How Government Institutionalized the Saturated Fat Lie
Science, it’s a golden institution that we think of as scientists boldly asserting ideas and testing these ideas through unbiased scientific studies that lead us in our quest for knowledge and progress. But unfortunately, this is not the case at all, particularly when government and politics get involved.
Politicians are obsessed with ‘doing something’ (of course this is accomplished with other people’s money) even when ‘doing something’ is neither scientifically valid nor does it have the preponderance of evidence. Yet, in order to take this bold stance, government must declare the science ‘settled’ in order for the decision to be seen as legitimate, and few people are savvy enough at taking a look at the science to question these declarations.
Settled Science is an Oxymoron
Once these ‘solutions’ are passed into ‘government policy’, these ideas are then considered ‘settled science’ that is too sacrosanct to question, and the unthinking public merely adopts these policies as fact. While some of these policies CAN have ‘good’ consequences (depending upon how that ephemeral term is measured) the more severe problem is that even when the recommendations prove to be harmful, the government will stand by their original premise because it is now built into government policy from the top down, and as such gets built into the entire psyche of the population.
These policies often damage entire generations. Even worse, these policies often make it so that no differing science or theories can be heard, since government controls much of the scientific research money, and any agenda they have is often the only side of the debate that gets funded, thus driving any scientific inquiry into competing arguments out to pasture from lack of funding.
In fact, at times, any competing argument can even be made illegal to implement, making literally ‘an act of Congress’ the only way to overthrow wrong and even seriously damaging ideas. This happens over and over again, making it clear that science and politics should never be intertwined.
Case in Point is Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
One health ‘truism’ that is barely starting to be questioned on any broad scale today, but in fact has been incorrectly promoted as ‘settled science’ since the very first large flawed research study, is the cholesterol and saturated fat debate. It’s been widely promoted since the 1950’s that cholesterol causes heart disease and that saturate fat causes high cholesterol levels. This is primarily due to a man named John Ancel Keys, who took a keen interest in the rise of heart disease and set out to find a cause. In his first studies, that have since been considered incredibly flawed and biased, he was convinced that cholesterol and saturated fats were the cause of heart disease.
Unfortunately, it seems that Keys was incredibly charismatic, and was able to convince the American Heart Association to adopt a low fat diet as a measure to correct heart disease. The AHA was an extremely influential organization and was able to convince both the AMA and government officials to also adopt these guidelines in an effort to ‘do something’ about the rising incidence of heart disease.
Since ‘doing nothing’ often seems to be not an option for governments, the government adopted this ‘belief’ based on flawed science, and even today, it is still wholeheartedly accepted as scientifically settled fact by most people in the west. Unfortunately, it’s almost certainly not true and, perhaps, it’s the exact opposite of the truth.
When Bias Becomes a Government Policy
Nina Teicholz, an investigative journalist, was asked to do a piece on trans fats. What she found led her to question the entire concept of the cholesterol and saturated fat relationship to heart disease, and she spent the next 10 years of her life investigating this one topic, with the book “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese belong in a Healthy Diet”.
Not only did her investigations lead her to believe that the entire concept of cholesterol and saturated fat leading to heart disease is incorrect, but the incredible lengths that scientists and government organizations went to in order to maintain this hypothesis unquestioningly stunned her. She laments, “What happened was that after the diet-heart hypothesis became adopted by the AHA and the NIH, Key’s bias was institutionalized. These two organizations set the agenda for the field and controlled most of the research dollars, and scientists who didn’t want to end up like Mann (a scientist with a competing hypothesis who was eventually drummed out of the field) had to go along with the AHA-NIH agenda”.
This is stunning, if you think about it. Because of a single government intervention, the promotion of a particular diet, scientific inquiry into any competing theory has been stifled for well over half a century. It’s only recently that studies are coming out in peer-reviewed scientific journals showing that the Polyunsatured Oils and processed carbohydrates that have been promoted to replace saturated fats has led to an INCREASE in heart disease, diabetes, and obesity in the United States.
However, we are FAR from these recommendations being rescinded, and in fact, one of Michelle Obama’s campaigns was to ‘improve’ the health of children across the nation, influencing policy even on what is served in public schools. And what are these recommendations? Don’t eat fat, particularly if its saturated fat.
Cholesterol Guidelines Get Even Lower
That cholesterol causes heart disease is virtually a law, due to the fact that, for the AMA, reducing cholesterol is a mandate, and since statin drugs are a $29 billion a year business, with almost ½ of Americans over 40 qualifying for statin therapy, this trend seems unlikely to abate. In fact, cholesterol lowering recommendations continue to get lower and lower despite a growing body of evidence that LOWER cholesterol levels lead to a higher incidence of heart disease, as both the US Framingham study and a large scale Japanese study have shown.
Despite the research, the great influence the US government has on research grants and direction of study, and their cozy relationship with drug manufacturers and the AMA, means that the government will likely still hold sway in the attempt to promote this unscientific position and dissuade any dissenting opinions for years or decades to come.
In the last part of the book mentioned above, the author revisits a researcher who fought for the saturated fat theory of heart disease. Even on his deathbed at 91 years old, he vociferously argued against the current research stating that saturated fat does not harm health. His argument was that it goes against the accepted theory that has the vast majority of support in the scientific community. She rightly states, “This argument begged the question of how science could ever correct itself if researchers who disagreed with the conventional wisdom must be considered wrong because, well, the conventional wisdom disagreed with them.”
Government’s New Pet Project Stifles Dissent
This is shockingly similar to cries from the left that the debate on ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ is over because, they argue, a ‘consensus’ of scientists agree on the topic. But because of the incentuous political/scientific relationship, the lion’s share of the research dollars are doled out by governments who have already taken a stance on the issue, thus institutionalizing the bias in order to be seen as ‘doing something’.
We have seen this same pattern over and over, from Pasteurized Milk Laws, to the government promotion of bottle feeding over breast feeding from the 1950’s-1970’s, to the half a century of low saturated fat promotion, to the current bias in ‘climate science’; the truth is that government and science simply don’t mix. Government has no business taking a position on any scientific issues, as doing so has a direct effect on the people subjected to these dictates.
Unfortunately, the government repeatedly has been shown to make the incorrect choice, and these choices have had, and still are having long-term, direct, meaningful, disastrous consequences to the public; consequences which will continue unabated for the foreseeable future since these dictates have become so ingrained into law and culture that generations of damage can never be undone.
I love liberty, and I love health related topics. Some musings on both