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August 05, 2014

One of the most effective propaganda campaigns ever

I speak of the alleged harm of saturated fat. The harm I refer to is not that fat is, ounce for ounce, more caloric than either carbohydrates or protein. I mean the allegation virtually all Americans seem to believe--really, really believe--that saturated fat does terrible things to your circulatory system. How many times have you heard people say, or have you read someone writing, that a dish like a chili cheeseburger with bacon is an "artery-clogger" or is "a heart attack on a plate"?

As Milton Friedman used to ask so energetically: How do you know?

The original research was, apparently, very dubious. (See also this.) And informed opinion currently rejects the claim. Related: the advice we got to eat a lot of bread wasn't so good, either.

Bottom line: too many calories seems to be bad for you and fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as carbs and protein. But beyond that, enjoy your fat, saturated or otherwise. (Except, of course, for transfat. But that's another post.)

 

Comments

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Larry

Excellent post. It is unfortunate that so many people still believe the dietary advice contained in the execrable Food Pyramid. Thank you Senator George McGovern for helping to create a nation of fatties.

Jack PQ

People look for a silver bullet, and bad research (finding alleged silver bullets) is sexier than good research (moderation and diversification in food), thus gets reported much more frequently.

"Jack's Law" (not really, I know others must have said it before me): The quality of research (nutritional or otherwise) is inversely proportional to the intensity of media reporting it receives.

(Exception: Reporting on Nobel prize winning research.)

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