No evidence that dietary saturated fat is a cause of cardiovascular disease
There are two prime 'healthy eating' mantras that are drummed into us incessantly. The first, that we should eat at least '5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day', was comprehensively refuted by three studies published in 2020-2004. The other piece of dogma is that saturated fat cause heart disease and should form no more than 10% of our calorie intake.
Now a large review of the evidence for this piece of advice finds that this is also unsupported nonsense. In a quote from this study, the authors say:
"Our results suggested publication bias, such that studies with significant associations tended to be received more favorably for publication. If unpublished studies with null associations were included in the current analysis, the pooled RR estimate for CVD could be even closer to null."
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2010; First published ahead of print January 13, 2010 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725.
So, what has been happening for years is that scientists (I really shouldn't legitimise them with such a title) have been knowingly misleading us by only publishing the studies that support their own prejudices - any paper that doesn't agree is not published.
A doctor friend of mine told me "I have learnt that one of the most difficult things to affect is to have someone unlearn something, even when it is demonstrated that what they have learnt, and have believed, is wrong. I base this on my experience over many years with students and residents." The American journalist, Upton Sinclair made a similar comment when he once remarked: 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.' It's not that every scientist is greedy, but they do have to make a living.
But getting back to this review, as it could rock many corporate boats, I doubt it will even get a mention in the media outside of websites such as this one as it doesn't toe the party line. But, if it does get a mention, it will be interesting to see what spin the diet police put on it to make it seem that's what they've saying all along.
I also wonder, as I have many times before over the last quarter century, how they have managed to survive for so long already. It really is about time that dictocrats in quangos like the UK's Food Standards Agency, were sacked for incompetence and for the quangos themselves to be closed down. At a time when money is strictly limited for useful purposes, it is a criminal waste for these people to be paid out of our taxes to ruin our health.
As an aside, you may find it interesting that the authors of this review found well over 600 studies purporting to demonstrate that saturated fat was a significant cause of heart disease and strokes. Most were entirely without merit. These days, scientists have to publish or lose funding. So the majority will write any old stuff, merely designed to get their names on works published in prestigious journals. Seeming to have no other raison d'Ítre, they really are a drain on society.
Last updated 14 January 2010