I used to think excess weight was caused by eating too much and/or not exercising enough. “There was no one overweight on the Burma Railway,” I’d quip. Not any more.
When overweight people said “it’s my metabolism” or “I am big-boned”, I’d dismiss it as an excuse for gluttony and laziness. Not any more.
The myth that obesity is caused by overeating, especially a diet high in fats, is one perpetuated by the sugar industry and the “research” this industry has funded over the decades.
The sugar industry also perpetuated the myths that obesity causes diabetes; that diets high in saturated fats, high cholesterol and overeating generally cause heart disease; and that excess salt causes hypertension (high blood pressure). Anything, in short, to steer attention away from the real cause of these four maladies: sugar.
I was writing another blog, on another matter, when someone sent me an email containing a petition signed by over two hundred Canadian doctors.
Re: Canada’s Food Guide Consultation
From: Group of concerned Canadian Physicians and Allied Health Care providers
For the past 35+ years, Canadians have been urged to follow the Canadian Dietary Guidelines. During this time, there has been a sharp increase in nutrition-related diseases, particularly obesity and diabetes.
We are especially concerned with the dramatic increase in the rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. In 1980, 15% of Canadian school-aged children were overweight or obese. Remarkably, this number more than doubled to 31% in 2011; 12% of children met the criteria for obesity in the same reporting period. This has resulted in a population with a high burden of disease, causing both individual suffering, and resulting in health care systems which are approaching their financial breaking points. The guidelines have not been based on the best and most current science, and significant change is needed.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines were born of good intentions. They were created to make Americans healthier.
The guidelines, however, were not inscribed on stone tablets and handed to mankind. Instead, they are the result of a bureaucratic process and, as such, are susceptible to dubious conclusions and adverse influence by activist groups.
In 2015, journalist Nina Teicholz conducted an investigation, published in BMJ, that criticized the dietary guidelines for being based on “weak scientific standards” and “vulnerable to internal bias as well as outside agendas.”
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.