Following a lengthy investigation lasting over a year, the BMJ said that two independent reviewers “found no grounds for retraction,” and that Teicholz’s criticisms of the methods used by the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) “are within the realm of scientific debate.”
As reported on this blog and The Sidebar (my US blogging buddy Peter M. Heimlich’s crack investigative journalism blog), Washington-DC based advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) – in bed with prominent members of the DGAC – aggressively campaigned to get the article retracted.
US investigative journalist Nina Teicholz calls it “a victory for science.” South African scientist Tim Noakes says it proves that one person can “change the world.” I say it’s a decisive defeat for medical, scientific and dietetic establishments in their ongoing war against the critics.
The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has announced that it will not retract the peer-reviewed investigation it published by Teicholz in September 2015. The feature documents in detail how the US Dietary Guidelines (DGAs) have ignored vast amounts of rigorous scientific evidence. This evidence is on key issues such as saturated fats and low-carbohydrate diets.
Teicholz’s article has been the target of an unprecedented retraction effort that was organized by an advocacy group that has long defended those guidelines. The BMJ stance is becoming a lesson in unintended consequences for those attempting to stifle debate on the topic. It raises fundamental questions about who was behind the retraction effort and their motivation.
If you’ve been reading the news, you probably know that eating delicious foods like butter and eggs is no longer thought to increase risk of heart attack or stroke. This post discusses new information has come to light suggesting Ancel Keys suppressed evidence that polyunsaturated fats are more harmful than trans fat!
For those of you who aren’t fully convinced that butter and eggs are healthy, I’ve devoted the first half of this article to highlighting why, when your doctor recommends that you swap out saturated fats in foods like butter and eggs for polyunsaturated fat in products like Smart Balance and packaged breakfast cereals, it’s largely thanks to Ancel Keys and his misleading, even dishonest, public statements.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Ancel Keys designed a series of highly influential experiments that changed the course of American dietary history. Before Keys, Americans enjoyed traditional foods like butter, eggs, and bacon without worrying about their health. After Keys made the cover of Time magazine on Jan 13, 1961, the American public was introduced to the idea that saturated fats were clogging their arteries, and that idea ultimately led to a sea change in the foods we eat. Real foods would increasingly replaced by processed, and the era of obesity and chronic disease would begin.
In July 2002, The New York Times Magazine published “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?,” a cover story by food journalist Gary Taubes arguing that the carbohydrates in our diets, not the fat, were the likely cause of obesity and heart disease. What sounds perfectly reasonable now — essentially a defense of Atkins and Paleo — was at the time akin to heresy. The critical avalanche that followed was swift and relentless, including aCenter for Science in the Public Interest newsletter cover accusing Taubes of promulgating “Big Fat Lies,” a Reason magazine takedown headlined, “Big Fat Fake,” and a Newsweek scolding, written by a former friend, titled, “It’s Not the Carbs, Stupid.”
Almost fifteen years later, much of what Taubes was pilloried for writing in 2002 has become conventional wisdom. Michael Pollan has since referred to Taubes as the Alexander Solzhenitsyn of nutrition research, and he’s been asked to lecture at over 60 universities and medical schools worldwide — from the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic to Harvard Law School and Oxford University. Taubes is now widely considered to be one of the most influential authorities in nutrition. With his latest book,The Case Against Sugar, coming out from Knopf in December, we asked him to write about his time in the wilderness. Below, in his own words, Taubes ruminates on bouncing back from professional ridicule.
Newsreader Jamie Owen is going on a diet that goes directly against government healthy eating advice – and common sense. For the past 30 years we’ve been told the key to a healthy lifestyle is cutting out fat. However, as a nation we’ve got bigger – Jamie included. A controversial new report says the current government advice is making us bigger, and that the food industry is telling us what to eat. The report says that it isn’t butter, milk and other fat that is to blame – the problem lies elsewhere. Join Jamie as he investigates these weighty issues and makes himself a guinea pig for a diet that aims to make us rethink the way we try to control out waistline.
Back in the late 1800s, Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a prize to anyone who could come up with a substitute for butter that would be cheap enough to be used by the lower classes. The winning spread, invented by a chemist named Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès and composed of rendered beef fat and skim milk, became known as margarine.
Mège-Mouriès may have won the prize, but he couldn’t fool the French into eating the stuff — not even the poor French — so he sold the patent to a Dutch company. Later that century, in the face of a beef-tallow shortage (I know; hard to believe), another chemist, from Binghamton, New York, came up with a way to manufacture margarine from a combination of animal and vegetable fats. The Great Depression further reduced the availability of animal fat, while butter shortages during World War II increased the popularity of an all-vegetable-oil version.