Peter Attia: Rethinking healthy eating

Peter Attia is a surgeon who struggled with being overweight even though he was active and fit. But he was eating a conventionally approved low-fat diet which was high in refined grains and carbohydrates. Once he flipped his diet to high-fat/low-carb, he dropped forty pounds. Now he has devoted his career to discovering answers to the most challenging questions about how to live a healthy life and spreading that knowledge to give others better lives.

This moving TED Talk tells a bit about his journey, but it focuses primarily on the probability that our assumed understanding of the roots of the obesity epidemic are completely wrong.

Astonishing facts from Dr. Attia’s web site:

  • 34% of Americans are obese and two thirds are overweight.  This represents more than a 200% increase from 1970.

  • Over 8% of Americans are diabetic, and if you include those undiagnosed, an additional 26% of Americans are pre-diabetic.  This represents more than a 400% increase from 1970.

  • Every 7 seconds someone in the world dies from a diabetic complication (this is not a typo).

  • Diabetes is also the leading cause of stroke, blindness, kidney failure requiring transplantation, all amputations combined, and many other medical problems.

  • According to McKinsey & Company, reducing the U.S. obesity rate to 15% (that of 1970) would save approximately $150 billion per year in Medicare spending alone, and close to $500 billion per year in overall U.S. healthcare spending.

  • A recent study in Obesity estimates that by 2030, 50% of Americans will be obese and 79% will be overweight.

  • The U.S. spends over $2.7 trillion per year on healthcare – nearly 19% of our GDP, and more than any other country.  Even if no other aspect of our spending increases in the next 20 years, the cost of healthcare alone will bankrupt us as a country.

As I’m being more mindful of what I eat this summer, Dr. Attia’s perspective just strengthens my resolve.