Low fat, low cholesterol diet advice from doctors causing ‘disastrous’ harm to public health… doctors are clueless about nutrition
Advice from doctors and public health officials to avoid fat and lower cholesterol has done grave harm to public health, according to a new report from the British nonprofits the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration.
Poor dietary advice has caused people to stop eating forms of fat that are essential for preventing disease and maintaining good health, without actually stemming rising rates of obesity and chronic disease, the report says. It calls on doctors and consumers to “bring back the fat,” so long as it is contained in “real food” such as eggs, full-fat dairy, non-processed meat and fatty vegetables like avocados.
In spite of the report’s endorsement by an international coalition of doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, scientists and public health advocates, it has unsurprisingly drawn attacks from representatives of the British health establishment.
‘Deeply flawed’ recommendations serve industry, not health
The report synthesizes the growing number of studies that have, in recent years, begun to overturn the conventional health wisdom of prior decades, including that cholesterol causes heart disease, that fat is bad for you, and that saturated fat is worst of all.
“Guidelines from on high suggesting high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets were the universal panacea are deeply flawed,” said David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum. “My patients don’t lose weight or improve their health by cutting fats or calories.”
“A new approach is needed – a return to 18th century values, drawn up before modern interference with basic principles occurred,” he said.
“The most natural and nutritious foods available – meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, olive, avocados – all contain saturated fat,” the report reads. “The continued demonisation of omnipresent natural fat drives people away from highly nourishing wholesome and health promoting foods.”
The report says that flawed public health messaging has resulted in ignorance among doctors regarding the most recent health science. It cites a “shocking” survey showing that 83 percent of doctors believe margarine is healthier than butter (margarine often contains toxic trans fats), while 66 percent believe that vegetable oils are beneficial (a now hotly contested assertion).
“The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history resulting in devastating consequences for public health,” said consultant cardiologist Aseem Malhotra. “Sadly this unhelpful advice continues to be perpetuated.”
The report also accuses the health establishment of continuing to promote antiquated health advice to protect the interests of drug companies and other members of the health and diet industry.
The establishment has “colluded with industry for financial gain,” the report reads.
Recommendations lag behind science
The establishment did not, of course, take this attack lying down.
Alison Tedstone of the government agency Public Health England said, “In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible.”
“International health organisations agree too much saturated fat raises cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and obesity is caused by too many calories,” Tedstone added.
The defense of the saturated fat-cholesterol-heart disease link is notable, as scientists are increasingly discarding these ideas as not based on evidence. Numerous studies have now strongly demonstrated that there is no link between saturated fat intake and poor health, while others have reiterated that saturated fat is actually an essential nutrient. Likewise, studies continue to emerge undercutting the idea that high cholesterol levels lead to heart disease. At most, cholesterol might be an indicator of cardiovascular disease.
That’s why studies show that cholesterol-lowering statins – the best selling drugs of all time – provide little health benefit, and may actually raise the risk of heart disease.