Sloth, Gluttony or Hormones? This house believes hormones, not calories, make us fat

Oxford University Scientific Society

Sheldonian Theatre

The debate will feature Gary Taubes (author and journalist), Professor Philip James (President of the International Association for the Study of Obesity), and Professor Sir Richard Peto (Co-Director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit).

This event is FREE and open to EVERYONE.

Doors open at 18:30; please arrive early to be seated.

For more information on the debate and to register, please visit the OUSS online:


Gary Taubes is an American science writer. He is the author of Nobel Dreams (1987), Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993), and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007), which is titled The Diet Delusion in the UK. He has won the Science in Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers three times and was awarded an MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship for 1996-97.

Born in Rochester, New York, Taubes studied applied physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford (MS, 1978). After receiving a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1981, Taubes joined Discover magazine as a staff reporter in 1982. Since then he has written numerous articles for Discover, Science and other magazines. Originally focusing on physics issues, his interests have more recently turned to medicine and nutrition.


Prof. Philip James trained in physiology, biochemistry and medicine in University College London, UK and had post-graduate training in the UK, in Jamaica with the Medical Research Council and in the US with the Wellcome Trust. He was secretary of the first UK MRC and Dept of Health report on obesity research in 1976, wrote the obesity report for the Royal College of Physicians in 1983, established the MRC Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre in Cambridge building both indirect and direct calorimeters to study energy balance in obesity, chaired the UK’s first public health approach to obesity and later on childhood obesity, chaired the first SIGN guidelines on obesity management and established and ran the International Obesity Task Force for a decade.

He organised the first WHO global analysis of obesity, developed the organisation of the current IASO of which he is President and undertook the first global burden analyses for WHO on obesity 12 years ago. He was the Director of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen for 17 years and is now chief advisor on nutritional aspects of public health initiatives for the regional offices of WHO covering 75 countries.

Chaired by:

Prof. Sir Richard Peto is Professor of Medical Statistics & Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, and director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit. His work has included studies of the causes of cancer, particularly the effects of smoking, and the establishment of large scale randomized trials. He has been instrumental in introducing combined 'meta-analyses' of results from related trials that achieve uniquely reliable assessment of treatment effects.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (for the introduction of meta-analyses) in 1989, and was knighted (for services to epidemiology and to cancer prevention) in 1999.

This event is partially subsidized by Bioline.