Show me the (bad interpretation of) the Science!


(G. Andrew Duthie) #1

Not sure where to start with this one, but IMO, he goes off the rails when ascribing to critics of the US Dietary Guidelines the view that it was the recommendation to eat less fat that caused the obesity epidemic.

Well, no. As most of you are probably already aware, while consumption of adequate amounts of good fats is certainly important for our health, the issue with the dietary guidelines with respect to obesity is the overconsumption of carbs.

Hard to have a science-based discussion when people misrepresent the argument you’re trying to make in the first place, no?


(Guardian of the bacon) #2

I thought the condemnation of healthy fats kind of led to overconsumption of carbs?
A person has to eat something…right?


(G. Andrew Duthie) #3

Like most things in nutrition, I think it’s overdetermined.

Certainly, recommendations to lower fat intake has led to the creation of a whole mess of products where sugars were substituted for fats to make the resulting food palatable. And the fact that grains were at the bottom of the food pyramid certainly didn’t help.

But the issue I take with the argument the author makes is that he focuses narrowly on the question of low fat (and implicitly excludes consideration of and change in carb consumption) to refute the assertion that the dietary guidelines had a causal effect.

By narrowing the focus in this way, he can assert that people’s consumption of fat did not actually decrease. This may well be true. But it’s also not necessarily the only relevant variable. If the guidelines caused people to increase carb consumption (which there’s good reason to believe they did), then there could be a causal relationship between the guidelines and obesity, even with fat consumption held steady.


(The baconfat chocolate guy) #4

Everything I’ve seen has shown that americans have not significantly reduced their intake of fats at all, but the low-fat recommendations gave a free-pass to low fat junk food like cakes and candies leading to the meteoric rise of sugar consumption. That’s my interpretation.


(Meeping up the Science!) #5

With any “diet” food there is often a consumption increase, because people perceive they are having a net gain by having something “diet.” I can’t link the study now, however we reviewed this a lot in my sociological work.

Sugar intake has skyrocketed in part because of this, and also because sugar is heavily subsidized and has a huge lobbying industry. Obesity is caused by: behavior, trauma, socioeconomic status, biochemistry, advertising, business investment in government, and, minimally, epigenics. The environment absolutely causes it, and it’s not the fat. It is not, and nor will it ever be, as simple as “eat this, not that.”