Everything You Know About Fat Is Wrong, Perhaps — Continued

This discussion carries on from yesterday. Disappointingly, no revolution in thought occurred, and Christopher E. Ramsden was able to make only mild claims that ignoring the old study had been a mistake. As Sharon Begley put it, “Observational studies are weaker than randomized ones because people who eat one way, rather than another, might have characteristics that benefit their heart health.”

Or as Dr. Michael Greger expressed it, heaping up a whole slew of observational studies will not grant any more solid conclusions than any single observational study. So, that is a problem. Begley wrote,

Ramsden and his team found […] that substituting vegetable oils lowered total blood cholesterol levels, by an average of 14 percent.

But that lowered cholesterol did not help people live longer. Instead, the lower cholesterol fell, the higher the risk of dying: 22 percent higher for every 30-point fall. Nor did the corn-oil group have less atherosclerosis or fewer heart attacks.

The study that Ramsden et al published reported that among its subjects,

[…] substituting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease. An updated meta-analysis of linoleic acid intervention trials showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit. These findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega 6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats.

Dr. Michael Greger describes how the dairy industry took this and ran with it, and succeeded in changing perceptions about saturated fat among the scientific community. And as for the ordinary consumer? Big Fat doesn’t need to convince customers, “just confuse them.” Like the tobacco industry,

They don’t have to convince the public that smoking is healthy to get people to keep consuming their products. They just need to establish a controversy. Some science says its bad, some says it’s not bad. Conflicting messages in nutrition cause people to become so frustrated and confused they may just throw their hands up in the air and eat whatever they want…

Childhood Obesity News has previously made posts with the facetious title “Everything You Know About ______ Is Wrong,” which is a pretty safe observation to make on almost any topic. Is that because all science is wrong? Absolutely not. But in many fields, some wrong answers need to be tried and rejected before a really good working model of comprehension is produced. Over the decades, students have been taught several different rates for the speed of light. And ultimately, the speed of light may not, after all, be constant. It’s a lot to handle.

Anyway, it may take a lot of variegated input to move any scientific community into agreement, and there are always outliers, explorers who may be contrarian, or simply surprised to discover something new. Stay tuned for other ideas that have been brought up over the past few years.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Records Found in Dusty Basement Undermine Decades of Dietary Advice,” ScientificAmerican.com, 04/19/17
Source: “The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail,” NutritionFacts.org, 2015
Source: “Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death…,” BMJ.com, 02/05/13
Image by Vic/CC BY 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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