The American public has been told to reduce dietary fat for the last 30 years with the justification that it would lead to better weight loss, lower plasma cholesterol and reduced heart disease and cancer risk. An enormous amount of effort has been put forth to subsequently test that hypothesis. In fact, the biggest study ever to test the effects of reducing fat cost an estimated $415 million dollars and the results of that study were just published in a series of studies in the
Journal of the American Medical Association
. The study involved just under 20,000 women who were instructed to reduce fat and increase intake of vegetables, fruits, and grains. The control group included nearly 30,000 women who maintained their normal diet. After a mean follow up of 8.1 years, the intervention group successfully reduced fat by 8% and this resulted in a decrease in blood cholesterol levels. However, there were absolutely no differences in the incidence of any heart disease. Other studies published from this database indicated little effect on weight loss and no effect on risk of getting cancer. These findings provide compelling evidence to reconsider the premise that reducing dietary fat is the healthiest dietary approach. The link between dietary fat restriction, cholesterol reduction and heart disease has always been tenuous at best. It is too bad we spent 415 million to try and prove a faulty hypothesis. A significant amount of research has shown benefits of lower carbohydrate diets that are higher in protein and healthy fats.
Howard BV, Van Horn L, Hsia J, Manson JE, Stefanick ML, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Kuller LH, LaCroix AZ, Langer RD, Lasser NL, Lewis CE, Limacher MC, Margolis KL, Mysiw WJ, Ockene JK, Parker LM, Perri MG, Phillips L, Prentice RL, Robbins J, Rossouw JE, Sarto GE, Schatz IJ, Snetselaar LG, Stevens VJ, Tinker LF, Trevisan M, Vitolins MZ, Anderson GL, Assaf AR, Bassford T, Beresford SA, Black HR, Brunner RL, Brzyski RG, Caan B, Chlebowski RT, Gass M, Granek I, Greenland P, Hays J, Heber D, Heiss G, Hendrix SL, Hubbell FA, Johnson KC, Kotchen JM. Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial. JAMA. 2006 Feb 8;295(6):655-66.