America, the overfed

Readers here well understand that government science is as intrinsically unreliable as anything else being produced by the government. And the U.S. government’s dietary advice has been about as bad as it gets.

“The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history.”

Let’s say you want to lose some weight. Which of these foods would you choose: A skim-milk latte, or the same drink with whole milk? A low-cal breakfast bar or steak and eggs? A salad tossed in light dressing or the same salad doused with buttermilk ranch?

If you’re like most Americans, you either aren’t sure how to answer, or you’re very sure—but very wrong. And it’s not your fault. It’s the fault, experts say, of decades of flawed or misleading nutrition advice—advice that was never based on solid science.

The US Department of Agriculture, along with the agency that is now called Health and Human Services, first released a set of national dietary guidelines back in 1980. That 20-page booklet trained its focus primarily on three health villains: fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Recently, research has come out strongly in support of dietary fat and cholesterol as benign, rather than harmful, additions to person’s diet. Saturated fat seems poised for a similar pardon.

“The science that these guidelines were based on was wrong,” Robert Lustig, a neuro-endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Tonic. In particular, the idea that cutting fat from a person’s diet would offer some health benefit was never backed by hard evidence, Lustig said.

Just this week, some of Lustig’s colleagues at UCSF released an incendiary report revealing that in the 1960s, sugar industry lobbyists funded research that linked heart disease to fat and cholesterol while downplaying evidence that sugar was the real killer.

I have to admit, my father called this one in the early 1990s. He never bought the “eating fat makes you fat” line, kept a low-carbohydrate diet, and stayed much slimmer than most of his peers as a result.

The thing is, you can work out all you like, but once you pass 40, the combination of becoming more injury-prone and your body metabolism slowing down means that your diet is a necessary component of losing weight. I’ve always been in the gym or on the soccer field at least three days per week, and I’ve never been that overweight, but I’ve dropped 13 pounds as part of my quest to get back my six-pack and return to my old fighting weight of 175 – I have four more to go –  and it is entirely the result of eating less and eating fewer carbohydrates.

It’s not about major changes, just getting your caloric intake south of the energy usage line. In my case, that means a cup of yogurt for breakfast instead of a bowl of cereal, a mochacino after lunch instead of dessert, and a smaller portion at dinner, no seconds, and no snacking. I still have three cappucini – sometimes four, including the one mocha – dessert, and two glasses of wine per day. So, it’s not exactly torture, just reasonable exercise combined with a modicum of self-discipline.

Note, by the way, that it’s not just Americans who have been affected by this disastrous dietary science. Keep that in mind when you consider the “global climate change consensus”.

In a recent editorial appearing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researcher Zoe Harcombe from the University of the West of Scotland explains that obesity rates among British men and women rose from 2.7 percent in 1972 to 23 percent and 26 percent, respectively, by 1999.