A Brief History of (Body) Fat & Why We Hate It

“There’s no analogy in the natural world for what we’ve done to ourselves, we’re in unchartered territory”

So much information is concisely packed into this documentary it leaves the viewer gagging for more, like a carb addict on a bowl of popcorn.

Evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University gives his views on positive and negative energy balance and the cloning and identification in 1995 of leptin (the hormone that fat cells create that ‘talk’ to the brain).

Biochemist and Physician at the University of Cambridge Stephen O’Rahilly, discusses the depiction of beauty in the works of Rubens, how in reality a fat cell is like a fried egg on a beach ball filled with triglyceride and how recent discoveries meant that in one fell swoop, the fat cell went from being one of the most boring cells in the world to being an intelligent member of the neuroendocrine signalling community.

Cell Biologist Bruce Spiegelman of Harvard University looks at mammalian adaption through evolution and environment and how fat gave humans a big advantage in being able to colonise hostile environments. He also reveals how our bodies burn fat as energy, likening the process to a burning a candle and pointing out that a fat molecule is virtually identical to a gasoline (petrol) molecule but cleaving off two carbons at a time and putting them into the Krebs cycle (which I have never seen so beautifully illustrated/animated) allocating the resulting components to a variety of functions.

The fourth quarter of the documentary looks at how excess body fat creates low-level inflammation, affecting insulin signalling and leading to diabetes. O’Rahilly describes the process by giving it the analogy of an overflowing bath and the resulting wet carpet is the diabetes saying, “You’re better off having a big bath” pointing out that some people can become incredibly obese but show no signs of diabetes because they are able to create a huge amount of fat cells to store the excess energy.

Some readers have mentioned that their browsers have trouble showing embedded videos, so here is a direct link


2 Replies to “A Brief History of (Body) Fat & Why We Hate It”

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this with us, David Roberts! How easy (or hard) was it for you to find a balance between eating as healthy as you can and a “normal” life (if life can be called normal)?


    1. Thanks for the comment. I have found it surprisingly easy to eat a low carb diet. My biggest worry when starting was that as I love to cook, I would have limited ingredients. The opposite was the case as I have discovered so many new ingredients as alternatives.

      Liked by 1 person

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