ book. I’ll warn you from the outset, though, it’s not a diet book. It is an examination of the science of diet beginning in about the middle of the 19th century. You have to have an attention span and a half just to get through it. I only read it because a couple of my smart acquaintances recommended it. But I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who’s curious or may be beginning to suffer the ill effects of diabetes, heart disease or gout. I gave copies to two important people in my life who I think might benefit from knowing a little about the shoddiness of the science behind how nutritionists tell people to eat.

By the way, I do want people to know that they are not going to find all the answers in Taubes’ book. There are some things that don’t line up with what I’ve seen in my own life. But when people are trying to decide how to preserve the quality of their life through what they eat and drink, it’s a great starting point. I’m looking forward to the dialogue this story generates, and I’d encourage everyone to post their points of view in the readers’ comments areas on the website. And I bet that’ll inspire someone else to write in, too.