The advice to lower fat, specifically saturated fat in our diet was originally proposed by Ancel Keys in the 1970s. America was reeling with what was thought an epidemic. Middle aged men were clutching their chests and falling down dead, the government wanted to do something about it.
Newspapers and magazines promoted his diet relentlessly. Low fat recipes made their way into kitchens. Influential columnists touted its largely unproven benefits. Over the decades, the low fat doctrine was ingrained in our collective consciousness.
How has this all planned out for us though? People in America and around the world have listened to the low fat advice and have made changes in their eating habits. Low fat food proliferates grocery store shelves, benefits are shouted off billboards and advertisements, entire generations have grown up only knowing that low fat equals healthy.
Cholesterol was enemy number one according to Ancel Keys, the father of the diet heart hypothesis. Lowering cholesterol was supposedly the key to heart health and a low fat diet was pushed as a requirement.
When my research into reversing T2D showed me a path to a low carb high fat diet, I was worried. What about cholesterol? Won’t a high fat diet raise my cholesterol? In trying to reverse T2D, I didn’t want to induce heart disease within my body, specially since my cholesterol was borderline high anyways.
I started looking at opposing voices, loud voices, few in number who were screaming off roof tops that the low fat diet was doing more harm than good. They claimed that the low fat diet was just one man’s hypothesis, an unsubstantiated idea, that was literally rammed as a fact through the medical review process and adopted by America and then the rest of the world.
What I uncovered was just shocking. Studies upon medical studies have repeatedly found no evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease. Unfortunately the low fat movement was such a freight train and was so enshrined in institutions controlled by the very proponents of this untested hypothesis, nothing ever changed.
The world followed this advice and kept getting fatter, and kept getting sicker. Syndrome X, a term coined to encompass a slew of metabolic disorders was rapidly on the rise. T2D, hypertension, heart disease were increasingly taking their toll on society and the medical system which should have been protecting us was the one leading us on a path to poor health outcomes.
I wanted to know what proof these dissenting voices had, but I was asking the wrong question. Instead of questioning what proof the opposition had, the question should have been aimed at Ancel Keys and the establishment. What proof did they have that we should be eating a low fat diet?
The answer is none at all.
Study upon study has shown no link between heart disease and a saturated fat. I will mention two studies here because they were conducted as gold standard studies. They cost millions and the methodology used was the best science could offer. The Women’s Health Initiative is the largest randomized clinical control trial of the low fat diet ever conducted. The women in this study reduced their overall fat intake from 37 percent to 29 percent of calories. They reduced saturated fat from 12.4 percent to 9.5 percent of calories. They had met all their targets, however after a decade of following this diet they were no less likely than the control group to contract heart disease, breast cancer, stroke. And after a decade they had only lost on an average 1 additional pound than the control group! Oops?
A researcher named Robert H Knopp conducted a couple of studies known as the Boeing Men’s and the Boeing Women’s studies. He was very concerned about the results. Feeding a low fat diet to hundreds of Boeing employees, his conclusion was that though the low fat diet did lower LDL cholesterol, it also lowered HDL cholesterol, and increased the risk of heart disease!
I have read enough evidence that compels me to ignore the advice of a low fat diet. Interested in learning about these opposing and compelling viewpoints?
The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz
The Great Cholesterol Con by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick.
Have you tried the low fat approach? Leave a comment with your experience….
One thought on “Low Fat Diets Don’t Work”
Good post. I should write more about this topic. Thank you for sharing!