Just Read: Dietary fat guidelines have no evidence base: where next for public health nutritional advice?

This is the 4th in a series of papers looking at the justification for recommending low-fat diets for humans. Authored by Zoe Harcombe, PhD (@ZoeHarcombe), it's a summary of three previous metanalyses. I wrote about 2 of the 3 previous papers. One is behind a paywall and i only have so much control over time and space….

The headline is as it says in the title of this post: Dietary fat guidelines have no evidence base.

This paper goes into some of the consequences of this advice and points out some logic traps that we're still engaged in around diet.

  • A low-fat diet is not just a low-fat diet; it's a high-carbohydrate diet, because there are only three macronutrients and fat would need to be replaced with something in the diet.
  • Plant-based sterols (found in vegetable oils) have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, however they do not result in reduction of CHD risk and "much evidence that they are detrimental"
  • If saturated fat is harmful, the highest intake of saturated fat in the diet today comes from processed foods
  • Saturated fat cannot be cut out of the diet without cutting out all fat – "It is worth noting that every food that contains fat contains all three fats: saturated; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.65 The notion that saturated fat is harmful and unsaturated fat is healthful is illogical given their coexistence in foods required for human survival."

There is opportunity for strong agreement among health pro- fessionals. If the public health message were revised to advise citizens to eat natural food and not processed food, saturated fat intake would fall accordingly, although the health benefit would most likely be the concomitant reduction in sucrose, trans fats, refined carbohydrates and other processed ingredients deleteri- ous to human health.

There are no responses written to the article at British Journal of Sports Medicine.

1 Comment

Ted Eytan, MD