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Tuesday 21 October 2014
On Trial: Saturated Fat: Proven Villain or Medical Myth?
The Low Carb Diabetic Forum is Here all most welcome to read or join.
Christopher Wenger, DO, FACC
Cardiologist, The Heart Group of LG Health
It has been almost 40 years since the Senate Select
Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs published its initial Dietary Goals for
the United States in 1977. That mandate encouraged Americans to decrease
consumption of total cholesterol and saturated fat,while increasing carbohydrate
content to 55-60% of daily energy (caloric) intake.1 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reinforced this inherited dietary policy
in its 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and in subsequent iterations.2
In response to these governmental directives to decrease
consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat, the majority of Americans shifted
their purchasing patterns in hopes of reducing the risk of coronary heart disease
(CHD). The ever-innovative food industry followed suit by modifying its
products to appease the newly “fat-phobic” American public, with a litany of ‘low
fat’ and ‘fat free’ products. Our thinking at the time was quite simple—fat is
bad for us, thus anything that is devoid of fat must be healthy. This mindset
paid little regard to the growing consumption of processed foods and the artificial ingredients found in the
vast majority of them.
This shift raises the concern that if Americans are not
eating fat, they must be eating more of something else. And since fat tends to
provide food with taste, sugar has quickly become the quintessential ‘fat-free’
additive to bolster palatable taste to new (and quite addicting) heights—with
the added benefits of new food textures, longer shelf life, and improved
Since 1971 the incidence of obesity has more than tripled—from
31 million people in 1971 to 111 million people in 2010. Even more sobering is
the fact that 68.5% of Americans are currently either overweight or obese, including
31.8% of our children and adolescents.3 Paralleling this trend is our incidence of insulin
resistance and diabetes, which has more than quintupled from 4.2 million people
in 1970 to 21.1 million people in 2010. This growth shows no sign of slowing,
and is predicted to rise to 1 in 3 Americans being diabetic by the year 2050.4.
Looming above all these data is the fact
that cardiovascular disease continues to reign as the most common cause of mortality
in the United States.
Is it possible that
the low-fat dietary directives and subsequent nutritional council recommendations
provided to millions of patients for the past 40 years have been . . . wrong?