As WDDTY has been saying for years, we've all been given the wrong health advice about eating butter and other fats: they don't increase cholesterol or the risk of heart disease. The guidance, which launched the multi-billion-pound low-fat industry, was based on almost no evidence, a new research study has stated this week.
Health agencies have been telling us for more than 30 years to eat less fat and choose low-fat options, but there has never been any evidence to suggest that fats have anything to do with raised cholesterol levels, say researchers from the University of the West of Scotland.
The researchers took a look at the evidence that was available at the time the low-fat campaign was launched, in 1977 in the US and in 1983 in the UK. They discovered six trials that covered seven different dietary interventions over an average period of five years, and involving 2,467 men and no women.
The studies, all published before 1983, looked at the relationship between dietary fat, cholesterol in the blood and the development of heart disease. There were 740 deaths during the lifetime of the studies, and 423 of these were from heart disease-but the restriction of fat in the diet didn't reduce death rates from any cause or even from heart disease, even though it did reduce cholesterol levels.
"It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 UK citizens, given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men," said lead researcher Zoe Harcombe.
"Dietary advice not merely needs review, it should not have been introduced."
(Source: BMJ Open Heart, 2015; doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2014-000229)