Ancel Keys and the High-Fat Diet “Experts”

Popular commentators frequently accuse Keys of manipulating data in his 1953 paper, Atherosclerosis, A Problem in Newer Public Health.[1]

This study is sometimes referred as the “Six Countries Study”. A number of popular commentators think this is the Seven Countries Study— they count England & Wales as two countries.

This paper was presented in Amsterdam in 1952 and in January 1953 in New York.

Far too much attention is paid to one page of a minor discussion paper written in the early 1950s. Keys writes, “The fact that the present high rate from degenerative heart disease in the United States is not inevitable is easily shown by the comparison with some other countries.” This was the purpose of the paper.

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Robert Lustig and The Men Who Made Us Fat

Robert Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. He specializes in childhood obesity and studying the effects of sugar in the diet. He is the director of the UCSF Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program and a member of the Obesity Task Force of the Endocrine Society.

Unfortunately, much of what he says is simply wrong, which given the amount of media exposure that he receives, is deeply worrying.

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The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What We Eat – A Review

Alan Levinovitz is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at James Madison University, Virginia.

His book, The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What We Eat, “takes on bestselling physicians and dietitians, exposing the myths behind how we come to believe which foods are good and which are bad—and pointing the way to a truly healthful life, free from the anxiety of what we eat.”

Whilst the book was fascinating in describing how easily it is for society to be deluded about food issues, the book adds several misconceptions of its own.

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The Pioppi Diet

The Pioppi Diet is a book by the London cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, an Irish film-maker.

Pioppi is a small village on the Tyrrhenian Sea which is located on the west coast of Italy. It is approximately 150 km (90 miles) south of Naples. Ancel and Margaret Keys resided here for over 25 years. Martii Karvonen of Finland and Jerimiah Stamler of the USA are other well-known medical researchers who resided in the village.

Malhotra is a keen high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet advocate and is desperately trying (unsuccessfully) to merge this opinion into a distorted view of the Mediterranean diet.

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BMJ Editorial – Are Some Diets “Mass Murder”?

Richard Smith’s wrote an article Are some diets “mass murder”? in The BMJ on 15 December 2014. He uses a work of a popular commentator to reach his conclusions in this article. Smith’s claim that Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise, demolishes the hypothesis that saturated fat is the cause of cardiovascular disease fails with just a little scrutiny.

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Polyunsaturated Fats Cause Cancer – LA Veterans Trial

The Wadsworth VA Hospital in Los Angeles operated a home where male army veterans resided. The meals were provided by one of two dining halls.

Men in dining Hall A continued their usual diet. The “saturated animal fat and hydrogenated shortening replaced with vegetable oils in the experimental diet” for the diets provided in dining Hall B. Low fat diets were not considered because such a diet required “gastronomic sacrifice”. The total fat content of the 2 diets were the same, providing 40% of the total energy. (Diets of 40% fat cannot be considered a healthy diet.)

This study is sometimes used to “proof” that a polyunsaturated fats promote cancer.  A reading of papers from the trial shows that this is not the case.

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The Big Fat Surprise

An article relating to Nina Teicholz book, The Big Fat Surprise, was printed in the Australian on 29th December 2014. Unfortunately, it is largely a repeat of misinformation and misunderstanding of the history of diet and cardiovascular research that is found in popular books and websites.

Whilst the current western diet is appalling and contributes to our poor health, it is absurd to contend that we have been lied to by the government, nutritionists and researchers. The contention that saturated fat from animals is actually quite good for you and cholesterol isn’t really important is simply wrong and not supported by research.

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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%.

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