“Fat Head Kids” by Tom Naughton

I remember my elementary school teacher handing out ditto-machine[1] outline drawings of the “Four Food Groups” for us to color (within the lines, of course). By my skillful hand, dull outlines of dairy products, meats, fruits & vegetables, and grains became artwork destined for the Louvre, or at least for the front of our refrigerator. I remember, too, that my mother, wittingly or unwittingly, packed lunches that tended to include the four food groups. A sandwich on white bread, an apple, some potato chips, and maybe a Chips Ahoy cookie was the typical fare. All of it washed down with a couple of cartons of milk (typically chocolate) at the wallet-busting price of $0.06 per half-pint.

Elementary and middle school peppered us with the “Four Food Groups” messages using every medium available to 1970’s educators. By the time we entered high school, we had heard so many times that we should include foods from each food group in every meal that we were numb to the message. The bigger problem, however, was that the message was shallow and wrong. The four food groups were politically-driven—“dairy” at the behest of the dairy industry, with obvious intentions; “grains” at the insistence of the USDA, whose stated goal is to promote the sale of grains; and who knows what other puppet masters behind the scenes? For all its intense repetition, the pyramid-shaped nutritional messages beamed into our brains had very little to do with our health and far more to do with politics and special interests.

Fortunately, the days of special interests and politically-driven nutritional advice are behind us. The guidance given to our school children by educators and nutritionists today is based upon sound science and is focused solely on what is best for the children.

No, of course it isn’t.

The nutritional advice today is even more of an abysmal joke than it was in the 1970’s. The faces have changed (the four food groups have given way to “My Plate”) but politics, bad science, and special interests are even more pervasive (and insidious) than they were decades ago.[2]

Here we are, more than 40 years later, and our society still cannot manage to produce instructional material to teach our children the fundamentals of how the body responds to eating well versus eating poorly and what the principles of a healthful diet entail.

Until now, that is. And it took Tom Naughton to do it.

Entitled Fat Head Kids—Stuff About Diet and Health I Wish I Knew When I Was Your Age, Tom Naughton’s latest creation is, quite literally, the book I wish I had read when I was in middle school.[3] Moreover, it’s the book about nutrition that I wish everyone had read in middle school. If they had, we probably wouldn’t be a nation of obese, diabetic, heart patients today.

Unlike the USDA’s “My Plate” drivel that tries to appeal to youngsters but falls painfully short, Fat Head Kids is fun and engaging from the beginning. And by “beginning,” I mean the cover itself. Illustrated by Tom’s wife Chareva, Fat Head Kids‘ illustrations enhance Tom’s already excellent content.

Naughton’s book begins by attacking the “gluttony and sloth” model of obesity, wherein the overweight are shamed into believing that losing weight is a matter of will. Naughton uses this initial chapter to introduce, and dispel, the simplistic calories-in/calories-out model that has caused so much frustration to so many. Assuaging the reader’s “guttony and sloth” guilt at the beginning of the book is a wise and considerate move.

Utilizing a lighthearted, space-themed approach, Fat Head Kids then introduces the reader to the spaceship Nautilus, a mechanical analogue to the human body. The Nautilus, along with entertaining characters that include a pointy eared canine science officer named Mr. Spot and the ship’s doctor, Dr. Fishbones, teaches the science behind healthy and unhealthy eating. The science is approachable and does a wonderful, and all too rare, service to the book’s adolescent audience: It treats kids like they have a brain. Instead of simply hammering an unsubstantiated “eat this, not that” message, Fat Head Kids makes a scientific case for eating well and an equally compelling case against eating the way today’s “experts” endorse.

Journeying through space on the Nautilus, we not only learn about the science of healthy and unhealthy eating, we learn about the politics of nutritional advice and about the social and political forces that drove scientists away from the scientific method and into the arms of special interests and misguided love for failed theories. Once again, Naughton strives to inform his reader, rather than offer unsubstantiated dogma like the kind that has, for too long, passed for science.

Wisely, Naughton concludes Fat Head Kids with a chapter entitled It’s Perfectly Good to be Good Instead of Perfect. Espousing a “perfect is the enemy of good” philosophy, the last chapter reminds the reader that simple changes, like avoiding refined sugars, vegetable oils, and grains, will have a profound impact on one’s life. Naugton reminds his young readers that life is a journey to be savored and cherished and worrying about having a perfect body or looking like a supermodel isn’t what’s important about life. Having a body healthy enough to enjoy life is what’s important.

I’m thrilled that Tom Naughton has written Fat Head Kids. Nature, they say, abhors a vacuum and there is indeed a vacuum in the world of sage nutritional advice for adolescents. Kids today are too sophisticated for superficial advice without merit or substantiation. Fat Head Kids teaches, not preaches.

I hope this book becomes part of every middle school curriculum. At the very least, I hope it flies off the shelves and finds its way into households all over the modern world.

And in a final note: During the recent Low Carb Cruise lecture series, Tom previewed an animated version of Fat Head Kids that is planned for release this fall. If you liked the style of the movie Fat Head and you love the content of Fat Head Kids, you’re going to love the movie Fat Head Kids. (And the highest praise I can offer is that Fat Head Kids, the movie, scored very favorably among the middle school-aged movie reviewers that I spoke to on the cruise.)

Fat Head Kids cover

Fat Head Kids is the book I wish I had read as a kid.

 

 

 

[1] Those of you who remember a ditto machine probably remember staying within the purple lines while coloring various drawing sheets that the teachers handed out. Learning about money? Color a ditto machine page featuring outlines of money. Learning about mammals? Color a ditto machine page of lions and tigers. You get the idea. And, of course, the favorite part of the day was the mildly hallucinogenic odor of the freshly printed ditto machine pages.

[2] I say more insidious becuse I don’t recall experts in the 1970s recommending statins for school children.

[3] Those of you familiar with my work know I’m a fan of Tom Naughton. I became a fan of his after seeing his wonderful documentary “Fat Head” and even more of a fan after getting to know him and learning what a great guy he is. When I wrote my book, “Don’t Die Early,” Tom reviewed it very favorably and he’s blogged for years, serving a wealth of information to his followers on diet, nutrition, and the politics of food. This is all to say that I’m certainly biased in favor of Tom and his work. That said, if I didn’t like “Fat Head Kids” I’m certainly not going to say otherwise.

Interviewed on Wendy Myers’ Liveto110.com

I had the great pleasure of meeting Wendy Myers on the recent Low-Carb Cruise. Her presentation on Obesegens: Chemicals That Make You Fat was an eye-opening overview of the many disruptive chemicals in our environments and in our foods.

My subject of my talk on the Low-Carb Cruise was the legislative, economic, and sometimes violent attacks against America’s independent farmers. After the cruise, Wendy asked if she could interview me for a video podcast on her web site and the podcast has been posted, video and text. (You won’t hurt my feelings if you read the transcript instead of suffering through my first video podcast.)

Thanks again to Wendy Myers for the interview! While you’re there, check out the great information throughout liveto110.com.

Your Primal Body: A User Manual for a Healthier Life

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 8.12.19 PM

It’s no secret to my readers that I wrote Don’t Die Early to help others streamline their journey from ill health to better health. What started as a personal mission became a desire to spare others the frustration and effort of wading through a seemingly endless parade of myths, misconceptions, and half-truths.

In a similar vein, Your Primal Body, written by certified fitness trainer and former competitive body builder Mikki Reilly, aims to be a handbook for replacing an unhealthy lifestyle with a healthier one. But unlike some “get fit” books that focus solely on fitness or diet, Your Primal Body effectively captures the essence of both. Better still, it does so without being heavy handed or unrealistic.

Continue reading

Grain Brain: Another Nail in Grain’s Coffin

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter deals another blow to the "grains are good" lie

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter deals another blow to the “grains are good” lie.

First there was Wheat Belly, a scathing indictment by cardiologist Dr. William Davis on the harm caused by today’s modern wheat, even exulted whole grains. In Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis warned of us heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and neurological problems, all caused by wheat. Dr. Davis cites NIH studies showing wheat proteins binding to the brain’s opioid receptors, altering behavior and increasing appetite.

Now, acclaimed neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter continues the highly justified grain bashing with Grain Brain, a book that promises to reveal the truth about “wheat, carbs, and sugar—your brain’s silent killers.”

Continue reading

Defining a New Disease Condition: Dr. Bill Wilson and the Carbohydrate Associated Reversible Brain Syndrome (CARB Syndrome)

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has spent time on this blog, or to anyone who had read Don’t Die Early, that I believe most of today’s modern diseases are the product of our unfavorable lifestyle decisions and, in fact, result from the small set of root causes, like poorly controlled glucose levels and rampant inflammation.

It’s also no secret, either, that I think most mainstream clinicians are too inclined to wait for diseases to manifest instead of focusing on prevention. (See my rant on preventive cardiac care for an example of how misguided standard clinical guidelines can be.)

Fortunately for all of us, there are some great physicians out there who see the bigger picture. They think like scientists and look beyond the symptoms to identify root cause instead of just writing a prescription and moving on.

One such physician is Dr. Bill Wilson, founder of the CARB Syndrome Project. The CARB Syndrome is Dr. Wilson’s name for an array of neurological maladies induced by overconsumption of high glycemic foods. As Dr. Wilson points out, the average person’s sugar intake 100 years ago was one pound per year. Today it’s 150 pounds per year. The human body, especially the brain, cannot withstand that glucose assault without being harmed. This harm manifests itself as “depression, ADHD, autism, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, bipolar II, anxiety disorders and others.” In other words, many of the disease that have become household words today.

Continue reading

“Don’t Die Early” Reviewed by Tom Naughton, Creator of “Fat Head”

Tom Naughton, the creator of the documentary Fat Head has just posted a review of Don’t Die Early. Tom was kind enough to review a draft of Don’t Die Early and provide a blurb for the back cover and web site. Thank you, Tom. I’m honored by your review.

If you haven’t checked out Fat Head, buy it from Tom’s site. If you have seen Fat Head, consider buying some extra copies as gifts.