Gut Busted: Federal Dietary Fat Guidelines Not Backed Up by Any Evidence

Double quarter pounder with extra cheese and salt, please.

Never trust the government.

According to some new research out of the University of West Scotland’s Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science, government guidelines on dietary fat intake “have no evidence base.”

Put simpler, low-fat diets aren’t healthier and hasn’t led to a decrease in health risks. In fact, obesity and diabetes are worse now decades after such guidelines were put in place.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine states:

In 1960, 13.3% of US adults were obese; 44.8% were overweight. By 2007, 34.7% of US adults were obese; 67.7% were overweight. In the UK, in 1972, 2.7% of men and 2.7% of women were obese and 23.0% of men and 13.9% of women were overweight. By 1999, obesity rates had risen to 22.6% of men and 25.8% of women, while 49.2% of men and 36.3% of women were overweight.

The diabetes rate was 2.4% in 1976 in the USA. The introduction to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reported that 24 million Americans, almost 11% of the adult population, were diabetic and 78 million Americans, 35% of the adults, were pre-diabetic. This has recently been updated to 29 million diabetics and 86 million pre-diabetics. A recent review in the Lancet estimated that the lifetime risk for developing diabetes was 40.2% for American men and 39.6% for women. There were 800,000 people with diabetes in the UK in 1980, from a population of 56 million—an incident rate of 1.42%. The diabetes rate in the UK in 2015 was 6.1%.75 The incident rate of diabetes, both in the USA and the UK, has increased more than fourfold since the dietary fat guidelines were introduced.

The lead researcher, Dr. Zoë Harcombe, seems quite convinced that trying to eat less is making us all fatter. She believes a return to natural eating is key.

“It is worth noting that every food that contains fat contains all three fats: saturated; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated,” Harcombe says. “The notion that saturated fat is harmful and unsaturated fat is healthful is illogical given their coexistence in foods required for human survival.”

Here’s a video featuring Harcombe’s ideas:


But before you go ordering a double quarter-pounder with cheese, Dr. Louis Aronne at Cornell’s school of medicine said, “The lethal combo is fat plus carbs. So you can have protein and carbs, you can have protein and fat, but you can’t have fat and carbs.”

Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection gets the last word: “First, the case against eggs was cracked. Recently, salt has been shown to lower blood pressure. Based on the new report, I am having steak and eggs for breakfast tomorrow!

“The next time the government offers a guideline to follow, it may be prudent to do the opposite.”

Hear, hear.

Photo credit: Jun Seita via / CC BY-NC