It is funny how significant health news sometimes does not get covered. This happens mainly when it goes against current orthodoxy push health authorities or if it lacks a drug company to drive the publicity.
You may recall that earlier this year the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee announced it no longer considered cholesterol a “nutrient of concern”. The full version of the guidelines has now been released and there is another huge change. No longer is there a recommendation to limit fat intake in the diet. Put more formally there is no upper limit set as to the daily intake of fat.
If the fat is bad brigade didn’t have a heart attack last time you can expect it now. Although more likely they will squeal about how lives will be lost and how dare anyone question the orthodoxy according to them. Much like the hysteria over the Catalyst program in 2013, which questioned the over use of statin medications.
Studies have consistently showed no correlation between fats in the diet and any form of disease. The only type of diet consistently shown to have a positive impact is the Mediterranean diet. Yet the fat is bad mantra has become ingrained. It has also been profitable, as foods labeled low fat, despite being high in sugar and worse for us, have been sold with a health aura and even a tick sometimes.
A paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association has highlighted this issue, noting the guidelines on diet that come out every five years, are based on a review of the scientific literature. The report states that, “Reducing total fat (replacing total fat with overall carbohydrates) does not lower CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk… Dietary advice should put the emphasis on optimizing types of dietary fat and not reducing total fat.”
These fairly dry statements end the nearly 40-year reign that fat is bad and should be limited in our diets.
JAMA are quite damning. “Based on years of inaccurate messages about total fat, a 2014 Gallup poll shows that a majority of US residents are still actively trying to avoid fat while eating far too many refined carbohydrates”.
In the quote above you can easily substitute residents of Australia, UK or most other countries for US residents. Readers will recall that new Australian guidelines were released earlier this year and that they clung to the fat is bad story.
Yet the JAMA author has a different view; “It is time for the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services to develop the proper signage, public health messages, and other educational efforts to help people understand that limiting total fat does not produce any meaningful health benefits and that increasing healthy fats, including more than 35% of calories, has documented health benefits”.
We can wait with interest to see the response to this. So far this major change has drawn little coverage. One can only wonder why.
Meanwhile the FDA is seeking to ban trans fats over the next three years. These are vegetable oils, which are hydrogenated so that they can be solid at room temperature. They came into existence as a spin off from the wrong-headed opposition to saturated fats such as butter.
People are not stupid. With labeling of trans fat content, consumption has gone down some 80% in the last decade as people vote with their wallets to buy food without trans fats. Hence a ban is both another over reach for the nanny state but pointless, as they are no longer widely consumed anyway. And if it weren’t for health authorities telling us to stop eating butter we would not even likely be in this situation.
To take a kind view, one could say that the advice seemed like a good idea at the time. This is contestable as it was never clear-cut. Yet the evidence is now clear.
The damage to our health by replacing fats with sugars, and low fat food has been immense. Yet assorted governments, health departments, public health officials and a gaggle of others refuse to accept that they are wrong.
Expect squeals and all sorts of verbal contortions from the self-righteous. Do not expect an apology.
And tomorrow, enjoy bacon and eggs with some veg and maybe some avocado for breakfast.
Dr Joe Kosterich M.B.B.S is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. He is a regular on TV – 9 Network Australia, and radio stations 6PR and 4BC as well as maintaining a website and this blog which provides health information. He is the health ambassador for locally grown fresh potatoes. Dr Joe also gives practical motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”.