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    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Diet Explosions and Implosions: The headlines say that low fat diets are pointless, which has experts up in arms:

    "Should these results lead to any changes in public health recommendations? Absolutely not. Remember, the dietary goals of this study were not entirely reached, and there is enough reason to continue with research studies that would tighten up the weaknesses and then see the results." — Keith-Thomas Ayoob, nutrition and pediatrics professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

    "We have known all this for a long time, which is why this extremely expensive diet trial part of the Women's Health Initiative failed scientific peer review when it was proposed, and only was funded by political intervention by Congress. It never had much scientific merit because it was not testing a good diet." — Dr. Meir Stampfer, chair, epidemiology department, Harvard School of Public Health

    The full text of the study is available for free here, but its chief limitation is that it was performed in women ages 50-79. Here's a news flash for everyone - the number one cause of heart disease is aging. Changing your diet after you've already completed most of the aging process is not going to improve your chances of avoiding heart disease. It isn't even clear that following a special diet in your youth will decrease your risk of heart disease in old age (although it might decrease your chances of having heart disease at a young age.)

    Things that increase the risk for heart disease the most also happen to be things that increase the rate of aging of the arteries , diabetes and smoking being chief among them. Diet (and cholesterol) make miniscule contributions.

    posted by Sydney on 2/08/2006 08:45:00 AM 5 comments


    One would hope this would stifle some of the food Nazis but, alas, as your quotes illustrate, this is unlikely. To paraphrase Dr. Peter Libby, who is cited in the NY Times review of these studies, people are loathe to abandon cherished theories just because they're not supported by the facts.

    By Anonymous Steve, MD, at 10:11 AM  

    I love that all of the editorialists and scientific critics have tossed the conclusions out and are at pains to explain away the findings with any explanation except that the null hypothesis is true. To add insult to injury most media are biasing their reports by describing the low fat diet as a healthy diet.

    By Anonymous joel topf, at 2:08 PM  

    I think this study is another in a long line of trials that are confusing the American people about what to eat and how much to exercise. This trial is a disaster for anyone involved in the battle to encourage Americans to shed pounds and move more.

    For a fuller understanding of my opinions re: this issue, click here.

    By Anonymous Fard Johnmar, at 3:14 PM  

    I find it interesting that Americans got fatter exactly after the "eat less fat more carbs" recommendations came out. The cars had been around before that, McDonalds had been around before that.

    Now they are saying that the type of fat and carbs matters... But how many people got fat because they believed they can eat all the spaghetti and potatoes they can? "it is not spaghetti and potatoes it is what you put on it" -- sure, with all the sugar you get from this stuff who needs to eat sugar?
    On the flip side are all the people whose enjoyment of food they liked was ruined because they tried to "eat healthy".

    A friend of mine really took old pyramid's "8 portions of grains a day" at face value. He is now obese. I kept eating what I liked but paid attention to my weight and am still slim. Ok, maybe I got to slighty overweight at one point of my life, but I lost it by simply eating less and exercising more.

    BTW, Fard, your "belief" in preventive care sounds very much like religion to me. Other than smoking and not being obese and avoiding diabetes, preventive care hasn't been shown to extend life that much. I'd love to see some studies that prove otherwise. Oh wait... You don't believe in studies.

    The whole uproar about the study reminds me of a time when CNBSS results came out. If you don't like results - blame the study.

    By Anonymous kitty, at 6:42 PM  

    Thanks for your comments Kitty. I found them insightful. You might find it interesting to know that I am a also a big "believer" in evidence-based medicine. I'm not against studies in general, just those that sow confusion.

    My major problem is how these studies are reported. A little context would go a long way to helping people who rely on these studies for guidance.

    This study, however, I don't like very much. I can't say the same for all of them.

    By Anonymous Fard Johnmar, at 1:48 PM  

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