2010 Dietary Guidlines: Cut The Fat! (Even More Than Last Time)

After finishing a big programming project this weekend, I spent a good chunk of today reading the last big section of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, a 65-page document titled Fatty Acids and Cholesterol.  The final 30 pages or so were dedicated to reviewing evidence that nuts, omega-3 fats from fish, and chocolate might be good for your heart.  The committee’s conclusion:  Maybe, but we can’t really say.

But in the first 30-plus pages, the committee makes it clear they’re pretty darned positive saturated fat and cholesterol will kill you.  Saturated fat, as it turns out, will not only clog your arteries and stop your heart, it will give you type 2 diabetes as well. 

For more than 30 years now, we’ve been told to limit saturated fat to no more than 10% of our calories.  We’ve actually come pretty close:  according to the committee’s data tables, saturated fat makes up 11.4% of the average American’s intake.  Since we’ve also become fatter and more diabetic in the past decades, the committee put their academic heads together and came up with the obvious answer:  we’re still consuming too much saturated fat.  So in the 2010 guidelines, they tell us to reduce saturated fat to just 7% of our calories. The committee even suggests putting kids on fat-restricted diets to protect them from diabetes:

The growing data to support a risk of T2D from SFA consumption indicates the need for fat-modified diets in persons with pre-diabetes, including those with metabolic syndrome, and with established diabetes. Since the ages of onset of T2D now include childhood, studies from adolescence through middle age would be useful to define when SFA-reduced diets would be most effective.

I found the whole document so biased and contradictory, I managed to get the entire Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) on the phone so I could ask them to explain themselves.  Here is a transcript of the conversation:

Fat Head:  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions.

DGAC:  No problem.  We’re glad to help.

Fat Head:  Wow … I’ve never heard a roomful of people say the exact same words at the exact time before.

DGAC:  So you don’t attend Sunday mass anymore?

Fat Head:  I, uh … I mean I’ve never heard people do that without knowing the words ahead of time.  It’s pretty amazing.

DGAC:  Well, as we made clear in our document, it’s important for policymakers to speak with one voice on nutrition.  We’ve been practicing.

Fat Head:  You’re very good at it.

DGAC:  Thank you.

Fat Head:  To get started, I want to just clarify your overall position on dietary fat.  You stated that the federal government should continue recommending we limit our fat intake to 30% of total calories.  But in your document, you also made these statements:

Currently, several lines of evidence indicate that the type of fat is more important in decreasing metabolic and CVD risk than the total amount of fat in the diet.

The effects of dietary fat, as well as the other macronutrients, and intermediate risk factors, are diverse and highly dependent on other factors such as physical activity and life style habits, and, importantly, individual genetic predisposition that is based on underlying genetic polymorphisms.

However, in the 2002 IOM report on macronutrient requirements there was the adoption of an AMDR of fat intake of 20-35 percent of calories because there were no clear differences in health outcomes in populations consuming dietary fat within this range.

DGAC:  Sounds like you’re speaking Italic.

Fat Head:  I am, but only when I’m quoting you directly.  It’s for the benefit of my readers.

DGAC:  Fair enough.

Fat Head:  The point is, you gave a pretty specific limit for fat intake, then stated elsewhere that it’s the type of fat that really matters, and that there are wide variations in fat intake within healthy populations.  So why give us a limit, then more or less say the amount of fat isn’t all that important?

DGAC:  Because we wanted to work the term underlying genetic polymorphisms into the text.

Fat Head:  But that doesn’t seem–

DGAC:  We’re highly educated and like using a fancy term like that, but just try dropping it into a casual conversation.  It’s nearly impossible.

Fat Head:  Let me try this another way:  Why recommend a 30% limit at all?  What would happen if a large population consumed, say, a diet that was 40% fat?


Fat Head:  Geez!  I’ve never heard people scream in unison like that.

DGAC:  What about the first Halloween movie?

Fat Head:  Yeah, but not as a reaction to a simple question.

DGAC:  Well, the very idea!  Don’t you know eating fat causes diabetes?!  A population that eats that much fat would have so many amputees, they’d look like a reunion of Civil War veterans.

Fat Head:  Or like a bunch of Americans when I was in grade school.

DGAC:  Don’t be silly.  The last Civil War veteran died in 1956.

Fat Head:  I’m merely pointing out that according to your own data tables, the average American diet was more than 40% fat in the 1970s.  So where was all the type 2 diabetes?

DGAC:  Well … obviously it was sitting there, like a bomb waiting to explode.  Look what’s happened since then.

Fat Head:  You mean since we started eating less fat and more carbohydrates?

DGAC:  Clearly a case of too little, too late.

Fat Head:  Diabetes in America has doubled in the past 10 to 15 years.  You stated that according to the evidence, saturated fat makes us more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes, while monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats appear to prevent both.  Here’s how you put it:

In contrast to CVD, T2D is clearly increasing in prevalence and incidence. T2D is a strong risk factor for atherosclerotic disease, but also carries a high burden of disability and healthcare costs, with diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy, and neuropathy as major sequelae. Because of this, T2D and T2D risk were included as disease outcomes related to fatty acid and cholesterol consumption.

Strong evidence indicates that intake of dietary SFA is positively associated with intermediate markers and end point health outcomes for two distinct metabolic pathways: 1) increased serum total and LDL cholesterol and increased risk of CVD and 2) increased markers of insulin resistance and increased risk of T2D. Conversely, decreased SFA intake improves measures of both CVD and T2D risk. The evidence shows that 5 percent energy decrease in SFA, replaced by MUFA or PUFA, decreases risk of CVD and T2D in healthy adults and improves insulin responsiveness in insulin resistant and T2D individuals.

DGAC:  Yes, according to the studies that met our criteria, that’s true.

Fat Head:  But I’m looking at the report here, and you also said this:

 The consumption of harmful types and amounts of fatty acids and cholesterol has not changed appreciably since 1990.

Fat Head:  Meanwhile, according to your data tables, the only fats we increased in our diets during the span when diabetes went through the roof were monosaturated and polyunsaturated.  Since you’re big fans of observational evidence, what do you make of that observation?

DGAC:  Nothing.

Fat Head:  Why not?

DCAG:  Because we didn’t make that observation.

Fat Head:  I see. Well, here’s another one for you:  Compared to Americans, the French consume far more saturated fat, but far less polyunsaturated fat.  They also have a lower rate of heart disease, and according to what I can find online, their rate of diabetes is less than half of ours.  How do you explain that?

DGAC:  It’s got to be the wine.

Fat Head:  I knew you’d say that, but as it turns out, there are other countries where people drink just as much wine, but have a lot more heart disease than the French.

DGAC:  Do the people in those other countries drink French wine?

Fat Head:  Well … I don’t think so.

DGAC:  There you go.

Fat Head:  All throughout your document, you write about saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids as if they’re the same.  Here are a few examples:

The potential negative effects of dietary cholesterol are relatively small compared to those of SFA and trans fatty acids.

The relationship between dietary saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and deleterious health outcomes at the population level has long been recognized, with recommendations for modification of total fat, SFA, and cholesterol dating back to the 1980 Guidelines.

Strong and consistent evidence indicates that dietary PUFA are associated with improved blood lipids related to CVD, in particular when PUFA is a replacement for dietary SFA or trans fatty acids.

DGAC:  What’s your point?

Fat Head:  You are aware, aren’t you, that saturated fat and trans fat are two completely different substances?  In your search for all the relevant data, did you notice that heart disease didn’t become an epidemic until we started replacing lard and tallow with Crisco and corn-oil margarine and other trans fats?

DGAC:  Look, saturated fat and trans fat are both solid at room temperature.  And if they’re solid at room temperature, they’re solid inside your body, so they clog your arteries.

Fat Head:  How do you know that?

DGAC:  Dr. Oz explained it on Oprah.

Fat Head:  But–

DGAC:  And saturated fat intake is clearly associated with heart disease.

Fat Head:  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study recently concluding that there’s no association whatsoever between saturated fat and heart disease.

DGAC:  That one didn’t meet our selection criteria.

Fat Head:  Yeah, I noticed you didn’t mention it.  So what exactly were your selection criteria?

DGAC:  Well, if you read the report carefully, you’ll see a lot of sentences that begin something like “A systematic review identified 12 studies that met the selection criteria …”

Fat Head:  Which means?

DGAC:  It means we selected the studies we identified, okay?  Including several that showed an association between saturated fat and heart disease.

Fat Head:  I wanted to ask you about those.  Elsewhere in the document, you listed the top sources of saturated fat in the American diet.  That list included pizza, grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, Mexican dishes, pasta dishes, corn chips, potato chips, candy and fried potatoes.  So isn’t it fair to say that in the observational studies that met your criteria, people who ate more saturated fat also ate more pizza, grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, Mexican dishes, pasta dishes, corn chips, potato chips, candy and fried potatoes?

DGAC:  Uh … yeah, but … all that fat, you see … it’s …

Fat Head:  I’ve never heard people stammer in unison before.  That’s freaky.

DGAC:  The takeaway here is that people who eat a lot of saturated fat have more heart disease. 

Fat Head:  Perhaps because they also eat a lot of junk that’s full of refined carbohydrates?

DGAC:  Carbohydrates have nothing to do with it!

Fat Head:  That’s strange.  Let me quote your document:

In all cases of isocaloric SFA or trans fatty acid substitution, there is a decrease in CHD risk. However, it should be noted that when MUFA or PUFA are substituted by any kind of carbohydrates, CHD risk increased.

Fat Head:  So replacing two different types of fats with any kind of carbohydrate increased the risk of heart disease.  It’s right there in your report.  And so is this:

High MUFA intake, when replacing a high carbohydrate intake, results in improved biomarkers of glucose tolerance and diabetic control.

DGAC:  Those monosaturated fats are truly wonderful.

Fat Head:  Don’t you think maybe reducing carbohydrates figured into it?

DGAC:  Of course not.  Carbohydrates are good for you.  It’s the fat intake you need to watch.

Fat Head:  But you stated in your report that carbohydrate is the only macronutrient that makes up a bigger portion of our diets now than it did 30 years ago.  Then you wrote about the dramatic rise in metabolic syndrome, and how it’s characterized by high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood glucose, obesity and low HDL. You quoted research that fat raises HDL. And a ton of other research shows that carbohydrates raise blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. 

DGAC:  So?

Fat Head:  So I’m trying to figure out why you’re still recommending we limit our fats and eat a lot of carbohydrates.  That was your big conclusion in another section of the report:   Healthy diets are high in carbohydrates.

DGAC:  That’s right.

Fat Head:  What?!

DGAC:  Correct.  You got it, Mister. 

Fat Head:  So you’re still saying–

DGAC:  Cut th fat.  Eat your carbohydrates.  Live long and prosper.

Fat Head:  And you don’t see any contradictions there?

DGAC:  No.  That’s why we’re speaking with one voice.

Fat Head:  Thank you for clearing things up.


40 thoughts on “2010 Dietary Guidlines: Cut The Fat! (Even More Than Last Time)

  1. Ellen

    I suspect that the people who wrote the report didn’t actually read the report. And I bet they were hoping no one else would read it either.

    After just reading the bits I copied, my wife asked how I could wade through it. It wasn’t fun.

  2. Markus

    “DGAC: Do the people in those other countries drink French wine?”

    Problem is – that’s not too far away form the truth as it should be.
    An becauce of official morons like this (and our official german morons who copied your morons somwhere in the 80s and are proud of not having learned anything since then) anytime I visit my parents I have comments like this:

    Mother: Do you really want to add that much butter to your vegetables ? You know all the doctors say that it’s bad for you and it’s always said on TV. Do you really think you are smarter than all all of them?

    Since I care about my parents I don’t just want to answer “Yes” and have my peace. How did you sway the “white coat affinity” of your mother Tom?

    Thanks for the fun read – at least that is one good side of the guidelines

    I sent my mom links to articles written by MDs and PhDs so it would be white coats insisting the white coats are wrong, not just me. I also sent her some books written by doctors. Convincing her statins are no good was perhaps the trickiest, but an email from a doctor helped.

  3. Andrew

    Carbs and diet soda addle the brain and apparently make scientists fail logic class…

    I’d like to know what they ordered for lunch during those meetings.

  4. D. Sterner

    You are doing truly heroic work.

    I have been a T2 diabetic for 10+ years with all the co-factors of metabolic syndrome. My diet consists of a LOT of saturated fat (coconut oil/butter/cream) and moderate protein (meat/eggs/fish) and some veggies/cheese/nuts. Around 80% fat by calories. Not only have I lost over 20#, but my blood sugar is finally controlled with about 25% of the meds I am prescribed (glyb/metform). Also gone: back/neck/joint pain; acne; rashes; chronic diarrhea; dandruff; fatigue, hypoglycemic episodes, depression, high blood pressure and my lipid panel has become “normal”. I am off of Lipitor and blood pressure meds as well.

    I know its only anecdotal evidence, but its my experience and that’s what matters the most to me. And, I see similar stories repeated so often in forums and blogs that I know its not just me and my n=1 uncontrolled study.

    Hmm, a ton of SAT FAT and diabetes improved? Reconcile that, DGAC!

    You may be n=1 for research purposes, but since it’s your life we’re talking about, that’s quite an important n. Glad to hear about the improvements in your health.

  5. Milla

    Hi Tom!

    I just love your blog, and I check it almost every day in case there is a new post! The US Dietary Guidelines sound amazingly ridiculous.

    Here in Finland, low-fat is the only acceptable way to go. Especially when we have a huge company based in Finland that makes margarine and dairy products that contain plant sterols… Even the host of the Finnish version of “You are what you eat” is featured in commercials for all these magnificent plant sterol-probiotic sugar drinks that some people call yoghurt…

    Fortunately, we have our own pro-low carb-blogger here, and he’s even a doctor (not a comedian, what would comedians know about nutrition anyway…). He writes quite frequently about the latest news about nutrition.

    Our version of DGAC, THL (The National Institute for Health and Welfare) issues our dietary guidelines, which of course promote high carb. The boss for the institution has worked for margarine company before being promoted to his current post. He recently revealed a new reason for our obesity! It’s not only the fat, it’s also all the light-products we eat! Say what?! Weren’t they supposed to help us lose weight? Well, who knew…

    Anyway, if you’re bored, THL has an English version as well, in case you’re interested in nutrition and dietary guidelines in Finland: http://www.thl.fi/en_US/web/en

    Finally, I just wanted to share a quote I found on a margarine-promotion website (yeah, we’ve got one, and one for bread as well!).
    “With margarine, you can hug people closest to you even on a cellular level”.

    Take care!


    I checked a few of the guidelines. Same old, same old. Has the low-carb / low-fat debate in Sweden made a ripple in Finland?

  6. Jo

    It’s bad enough that the US Govt is making its own citizens sick, but it’s making ours sick too because we’re dumb enough to listen. If all those fancy schmancy scientists in the US say this is right then it must be. After all they have such good health over there…. oh hang on…..!

    Yup, you’d think seeing what’s happened with our diabetes rate would give someone a clue.

  7. Kelly

    It’s amazing how even when they’re creating a report where the end goal is carbs good/fat bad, they can’t not include simple truths:

    “Fat Head: That’s strange. Let me quote your document:

    In all cases of isocaloric SFA or trans fatty acid substitution, there is a decrease in CHD risk. However, it should be noted that when MUFA or PUFA are substituted by any kind of carbohydrates, CHD risk increased.”

    The contradictions are astounding.

    Also, thanks so much for reading this so we don’t have to. 🙂

    That’s what I find so appalling. They clearly had the conclusions in mind when they started.

  8. Gina

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve been reading this blog for several months with great interest and finally got around to watching the film. Fascinating stuff and very well put together, I got a great deal out of it. Thank you for it. I’m attempting to do a bit of critical thinking here and would be interested in seeing if there’s been any criticism of the film or of your blog that you consider legitimate. I’m sure there’s been a lot of discrediting going on by people who refuse to reject the status quo for reasons of profit or ignorance, but has anyone leveled any reasonable criticism?

    There are definitely some legitimate criticisms. Several people have suggested I placed too much emphasis on how sedentary we’ve become, when diet is almost certainly the prime mover. While talking about the glycemic index, I didn’t really distinguish between fructose and glucose, and the distinction is important; fructose probably has a lot more to do with developing diabetes, even if fructose foods rank lower on the glycemic index.

    And of course, I’ve heard from quite a few people who aren’t happy that I chose to lose weight eating fast food, as opposed to a paleo diet. I did that to make a point — blaming fast food is shooting at the wrong target — but I can see where people would get the wrong idea.

    If I could do the whole thing over again, I’d certainly make some changes, but as the saying goes, works of art are never completed; they’re merely abandoned.

  9. Bruce

    You wrote…

    Look, saturated fat and trans fat are both solid at room temperature. And if they’re solid at room temperature, they’re solid inside your body, so they clog your arteries.

    Maybe the problem is, we keep our rooms too cold.

    I like a cold room, but I never let my body temperature dip to 68 degrees.

  10. Your older brother

    How about a heads up before you read the supplemental section on Children’s Dietary Intake.

    I want to stock up on some salted nuts, jerky, and whole milk so I can really enjoy the show when smoke starts coming out of your ears and you start yelling about child abuse!


    They point out that between 1965 and 1996, fat consumed by children dropped from 39% to around 32% and has stayed there. You can of course write the conclusion…

    “A growing number of important research studies have identified specific health benefits that result when children consume energy-balanced dietary patterns where most calories come from a variety of nutrient-rich foods and beverages, especially fruits and vegetables, dietary fiber and whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and low sodium; and where intake of added sugar, refined carbohydrates, and total and saturated fat, are low.”

    I was going to try to really analyze all of this stuff like you do but early on there was a reference to 16.3% of kids being obese, whcih was defined as “equal to or above the age- and gender-specific 95th percentile.” When I read it I was wondering what kind of freaking Lake Wobegon statistic is that where 16% exceed the top 5%.

    At that point my brain jumped out of my head and ran away. It’s threatening to not come back unless I promise not to read crap like this any more. It’s kind of a quandry, because I’m thinking now I could run for Governor.


    Clearly, everyone is above average. I don’t know if I can tackle that one and remain sane, but I’ll probably give it a look.

  11. Diane @ Balanced Bites

    I love this post! I was giggling all the way through and promptly shared it amongst my fans on Facebook. You have a great way of highlighting the facts and the fallacies in a way that makes it easy for people to understand.

    People who read this and want to learn more should check out Gary Taubes’ “Good Calores, Bad Calories.”

    Also, for info on why we are so confused about FATS & OILS, I wrote a blog post myself on the topic recently that a lot of my readers enjoyed. Hopefully some of yours can benefit from it as well as it includes a printable chart to keep on the fridge about Fats: Which to Eat & Which to Ditch!


    Keep rocking!
    Diane @ Balanced Bites

    It’s comforting to know there are nutritionists in the world who don’t tell people lard will kill them. Your clients are lucky.

  12. Rose bohmann

    Solid at room temperature= solid inside the human body???? that’s tooo bizarre! No wonder their brains are fried–they live in rooms that are in the high 90s !

    That’s why I stopped eating pasta. You can’t melt the stuff.

  13. Auntie M

    My head is going to explode. Bless you for doing that reading for all of us. My Mac would be crushed into tiny bits if I even attempted to wade through that pile of horse pucky. In other news, these might be of interest:

    (the comments section might set your blood boiling, though)

    (proof that high-fructose corn syrup ISN’T just like sugar)

    Good grief … the comments show just how far we have to go to re-educate people. I’ve been looking for a way to find the full study without buying a copy.

  14. Milla

    Hi! There’s now and then some talk about low-carb in the Finnish newspapers, but usually in the form of telling a story about someone who lost weight this way “but we must remember that eating only eggs and bacon will kill you”. As I’m a swedish-speaking finn (approx 6% of Finns speak Swedish as their first language) I follow the Swedish media as well. There is a lot more talk about the pros of going low carb, even if the majority thinks it’s bogus. People actually think the gold medalist at Vancouver for (was it maybe the shooting and skiing thingy), who does low carb, is bluffing or a freak of nature, ’cause one cannot have energy to do sports with a low-carb diet… Overall though, the news published about low carb in Sweden rarely travel across the Baltic Sea. And how could this affect the Finns anyway! Those d**n Swedes are happy and positive all the time AND our most serious enemy in ice hockey… =D

    I totally understand not listening to a sports rival.

  15. Dan

    “Look, saturated fat and trans fat are both solid at room temperature. And if they’re solid at room temperature, they’re solid inside your body, so they clog your arteries.”

    There is a big difference between room temperature (73-75) and body temperature (97-98). I know coconut oil melts at 76 degrees…

    Also, ever notice how vegetable oil residue on the bottle gets sticky? Is that what it’s doing to your insides? 🙂

    Vegetable oils definitely can go rancid. And until I start injecting butter into my veins, I’m not worried about how solid it is.

  16. Mike Cheliak

    When intelligent (supposed) people seem to constantly ignore facts, and physical proof it only means that they are being influenced by those who have the most to lose.

    The lobby groups for organizations that produce grains and all the lovely crap that goes into processed food have WAY too much to lose to let the lemmings known as the general public to hear the truth.

    No consipiracy theory…just the cold hard truth. Reports and food guides are being influenced by those who have the most to lose.

    It doesn’t require paranoia to believe the grain lobby has a lot to do with food guidelines. And since the USDA’s mission is to sell grains, it’s a double whammy.

  17. Cynthia

    I wanted to find this post funny, but it just made me angry. I think we need to keep agitating to get this group thrown out.

    As for Gina’s comment and your response, why not make a Fathead 2? Someone should do a documentary takedown of these morons. I wrote to Michael Moore (don’t know if I got past his minions) and suggested he look into it. Maybe you should be the one to do it.

    I’d love to, but Fat Head 1 has to earn back the production expenses first.

  18. Vin

    @Tom’s older brother
    Think the obesity measure was in reference to a specific population in the past i.e. we use stats from the weight distribution in the 70’s to classify children today (which is silly).
    @Gina and Tom
    If I had on criticism to level at Fathead it is that the movie misunderstands the role of insulin (which might be because he is following Taubes). (A great primer is here http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/?page_id=319)
    From the movie I got the impression that Tom believes
    High carbohydrate intake–>Elevated insulin levels–>insulin resistance–>diabetes/weight gain
    I don’t think this correct. Insulin doesn’t only elevate with respect to carbohydrate , it is also elevated after ingesting protein and studies have shown that a serving of high protein beef will elevate insulin levels as much as a serving of high carb white rice.
    And in general taking steps like restricting calories ,regular exercise, reducing stress, getting adequate sleep and losing weight have been shown to reduce insulin resistance in people. It has also been shown that even if your diet is high in refined carbohydrates , but your total calories are controlled, you won’t develop insulin resistance or poor lipid profiles.(See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17130505) So in general I think the American lifestyle is what causes insulin resistance , moreso than just carbs.
    Of course there is nothing wrong with using low carb to restrict calories and keep your blood sugar under control either.
    Tom has mentioned hunter-gatherers in Africa like the Masai with higher fat intakes than American , but suffer less heart disease. And I’m sure he knows of other groups like the Okinawans who eat primarily starchy carbohydrate based diets and consume less fat than Americans and still do not suffer with the rates of diabetes that we do.

    I also agree with much of fathead though (In case I sound too disagreeable). It is ridiculous to say fast foods are to blame for obesity and Tom showed sensible eating choices and regular exercise are all you need. And I’m glad Tom found a diet that works well for him and the one-diet-for-everyone plan the Dietary guidelines advocate is ridiculous.

    I’ve also become convinced as well that there’s more to it than simple carb intake. That’s why I found Dr. Lustig’s lecture on fructose interesting. He says it’s fructose that’s doing the real damage, especially when it comes to diabetes.

    Perhaps if people never get fat on sugar and fructose in the first place, they can eat a diet high in starches, like the Okinawans. But the question for those of us who got fat and became insulin resistant is: can we eat a lot of starchy carbs now? I can’t. In my vegetarian days, I gained weight eating rice, pasta and potatoes. Starches also made me hungry, so while it’s true I might not gain weight on a starchy diet that’s also calorie-restricted, it would mean battling hunger forever. If I hadn’t discovered Captain Crunch as kid, perhaps that wouldn’t be the case.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the film.

  19. Dana

    I’m still over 200 pounds (though my weight’s dropping) and ought to have all kinds of bad lab markers since We All Know Obesity’s Unhealthy. But I’m also high-fat/low-carbing. And my labs were NORMAL. Meaning, along with the usual CBC stuff, a metabolic panel that included a HgA1C.

    I’m 36. My mother was diagnosed with type 2 at age forty. This stuff does not show up overnight. I bet if she’d had labs four years before her diagnosis they’d have seen something wrong then.

  20. Dana

    And I heard the thing about saturated fats and room temp when I was a kid. It’s only in the last five years that it finally hit me like a thunderbolt: If my body is at room temperature, that means I am DEAD and it doesn’t really matter what kind of fat is in my body because it can’t do anything more to me.

    Hold a pat of butter in your hand for ten minutes. Unless the circulation is cut off to your hand, the butter will melt. Coconut oil does it even faster. Both are mostly saturated fats.

    You can hold carrots in your hand all day, and they’ll remain solid. But I doubt the lipophobes would argue that proves carrots are bad for your heart.

  21. Todd

    Vin wrote:

    And I’m sure he knows of other groups like the Okinawans who eat primarily starchy carbohydrate based diets and consume less fat than Americans and still do not suffer with the rates of diabetes that we do.

    Despite the popularity of The Okinawa Diet book, things are not as rosy as the authors would have us believe. Between 1995 and 2005, the male population of Okinawa went from first to 25th place (out of 47 prefectures) for average life span in Japan. And I read somewhere the numbers continue to get worse. Changing from a traditional diet where pork and fish were consumed in abundance, to one where Spam, fried food, bread, and desserts are washed down with gallons of Coca Cola and other soft drinks is rapidly bringing American-style health problems to the island.

  22. Tammy

    Tom – Let me say first that I’m a huge fan of the film, I’ve also been low carbing for 8 years now and have switched to all natural fats (butter, coconut oil, olive oil) at home over the past two years or so.

    I noticed something funny just last weekend – I have a hand drawn family tree hanging on my wall at home that dates back to the mid 1700’s. It seems the more I look at it the more facinating it becomes. My ancestors all seemed to live up into their mid 90’s. This was back before modern medicine (1700 -1800’s). They were all farmers in rural southwest Virginia. I can remember as a kid going down to visit my great gradparents once a year at Easter. You know the few things that were always missing? Sugar and fake fat. My great grandmother always had a tub of lard she would cook with, and we drank whole milk, unpasturized right from the farm. My grandmother always cooked with lard also, actually she probably still does (she’s 87).

    I’m getting ready to order my first tub of lard from a local farm. Anyway, please keep up the good work !! Thanks !!

    I’ve had quite a few long-lived ancestors as well, including a great-grandfather who passed 100. Just like yours, they cooked with lard, ate real butter, etc. No low-fat anything. When my dad was in high school, he wanted to drop a few pounds and started drinking reduced-fat milk … only to find out my grandmother was pouring cream into it; that’s how important she believed fat was.

  23. Laurie

    This is a little off-topic but is part of the comments thread. Ken Burns, documentarian, is making a ‘Dust Bowl’ film. It’s coming out in 2012. His co., based in NH, is called Florentine films. Did you know that the growing of wheat might have created the dust bowl or at least made it worse? I hadn’t been aware of that earlier than about three weeks ago. Check out
    “Years of Dust” by Albert Marrin. And “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith, which I read last year and it opened my eyes to the just maybe possibility that we are doing the wheat plants’ bidding……strange maybe, but fact may just be weirder than fiction.

    Plowing up all that land couldn’t have helped much, but I believe there was also an extended drought to blame. Bad combination.

  24. Rabbi Hirsch Meisels

    While it is true that protein also requires insulin, it is far less then what carbs need. Take for example a type 1 diabetic, who has to supply the insulin exogenously. Carb grams are covered in full, while only a third of the protein grams need insulin coverage. In practical terms, take a 3 oz roll, you will need insulin for 45 grams of carb, while if you would instead eat 3 oz of meat, you would only cover 7 grams. Big difference, from 45 to 7!
    In addition, protein will also get you to release glucagon, which sort of regulates/balances the effects of insulin.

  25. Charise

    Hey my sister sent me this link to an article that grudgingly accepts that low-carb MIGHT help prevent heart disease, but that low fat is just as good. “We just don’t know.” Nice to see that they haven’t linked to any studies. We might just be able to figure it out for ourselves if they did.


    It sounds like they found out they were proven wrong, but still won’t say “I’m sorry.”

    That story got a lot of play, which is encouraging. But I bet we don’t see any change in the Dietary Guidelines.

  26. Laurie

    Dust Bowl- there was a drought of course, but the additional dust from all that continued plowing for planting wheat actually affected weather patterns over the plains and appears to have extended the drought.

  27. Dave, Rn

    About that dustbowl…
    I believe it was totally the plowing. All that plowing previous to the dust bowl conditions was tearing up the original prairie grasses. Even with the drought, with the grasses roots in place, the dustbowl would never have happened. It was the destruction of that original ecosystem that caused the problem.

    Plowing was definitely a huge factor. Too much loose soil. When the big winds hit, dust clouds reached New York City.

  28. Laurie

    I apologize for belaboring this point. The naturally resistant-to-drought native grasses were plowed up in order to plant non-native-drought-IN-tolerant wheat and other water guzzling crops. The great plains had coped with very little rainfall for a very long time before the 20th century and prairie grasses had populated and adapted to the plains. When the native, ground retaining plants were removed and the normally periodically occurring droughts happened, the dust was swept up into the sky which impacted the atmosphere —affecting and lengthening the drought. I just couldn’t invent this scenario.

  29. Michelle

    Thank-you for all your dedicated work! I waited 5 weeks to get the Fat head movie via Amazon in Canada but worth the wait.I loved it! My husband was gobsmacked!
    I’m a registered nurse and very much suppport saturated fat -low carb however my fellow nurses think I’m nuts!! We cannot depend on healthcare to lead the way in our health… everyone I know in healthcare have drank the kool-aid. Just the other day a dietitian commented on my appearance.I told her my secret was high fat diet..she nearly fainted!!Everday I pass her in the hallway and she can barely hide her disgust.
    I too have gotten my mother off statins..she is still alittle freaked out but 80% of her pain is gone!!! Yesterday I could not get her on the phone,only to discover she spent the day doing yard work..said she has so much “new” energy!!! Thanks again..you are a leader.

    I appreciate the comments very much, I’m glad to hear your mother is improving.

  30. Chris

    For your tireless pursuit of the truth, thank you.

    When I was a political science major, the term “cognitive dissonance” was tossed around a lot. It can be defined as the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new info. The concept was introduced by the psychologist Leon Festinger (1919 89) in the late 1950s. He and later researchers showed that, when confronted with challenging new information, most people seek to preserve their current understanding of the world by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding the new information or by convincing themselves that no conflict really exists.” (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia).

    Since watching Fat Head and reading “Good Calories, Bad Caloires” four times, oh yeah, and losing 40 pounds, I have been able to accept that fat doesn’t make you fat or clog your arteries. At 60 years old, that required unlearning. That the committee refuses to to unlearn anything is not surprising. To admit that they are wrong would literally mean their whole careers have been wasted. That’s what we’re up against.

    By the way, if you want to see an elephant tap dance, go to http://www.livepositively.com and read Coke’s response to the HFCS “myth.”Learn the important role Coke plays in the community and as part of a “balanced” diet. The PR folks are running scared and it shows.

    That’s what makes the whole exercise pointless. The people chosen for the committee built their careers on the fat-and-cholesterol-kill-you theory. And now we’re supposed to believe they gave the science an objective look?

  31. Lisa Sargese

    Saw this quote and thought of you…. ”
    Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.” – Bobby Bragan

    That’s hilarious.

  32. pjnoir

    You answered my question by not posting my comment/question/concern.

    I’m not sure what you mean. I’ll check the spam folder to see if you had a commet wind up there. It happens sometimes.

    I looked. All I can find is the one I answered yesterday.

  33. Dan M.

    “In all cases of isocaloric SFA or trans fatty acid substitution, there is a decrease in CHD risk. However, it should be noted that when MUFA or PUFA are substituted by any kind of carbohydrates, CHD risk increased.”

    Perhaps I’m reading this wrong, but I don’t see the inconsistency here. You seemed to have read this as saying that any time fat is replaced by carbohydrates, CHD risk goes up. I’m reading this as their saying that replacing SFA or TFA with anything decreases risk, but replacing MUFA or PUFA with carbs increases risk. So it seems to me at least that their statement is at least consistent within itself and with their recommendations, even if not consistent with actual research.

    The inconsistency is that they recommend we limit all fats to 30% of the diet and consume 60% carbs. But according to their own data, we’d be better off limiting carbs and replacing them — at the very least — with PUFA or MUFA. And since other recently published research shows that zero association between saturated fat and heart disease but significant associations between high carb intake and heart disease, it makes no sense to put a 30% limit on fats of any kind other than trans fats while telling us healthy diets are high-carb diets.

  34. Piltson

    Here in Europe we´re worried. You saved us from our stupidities twice in the past century, but what if we derail again?

    Surely, we can´t depend on the fatheads you´re going to send next time. Is there anything we can do for you, in our own interest.

    Yes — ask the French to keep that French Paradox alive and well. We need their counter-example.

  35. Ola S (Sweden)

    I’m truly amazed and saddened by the fact that US citizens are literally exploding in weight year after year, while at the same time being told and lobbied to consume less fat and lots of carbs.

    Any school book in biology tells that carbs spike the insulin hormone, and insulin shuts down the glucagon hormone. Well, glucagon is the hormone driving the fat burning in the body.

    This means that if you’re eating carbs every meal and for your snacks, you’re shutting down you fat burning process all the time (exept for a few hours just before you wake up in the morning).

    Skip carbs (in ANY form!) as much as possible and the weight will be reduced, as the body will be using fat as the energy source all day long. And you don’t even have to starve and be hungry on some caloric reduced diet as you go for low carb high fat food.

    In essence: Carbs are the culprits behind this staggering obesity epidemic in USA.

    /Ola S

    And the sad thing is, a lot of those fat people keep trying low-fat/high-carb diets because they’ve been told they should.

  36. alex


    I was wondering what is your position on protein bars. The Musashi protein bars I have been eating appear low in carbs 8.7% but they do contain polydextrose(they classify this as fibre), maltitol and soy protein. The bars leave me very thirsty and my skin seems puffy after eating them and the worst part is they are delicous and I cant stop eating them by the box!

    I wouldn’t eat anything by the box. I have a protein bar on rare occasionals, but for the most part I stick with real, unprocessed foods.


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