In 1980 our government issued dietary guidelines promoting a low-fat diet to then 220 million Americans, “even though the science supporting such guidelines was known to be weak at best and plenty of evidence was available even at that time to suggest that the recommendations were unsound,” writes Francis Menton in his blog, Manhattan Contrarian. A systematic review published last year in the cardiology journal Open Heart states: “It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans given the contrary results.”
“So how did a counter-productive diet get foisted on the American people in the face of such adverse evidence?” asks Mr. Menton. Easy, he explains. “A small group of avid promoters of the high-fat-diet/heart disease hypothesis had managed to get control of the principal government funding institutes, and of the peer review process at the key journals. Dissenters got cut off from funding and from publication.”
In the late 1940s, Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crisco oil, helped transform the American Heart Association from a small, underfunded organization into the powerhouse it is today. Americans, on the advice of the AHA, began in 1961 to eat less saturated fat and switch to vegetable oils for “heart health.” Read Nina Teicholz here explaining the worrisome track record of vegetable oils and the consequences of giving up butter and lard in the American diet, especially for woman over 50.
Francis Menton reviews The Big Fat Surprise on his blog. He also has one heck of an idea: the government should entirely get out of the business of meddling in the diet of the American people.” Read more from Mr. Menton, who warns that next round of recommendations to come out of the government is very likely to be just as wrong as the last round.
P.S. The artwork for the banner headline on Mr. Menton’s site is by Joe Forte. Dick and I haven’t seen Joe, who usually spends winters in Key West, in several years. We’re not sure that he lived in his old Chevy van, but it was often parked on the street in front of our house, which is how we got to know Joe. A sweet man.