There’s a wonderful myth that has permeated society. It plays into something that we all really want to believe, something that sounds wonderful because it simplifies so many of our bad choices. It allows us to order a side of bacon without feeling the least bit guilty because everyone knows that it’s ok.
And the recent headlines have done nothing but support the mass enjoyment of fatty foods. According to news sources around the world, a new study published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, definitely shows that fat is good for us and carbohydrates are bad.
Nutritionists and health coaches around the world are celebrating the news as we speak.
The study that drove everyone crazy is an offshoot of the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological Study (PURE), so named because public health folks love acronyms.
Basically, the researchers took a very large sample of 135,000 people, followed them for 10 years, and looked at whether their fat and carbohydrate intake was related to their health at the end of the study.
As usual, it was a great investigation. The researchers took a huge sample, took into account a mind-boggling number of factors, and ended up with some really interesting findings.
Not only that, but they used a representative sample from around the world, which means their findings are applicable no matter which country you need a fat fix in.
This was an observational investigation. What that means is that the researchers weren’t looking for causality, but rather an association. It’s virtually impossible to know from this study alone whether a high fat intake improves health, because there are simply too many factors to consider, even after the researchers have done their sophisticated analysis.
Anyone who came to a definitive conclusion, namely that fat is great for you, based on this research, was simply wrong. There is a lot of literature with a lot of debate that talks about exactly how much fat we should and should not eat.
This study contributes significantly to that, but it is not the main goal of dietary research.
The dietary advice is, in essence, quite simple. While it can be incredibly difficult to change your diet, the basic idea hasn’t changed in a long time. Eat more fruits and vegetables, try to avoid processed foods, and if you do eat meat, try mostly lean cuts like chicken breast.
The reporting on this study was wrong, but mainly because we as a society ask for unhealthy things from dietary advice. We want something that allows us to eat MacDonald’s every day AND stay healthy.
Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.
There will never be a new study showing that unhealthy foods are good for you. It just won’t happen. We’ve known for decades what the ideal diet is, and that advice is unlikely to change.
Eat food, not too much, mainly plants. Get an adequate amount of exercise.
And stop worrying about fad diets.