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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Imaginary Historical Decrease in Fat Consumption

Lately, I’ve seen many “experts” on nutrition claim that low-fat foods make people fat. As part of the “evidence” to back up this nonsense, they claim that the recent increase in popularity of low-fat foods is an underlying cause of our obesity epidemic. They must think that I’m too lazy or stupid to look up the real data for myself.

I entered the term “fat consumption trends” into Google, and within a second or two I found this article: Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients --- United States, 1971--2000. This article reports the trends that the CDC found when they analyzed data from four National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), the first of which was conducted in 1971-1974 and the last of which was conducted in 1999-2000. These surveys revealed that men and women were eating more calories and more fat in 1999-2000 than they had been eating in the early 1970s. However, they were also eating so much more sugar that the percentage of their calories that came from fat went down slightly.

In other words, people are getting fatter because they are eating more calories, including more fat. In contrast, Japanese children have been getting fatter and running a risk of type 2 diabetes even though they have been eating fewer calories. It’s because of a shift from their traditional starchy diet to a more Westernized, higher-fat diet.

As I’ve explained in detail here, it’s easy to fatten on fat but much harder to fatten on starches.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting study in Japanese children. There does seem to be an increase in the belief that fat in the diet is healthy. I'm not sure how it developed.

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  2. I suspect that it's partly from a misunderstanding of diabetes.

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