The Big Fat Lie

Ms. Teicholz’s book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet," will be soon published. Her WSJ article The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease offers some convincing history of why we came to accept as conventional wisdom that a saturated fat diet causes heart disease.  It seems that Dr. Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota and the leading advocate of the low fat diet used some very faulty methods to put forth his case in the early 1950s.  Those faulty methods were not scrutinized until 2002 –  too late to put that horse back in the barn - and the data was inaccurate.

The ball started rolling, Dr. Keys made the cover of Time when people used to read it and he landed position in the fledgling American Heart Association. They adopted his position and eventually so did the US government.  It was based on flawed data!

What were the unintended consequences?  From the article above:

“One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we're eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin - hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.”

The conclusion: “Our half-century effort to cut back on the consumption of meat, eggs and whole-fat dairy has a tragic quality. More than a billion dollars have been spent trying to prove Ancel Keys's hypothesis, but evidence of its benefits has never been produced. It is time to put the saturated-fat hypothesis to bed and to move on to test other possible culprits for our nation's health woes.”

New Orleans Personal Trainer  and Austin TX Personal Trainer