Letter to the NZ medical Journal on saturated fat debate

We keep writing back an forth, and this “butter is out” debate seems to go on and on. If oyuare interested here’s our latest Thornley-19361421

Author: Prof. Grant Schofield

I am Grant Schofield, Professor of Public Health at Auckland University of Technology and director of the university's Human Potential Centre (HPC) located at the Millennium Campus in Auckland, New Zealand. My research and teaching interests are in wellbeing and chronic disease prevention especially reducing the risk and eventual mortality and morbidity from obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. I live by the motto "be the best you can be" and have a strong commitment to peak performance in which I also do consulting work. I’ve been interested in human health and performance for my whole career. I started in psychology, went into sport and exercise psychology, then into public health, especially physical activity, then obesity. There have been some twists and turns along the way, which are the reasons for why I do what I do – you can read about those in my first blog entry. I want to know how we can be the best we can be. This crosses disciplines such as biology, medicine, pubic health, and productivity management. The cornerstones are nutrition, exercise, sleep, neuroscience, psychology and wellbeing. In my blog, I cover these topics under the broad heading of the Science of Human Potential.

5 thoughts on “Letter to the NZ medical Journal on saturated fat debate”

  1. Good reply. Let’s see if it gets published! I have just read Uffe Ravnskov’s book, which similarly shows how the evidence for and against saturated fat get’s distorted by those with entrenched positions. The more money spent on research, the more likely they are to gloss over the fact that the results simply do not prove their hypothesis.

    I also was interested to note Jim Mann’s association with the Sugar Research Advisory Service, funded by (surprise surprise?) the Sugar Industry Alliance. I am generally against conspiracy theories but the anti-fat/pro-sugar lobby is getting more and more aggressive (and blatant) even though the evidence against them is growing.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Well, of course the sugar/starch factions are thrashing and shrieking and biting – like any rat in a trap, they are fighting for their not-so-little lives.

      Remember – organisms are systems, and systems behave like organisms.

  2. The best evidence for the saturated fat diet-heart hypothesis would have been, if saturated fat actually produced the types of LDL and cholesterol fractions that predict heart disease –
    sdLDL and ApoB type LDL, high TG, low HDL.
    That isn’t the case, and carbohydrate does more to produce those lipids.

    So the scientific thing to do would be to modify the hypothesis – SFA plus lots of carbohydrate produces lipids that predict heart disease. Test this.
    But instead we get a retreat to a lesser form of evidence – there’s no independent link between SFA and heart disease, but replacing SFA with PUFA reduces heart risk (a little), (but most likely so does replacing carbohydrate with PUFA, but we won’t mention or test that). Well okay – how much PUFA should you eat? There is not much evidence of consumption above 7-8% of energy, and 5% seems plenty.
    So where is the rest of the energy in the diet going to come from? 60%-80% of the energy in most diets, even after adding 5% PUFA and some fibre, comes from a mixture of SFA, MUFA, and carbohydrate.
    MUFA doesn’t seem to be that different from SFA or carbohydrate in epidemiology, and is often found in the same foods (like butter or lard).

    So why replace SFA or reduce it at all?

    Refer back to the first part of this argument – the part that has been disproved.

    Round and round we go. If you want off the merry-go-round, modify the hypothesis till it fits the evidence, not vice versa.

  3. I’m in the middle of reading Nina Teicholtz’s “The Big Fat Surprise”, which takes off from Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, only this time exposing the lack of evidence to support the contention that fat not only makes you fat, but it gives you heart disease as well.

    The specifics of the sometimes well-meaning, but often dishonest or self-deluded, and ultimately futile quest are bad enough, but what really makes me weep (literally) is that 60 years of trying to fit the evidence to the hypotheses is summed up in a “scientific” consensus culture that no longer knows or cares how wrong this is. And many people have been injured and condemned to die early because of these negligences.

    The Shining City has become the Augean Stable, owned by the Cow Pie Peddlers…

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