THE CENTURY






IN THE 1950s, seemingly healthy Americans were developing heart attacks with growing
regularity. All great stories need a villain, and dietary fat was soon cast into that role.
Dietary fat was falsely believed to increase blood cholesterol levels, leading to heart disease. Physicians advocated lower-fat diets, and the demonization of dietary fat began in earnest. The problem, though we didn’t see it at the time, was that restricting dietary fats meant increasing dietary carbohydrates, as both create a feeling of satiety (fullness). In the developed world, these carbohydrates tended to be highly refined.

By 1968, the United States government had formed a committee to look into the issue of
hunger and malnutrition across the country and recommend solutions to these problems. A
report released in 1977, called Dietary Goals for the United States, led to the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines included several specific dietary goals, such as raising carbohydrate consumption to 55–60 percent of the diet and decreasing fat
consumption from approximately 40 percent of calories to 30 percent. 

Although the low-fat diet was originally proposed to reduce the risk of heart disease and
stroke, recent evidence refutes the link between cardiovascular disease and total dietary
fat. Many high-fat foods, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil, contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats that are now believed to be heart-healthy. (The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in 2016 have removed restrictions on total dietary fat in a healthy diet.

Similarly, the link between natural, saturated fat and heart disease has been proven false.
 While artificially saturated fats, such as trans fats, are universally accepted as toxic, the same does not hold true for naturally occurring fats found in meat and dairy products, such as butter, cream, and cheese—foods that have been part of the human diet for time beyond memory.

As it turns out, the consequences of this newfangled, unproven, low-fat, highcarbohydrate diet were unintended: the rate of obesity soon turned upwards and has never
looked back.
The 1980 Dietary Guidelines spawned the infamous food pyramid in all its counterfactual glory. Without any scientific evidence, the formerly “fattening” carbohydrate was reborn as a healthy whole grain. The foods that formed the base of the pyramid —foods we were told to eat every single day—included breads, pastas, and potatoes.

These were the precise foods we had previously avoided in order to stay thin. They are also the precise foods that provoke the greatest rise in blood glucose and insulin.
Figure 1.1. Obesity trends in the U.S. after introduction of the “food pyramid”

As Figure 1.1 shows, obesity increased immediately. Ten years later, as Figure 1.2 shows, diabetes began its inevitable rise. Age-adjusted prevalence is still rising precipitously. In 1980, an estimated 108 million people worldwide suffered with diabetes. By 2014, that number had swelled to 422 million.

THE CENTURY THE CENTURY Reviewed by Leembo on March 02, 2019 Rating: 5

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