Everything You Know About Fat Is Wrong, Maybe

Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., FACN, CNS, author of Know Your Fats, a primer on the biochemistry of dietary fats, is described in her bio as an expert of international renown in the field of lipid chemistry, with many other professional accomplishments. In 2003 she wrote about the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the “sordid history” of its campaign against saturated fat, saying the organization…

[…] provides the classic example of chutzpah, like when the child who murders his parents pleads for mercy in court because he is an orphan! In this case, the crime is the complete ruination of the food supply with the replacement of healthy traditional saturated fats with partially hydrogenated soybean oil…

Healthy traditional fats, Dr. Enig said, had almost completely disappeared from the food supply, and the substitution came to be held responsible for “ever-increasing rates of cancer, heart disease, infertility, impotence, asthma, allergies, learning disabilities, bone problems, digestive disorders, diabetes and obesity.”

In 1984, CSPI got serious about pressuring fast-food establishments to forswear beef fat and tropical oils, insisting on hydrogenated oils instead. In 1987 the organization’s newsletter published a piece by Elaine Blume, which claimed the hydrogenated oils posed no serious threat to the health of humans. She explained why manufacturers had to hydrogenate vegetable oils to prevent them from becoming rancid while in storage or during the frying process.

In 1988 a CSPI publication…

[…] defended trans fatty acids and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and called for pejorative labeling of “saturated” fats.

This caused Dr. Enig to suggest that the authors were “completely ignorant (or pretended to be ignorant) of lipid science.” The fast-food chains were still under attack as holdouts who would not relinquish their beef fat or palm oil. But by the time 1990 rolled around, CSPI was forced to reassess its position, and its director published “Trans in Trouble” which admitted that it was difficult to reconcile the group’s stand with the understandings gained from more recent research.

Dr. Enig says,

In May, 1991, I wrote a letter to the editor of Nutrition Action, outlining and correcting Ms. Liebman’s numerous errors, including her claim that consumption of trans fatty acids in the US typically ranged from 4 to 7 grams per day. By 1991, many Americans eating processed foods were consuming over 50 grams of trans fats per day.

A couple of years later, CSPI publicly scolded the fast-food industry for adopting the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils like the CSPI had told them to do. The author details the many “lies, false innuendoes, and cover-ups” in the far-reaching deception that had been orchestrated by the saturated fat haters.

But despite having paused to scold fast food for its departure from a saturated fat agenda, in 2015 CSPI had apparently returned to its traditional resistance against saturated fat, and castigated school lunch programs for accepting butter and bacon as healthful substances to feed to children.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Tragic Legacy of Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI),” WestonAPrice.org, 01/06/03
Image by Ted Eytan/CC BY-SA 2.0

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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
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