Fat as the Enemy

In a study published Dec. 7 in the journal BMJresearchers from the University of East Anglia (I don’t know where that is either) found that simply replacing high-fat foods with low-fat alternatives helped people lose roughly 3.5 pounds. Reducing fat intake also resulted in lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels. The study authors suggested that the findings may play a critical role in global dietary recommendations, because being overweight or obese increases the risk for many cancers, heart disease and stroke.  Hmmmmm.  I am not buying that.  Losing 3.5 pounds doesn’t take you from obese/overweight to normal.   The “fat is evil” scam started the McGovern recommendations in the 1970’s with very little basis in fact.   Good fat is making a huge comeback and even saturated fat may have its place.  This study smells like BS to me.   Here is some more:

“Fat calories are more dense, and the fat that we add to food is usually palatable, increasing our desire to want to eat more,” said Sharon Zarabi, a nutritionist and fitness trainer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “So, figure you decrease your fat intake, which decreases your total caloric intake and [leaves] you less likely to crave and overeat.”

Really?  Here is another article describing why this is wrong.

It’s becoming widely accepted that fats actually curb your appetite, by triggering the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which causes fullness. Fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat.


In 2003, the Cochrane Collaboration, a respected source for unbiased reviews of research, compared low-fat diets with low-calorie diets and found that “fat-restricted diets are no better than calorie-restricted diets in achieving long-term weight loss.” As Walt Willet of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in the American Journal of Medicine, “Diets high in fat do not appear to be the primary cause of the high prevalence of excess body fat in our society, and reductions in fat will not be a solution.”

So, in summary, I think the fitness trainer from Lenox Hill is an idiot pulling her theories directly out of her rectum.  As far as this study, losing 3.5 pounds is minimal, the study seems flawed and the University of East Anglia has some more work to do before it gets put on the “research powerhouse” map .

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  2 comments for “Fat as the Enemy

  1. December 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I hate to defend the fitness trainer because she isn’t exactly right. But she’s not exactly wrong either.

    Food has been studied for millenia, but only recently have we even tried to look at the “nutritional quality” of food. The vast majority of efforts, in history and at present, have gone into making it more delicious, not more nutritious.

    Just look at the purpose of the appetizer – if it does its job you will be hungrier after you eat it than you were before you ate it. That’s why it’s called an “appetizer”, duh.

    This is the problem with “hyper-palatable” foods. If you choose to eat them, you will eat more of them because eating them increases your appetite. You can’t sit down and eat a big bowl of raw broccoli but you can sit down and eat a big bowl of Lay’s potato chips (“Bet you can’t eat just one!”). That’s not by accident.

    And even if the hormone CCK has an effect on appetite, which is actually less than clear since its primary role is in digestion, satiation lags by approximately 20 minutes. Palatability is instant.

    This is where fat comes in. Foods become hyper-palatable when they are high in at least 2 of the 3 primary gustatory stimulants – salt, fat and sweet. Layering tastes and textures compounds the effect. Sweet counts in two ways – taste and blood sugar. So, although Lay’s potato chips are not sweet, they are starchy and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. So they are high in all three stimulants. (Note that diet sodas, beyond being a chemical soup, also contribute to hyper-palatability by being high in sweet.)

    There are no unprocessed foods that are hyper-palatable.

    So, the issue with fat is not the calories so much as the stimulating effect on appetite when eaten in certain combinations. Combinations that you can find in almost any packaged or restaurant-prepared food. The commercial wisdom in doing this is quite obvious and perfectly legal.

    Here’s the truth. Most, if not all, nutrient studies are not worthwhile. There are on the order of 10,000 distinct chemicals in a single plant, but we have only identified a few dozen “nutrients”. Plus each human is absolutely unique not just in physiology, but also in their particular microbiome. The complexity of this system does not lend itself to the modern scientific method of isolating variables.

    And sorry R D Braun, but 3500 calories does not equal one pound. The human body is way too variable and complex for that. This is a popular wisdom myth that is wrong in the same way and to the same degree as the proposition that 8 glasses of water a day is ideal for everyone.

  2. R D Braun
    December 10, 2012 at 10:15 am

    When calories out exceed calories in by 3500, you get 1 pound weight loss.

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