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Researchers admit they were wrong about full-fat dietary advice

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Hello World, Research HQ here. Hope you’re well! (And if you’re not, we’ll dig and dig and dig until we find out just what’s wrong with you!) Anyhow, you remember how we told you that fat in your diet could clog up your arteries and cause heart disease? You know, we’ve been banging on about it for the past 30 years? Study after study. Frankly, we were exhausted from it.

Because of the sterling efforts of Research HQ, stores are full of low-fat this and fat-free that, and your doctor has been prescribing you a statin to help get rid of all that nasty fat.

Well, don’t laugh, but we were wrong! Yup, you can eat high-fat everything – butter, cheese, milk, you name it – and it won’t do a thing to your heart. Actually, that’s not quite right: it’ll in fact reduce your risk of suffering from a stroke. So, it doesn’t cause heart disease, it prevents it. Yup, a complete 180-degree turn.

You may not have read about this rather embarrassing error. We hid it behind a cutesy headline so nobody would get what a complete mess we’ve made of the whole thing. (We worked on the theory that we live in a headline-only-reading society with a five-second attention span, and, thank goodness, we were right!)

So, here’s the headline (hope you like it, we were rather proud of it ourselves): ‘New research could banish guilty feeling for consuming dairy products.’ Isn’t that clever? It doesn’t say we were wrong for 30 years, or that low-fat foods and drinks have made the food industry billions of dollars, and statins have made similar amounts for the drug industry, when none of it was necessary, or that our advice could even have increased the rate of stroke. No, it’s just that you don’t have to feel guilty anymore. That’s it!1

We actually imagined two scenarios in the typical family home, one before we issued the press release and one after.

Pre-press release:

Wife: I’ve just eaten some toast with butter on it. I feel so guilty!

Husband: Guilty? That’s the least of it. You will DIE.

Post-press release:

Wife: I’ve just eaten some toast with butter on it. I feel so guilty!

Husband: Guilty? Don’t be, you’ll be fine! (Actually, you have reduced your chance of a stroke, but

I sneaked a glimpse beyond the headline. Sorry!)

OK, that’s 98 percent of the population taken care of. Now we have to tackle the remaining 2 percent who are still reading (so annoying!) For those tenacious few, we have the summary, and for this we had to be a little more factual: ‘Enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave, according to new research.’

Still doesn’t quite tell the truth, but that’s another 1.5 percent of the population dealt with. Now, we’re just left with the obstinate 0.5 percent who are still reading (and who probably think a five-hour Wagner opera is a short ditty. What is wrong with these people?)

For these few, who really should get out more, we have to tell the truth (we suppose). And it’s more humble pie than full-fat cheese. What we did was recruit around 3,000 people who were at least 65 years old and checked their blood for 22 years to measure three different types of fatty acids found in dairy products. Contrary to current advice, none of these ‘bad’ fats caused heart disease. In fact, one of them reduced the risk of dying from stroke by 42 percent.2

We described the study as ‘robust’ (one of our favorite words) and added that “people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.” So that would include the hearsay we get from the latest official US Dietary Guidelines, which still recommend eating fat-free or low-fat. Not only is the advice wrong, it’s also harmful because many low-fat and fat-free products instead contain added sugars, and of course, it was the sugars all along that cause heart disease.

So, we at Research HQ could say sorry, we suppose, especially as we may have sent millions to an early grave. But, look, we decided instead to just have a bit of fun, and so we did that whacky ‘Guilty’ headline.

Hard (full-fat) cheese, anyone?



ScienceDaily, 11 July, 2018


Am J Clin Nutr, 2018 Jun 11. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy117

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Article Topics: butter, milk, nutrition
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