Dietary Fat Guidelines Called into Question

One of the News stories from today on most of the News Media Sites about the current Dietary Advice we have all be given for several decades being based on very poor science. Well worth taking 10 minutes to read, there's also a video on this page also explains the story very simply.

time.com/3702058/dietary-gu...

31 Replies

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  • Thanks for that OlsBean! Will need to read again when a bit more awake I think! Message seems to be eat healthily don't use trans fats - need to find out more about those little critters!

  • The Trans Fats that are an issue are fats that have had their molecular structure altered via a manufacturing process. This is done to primarily to change the physical properties of the fat to enhance the end food product in some way, for example to make oil based spreads, margarine in other words, solid at higher temperatures, without this process you would basically have had a tub of oil, they were also used prolifically in things like factory baking to make a more crispier pastry at high temperatures.

    I believe there has been quite a bit of legislation introduced around the use of them within the UK though some of that is voluntary and they have not been eliminated completely. In my opinion it adds just more weight to the argument that you should eat real food and avoid things that has been processed through a factory.

  • Thank you!

  • Hi,

    I'm glad that the scientists are now backing up the claim that these guidelines are based on flawed research. I have, previously, seen some documentaries questioning the research that led to these guideline for reducing fat and they also indicated that the consequence of reducing fat and replacing it with sugars is much worse for your health. I found that most lower fat products in supermarkets have higher sugar content and in general do not taste as good as the original product.

    Since I started my 5:2 diet, I have lost 2 stones, so I feel I have less fat/chlolestrol circulating in my body. My GP did a blood test that indicated I had 'fatty liver', but the latest test result is good. Over the past year I have focussed more on reducing refined carbohydrates such as sugars and white flour, especially on my fast days. I eat Butter instead of Margarine and full fat Greek Yoghurt (both in moderation) as they taste much better. I also avoid buying any food marked 'low fat'.

    I think it is best to try to eat healthily, ideally putting in the effort to cook the food yourself, so that you know what the food contains.....

  • Well done on your weight loss, it's all about finding something that works for you and ultimately increases longevity and your quality of life and it sounds like you are well on the road to that! :)

  • this is really interesting stuff, but i have to say, I find this all very confusing and conflicting advice is not at all helpful. This article seems to suggest that too much fat is still bad for health and that studies that say it isn't are misleading

    theguardian.com/society/201...

    Other articles seem to over turn the conventional wisdom that slow and steady weight loss is more sustainable long term

    theguardian.com/society/the...

    these are all credible sources and it sounds to me as though there is some debate within the 'scientific community'.

    I think I'm just going to do what feels right for me to lose the weight and then think about maintaining my weight with a healthy diet - which i think will be more about balance, moderation, exercise and keeping mind and soul together.

  • It's probably a good idea to look at the original research rather than the newspaper report. The original report clearly states

    "Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats."

    There is no research paper from the scientists contesting this. They seem to be just repeating old outdated advice.

    annals.org/article.aspx?art...

    As for the second article, the conclusion I reach is that losing weight by just reducing calories is not sustainable. You need to permanently change what you eat.

  • I always believe the Guardian!

  • LOL.

  • I agree with Penel, you really need to dig behind the Media and look at some of the real research behind them where that is possible. You should also if in doubt try to check where the funding for a particular research report came from, it's not unusual to see a well known soft drink manufacturer and alike funding them, (nuff said :-|)

    It is though at times mind numbing confusing and to be honest jo1971 you are right, you are ultimately responsible for your own health and therefor need to form your own opinions to decide on what route you take.

    All I would say to anyone is to never stop learning and always keep an open mind as gawd knows what we'll be eating in 2 decades time, insects probably!

    Good Luck with your journey.

  • So pleased I won't be around then! Yuk!

  • I posted a link to what is in my humble opinion a reasonable and easy to understand film that might help, expand your knowledge one way or another. Often these types of films are made on a shoestring and the production is poor and therefore makes the film ZzzzZZZzz however I think this one is quite good, it's well worth watching if you have a spare 1:15 and at the moment you can watch if free, you do normally have to purchase it.

    healthunlocked.com/nhsweigh...

  • Ok - now I have a spare 1.15 so will watch and learn! Thanks Ols!

  • That was very good - can see why you opted for LCHF! Will do a bit of research to see how this fits into my food intake (which is working - just not sure long term). Can you just confirm that carbs with a low GI are ok? I've followed Rosemary Conley's Low fat Low GI plan for ages - and it seems to work!

  • If what you are doing is working for you then stick with it. It might be that in the future you need to mix things up a little in order to achieve your end goal.

    Low GI Carbs are considered to be "healthier" as a rule, as they tend to metabolise slower. They are usually carbs with complex sugars (starch). Glycemic Index is not everything though, Glycemic Load is considered to important if not more so, take Carrots for example they can have GI of around 70 so they raise blood sugar as rapidly as something like a Bagel but the end load, that is the amount of Glucose that comes from them that ends up in your blood in hardly anything when compared to the amount that comes from the Bagel.

  • Ok thanks!

  • Yes, that has been known for some time. It was based on flawed science by a man called Ancel Keys in the US back in the 1970s. It has been good for the chemistry industry - a lot of artificial 'fats', good for the US sugar and cereal industry - sweeteners e.g. high fructose corn syrup added to just about everything. But very little good for the rest of us.

  • I think you're right Penel that we need to look behind the headlines, whether they are in Time magazine as the original article, or in the Guardian which also reports the same research today, we need to look behind this. I think what I meant when I said credible source was not the newspaper in which it is reported, but the original authors of the papers and the institutions to which they belong. But, no-one should be above critique i think whether they are a Professor at Oxford, part of the elite group of Australian Univerisities or a PhD student from University of West of Scotland we should question them - and also look at the methodology and try to assess whether valid claims are being made for the data presented. Some studies might be small scale or workign with particular populations and their claims not generalisable. We need to check.

    Sponsorship of research - there are always issues (e.g. Alex Richardson's research into using fish oils to improve brain function in dyslexic children), British Nutrition Foundation sponsored by Tate and Lyle among others. So yes, we need to be careful about this but I think we can also try to pick out some of the more common sense ideas.

    I think, what I'm trying to get with my reply is that this is a really complex area and there is no magic bullet. I don't think it is helpful at all when there is lack of consensus among the experts and they essentially simplify what is an incredible complex set of environmental, social, behavioural and nutritional factors affecting our health, to messages which say "carbs are bad", "fat is bad" "lose weight slowly" "lose weight quickly" - it seems to miss the bigger picture to me.

    One thing I do know, no matter how bad things get, I am not going for the insect option! No matter what the experts say!

    thanks for the interesting posts anyway - very thought provoking - off to the gym now before I delay any longer :)

  • Agreed. This isn't rocket science, it's far, far more complicated!

  • With you on the insect option jo1971!

  • Forgot to say, one of my favourite health sites gives the sage advice "Don't eat processed cr*p".

  • I find the link a bit disappointing, if I am honest. It starts off by reference to Zoe Harcombe who, as I have learned on this forum, is a proponent of a specific type of a diet (pro-fat). She is described as a PhD candidate, which in my opinion seriously questions her claims that she is a researcher (her website). Anyone who has been promoting certain ideas for decades (her website - working on the topic since 1980s) and then goes on to do some real research (I assume that's the subject of her PhD) already suffers from a massive prior bias - which is never a good starting point for doing science. Would are the chances that Zoe Harcombe will come up with a study which defies what she's been claiming all this time? PubMed produced only one reference to a Z.H.-authored article (2014, Mayo Clinic, she is the third author). The above article says she is a PhD candidate at the University of the West of Scotland, which does not have a proper medical school - highest training level I can find in the area of health is master level nursing and midwifery. Sorry, I am not impressed by her qualifications.

    Also, on the subject of poorly done research in the past. This type of research is extremely difficult. Americans have a notoriously unhealthy diet in which there are lots and lots of factors present (just saw a chart somewhere, rating the individual states in the US. The leanest state still has more than 20% population in the obese bracket.) It's incredibly difficult to isolate the effects of fat, carbs, sugar, lack of exercise etc., when most of the subjects do all of them at the same time, and when some of what we do today will only have an effect 10 or 20 years later. Make no mistake, the pro-fat research is not going to be able to do away with these limitations to doing science.

    Unfortunately, I think this article cannot be counted as contributing independent advice on healthy eating. To me it just seems that we are entering a new media hype - this time about fat.

    (I am not against fat. I grew up on butter and did not know the word "margarine" or "low fat" until in my 20s. I very much welcome returning to foods which are now popularly and rather artificially labelled as "real".)

  • I can't comment on Zoe Harcombe's qualifications, all I know for sure that as I only have one GCSE she is far more intelligent academically than me. You also have to keep in mind that like a lot of others within this industry she earns a living from aspects of it (Diet books etc) then I guess when you consider the amount of time involved with research no one can hold that against her, she has to eat after all.

    Like I said above we are ultimately responsible for our own health. In my opinion the ultimate goal is to find something that works for the individual whatever that might be, 5:2, Slimfast, weight-watcher, baked bean diet, LCHF, Cambridge or the NHS Healthy Eating Plan. We can only share our experiences, what works for one may not work for another for a number of reasons.

    Once again, never stop learning, even if you disagree with it, as either way knowledge is empowerment.

  • Sorry if it came out the wrong way. I just expressed an opinion on the article, and it should be taken as such - a personal opinion. Actually, it's not an opinion so much on the content, but more on the way it is presented and by whom. (Essentially, as is it is in my eyes equivalent to an article sponsored by Coca Cola telling us about research that Coca Cola is really good for you. You will see the bias there, but that does not mean that the content is not true. Same here. I do not trust the source, but it does not mean the content is incorrect.)

    And I agree and have taken it as intended - as a source of information which we are free to take and do with it whatever we feel is best. Thank you for posting it and please do keep posting (I have just watched the film, that was really good. Just wondering why so many of common people they interview are skinny people :D )

  • It didn't come across wrong to me, you are more than entitled to express your an opinion. I'm not endorsing the content of the article myself either though I do agree with a lot of its content.

    As you know I follow a quite strict LCHF lifestyle but I don't hide the fact that I did not lose my weight doing so, I've simply discovered it in the past year and it has helped me personally to maintain, I would though never push or sell that to others because it is still quite controversial and I am not qualified to do so, all I can do is share my experience to date if anyone wants to listen, so that they can then form their own opinion.

    It's a while since I watched the film as I actually won a premier viewing of it back last Summer, however from memory it's not just about the effects the Standard American Diet has on our weight but more on the fact it causes metabolic damage, to even thin people, the reasons for seeing a number of "Skinny People" and even professional athletes developing Type II Diabetes now. Obesity being just one of the more common symptoms of that disease rather than the cause but still a symptom that not everyone gets.

  • Yes, I did wonder at the beginning when it started with the super skinny guy having diabetes. I thought to myself "Oh no, is this going to be one of those things where it's not enough to scare the fatties, but now they have found something to scare the skinnies too?" But, since you posted it, I thought there must be more into it and watched the whole thing, and indeed it was very informative.

    It's just a pity it is so difficult to find definitive answers. You try to do the right thing all your life, and then someone comes and says they changed their mind and you have actually been doing everything wrong the whole time. Well...

    It would be interesting to see a programme like this done in Europe, as I think we are not as bad as the US. Eg I don't see corn syrup added to every food over here. I watched Food Inc. a while ago (a documentary about the US food industry), and would recommend it to anyone who needs to be persuaded against processed foods.

    After reading about low carbs here (and your and Penel's posts), I too have tried it (not 100% strict) and am finding it does wonders for me. I have an easy test as I have a digestive problem that no doctor has been able to help with, and after cutting out bread I am feeling so much better.

    As an anecdote, about a year ago my doctor asked me if I was following a low-fat diet as I had very little fat in my blood (although my body has more fatty bits than it should). I had a laugh, as I eat butter by pounds and also cook with lard. Back then it was a welcome confirmation that eating naturally, albeit against the mainstream, does not do me any harm. After learning about LCHF, am feeling slightly vindicated, and will try to find out more about the chemistry behind it.

  • The closest to an EU movie I have seen is something called Cereal Killers which follows an Irish guy called Donal O'Neill as he embarks on a LCHF lifestyle change, to try to beat a Genetic Heart Problem, although he is Irish it is filmed in South Africa because they wanted access to a good Metabolic Ward and the medical facilities that go with it. It's interesting and worth a watch, he is though Skinny :) Cereal Killers 2 is also out soon, that film follows him as he uses Fat over Carbs to fuel running.

    There is also another movie out soon, which looks to be really good (Production Wise) as it has in it amongst others Stephen Fry and Damon Gameau.

  • There is a great deal of info out there. This is one site discussing the pros and cons of low carb diets, amongst other things. It is an American site and as you say, the problems they are dealing with are more extreme than in the UK and Europe.

    chriskresser.com/7-things-e...

    I'm pleased to hear you have found that cutting out bread helps with your digestive problem. Modern bread seems to be a problem for a lot of people.

  • Hi everyone,

    I found this link, which I found quite helpful in relation to this issue:

    heartuk.org.uk/latest-news/...

    Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

    Lowcal :-)

  • Kind of Ironic really, I guess if the new data proves to be correct then the whole cholesterol link is debuffed which leaves them kind of obsolete in their current form. Maybe they will go from being the "The Cholesterol Charity" to the "Small Particle LDL Charity" :)

  • Remember this from a year ago? nhs.uk/news/2014/03March/Pa...

    Let's face it, the inertia is with the status quo, and the massive infrastructure that supports it.

    Guidelines don't even include recommendations of low Gi, despite the index being around since the 1980s, and disproving the claims that many of the starchy carbohydrates supply sustained energy.

    With regard to the stance on fat, it would be difficult (though not impossible) to envisage how this massive ship could be turned around any-time soon.

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