Your weekly reminder the nanny scold coalition can’t be trusted on nutrition
posted at 9:21 pm on September 10, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
Surprise! Fat probably isn’t what’s making you fat, despite a decades-old attempt by the government, media, and anyone with a nanny-state inclination to tell you to put down the bacon and butter, or worse, ban it.
Over at NPR, you’ll recognize the results of the study they’re reporting on if you’ve ever known anyone who went low-carb after years of low-fat self-flagellation with no results:
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to the body of evidence that cutting back on carbs, not fat, can lead to more weight loss.
Eating some foods high in saturated fat is not necessarily going to increase your risk of heart disease, a study shows, contrary to the dietary science of the past 40 years.
Researchers at Tulane University tracked two groups of dieters for one year. The participants ranged in age from their early 20s to their mid-70s and included a mix of African-Americans and Caucasians.
The low-carb group, which reduced their carb consumption to about 28 percent of their daily calories, lost almost three times as much weight as the low-fat dieters who got about 40 to 45 percent of their calories from carbs.
The low-fat group lost about 4 pounds, whereas the low-carb group’s average weight loss was almost 12 pounds. Participants in the two groups were eating about the same amount of calories.
The thing is, though, it’s not just the science of the last 40 years that was to blame for steering people wrong. It’s a coalition of nanny-staters in the government, media, and compliant and opportunistic food manufacturers who hype every trend in nutrition research. Scientists offer findings, media extrapolates those findings wildly, government rushes to threaten or place restrictions on whatever has just recently been called “bad,” and food manufacturers perform a combination of folding to government threats and capitalizing on a health trend. And, that my friends, is why I can’t find full-fat Greek yogurt to save my ever-loving life. It’s yogurt. It’s a dairy product. It should have all the fat in it. That’s what it’s for.
Eggs and salt data are among the other overextrapolated, regulated, and demonized of the last decades. The New York Times allowed recently, after years of reporting otherwise, that eggs might not be that bad for you. You can follow my perusal of their path to ignominy and back, courtesy of the nanny-scold coalition, here, along with my thoughts on this infuriating phenomenon:
So, one egg a day doesn’t increase the likelihood of disease and there’s “no data” to suggest even three eggs a day would. But a quick perusal of the New York Times‘ own archives seems to suggest it certainly thought there was plenty of data to scare us off of eggs. I’m amazed again and again how conventional wisdom on foods that are “bad for you” solidifies with so little data to support it. Please see: salt, which I’ve been trying to convince people isn’t necessarily unhealthy for years, but the conventional wisdom is so strong, people think I’m a conspiracy theorist. The New York Times recently came around on this one, too.
Salt is back, baby! But not before overextrapolating, overregulating nanny-scolds threatened entire companies into blandifying their foods for the public’s safety. Yes, large amounts can be dangerous for those who are already hypertensive, but there are plenty of people who benefit from their salt intake and would see no ill effects from large quantities of it.
Back to the study: Those in the low-carb group ate 40 percent or more of their calories in fat and burned about 150 calories a day more than the low-fat group. Yum!
Bazzano says with so many people still abiding by low-fat recommendations, a diet so high in fat might not sound like a good weight-loss strategy. “It’s not the general perception,” she says.
But, in fact, there are a spate of studies that have come to the same conclusion about the benefits of swapping a low-fat, high-carb strategy for a pattern of eating that emphasizes healthy fats and lower carbohydrate consumption.
It’s not just waistlines that respond. The low-carb, healthy fats approach has been shown to cut the risk of heart disease.
Now, you may say I’m in danger of jumping on another nutrition trend. Fair enough, but the trend I advocate for, such that it is, amounts to “Hey, how ’bout everyone not freak out at every study about nutrition and extrapolate it to ban the thing you’re most concerned about your fellow Americans putting in their bodies.” I’m not interested in banning carbs, but a smarter discussion about their effects could be helpful as free people make their free-people decisions. Also, it could help get more full-fat Greek yogurt on the shelves. Seriously, I’ll buy it, guys!
And, free people can use their judgment on when to listen to the government, too. Not all its advice is bad. For instance, I’d take this World War II food pyramid over Michelle Obama’s $2-million color-coded plate or its predecessor, which called for a stunning 6-11 servings of carbs per day.
BUTTER is a food group, and it encourages you to eat some from each of seven food groups, plus “any other foods you want.” That’s my kind of nanny state: