As a follow-up to revision to the US government’s advice about cholesterol, we read this tidbit yesterday…
An international team of health scientists has completed a systematic study of the evidence available back in the 1970s and ’80s and concluded that a relationship of causation between fat consumption and coronary heart disease was never established. The researchers found just six studies that fit the criteria to be considered proper randomized controlled trials, all limited to male subjects and most addressing the proportion of fat in the diet only indirectly.
“Government dietary fat recommendations were untested in any trial prior to being introduced,” writes Zoe Harcombe of the University of the West of Scotland, lead author of the study. Despite this, “to date, no analysis of the evidence base for these recommendations has been undertaken,” which is what prompted Harcombe and her team to conduct their investigation.
From among the data on various diet types that was available, there were no differences in the number of deaths from all causes, and no statistically significant changes in death from cardiovascular disease. Eating less fat was not shown to improve a person’s heart health, even where changes in diet led to a reduction in blood cholesterol levels. “It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens, given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men,” comments Harcombe.
At the time of issuing the original 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States, better known as the McGovern report, the Senate Committee’s lead nutritionist, Dr. Hegsted of Harvard University, admitted that the evidence base was for the advice was somewhat lacking. “There will undoubtedly be many people who will say we have not … demonstrated that the dietary modifications we recommend will yield the dividend expected,” remarked Hegsted. But his counterargument was that there was more to gain from switching to the recommended diet than there was to lose. Beyond reducing fat intake, the Dietary Goals also urged a reduction in the consumption of salt and sugar, whose deleterious health effects have been far better established.
(click here to continue reading Low-fat diet advice was based on undercooked science | The Verge.)
Oh boy, so 40 years of bad advice from the government and corporate allies all based on incomplete science. Seems like someone should have said something, oh, maybe a few years later? Ten years later? Twenty years later? Ten years ago?