Puncturing the Low Fat Myth - NY Times article

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ssMarilyn, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. ssMarilyn

    ssMarilyn New Member

    At the very moment that the government started telling Americans to eat less fat, we got fatter. The truths about why we gain weight and why it is so hard to lose it just might turn out to be much different from what we have been led to think.

    If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it. They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling ‘‘Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution’’ and ‘‘Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution,’’
    accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along. Or maybe it’s this: they find that their very own dietary recommendations—eat less fat and more carbohydrates—are the cause of the rampaging epidemic of obesity in America. Or, just possibly this: they find out both of the above are true.

    Puncturing the Low-Fat Myth

    If you haven't had a chance to read The New York Times
    Magazine article entitled, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat
    Lie?" (July 7), here are 10 key points you should know.

    Written by Gary Taubes, a correspondent for the journal
    Science, it has sparked enormous media coverage by
    questioning conventional wisdom about low-fat diets.

    10 Key Points

    1.The low-fat hypothesis has failed the test of time. Walter
    Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, is the spokesman of the
    longest-running and most comprehensive diet and health
    studies ever performed. (They include data on nearly
    300,000 individuals.) Those data, says Willett, “clearly
    contradict the low-fat-is-good-health message ''and the idea
    that all fat is bad for you; the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic.''

    2. Recent studies confirm the effectiveness of the Atkins approach. The results of five scientific studies recently presented at conferences are remarkably consistent. Subjects on some form of the Atkins plan lost twice as much weight as did subjects on the low-fat, low-calorie diets. In all five
    studies, cholesterol levels improved similarly with both diets, but triglyceride levels were considerably lower with the Atkins approach.

    3.The obesity epidemic coincides with the rise of the low-fat dogma. The low-fat theory is only about 30 years old, and in that time low-fat weight-loss diets have proved in clinical trials and real life to be dismal failures. Until the late 1970s, the accepted wisdom was that fat and protein protected
    against overeating by making you sated, and carbohydrates made you fat. The low-fat hypothesis, not the idea of controlling carbohydrate intake, is actually the deviation from traditional thinking.

    4.The low-fat dogma was politically and economically motivated. Back in the 1970’s some of the nation's best scientists disagreed with the low-fat logic, but they were effectively ignored. Once the National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.) signed off on the low-fat doctrine, the food industry quickly began producing thousands of reduced-fat food products to meet the new recommendations. Fat was replaced with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to replace lost flavor.

    5.The low-fat message is radically oversimplified, a fact few experts deny. It effectively ignores the fact that unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are relatively good for you. As Willett explained, you will gain little to no health benefit by giving up milk, butter and cheese and eating bagels instead.

    6. Endocrinology does not support low-fat diets. Endocrinology, the study of hormones, demonstrates the effect that carbohydrates have on insulin and blood sugar and in turn fat metabolism and appetite. When we eat more fat-free carbohydrates, they, in turn, make us hungrier and heavier. Put simply, a low-fat diet is not by definition a healthy diet. In practice, such a diet cannot help being high in carbohydrates, and that can lead to obesity, and perhaps even heart disease. ''For a large percentage of the population, perhaps 30 to 40 percent, low-fat diets are counterproductive,'' says Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, director of obesity research at Harvard's prestigious Joslin Diabetes Center.

    7. Low-fat diets can raise triglycerides, which may prove lethal. A crucial example of how the low-fat recommendations were oversimplified is that eating a low fat, high-carbohydrate diet would, for many people, raise their triglyceride levels and lower their H.D.L. levels. This combination can lead to heart disease and Type II diabetes.

    8. The link between eating fat and getting heart disease has never been demonstrated. From 1984 to the present day the N.I.H conducted five major studies and spent several hundred million dollars trying to show a connection but failed. A sixth study did conclude that reducing cholesterol by drug
    therapy could prevent heart disease.

    9. High carbohydrate diets result in higher caloric intake. Americans are eating more calories than ever. The salient factor is the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar and insulin. The primary role of insulin is to regulate blood-sugar levels. After you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into sugar molecules and transported into the bloodstream. Your pancreas then secretes insulin, which shunts the blood sugar into muscles and the liver as fuel for the next few hours. This is why carbohydrates have a significant impact on insulin and fat does not. Insulin regulates fat metabolism. We cannot store body fat without it. Think of insulin as a switch. When it's on, in the few hours after eating, you burn carbohydrates for energy and store excess calories as fat. When it's off, after the insulin has been depleted, you burn fat as fuel. So when insulin levels are low, you will burn your own fat, but not when they're high.

    10. Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that Atkins works. After attacking Atkins for three decades, obesity experts are now finding it difficult to ignore the copious anecdotal evidence that the program does just what is claimed. Take Dr. Albert Stunkard, a University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist, for
    instance. He has been trying to treat obesity for half a century, but his epiphany about Atkins and maybe about obesity as well occurred just recently when he discovered that the chief of radiology in his hospital had lost 60 pounds on the Atkins program. ''Well, apparently all the young guys in the hospital are doing it,'' he said.

  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    So many of us feel so much better on low-carb, not low-fat diets. I am glad that Dr. Atkins was vindicated while he was still alive to see it; however, I still see the media promoting low-fat diets and products all the time. What is really disturbing is that many products specifically for kids are touted as low fat. As America get fatter, American children get fatter and set themselves up for a lifetime of obesity and illness.

    BTW, y'all, the South Beach Diet appears to be a shameless ripoff of Dr. Atkins diet.

    Love, Mikie
  3. jadibeler

    jadibeler New Member

    and send it to some people. I'm trying to educate the world with what I learn here!

    Interesting about what they said in the '70's. I remember that and I did it - to lose weight, nothing else. It worked beautifully. I was in real bad shape but I had good times too, so I have no memory as to whether or not I felt better. Ditto for when I did it again in the mid-80's for weight loss.

    Now I'm doing it to feel better --- how long does it take, guys????

  4. Pindooca

    Pindooca New Member

    I am totally adverse to the low-fat way of life. Any diet that touts eating carbs and sugar and initiate a cycle of insulin rising-falling/craving is just insane.

    Atkins has really turned the tables for me. It's a very hard way of eating to follow, as our culture is so infused with carbohydrates now. But the effects are well worth it!
  5. ssMarilyn

    ssMarilyn New Member

    I have been on Atkins since the 70's, but would stray on occasion, and then went back on it BY THE BOOK May 9th. I have lost 25 lbs and this week I am adding fruit and it is wonderful!! Bananas, apples, unsweetened apple sauce, an occasional smoothie, and grapes. I also have added Ezekiel bread from the health food store and it is delcious. I am going to stick to this way of eating for the rest of my life now because I see a huge difference in how I feel now and "then"... No more pasta, ick...spuds...or regular bread. (The last time I ate pasta, I threw it up....that tells me something.)

    Marilyn :)
  6. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Just what I need to pass onto others, get tired of the same old ill informed and prejudiced arguments against this diet. It's not for eveyone, but probably the best health for life approach for the majority.


  7. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    It needs to be said over and over. I especially want to comment on #4 nd #7 on the list.
    #4 - My M-I-L, who does not keep up with popular culture at all, decided she needed to lose about 15 lbs. and stopped eating bread and potatoes to lose it. When I told her that was the "new" way to do it, she said everyone has always known that's how to do it... lucky for her, she completely missed the whole low-fat nonsense. Wish I could say the same....
    #7 - Those of you with big tummies, please read #7 and then go look at your latest lab test results. This is Metabolic Syndrome aka Syndrome X or Insulin Resistance Syndrome, and it is an epidemic in this country, caused by the eating of a low fat diet in a person who is genetically designed to eat a high fat, high protein diet (those whose ancestors all came from very cold places). I dilligently ate very low-fat, high carb for years and my HDL got lower and lower while my triglycerides got higher and higher and my tummy got rounder and rounder! Thank goodness an astute P.A. dx'd me with Syndrome X before it was too late. I already have the high blood pressure, but I have changed my ways in time to prevent the diabetes that it causes, and the high protein/low carb diet dropped my fasting glucose from 105 to 89 and my triglycerides from 489 to 153. My HDL rose from 29 to 47. These numbers are still bad, but a lot better than before.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/20/2003]