Cudos to Nina Teicholz and the L.A. Times for this provocative piece about the politics of food science in America over the last 75 years. Teicholz reminds us about the recent controversy over the revelation that Harvard scientists in the 1960s were paid by industry reps to downplay the dangers of sugar to ensure that fat and cholesterol got the blame for causing heart disease. This shady science caused a fundamental shift in the American diet and increased overall consumption of carbs.
I agree 100% that the two pillars of declining public health in the U.S. since the 1940s are the dietary shift from fats to carbohydrates, and second, from a healthy mix of fat, including saturated and polyunsaturated fats from mostly grass-fed animals, to an unhealthy mix of mostly vegetable oil-based fats, with a heavy serving of transfats.
My mentor, former Congressman George Brown, used to tell anyone who would listen, including new staff, “It’s important to understand the nature of a problem before you try to fix it.” I am encouraged that the mythology supporting much of today’s dietary guidelines is being seriously questioned, if not collapsing. I also hope and expect the good work of the National Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington will continue to drive home the fact that food choices really do impact health trajectories.
Without wiser choices day in and day out, the costs of health care will keep climbing and the benefits from each visit to the doc or hospital will continue falling.
Nina Techolz, “Don’t scapegoat Big Sugar. Lots of food producers profited from the demonization of fat,” September 26, 2016, Los Angeles Times