Herman Taller

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Herman Taller (5 May 1906, Baia de Aramă - June 1984, Warsaw, Poland)[1] was a Romanian-born American doctor who advocated weight loss based on a low-carbohydrate diet with polyunsaturated fats including safflower oil. He was the author of the controversial best selling book, Calories Don't Count.[2]

The FDA charged that the 1961 book, which cited a specific source of safflower oil capsules in the first printings, existed solely to promote the sales of safflower oil capsules.

In 1962, FDA Commissioner George Larrick said: "This bestselling book was deliberately created and used to promote these worthless safflower oil capsules for the treatment of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and other serious conditions. One of its main purposes was to promote the sale of a commercial product in which Dr. Taller had a financial interest." To this, publisher Simon & Schuster replied: "There is nothing in the record which could possibly support these vicious and irresponsible innuendoes." The FDA's Larrick went further: "The book is full of false ideas, as many competent medical and nutritional writers have pointed out. Contrary to the book's basic premise, weight reduction requires the reduction of caloric intake. There is no easy, simple substitute. Unfortunately, calories do count." [3]

Despite this, the book sold more than two million copies.[4]

Later, after a trial, and an unfavorable appeal on the confusion of the jury instructions about misdemeanors, Taller was found guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy in 1967,[5] fined $7000, placed on probation for two years, and sentencing suspended on some charges.

In the October 1962 pocket book edition of "Calories Don't Count" there is no mention of safflower oil capsules. Safflower oil is mentioned as the oil highest in polyunsaturated fat content at the time of writing. The main component of the diet is polyunsaturated fats; corn oil and sunflower oil are also suggested as good sources. The intake of oil recommended in the book is around 3-4 oz per day.

"What got Taller into trouble with the law was that first printings of the book included an endorsement of a specific manufacturer of safflower oil (CDC capsules), and copies of the book were used to promote the capsules."[3]


  1. ^ https://www.librarything.com/author/tallerherman
  2. ^ Taller, Herman (1961). Calories Don't Count. Simon and Schuster. p. 192.
  3. ^ a b "Calories Do Count". Time. 1962-07-13. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
  4. ^ Edwin McDowell (1981-08-23). "Behind the Best Sellers; Judy Mazel". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
  5. ^ "Twelve-Calorie Count". Time. 1967-05-19. Retrieved 2008-02-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • Stephen Barrett, William T. Jarvis. (1993). The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-855-4
  • Lieselotte Hofmann. (1978). The Great American Nutrition Hassle. Mayfield Publishing Company.