TIME Magazine Article – Eat Butter – Part 2

TIME magazine published an article by Bryan Walsh that appeared in TIME magazine on 23 June 2014.

The cover of the magazine asserts “Eat Butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.”
Unfortunately, much of the evidence that Walsh presents in the article “Don’t blame the fat” is simply wrong and misleading.

Walsh states that between 1977-2012, egg consumption fell 9%, beef 37% and milk 72%.

For the period 1970 – 2000, total added fats (up 40%), dairy products (up 8%), cheese (up 107%), low fat milk (up 79%), all meat products (up 10%), poultry (up 89%) and fish (up 22%) increased.  These significant increases were not included in Walsh’s report. All of these food products, even low fat milk, are high fat foods.

The total calories consumed also rose significantly by 24%.

ItemUnits1970-19792000Change
EnergyKcal / capita2170270024%
Total added fatslb / capita53.474.540%
Butterlb / capita4.74.6-2%
Margarinelb / capita11.28.2-27%
Dairy productslb / capita5485938%
Cheeselb / capita14.429.8107%
Whole milklb / capita21.78.1-63%
Low fat milklb / capita8.114.579%
All meatlb / capita177.2195.210%
Beeflb / capita80.964.4-20%
Poultrylb / capita35.266.589%
Fishlb / capita12.515.222%
EggsNumber285250-12%
Fruitlb / capita24827913%
Vegetableslb / capita33842827%
Grainlb / capita13819944%
Calorific sweetenerslb / capita123.7152.423%

 Data from United States, Department of Agriculture • Agriculture Fact Book 2001-2002


Insulin resistance is caused by high fat diets – not a consumption of sugar. In type II diabetes, insulin is created in the pancreas and is transported via the blood to each cell. However, the insulin is unable to pass through the cell membrane – a condition known as insulin resistance. This is due to a build up of fat (intramyocellular lipids) inside muscle cells.[1]

Walsh states that, “fat and meat raises the sense of satiety”.  Fruits, vegetables and grains as whole foods are less energy dense than animal foods and added fats.  There are few calories in an equal volume of these foods than high fat foods such as oils and meat. Fats have 9 KCalories per gram – carbohydrates and protein have four KCalories per gram.  Fruits, vegetables, and grains have a lot of fibre – you feel full but does not contribute to the amount of calories consumed.[2]

Walsh states that, “high levels of triglycerides are linked to heart disease”. High levels of triglycerides are only a moderate indicator of heart disease.


Walsh states that “there are two types of LDL (low density lipoproteins: large and fluffy which are raised by saturated fats that are benign – small and dense that are raised by carbohydrates”. This is an incorrect and misleading argument put forward by low carbohydrate diet proponents. It is not true. The assumption is made that the large, fluffy LDL particles cannot enter the arterial wall. They can. According to Evan Stein,

Subclass studies (of LDL) have proliferated over the last few years, but many of these studies were funded or subsidized either by suppliers of the assays as a method to expand their use and move them into mainstream practice, or by pharmaceutical companies in an attempt to claim some advantage over other therapeutic agents, especially when the LDL-C or Apo B reducing ability of their drug was less competitive. Although these studies have created more heat, they provide little additional light.

Are Measurements of LDL Particles Ready for Prime Time?
Clinical Chemistry September 2006 vol 25 No 9 1643-1644
Evan A Stein

Despite all of this, Walsh’s conclusions are not too dissimilar to mine. Walsh states we should be aiming for a “whole food diet”.   I suggest that a “whole food, pant-based diet”, as advocated by Professor Colin Campbell, Dr Dean Ornish, Dr John McDougall and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, is our optimal diet.

Footnotes

  1. Jacob, S. et al. (1999) Association of Increased Intramyocellular Lipid Content With Insulin Resistance in Lean Nondiabetic Offspring of Type 2 Diabetic Subjects. Diabetes. 48 (21), 1113–1119.
  2. Duncan, K. H. et al. (1983) The effects of high and low energy density diets on satiety, energy intake, and eating time of obese and nonobese subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 37 (5), 763–767.

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