The Inadequacy of Lesser Evidence

Thank you so much for all your comments on yesterdays post, but most of you failed to really answer my main question. Most of you agreed that it was best to not comment on other’s food choices, as I usually do not. But, what you didn’t tell me was, do you feel, inside, like you should. Do you feel conflicted when you don’t say anything?

I have been reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. My post title tonight is a chapter title from part one of this very weighty book. Part one is titled “The Fat-Cholesterol Hypothesis” and it is centered around the process that was followed to effectively change the diets of Americans, and therefore most other Western cultures during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. It chronicles with amazing detail the research and studies, and processes followed to convince the American public, via various government bodies that diets high in saturated fat led to high blood cholesterol levels and that this in turn increased the risk in heart disease, and therefore decreased longevity. It also shows, quite convincingly, how many of these were flawed and/or biased studies, and how many other studies that disputed these findings were either ignored or disparaged. I have found myself shaking my head in disbelief on almost all of the 85 pages of part one, incredulous that the diets of the entire Western world could be influenced by the misguided (?) and misleading and untrustworthy studies and publications of a relatively small group of scientists. Is it possible that the low saturated fat (and therefore higher in carbohydrate and introduced polyunsaturated fat) diets that the population has been guided toward not only do not offer the reduction in heart disease promised, but could also be the cause of many other diseases of our culture? I guess I’ll have to read the rest of the book to find out.

This is a serious book, but also a seriously good book.

Quite proud of myself tonight as I headed out for a run on a rainy and windy evening. An easy 6km tonight, 5:29 min/km pace.

8 Responses to “The Inadequacy of Lesser Evidence”

  1. kathryn Says:

    I’d not comment but of course, I’d think it. It’s only human nature (and I’d feel smug if I was eating something better).

    I think a lot of medical research is flawed and so much of it is contradictory. You also have to look at how research is funded and how independent it really is.

  2. Tish Says:

    No I don’t comment, but yes, I really WANT to comment. In a Big Brother sort of way. “If you eat that, you’ll weigh what I used to weigh very soon.” I certainly assess others’ food choices, but I’m not sure that’s an admirable trait.

    Based on your earlier mention, I ordered the Taubes book too. I’m at about the same point. Fascinating. I especially liked the part where Eisenhower changed to a low fat/low cholesterol diet, very well documented, and gained weight and had a big jump in his cholesterol levels so much that his doctor LIED to him so that the president wouldn’t get so worried and have his BP go up too! I once met Eisenhower (when I was a small girl).

  3. Lori (Finding Radiance) Says:

    I would never comment unless someone asks for an opinion. Sometimes I hope they ask for an opinion 😀

    I read the Taubes book. It just shows how little we really understand about food and how it affects the body.

  4. Cilla Says:

    Re: the book – the truth is probably somewhere in the middle – I would be very wary of any extremism, no matter which way it goes.
    Some people can get away with eating a lot of fat or carbs without much problem, some people cannot.
    I like the sensibility of Michael Pollan – “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.
    Re: the commenting – we can feel conflicted but it is not people’s job to tell others. As a doctor, it is MY job. It should be the government’s job to regulate foods, make junk less available. Wholesale societal measures are needed.
    Also, a lot of damaging eating probably goes on in secret.
    We talk about the “stages of change” in any sort of behavioural change – we need to take into account what stage a person is at. If somebody comes to me wanting to lose weight, then that tells me that they are at about the right stage to bring it up.

  5. Veronica Says:

    I’m not the best eater at times (I’ve struggled with my weight the last ten years and seem to eat really well for a while, then eat nothing but crap), but it does bother me when I see someone who is already overweight adding to the problem with their food choices. Thin people I don’t care as much what they’re eating, but that really isn’t fair because if they only eat candy bars and soda then they probably aren’t much healthier than an overweight person. But of course it is not my business and I say nothing unless it is someone very close to me, like my husband. Even then, it does not make much of a difference. The person has to want to change or it’s not going to happen. Related to your book, which sounds really interesting, did you know the reason that grains take up such a large part of our food pyramid is that the government wanted to help out the wheat farmers, who were struggling to sell their product? Ack! Not that grains are bad, but fruits and vegetables should defintely take up more space on that sucker than the grains. Ridiculous.

  6. Josie Says:

    I am going to have to check out that book – thanks for sharing.

    I won’t comment about someone’s food choices unless they ask me for my opinion. I have a hard enough time trying to make sure *I’m* making the right choice…haha!

  7. Carla Says:

    I also read the book. I liked it. I read every page and like you I was incredulous about what I was reading. Reading this book actually was the beginning of my weight loss journey and changed profoundly the way I look at food.

  8. jojo Says:

    i defintely want to say something if someone is overweight(as it is in their best interests) but again, they ALREADY know what they should be doing.

    i guess the most i would do is…. mmmm this is delicious AND healthy!!!

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