A spate of articles have come out about changes in the attitude toward low-fat verses low-carb diets and their impact on health.

This one from the Washington Post, titled, Atkins diet’s return reflects idea that saturated fat shouldn’t be demonized by Jennifer LaRue Huget, cites two recent studies reported in the March issue of The Journal of Clinical Nutrition, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. The first found no evidence that saturated fat intake was associated with a greater risk for cardiovascular or coronary heart disease, and the second suggested that carbohydrates and being overweight are the “true culprits.” Ms. Huget says, “…the latest science has many experts reconsidering saturated fat.”

The first study reaches the conclusion that: “…there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD….”

The second study ends with this statement, “…dietary efforts to improve the increasing burden of CVD risk associated with atherogenic dyslipidemia should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intakes and a reduction in excess adiposity.”

Another article, End the War on Fat; It Could Be Making Us Sicker, by Melinda Wenner Moyer, was posted on The illustration that accompanies the story shows a fat Uncle Sam chowing down on potato chips. Ms. Moyer says: “Thirty years ago, America declared war against fat.…But heart disease continues to devastate the country, and, as you may have noticed, we certainly haven’t gotten any thinner. Ultimately, that’s because fat should never have been our enemy. The big question is whether the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, due out at the end of the year, will finally announce retreat.”

But to me, the most astonishing change is reflected in the April issue of Cooking Light Magazine, that bastion of low-fat, “healthy” eating. They are now saying that it is OK to eat chicken WITH THE SKIN ON and even to eat fried foods occasionally! The magazine’s new editor, Scott Mowbray, announced his “new rules for healthy eating” in the January/February issue. Mowbray says he wants to “generate dialogue and discussion” about the “changing science” that guides our understanding of nutrition. Although the magazine hasn’t changed its position that some sugar is fine (and a chocolate cake on the cover certainly sells magazines), they now say that eggs don’t raise your blood cholesterol, that saturated fats may help balance “good” and “bad” cholesterol, and that adding salt to vegetables can help retain nutrients lost in the cooking process.

Dietitian Lona Sandon responded for the American Dietetic Association with a surprisingly frank admission that the danger for nutrition experts is in appearing to deliver conflicting messages. “It’s confusing, and people get aggravated” when they hear inconsistent nutrition information. “They throw their hands up and say, ‘I won’t listen to anyone.'”

Ms. Moyer (Slate article above) agrees with that assessment: “Will this new research on fat and carbs be reflected in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines? According to Meir Stampfer, a Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology who worked on the 2000 guidelines, scientists on this year’s committee know perfectly well what the evidence says. But few researchers want to shake the status quo or risk confusing the public. Robert Post, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, admits that when it comes to nutritional recommendations, ‘…simple messages, few messages, targeted messages, are very important.’ Ultimately, then, policymakers have to choose between keeping the message consistent and actually getting it right.”

What they fail to realize is that the refusal to change their advice to match emerging science is already undermining their credibility. The public would be far more likely to support them if they would acknowledge the existing science. There is no disgrace in changing your mind when the evidence changes. Refusing to alter your position when you know it is wrong is indefensible.

© 2010, Judy Barnes Baker

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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Judy Barnes Baker
14 years ago

Thank you Jennifer and Romona for your encouraging words. Just what I need right now.

14 years ago

Great article, Judy! Yep, it's difficult for these big organizations, etc. to admit they were wrong. I sometimes wonder if they have ulterior motives for keeping people sick.

I agree with Ramona Carb Wars is a lovely book – a masterpiece!

Ramona Denton
14 years ago

I'm waiting for the day that things move further along! I'm glad that they're starting to move at least. Thanks for the post.

I just got my copy of your book from Amazon. Only glanced at it so far, but it looks just fabulous! The tips and notes and sources – the non-recipe stuff – look just as great as the recipes, really useful. Can't wait to sit down to read it all and try the recipes.

Absolutely wonderful, Judy!!

Judy Barnes Baker
14 years ago

We can hope, but once a person is convinced of something, it is very hard for them to admit they were wrong.

Some people continue to believe aliens made the crop circles in England even after two guys demonstrated how they did it, and many still think the famous picture of bigfoot is real after the perpetrator admitted it was a man wearing a costume from Planet of the Apes.

I'm afraid fat phobia will be with us for a long, long time.

Amy Dungan
14 years ago

Awesome Judy! Seeing all these changes in media attitude is an exciting thing. Maybe if enough people hear the message, the experts will have no choice but to publicly reconsider the current advice.

Mary White
Mary White
6 years ago

Received yesterday from Dr. Michael Eades of ProteinPower blog: VERY exciting!

This post shows how you can change your food intake and bring about a rapid reduction in your cholesterol level in just a few days. Once you know the trick, you can pretty much drop your cholesterol at will. And get your doctor off your back.
This is one of the most exciting bits of info I’ve come across in a long time, so I’m eager to see what you think of it.
As always, take a look and give me your feedback.