The Imaginary Historical Decrease in Fat Consumption

Late­ly, I’ve seen many “experts” on nutri­tion claim that low-fat foods make peo­ple fat. As part of the “evi­dence” to back up this non­sense, they claim that the recent increase in pop­u­lar­i­ty of low-fat foods is an under­ly­ing cause of our obe­si­ty epi­dem­ic. They must think that I’m too lazy or stu­pid to look up the real data for myself.

I entered the term “fat con­sump­tion trends” into Google, and with­in a sec­ond or two I found this arti­cle: Trends in Intake of Ener­gy and Macronu­tri­ents — Unit­ed States, 1971–2000. This arti­cle reports the trends that the CDC found when they ana­lyzed data from four Nation­al Health and Nutri­tion Exam­i­na­tion Sur­veys (NHANES), the first of which was con­duct­ed in 1971–1974 and the last of which was con­duct­ed in 1999–2000. These sur­veys revealed that men and women were eat­ing more calo­ries and more fat in 1999–2000 than they had been eat­ing in the ear­ly 1970s. How­ev­er, they were also eat­ing so much more sug­ar that the per­cent­age of their calo­ries that came from fat went down slight­ly.

In oth­er words, peo­ple are get­ting fat­ter because they are eat­ing more calo­ries, includ­ing more fat. In con­trast, Japan­ese chil­dren have been get­ting fat­ter and run­ning a risk of type 2 dia­betes even though they have been eat­ing few­er calo­ries. It’s because of a shift from their tra­di­tion­al starchy diet to a more West­ern­ized, high­er-fat diet.

As I’ve explained in detail here, it’s easy to fat­ten on fat but much hard­er to fat­ten on starch­es.

2 thoughts on “The Imaginary Historical Decrease in Fat Consumption”

  1. Inter­est­ing study in Japan­ese chil­dren. There does seem to be an increase in the belief that fat in the diet is healthy. I’m not sure how it devel­oped.

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