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With a heavy heart, we share the news of Dr. John McDougall’s passing. A visionary physician and author, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, mentor and friend, Dr. McDougall died peacefully at his home on Saturday, June 22nd, at the age of 77.

The Cause of Obesity

The fundamentals of the McDougall Program are simple yet often difficult to implement. Learn about the 12-Day McDougall Program - a life-saving medical program that empowers participants with the knowledge and practical steps needed to live a vibrant, long life. For questions on whether a change in diet can help your ailment, learn more about our consultations.
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It’s estimated that, in 1987, 34 million people in the United States between the ages of 20 and 75 were overweight. A sizable percentage of these people go on one reducing diet after another, and exercise strenuously every day in order to keep whatever shape they’ve managed to attain.

In plain and simple terms, the cause of obesity is:

  1. Eating too much of foods that are too concentrated in calories. Especially the fats and oils which are present in natural foods or are added to foods being prepared for the table. “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.
  2. Not eating enough starches, because of the mistaken notion that “starches make you fat.” The carbohydrate in starches satisfies the hunger drive. Fat offers very little satisfaction for the hunger drive.
  3. Not enough exercise.


Switch to foods that provide fewer calories and more fibers. A change to a diet of starches, vegetables, and fruits will allow you to eat twice as much, as measured by volume, and yet take in only half as many calories as you did while stuffing yourself with the dishes offered by the rich American diet. As an added bonus, you’re eating helpful, healthful foods that contain no cholesterol and no additives, lots of fibers and clean-burning carbohydrates, and moreover, all low in fats and in sodium content.

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    Switch immediately to a starch-based diet. Eat, eat, and eat. All that you can hold. In fact, the more you eat the healthier and trimmer you will be. Why? When your stomach’s full you will be less tempted to cheat with treacherous goodies that hold too many calories. To lose weight faster, eliminate bread at first, and keep fruits to less than 3 per day. Instead eat more squash, white potatoes, corn, and rice. Green and yellow vegetables, like carrots, wax beans, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, zucchini, and onions are ideal for weight loss because of their very low calorie concentrations. Enjoy them liberally. And don’t forget to exercise. Daily.

    For a complete discussion of weight control see The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss by Plume/Penguin 1994.

  • References

    McCarty, A. The unique merits of a low-fat diet for weight control. Med Hypotheses 20:183, 1986

    Lampam, R. Exercise as a partial therapy for the extremely obese. Med Sci Sports Exerc 18:19, 1986