This morning’s blog began yesterday at Whole Foods with my frustration that a debunked 1970s government guideline was still alive and well at my palace of healthy eating. The fact that the McGovern Report that served as the genesis of the silly “low fat” and “no fat” salad dressing was further eviscerated yesterday in yet another scientific paper was no mere coincidence. I was destined to write this blog post…
The McGovern report is a great example of how our government is often really bad for your health. In 1977, the U.S. was struggling with an epidemic of heart disease and some politicians had the idea that they would do something. A vegetarian staffer with no science background found a scientist who had published a single paper (that later turned out to be fraudulent) that seemed to show that saturated animal fat caused heart disease. We still have television footage of other scientists arguing that we had no data that this was the case and all of this made no common sense (see above), but the politicians of the time had their nutritional scapegoats-butter, eggs, milk, and red meat. The USDA got into this silly business when a government official was told by the head of the National Academy of Sciences that her low fat eating guidelines were not based in any known science. Like any good government official, she shopped around until she found a scientist who agreed with her and our “low fat/no fat” mantra was born. Scientists soon realized that the only funding available from NIH would be that in lock step with the new government guidelines, so eventually scientists dug the low fat rabbit hole deeper. On Monday, almost 4 decades after these 1977 fat report damaging guidelines went into effect, a scathing paper exposing the scientific misconduct that led to the guidelines was published in a scientific journal. This immediately caught the eye of major news outlets.
So what does all of this have to do with Whole Foods? I wanted some real salad dressing with real heart healthy fat to put on my salad, but Whole Foods is still operating like it’s 1977 and has a new line of no and low fat dressings loaded with sugar featured at the salad bar! Now we’ve known for at least the last decade (and according to the recent Harcombe report for almost 4) that eating fat has nothing to do with making you fat or health. In fact, high fat diets have been shown to make you skinny and low fat/high carbohydrate diets make you fat. Hence will someone make sure that the executives at Whole Foods get the memo!
The upshot? Science is fluid. Whenever our government latches onto one idea that meets it’s political interests before all the data is in, it can hurt people. Countless people went to an early grave following the recommendations of the McGovern Report and the USDA Guidelines it spawned. Now if someone would please get that %$#@ no fat salad dressing out of the salad bar because it’s unhealthy, that would make my day!
–Nice Washington Post article on how the US Government is now dismantling it’s cholesterol guidelines.