Dec 14 2011

Update on marketing to kids

I subscribe to The Lancet, and always enjoy reading its editor’s weekly Offline column.  In October, editor Richard Horton wrote about how  government obesity policy needs to be based firmly on scientific evidence.

And what is that evidence?

On this question, the evidence is utterly clear.  Thanks to the work of the best scientific minds in obesity research, the most reliable evidence shows that the government’s plan should include taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages, front-of-pack traffic-light nutrition labeling, reductions of junk food and drink advertising to children, and school-based programmes to reduce television viewing and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (Lancet, 2011;378:1451).

If you care about public health evidence, that’s what it shows.  But doing these things goes against the business interests of food companies and they are doing everything they can to oppose such science-based measures.

In the U.S., the Sunlight Foundation has just released a report detailing the amounts of money food companies have spent on lobbying to block federal attempts to set nutritional standards for marketing foods to children (see previous posts).

Big companies such as Nestle, Kellogg, Viacom, McDonalds, General Mills, and Time Warner have indicated on official reports that they have lobbied on the controversial proposed guidelines; all together such companies have reported spending more than $37 million on lobbying this year.

The Sunlight report lists reported lobbying expenses (for example, Coca-Cola $4.7 million, General Mills $660,000).  It also points out that

…Over all public relations were handled by Anita Dunn, formerly communications director at the Obama White House, at the firm SKDKnickerbocker Consulting.

Anita Dunn is of special interest because of her previous position at the White House.  Now she’s working for the not-so-loyal opposition.  Marian Burros reported on this switch for Politico:

Dunn, who served as White House communications director, is a senior partner at SKDKnickerbocker Consulting, which is handling public relations for the food industry’s campaign. Switching sides isn’t uncommon in the incestuous world of Washington consulting and lobbying, and the food industry coalition seeking to scuttle the voluntary guidelines argues that they are actually enforceable regulations in disguise that could lead to billions in lost sales.

Dr. Horton’s comments in Lancet imply that the British government isn’t doing much better.

As for the European Union (EU),  Food Chemical News reported on December 8 that major food companies— McDonald’s, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Danone, Kellogg, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, as well as the European Snacks Associations—have just pledged to promote only healthful products on their websites aimed at children under age 12.

By “healthful,” they mean products that meet “better-for-you” criteria.  Food Chemical News cites a study suggesting that European children now see 79% less advertising of really bad junk foods on kids’ TV than they did in 2005, and 29% less across all TV programs.

The study did not say whether sales of those products were down too. If not, this could explain the willingness of companies to extend the voluntary restriction to websites aimed at very young children.

All of this would be much simpler for parents if governments paid attention to the research.  If they did, they would:

  • Tax unhealthy foods and beverages
  • Require traffic-light front-of-pack labels
  • Stop junk food and drink advertising to children
  • Institute programs to reduce television viewing
  • Institute programs to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption

Taken together, these might actually make some progress in reducing childhood obesity.

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  • Margeretrc

    “the government’s plan should include taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages,” And who’s going to decide what is “unhealthy” and based on what criteria? Are we going to be like Denmark and tax saturated fat because the powers that be think it’s unhealthy–based on zero scientific evidence? The government has already done irreparable damage by recommending people consume a low fat diet, which by default is high carb, and recommend that we switch out healthy saturated fat for inflammatory vegetable oils and trans fats. If they decide to put some teeth into those recommendations by taxing the foods they’ve decided are unhealthy, even though science hasn’t proven that they are, we are in for even more obesity, heart disease, and T2 diabetes. No way should that happen, and because I worry that it would, I don’t want government taxing any of my food–even the stuff I know actually is unhealthy, like HFCS, flour, sugar, and vegetable oils and trans fats.

  • Cathy Richards

    Dr. David Katz once wrote that when all those people talk about Big Brother interfering in our freedom of choice, that we should ask them who they would prefer to have as their influence brokers — Big Food (including Wall St and Marketing/Advertising firms) or Big Brother. Either way, our choices are influenced and limited. But Big Food likely does not have our best interests at heart. Unless we’re shareholders.

    Oh wait — we all ARE shareholders. Unless you keep your money under a mattress, your retirement fund, your pension, your mutual funds etc are likely all deeply invested in Big Food.

    So as shareholders we need to decide which healthy state we are most interested in — our pockets, or our bodies/minds.

    Humanity is indeed caught in an interesting and perplexing labyrinth.

  • http://mediterraneandiet.tv/ edSanDiego

    I have to say that Medico’s comment is temptingly persuasive.

    However, the problem with public health, is the public.

    You can tell people until your are blue in the face that something is bad for their health and well-being, yet most people will ignore the warnings.

    Smokers, for example, know more about the risks of getting cancer then non-smokers. The rates of smoking have fallen over the years because of efforts to remove cigarettes from the public consciousness, but a stubborn percentage go out of their way to continue smoking.

    Education plays an important factor in reducing obesity, but the things that work are, excuse the pun, carrots and sticks.

    People need cheaper healthy food as carrots and more restrictions on unhealthy foods as sticks – and this involves food producers and distributors all along the supply chain.

  • Michael Bulger

    Margaret, as you are aware of, there is strong scientific evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease. Virtually every accredited public health and nutrition school, every major health organization, and all the major scientific bodies have reviewed the science and concluded as such.

    I know you’ll disagree, but until there is credible and reviewed evidence to change this, the science-based recommendations should guide policy.

  • Lory

    And Odysseus had his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and himself tied to the mast. That’s called being rational.

  • Margeretrc

    Michael, by all means, please show me the “strong scientific evidence” that links saturated fat (by itself–not consumed with carbohydrates) to heart disease. Even the famous Framingham study failed to find a link between sat fat intake and heart disease. As sat fat consumption went down, fewer people died of heart attacks, perhaps, but more incidences occurred. That only proves that medicine got better at preventing death from heart attacks, not that sat fat has anything to do with heart disease. People who eliminate carbohydrates from their diet and up their sat fat intake consistently find their heart disease risk markers improve–almost immediately. And how do you explain the “French Paradox?” There are plenty of other “paradoxes.” But there are no paradoxes in science. Either sat fat is linked to heart disease everywhere or it isn’t. And if it isn’t everywhere–and it isn’t–it isn’t at all. If you can link to any study that shows a consistent association between saturated fat and heart disease without carbohydrates present, I’ll be more than happy to consider changing my view. But I’ll wager my life that you can’t find one–I actually am, because I eat as much saturated fat as I want. Here’s what one cardiologist has to say about it: http://healthimpactnews.com/2011/enjoy-saturated-fats-they%E2%80%99re-good-for-you/ Dr. Sylvan Weinberg, former President of the American College of Cardiology is also quoted as saying that the association between saturated fat and heart disease is tenuous at best and that we need to look at what people have substituted for the sat fat they are not eating as a more likely culprit. No, the evidence is far from strong–I would wager non existent.

  • Michael Bulger

    Margaret,

    We’ve gone over this before. Harvard School of Public Health explains things quite simply and provides many references to scientific studies. Feel free to refer to that: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/index.html

    (You might also find it helpful to understand that carbohydrates are present in a wide range of foods. From soda to fresh vegetables. Maybe you would like to draw distinctions more clearly.)

  • iRememberWhen

    “We’ve gone over this before.”

    Dear Michael Bulger:

    Let me say that I’m old enough to remember oat bran. For a while several good studies showed oat bran had many beneficial dietary effects. Oat bran was everywhere, in everything. Everyone praised it.

    Then, new science showed that oat bran wasn’t actually so awesome, and it disappeared. This is the lot of nutrition science – often changing. We know it’s science because it is challenged, refined, changed, discarded. That’s the whole scientific inquiry process at work.

    Thus I want to ask you if you are aware that we now appear to be in such a moment around sat fats. We are seeing more and more good, careful studies that show sat fats are not as harmful as once thought. You can Google them, I’m sure.

    Many scientific experts, and not just crazy weightlifters running around dressed as “cavemen” on TV, are beginning to change their ideas about sat fat consumption and its effects on health. Certainly 2012 will be interesting as we see if the wave continues to build around a new view of sat fats, or if this is just another “oat bran” moment. :)

  • Margeretrc

    Thank you, @Irememberwhen. @Michael, did you read my link? I read yours and they don’t cite any evidence that saturated fats are bad. They call them bad, yes, but don’t provide any scientific evidence to back that up. Yes, they said trans fats are bad. I agree. Trans fats are very bad. But trans fats aren’t saturated and they aren’t natural. Lumping them in with natural saturated fat is a mistake made frequently by many. But it is a mistake. Your Harvard article does say that saturated fat raises “harmful” LDL. Well, it is true that eating sat fat raises LDL, but just how harmful this particular LDL is is very much up for debate and I see no evidence cited in your article that says it is. Not all LDL is the same and the evidence points to the small VLDL, which is raised by eating sugar and starch, not sat fat, as being more atherogenic than the large, fluffy LDL that increases when one eats saturated fat. The kind that is raised by eating saturated fat–the big, fluffy kind– is actually associated with protection against inflammation and heart disease. But never mind that. Here’s another fact that your Harvard article did not mention, but is well known. Eating saturated fat also raises the “good” HDL. So either way, eating sat fat is at worst, neutral when it comes to heart disease risk. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, and I am talking about sugar and starches, not the carbohydrates that are in leafy greens and non starchy vegetables, may not be so neutral.

  • MargaretRC

    @Irememberwhen, LOL, I remember when oat bran was in, too, and then it just faded away. But this is different. Sat fat was always in–for most of our existence as humans–and still is in many countries and cultures. Then, for a little while, based on fraudulent studies, it fell out of favor here and in some western countries. But people, scientists and many doctors, too, are realizing that the vilification of saturated fat (and the glorification of trans fats, vegetable oil, and starches and sugar) was quite premature and may very well have contributed to the current epidemic of obesity, T2 diabetes, and heart disease. So, unlike the oat bran fad, which came and went, sat fat will undoubtedly be back to stay, once the fad of vilifying it is finally over. And that can’t be too soon for me.

  • Joe

    What is the saddest thing about this post? It is that all the best and brightest scientific minds can come up with to combat obesity is higher taxes, more regulation and increased government intervention. Should best and brightest be used lightly here?

    Moreover the best dietary and physical activity intervention for weightloss is successful only a small percentage of the time. This is supported by the fact that most who lose weight gain it back and then some. And we are being asked to believe that taxes combined with government regulation will be more effective?

    Is it any wonder the public health message goes largely unheard?

  • MargaretRC

    @Joe, sad indeed. Instead of seriously searching for programs that work, they want to tax people into behaving, as if people are misbehaving. What’s even sadder is, up until about 40 years ago, everyone knew how to lose weight–if we needed to–just cut out sugar and starch. But the focus now is on worse than useless reduced calorie, low fat diets, and exercise, which may work short term, but sets up most who try them to fail long term–again and again. But sure, taxing unhealthy food will bring everyone into line.

  • Anthro

    I lost 45 lbs and have maintained it for more than five years so far. I did it by eating FEWER CALORIES FROM ALL FOOD GROUPS.

    Children need to be protected from all predators–even those who prey on them for profit and use twisted logic to build false arguments.

  • Michael Bulger

    You can dismiss the scientific studies as “fraudulent” if you wish. You can also choose to follow Mary Enig on cholesterol research. These opinions are on the fringe of the medical community, to be polite. The Nobel Prizes, supportive research, and overwhelming consensus lie opposite of Enig and Sally Fallon.

    http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/sept2003/cholesterol/century.html
    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cholesterol.html
    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002468.htm

    (BTW, foods high in soluble fiber (like oat bran) that are low in SFA and cholesterol can still be good for heart health. Adding a small amount of oat brans to sugary junk food, in order to sell the junk food, is not helpful. Science being misused by the food industry is not the same as science being debunked.)

  • MargaretRC

    I guess time will tell whether the Nobel Prize winners or the fringe, as you call it, will turn out to be right. My money and millennia of human evolution are on the side of the fringe. And it’s not just Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. I’ve been studying this for over six years and there are many scientists and doctors who disagree with the mainstream tenets. They’ll never get a Nobel Prize, of course, because they’re going against the mainstream, where reputations are at stake and no one wants to admit they might have made a mistake. My point when I started, however, is that, before any food is taxed as “unhealthy”, the burden of proof is on the side of those who would deem it unhealthy. Regardless of what you say, that burden of proof has not been met, at least as far as sat fat an cholesterol are concerned. And I do indeed dismiss Ancel Keys’ Keys’ 7 countries study (which started it all) as fraudulent, because he cherry picked the the countries and cohorts to show what he wanted it to show and left out the contradictory ones. That’s not how science is supposed to work. You can’t just ignore data because it doesn’t fit with your hypothesis.

  • Benboom

    Yes, all those Inuit who managed to survive just fine for thousands of years on an all meat diet without flour and sugar obviously didn’t have a clue. Oh, wait – they got those from us and along came heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Margaret is right.

  • Margeretrc

    @Anthro, I’m happy for you. Clearly your metabolism is not messed up. But it’s worth pointing out that when you reduced calories in all food groups–certainly a valid strategy; not denying it–you reduced your sugar and starch as well. What worked? Was it the reduction in calories or was it the reduction in sugar and starch? Difficult to say from your n=1 data, but any strategy that reduces the amount of insulin circulating in the blood will inhibit fat storage and promote fat burning and weight loss. So congratulations. But what worked for you does not necessarily work for everyone. Much depends on how much they’ve damaged their metabolism from years of eating a low fat diet with lots of sugar and starch, processed foods, or both. I tried eating low fat. Gained weight. Cut out sugar and starch, but still ate low fat. Lost some weight, but was hungry a lot. Tried eating “everything in moderation.” Didn’t gain weight, but didn’t lose it either, and I’m very active. Then I cut out sugar and starch and increased fat consumption. Have been losing weight and inches ever since. My husband lost 26 lb. and his belly fat by cutting way down on sugar and starch (while increasing fat consumption.) And neither of us ever steps away from the table hungry and we can both go for extended periods of time between meals without being hungry. Easiest way to lose weight and get healthy ever, in my opinion.

  • Brandon

    @Margaret, 2nd comment: Trans fat can be natural. Beef, even from organic grass fed cows, has trans fat.

    I thought they already taxed junk food? Why else would 10 ounces of flour, sugar, and oil concoctions cost $3? /joke To tie into that though, is it just the stigma of taxation that they think will cause people to eat less junk food? People will pay $3 for cookies, I don’t see them caring THAT much if it would now cost $3.05.

  • Brandon

    @Margaret: YesI have heard many stories from people wanting to reduce their weight having success by switching to LC or VLC. But I don’t think that lifestyle is required for optimal health for someone at a normal weight. My n=1 is that all my markers are good, and I eat whatever I feel like (just no soda, chips, etc as those foods are expensive since they aren’t filling).

    Also, a very low fat diet with a lot of starches is not fat promoting. Making fat from sugar is an energy requiring process and therefore the body will not do it any time there is insulin.

  • http://franklinchen.com/ Franklin Chen

    I argued in a blog post http://franklinchen.com/blog/2011/11/07/why-soda-bans-dont-work/ that there are many reasons it’s unlikely various forms of bans and taxes can be made to work (independent of one’s ideological belief in whether they would be justified if they worked). So I don’t have much of answer to the big problems of obesity etc., other than that I try to set a personal example and spread it to family, friends, etc. For example, there was a time when I managed to lose over 20 pounds, and have kept it off for a decade, so I feel I have some credibility with those to whom I’m not a stranger.

  • Suzanne

    @Brandon:

    You omitted a critical piece of one of your statements: “Also, a very low fat diet with a lot of starches is not fat promoting. ” What you appear to have left out is …” in metabolically normal people.”

    In response to your comment: “Making fat from sugar is an energy requiring process and therefore the body will not do it any time there is insulin.”:

    Starches quickly converts to glucose in the body. Insulin is instrumental in converting glucose to fat stored in the form of triglycerides. Margeretrc can do a much better job explaining this process than I am able to with my layperson’s grasp of Human Biology.

  • Margeretrc

    @Brandon, you are right about there being naturally occurring trans fats. But it is a very small amount and of a kind that the human body knows how to deal with–because we have evolved the capability. When I said trans fat is bad, I was (and I admit I should have specified) talking about the man made stuff created by partially hydrogenating vegetable and seed oils. And I won’t disagree that LC or VLC is not required for optimal health for someone of normal weight–and whose metabolism isn’t damaged. Certainly there are many cultures who eat carbohydrates without problems, even refined carbohydrates. But it is not an unhealthy lifestyle for anyone. However, your statement, “Making fat from sugar is an energy requiring process and therefore the body will not do it any time there is insulin.” is incorrect. The opposite is true. Yes it requires energy, of course. But insulin is also required for the process to occur, as we well know from type 1 diabetics. They don’t produce insulin, and therefore cannot process glucose into fats, which is why glucose builds up to dangerous levels in their blood stream. Meanwhile, without insulin, stored fat practically pours out of their fat cells, which is why they waste away until they are diagnosed and start taking insulin shots. The exogenous insulin does what it’s supposed to–turns excess glucose in the blood stream into fat in the form of triglycerides. For a more complete discussion of how fat promoting a low fat diet with lots of starches can be, I recommend “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes.
    @Benboom, Thanks. The Inuits are just one of many “paradoxes” that the “sat fat is unhealthy” folks can’t explain and prefer to ignore. Sigh. And Dr. Jay Wortman is one of those doctors on the “fringe” who is restoring health to some sick First Nation Canadians by returning them to their traditional, high fat diet. It’s not available in the US yet, but he chronicles this in his documentary “My Big Fat Diet.” He also has a web page: http://www.drjaywortman.com/blog/wordpress/
    @Suzanne, Thank you. Your grasp of Human Biology seems pretty fine to me.

  • Michael Bulger

    @Benboom Despite Margaret’s assertion that science “can’t explain and prefer(s) to ignore” the paradoxes, research has addressed the Inuit diet. I’ve explained it to her previously on this blog, but Margaret seems to suffer from her own penchant for ignoring what doesn’t fit into her nutritional reasoning.

    The meat that the Inuits were eating were not the same as the meats in your grocery store, or at your restaurants. Their fat came mostly from sea mammals and fish. The wild land animals the Inuit did hunt had less saturated fat (SFA), and more monounsaturated fat (MUFA). Further, the large amount of sea mammals and fish they relied on had very high levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). I assume you know that scientific thinking is that, while SFA contribute to heart disease, replacing SFA with MUFA and PUFA lowers the risk of heart disease. Whale fat is about 70% MUFA and 30% PUFA. When people say the Inuits ate a lot of fat, that doesn’t mean they ate a lot of saturated fat.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2004/oct/inuit-paradox

    Put simply, the Inuit didn’t live on bacon, butter, and beef.

  • Margeretrc

    Okay, perhaps the Inuit diet isn’t the best example, I’ll grant you that. But, as I said, they are only one of many. There are other cultures that live on a higher sat fat diet–The Massai, for instance, who live mostly on beef, milk, and blood from the cattle they herd. Or pick any South Pacific Island or country that eats a lot of coconuts and coconut products (my sat fat of choice.) I guess they didn’t get the memo that the highly saturated fat in coconut and palm oils is bad for us and are dying of heart disease all over the place. Oh wait, they’re not. And I assure you, I am not saying that the fat that comes from meat in our grocery stores or restaurants is all that healthy. But what makes it less healthy than, say grass fed, is the relatively high amount of poly unsaturated omega 6 fatty acids in it from being fed grains rather than the grass they evolved to eat, not the saturated fat, which is the same variety of sat fats that our own bodies make. An imbalance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids (which happens, by the way, when we replace the sat fat in our diets with PUFA, rather than MUFA) is quite inflammatory and atherogenic, so no, replacing our healthy sat fats with high omega 6 PUFA is not healthy at all. Scientific thinking is not the same as scientific evidence. There’s evidence that the easily oxidized omega 6 fatty acids play a role in the oxidation of cholesterol that can contribute to heart disease. (Isn’t it oxidized cholesterol, mostly, that is found in atherosclerotic lesions?) And the scientific thinking may be that SFA contribute to heart disease, but I’m still waiting to see the actual evidence of that. I recently watched an interview with doctor (Mary Vernon) who treats diabetic patients. She went looking through all the studies on sat fat and heart disease and filled up 3 CDs with them and not one actually showed a link between sat fat and heart disease. All the dietary studies that are used to link sat fat and heart disease do not separate trans fat from sat fat or sugar and starch from the sat fat. I’m still waiting for you to send me a link to a study that links a diet high in sat fat but low in trans fats, sugar and starches, to heart disease. I don’t want to know what scientists, no matter how prestigious, say. I want to see the evidence–the studies–on which they base what they say. Sweden and Norway, BTW, seem to agree that the case against sat fat is weak or nonexistent–their populations are switching to a low carb, high fat way of eating in droves to try to stem the tide of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It will be interesting to see how they fare.

  • Brandon

    Yes I probably should have said “in metabolically normal conditions”.

    Yes insulin is instrumental in getting cells to take up sugar at rapid rates, but that sugar, when in excess of current needs, will be first and foremost turned into glycogen. Yes, your body has a set limit of how much glycogen it wants around, but even then, it can/will temporarily oversaturate glycogen stores. So as long as glycogen stores are being used (through physical activity or spacing out meals), sugar won’t really get turned into fat.

    “[Type 1 Diabetics] don’t produce insulin, and therefore cannot process glucose into fats, which is why glucose builds up to dangerous levels in their blood stream. Meanwhile, without insulin, stored fat practically pours out of their fat cells, which is why they waste away until they are diagnosed and start taking insulin shots.”

    They cannot process glucose into anything, which is why glucose builds up to dangerous levels. Meanwhile, without insulin, stored fat is used as the main source of energy, since carbs can’t efficiently be used. This is evidenced when the liver, even in a diabetic with high blood sugar, is performing gluconeogenesis, is making sugar from protein, because it doesn’t “know” its already there. So fat is “poured out” because sugar isn’t really being used for energy, protein is being turned into sugar (which can’t really be used for energy), so that only leaves fat for energy needs. That is why they waste away, they aren’t consuming enough usable calories (and not solely because of insulin).

    RE: Saturated Fats
    It has already been shown many times that not all saturated fats are created equal. MCTs atherosclerosis.

  • Michael Bulger

    You say, “I don’t want to know what scientists, no matter how prestigious, say. I want to see the evidence–the studies–on which they base what they say.”

    Here’s a start: http://www.nel.gov/evidence.cfm?evidence_summary_id=250189

    BTW, do you think a lot of blog readers or Americans associate SFA with coconuts and not steak? Or are extremely physically active like the Massai you refer to? How relevant are these issues to American food policy?

  • Margeretrc

    @Brandon, “It has already been shown many times that not all saturated fats are created equal.” True enough. There are sat fats made of short chain, medium chain (MCTs) and long chain fatty acids. But all of them are part of a diet that includes natural sat fats and none of them have been–by themselves–shown to cause heart disease or any other chronic disease. Our bodies even can and do make all of them, given the right raw materials and the need. Why would our bodies make something that is inherently harmful to us?

    “MCTs atherosclerosis.”? Are you saying MCTs promote atherogenesis? If that were true, there are a lot of cultures worldwide that should have rampant heart disease, but don’t.

    And you’re right–I somewhat oversimplified the whole type 1 diabetic, insulin and fat storage scenario. My son is type 1, so I am pretty aware of all the nuances of the disease. I was just trying to point out that excess glucose from sugar and starch can (CAN) be fat promoting and insulin IS involved in the process, as most–if not all–Biochemistry textbooks will tell you. I was not trying to say that is the only thing insulin does or that excess glucose is all or always turned into fat.
    “That is why they waste away, they aren’t consuming enough usable calories (and not solely because of insulin).” Isn’t the fact that a large portion of the calories they consume isn’t usable is because they don’t have insulin? If they produced insulin like the rest of us, more of the calories they consume would be usable, no? What am I missing here? I’m quite sure they didn’t change their eating habits when they lost the ability to produce insulin, especially since it is the rare diabetic that knows right away that they are not producing it any more. Lack of insulin is the variable that causes the symptoms, which tells me lack of insulin has everything to do with them.

  • Margeretrc

    One more thing on sat fat. The traditional Inuit diet may be mostly fish and other low sat fat food. However, Dr. Jay Wortman is studying the effect of removing carbohydrates from the diet as a treatment for diabetes, not actually returning them to their traditional diets. He is using–wait for it–the Atkins diet, essentially, on himself and his patients. Here are some quotes from his website http://www.drjaywortman.com/blog/wordpress/my-big-fat-diet-faqs/:
    “It was thought that an increase in fat would lead to high cholesterol which is associated with heart disease. When the studies were actually done on this, however, much to everyone’s surprise, the opposite happened. People on a low-carb diet improved their cholesterol readings even when they increased their fat intake and even when their intake of saturated fat (the so-called bad fat) increased.”
    “There have been a number of recent studies that have shown that people on a very low carb diet can eat lots of fat, including saturated fat, and achieve a better lipid profile than people eating the American Heart Association recommended low-fat diet. In a recent editorial, Dr. Frank Hu, a well-respected Harvard nutritional researcher, argued that, based on the evidence, public health programs to reduce cardiovascular disease need to shift from targeting dietary fat to targeting carbohydrates. He states that the original programs to discourage fat consumption may have backfired and inadvertently increased obesity and cardiovascular disease by encouraging a shift towards carbohydrate consumption.”
    Hmm, a well respected Harvard nutritional researcher, not someone “on the fringes” of the medical field.

  • Michael Bulger

    Hu doesn’t exonerate SFA. I’ve seen his quote used as a justification for those who say the science doesn’t support the SFA/CVD link. It is a misrepresentation of what he was saying. In fact, Hu is part of HSPH, the webpage I linked to earlier (and which a certain someone dismissed so quickly).

    If the aim is to champion coconut oil, perhaps some folks should be a little more specific.

    Americans, as a population, should reduce the consumption of refined carbohydrates (like soda and sugary deserts). They would also benefit from reducing consumption of SFA from foods derived from animals.