One imagines the world of fad dieting as described by Lewis Caroll in something like Alice In Wonderland: Everything’s topsy turvy and nothing is what it seems. Eating more fatty foods — in a low-carb diet — may now be the best way to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

David Ludwig, director of the Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, has joined a growing number of nutritionists dispeling the notion that good health comes from limiting fat and counting calories overall. Rather, obesity and related ailments are caused by high-carb diets that raise blood sugar levels and send insulin spikes throughout the body.

“We intuitively know that 'eat less, exercise more' doesn’t work," Ludwig says in an editorial. "It’s such simple advice that if it worked, my colleagues and I would be out of a job. The uncomfortable fact is that an exceedingly small number of people can lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off following that advice.”

Journalist Nina Teicholz recommended the same low-carb, high-fat diet in her book, The Big Fat Suprise. "Fat generally — and saturated fat specifically — came to be blamed for causing heart disease, obesity, and cancer," Teicholz wrote. "Eventually this unfounded belief became ingrained as our national dogma. Saturated fat is really not bad for health. The most rigorous diet trials clearly show that a high-fat, low-carb diet is better for fighting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease."

Likewise, Jonathan Bailor recommends the same newfound wisdom in his book, The Calorie Myth. "Stop thinking about calorie quantity and look at food quality," Bailor told the Examiner. "A calorie is not a calorie. Using calories as a guide to what you should eat is like using height to measure intelligence."

Ludwig says the world’s obesity epidemic is largely the result of eating the wrong kinds of foods, echoing the kind of folk wisdom heard at any farmers’ market in America — at least with regard to processed foods. “We have to forget the low-fat paradigm,” Ludwig said. “Some high-fat foods like avocado, nuts, and olive oil are among the healthiest foods we could possibly eat.”

More broadly, Ludwig and like-minded scientists say overeating — otherwise known as gluttony — should be seen as a manifestation of obesity rather than a root cause.

Source: Ludwig D, Friedman M. Increasing Adiposity: Consequence or Cause of Overeating? JAMA. 2014.