Let’s Talk about Fat

You would have to have locked in a basement with no TV and limited interaction with humans in order to be unaware of the social stigma associated with the state of being fat. The term fat has become a very charged word. Fear of being labeled as such runs deep in many of us. Plump, porky, obese, overweight, chunky, chubby, well-fed or just plain fat all mean the same to us. According to a New York Times Article entitled ‘ The Stigma of Being Fat’, public attitudes about being obese may be at all time highs. Stigmatizing fat people has become not just acceptable but, in some circle required by etiquette. [1]

This makes it easy for us to demonize the contents of our food call fat.  It seems very logic. The thought goes something like this…of course it is the fat in our food that makes us fat. Duh. Add to this that in 1988 the surgeon general  proclaimed ice cream to be a public-health menace right there with cigarettes, because high-fat food were believed to cause coronary heart disease.  It seems unbelievable that the surgeon general would announce something that did not have strong scientific evidence behind it.[2]

Well…consider this. For the 2,000 years, leading up to the 19th century bloodletting  was the most common medical practice performed by doctors. Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often large amounts of blood from a patient to cure or prevent a disease. It was believed to help with almost every disease. In fact, it is likely that the cause of George Washington’s death was bloodletting. As treatment for a throat infection, 4 pounds of blood was withdrawn from the first president of the United States. He died shortly after this bloodletting in 1799. Today it is established that bloodletting is mostly harmful and ineffective for treatment of most diseases.[3] 

Well that was so long ago…you think. It is nothing like today.  Well…consider this.   In 1955, president Dwight D. Eisenhower had his first heart attack. A world-renowned cardiologist was consulted. Eisenhower dramatically changed his diet following his heart attack. Per the recommendations of his physicians, he ate very little fat and very little cholesterol. However, much to his frustration his blood cholesterol only increased and his heart disease worsen, and in 1969 he died of heart disease.[4]

Check out this New York Times article: Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus

The importance of critically looking at the evidence of how dietary fat affects health is that if we are to navigate our way towards excellent health, we need to know how.  If our main foe is dietary fat than an ideal diet looks one way. If it is the refined carbohydrates is our main foe the an ideal diet looks significantly different. Still others argue that it does not matter what you eat, maintaining a healthy weight is based on calories expended versus calories consumed. Part of what is particularly confusing is that all of these methods have been “successfully” utilized by people to lose weight.

I was talking to a friend today about her husband’s recent weight lose, and how he lost it. She told me he was drinking a lot of Mountain Dew and eating a lot of Dairy Cream Blizzards. I know …crazy.  But check out this professor of human nutrition that lost 27 pounds eating Twinkies, Nutty bars and powdered donuts:

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds

Your questions, comment about Twinkie experiment

I bring this up NOT because I think this professor stumbled on great wisdom, but rather to point out that it is difficult to ascertain the right approach to creating a healthy diet through practical experience. People have lost weight on low-fat diets. People have lost weight on low-carbohydrate diets. People have lost weight through calorie restriction and/or exercise.

Basing your dietary choices on the beliefs and practices of your circle of family and friend’s experiences is misleading for this reason.  So I ask you to consider…what do you really know about how dietary fat affects health. Do you really know what a healthy diet looks like? Even worse does your doctor really know what a healthy diet looks like?

Open your mind, your life may depend on it.


~ by happydeviant on November 9, 2010.

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