Letters The science of obesity

Energy imbalance in obesity is not “just a hypothesis”

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f3079 (Published 22 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3079
  1. John S Garrow, former University of London professor1
  1. 1South Cave, East Yorkshire HU15, UK
  1. garrow{at}garrow.karoo.co.uk

Taubes does not believe that obesity is related to energy imbalance—he says that is “just a hypothesis” because it depends on evidence that is “substandard science.”1 It is true that clinical trials published in 1907 were poor science because the energy intake was not measured reliably. However, in 1970-88 a group of clinical scientists at the Medical Research Council at Harrow published data from what was at that time the world’s best equipped unit for research on human obesity and related diseases.

Taubes and Peter Attia are planning to fund high quality research about obesity. Perhaps they should read the Harrow data before they start.

The evidence produced by the Harrow group convinced me that obesity is caused by an energy imbalance.2 If Taubes and Attia were also convinced that it is not just a hypothesis, but hard evidence, it might save them a lot of money.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3079


  • Competing interests: None declared.