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Angry chef: “The idea that overweight have a deficit in personality is ridiculous”

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Why do we really get fat? And what can we do about it? Known for his attacks on the diet industry, “Angry Chef” Anthony Warner is now breaking some myths about obesity. Interview with Rachel Cook.

At times, journalists have heard whether the nickname of the angry chef, who has been blogging since 2015, is ridiculous. Before they meet Anthony Warner, they expect the character they face on the Internet to be a kind of choleric, in which his white apron, metaphorically, is scattered with the blood of false charlatans and scientists who spend his time separating. But at that time, he was walking, a man surrounded by calmness, speaking quietly with a neatly trimmed beard and unmistakable architectural spectacles, and disappointment rising inside her like a boiling pan. Is he about to scream F word in their faces? no he’s not. It will only continue in things like genes, hormones and the difference between a simple and complex problem.

Is temperament really very calm? I’m not sure at all. Warner, a former cook who went to work as a cook for development at Premier Foods, the owner of brands such as Ocho and Mr. Kipling, certainly has a crafty and persistent way of speaking. His determination to avoid generalizations when it comes to talking about diet means that it can be fairly lengthy and a little humorous. Do not swear by anything like himself. However, it is very easy to hinder it. It seems that all kinds of things make him angry, including me. The calm – in fact, not even in the calm – is a huge inverted denier, always looking at the remarkable novels against processed food and fast food. When, for example, I tell a funny story about how Marco Pierre White became angry when she revealed to him in an interview that I often made my own stock – the white, the original angry chef, and then the face of Knorr cubes – it seems that Warner is growing only slightly in his seat. “Well, I feel bad when people break up others to use products,” he says. hang on! I did not cut anyone. “No, but there is a society where people feel guilty to make pasta bread from a jar …” He picks up his knife and his knife, and silently puts around attacking the food on his plate.

Warner, who lives in Nottinghamshire, meets me for lunch at a London restaurant where Schnitzel is with algae – a dish undoubtedly a curse to many, if not most, of the mistakenly “experts” who motivated him for the first time To start writing his blog, since he combines mashed potatoes with cheese to this strong attractive effect. But unfortunately, once he arrives, he ignores it all for 20 minutes or so. The problem is that his new book, which we are here to discuss, falls on this complex and delicate terrain, and talking about it requires his full attention. “It’s a bit confusing,” he says. “When I started my research, I was not sure where to go … The only thing I knew certainly was that people were oversimplified, and this is a subject that completely challenges the simple interpretation.”

The first book by Warner, The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth in Healthy Eating, breaks down every imaginable diet and diet. On the receiving end of his anger, among other things, detoxification and a kind of food fudge carried out by the likes of Himesley Sisters, “Deliciously Ella” Mills and others who worship in the shrine of coconut oil. But these were, as easily recognized, easy targets. His new book, The Truth About Fat, is less focused in that it is impossible to say precisely why obesity levels may rise, or what, if any, can and should be done about it. After Warner has gone through a lot of papers and talked to some of the world’s leading experts, everyone knows that body weight should not be defined, as it is now, as a smoking-like behavior.

“It’s the result of a very complex set of circumstances,” he says. “The idea that will power plays a role, that excess weight has a kind of impotence in the personality … Look at the evidence: this is an ironic position, that is not true, yet we are lawmakers to believe that.” If his book carries a message, Then, it must end with some subtlety, in all its different manifestations. He writes in his book that working to reduce calories for weight loss does not work. Carbohydrates are not the enemy, not sugar. However, we still consider those overweight people lazy and greedy (obviously overweight people, among other things, less likely to be promoted at work, and more likely to be convicted of a crime by a jury) – and even more misery For them, as they embark on another system, it inevitably fails. Why ask, why are not we more kindly? If we know the facts, we will certainly be. “The most shocking statistics I learned during the book were the disorder of over-eating in obesity treatment groups,” he says. “Fifty percent of those who have undergone this procedure [a procedure that treats obesity by reducing the size of the stomach] suffer from it, a condition that is strongly associated with the trauma of childhood,” he said, referring to complex mental health problems. But he continues to worry that the case against him is not repeated more: “If this is a drug, one person among the 200 people who took him is killed, he will not get anywhere close to his description.”

Warner faces a problem with current definitions of obesity. BMI, a figure calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms per square meter in length, is thought to be a very sharp tool to be useful (you are alerted to being obese if your BMI is between 30 and 35). When in 1997 the World Health Organization moved the body mass index (BMI) for a person of normal weight from 27 to 25 years, millions of people woke up to find that they had a health problem; this change was thought to be based on questionable data. More importantly, he questions the concept of “obesity epidemic”. Such a language is not useful, not least because it suggests that the race is on a “cure” when there is no such thing. Moreover, while the population may be in a state of weight, there is evidence to suggest that obesity, far from being an epidemic, has mostly affected only a few vulnerable individuals.

The factors involved in gaining weight are complex and intertwined in such complex and still far-fetched ways, but it is impossible to summarize them (for all Warner’s efforts to be as clear as possible to the average reader, 330 pages of his book probably best described as rubber). During lunch, I go to make it talk about some of these in one sentence or so. Sometimes, he can. Sometimes, simply can not. On the subject of genes, for example, evidence is (relatively) direct: “Body weight is one of the most inherited traits ever studied,” he says. “Heredity accounts for about 70% of the reasons why a person may become an addict.” But when we move on to hormones, things become more complicated. Historically, the greatest danger to humans was famine. We have an existing system, and when our body believes that it does not get enough food, this hormonal system begins. It is almost impossible to overcome. It is as strong as the desire to breathe. “If you talk to me through this system now, maybe we’ll stay here at dinner time.

In the exercise, even if people are more independent than they used to be in the past, they are not sure that we are – but it is very difficult to spend more calories than they consume. “We have to run for an hour and a half to burn the meal we eat now,” he says, looking at steaks and chips. If we exercise more, it is believed that it will make a big difference to our health – to our mental health, to the formation of our bodies in terms of muscles – but not necessarily to our weight. Nor is it the idea of banning meals from working in the vicinity of schools. “It would be better if we could work with companies to improve their diet,” he said, adding that many fried chicken links still use hydrogenated vegetable oils, which would be easy to block without any impact on the quality of their food. Find “resentful that young people like to hang on to it … it is culturally driven.”

Warner, the son of an accountant at Hertford Shire, who worked as a chef after enjoying his kitchen functions as a biochemist in Manchester, thinks processed food can have the same value as any other type of food. We make a mistake in believing that something is made from scratch “better” or healthier. Do you cook from scratch at home? (He and his partner have a small daughter). “When I started working at Premier Foods (after becoming a writer, still consulting), after 20 years of work, it was It’s amazing to know the “challenges” people face when cooking at home. “I spent a lot of time working in focus groups and going to people’s homes, and most people know more than we give them. They know how to roast chicken – and even if they do not, the reasons will not change unless their social and economic conditions change. The number of times you’ve heard famous chefs tell people to buy cheap pieces of meat and cook them slowly! These recipes are written by someone who has no idea what it’s like to watch your electricity. “I have the impression that he thinks a special place in hell is reserved for these people – I’m not sure who they are, but they certainly seem to think they exist – who think that obesity will solve almost overnight if everyone knows how to” make their own chickpeas. ”

However, all of this definitely leaves us a problem. If the message eventually passes through these diets and exercise, and that many of our problems lie in our genes, why bother anyone to do anything to change their lifestyle? Warner has no answer to this, except to tell him that he only hopes to help people accept the complexity of weight gain, that we need better information and fewer false prophets, and to insist that he does not. We want to minimize the idea of obesity. “I know this will be framed as follows:” You do not care about the health of the nation, you only care about paying your rewards in big food. “But I think there are serious problems, even if they are not necessarily people who are thinking.”

He is not sure that the message will ever pass. Just look at me: I have read his book, yet I still ask about my belligerent Protestant questions about restraint (not to mention how I like to get off the bus stopped earlier, better to try to shrink my bum). It is the same bad, somehow. As he is fully prepared to admit, if he starts to get fat, it is almost certain that he will start to follow the same diet. (Warner, incidentally, was always weak – which he never shared, thanks to his genes, in any effort on his part). It is, he says, part of the human condition that we hold to the ideas we know in our hearts that are worthless to the novels that are little more than the result of a certain type of brainwashing. In this sense, every human being is like some people who tend to attack them. “We want short clips,” he says. “We are looking at a diet, and we think: to look OK, I only have one cut or the other, and we try it.” He eats the last Schnitzel tip. Unsurprisingly, given the role of our conversation, he seems to have no fun at all.

The truth about fat (Oneworld, £ 14.99) is posted on January 10. Order it for £ 13.19 from guardianbookshop.com