T Nation

Junk Food vs Junk Science

You’ll find this story covered all over the internet since yesterday:

Research: A Steady, High-fat Diet Is Bad

Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that people who consume a single, high-fat meal are more prone to suffer the physical consequences of stress than those who eat a low-fat meal.

“What’s really shocking is that this is just one meal,” says Dr Tavis Campbell, a specialist in behavioural medicine and senior author of the study.

"It’s been well documented that a high-fat diet leads to artherosclerosis and high blood pressure, and that exaggerated and prolonged cardiovascular responses to stress are associated with high blood pressure in the future.

So when we learn that even a single, high-fat meal can make you more reactive to stress, it’s cause for concern because it suggests a new and damaging way that a high-fat diet affects cardiovascular function."

In the study, 30 healthy young adults fasted the night before, then consumed either a high- or low-fat breakfast. Both meals had the same number of calories and the low-fat breakfast included supplements to balance it for sodium and potassium.

Two hours later the two groups were subjected to standard physical and mental stress tests while having their cardiovascular responses measured.

They performed a mathematical test designed to be stressful, completed a public speaking exercise about something emotionally provocative, held an arm in ice water, and had a blood pressure cuff inflated around an arm, which gradually causes a dull ache.

Campbell cautions that despite the grim message that even one high-fat meal is unhealthy, more research is needed to fully understand how the mechanisms work. “Telling people to never eat something is probably not a good way to promote a better diet,” he says. “At the same time we do have an epidemic of obesity in North America and it’s important that people try to make informed choices.”

from: http://www.playfuls.com/news_006847_Research_A_Steady_High_fat_Diet_Is_Bad.html


So eating a lot of fat does you harm, huh? I wonder if it’s all the other shit in McDonald’s food that does you harm, and not the fat itself… Or maybe it’s eating a lot of fat in one sitting…?

Or maybe the fact that fat consumption in one meal will cause a short-term negative reaction in people not used to a high-fat (quality fat, not trans fat) diet…?

Are any of these possibilities mentioned? Nope. Does the person conducting the study get a Masters degree for this superb piece of research? Yep. And lots of media exposure, of course. Because fats are bad, mkay?

So what’s my retort? Take a look at the European cardiovascular disease statistics for 2005:

http://www.ehnheart.org/files/statistics%202005-092711A.pdf

Now let’s plot the deaths per 100,000 people due to coronary heart disease (CHD) in a number of countries vs their consumption of saturated fat (as illustrated by the % of daily calories they get from SF):

[photo]6201[/photo]

Hmmm… Doesn’t look like saturated fat causes all those CHD deaths they warn us about, does it? In fact, it looks like the opposite is true!

If a study claims that a McMeal is bad for you, I could (maybe) agree. But to extrapolate from there that a high-fat diet is bad…that’s a leap of faith I’m not willing to make.

Anybody else have any comments on this? Anybody on the Anabolic Diet want to chime in?

I guess the ADers can’t type right now as they’re too busy with their heart attacks and high blood pressure…

Yeah, I remember hearing about that study and shedding a single tear. The worst part about it is that low-fat dieters everywhere are going to use it as an “I told you so.” And then they’ll struggle to carry their groceries to their car…!

I can’t help but see a parallel here… Remember back in the good old days when doctors would bleed their patients, and when the patients starting getting worse (you know, from the demons in their blood), the doctors would bleed them some more, and when the patient died, they would say, “Well, next time we better bleed them even more.”

It’s the same thing with fat these days. People were told to stop eating so much fat, so they did. But the heart disease rates didn’t change. So guess what? The doctors told them to eat even less, instead of re-evaluating their treatment…

The saddest part is that there are people who are genuinely trying to be healthier, but they are getting awful advice. And ridiculous studies like this are not helping.

[quote]swordthrower wrote:
Yeah, I remember hearing about that study and shedding a single tear. The worst part about it is that low-fat dieters everywhere are going to use it as an “I told you so.” And then they’ll struggle to carry their groceries to their car…!

I can’t help but see a parallel here… Remember back in the good old days when doctors would bleed their patients, and when the patients starting getting worse (you know, from the demons in their blood), the doctors would bleed them some more, and when the patient died, they would say, “Well, next time we better bleed them even more.”

It’s the same thing with fat these days. People were told to stop eating so much fat, so they did. But the heart disease rates didn’t change. So guess what? The doctors told them to eat even less, instead of re-evaluating their treatment…

The saddest part is that there are people who are genuinely trying to be healthier, but they are getting awful advice. And ridiculous studies like this are not helping.[/quote]

I agree. I think they’re too focused on what macronutrients to cut out of their diet (like fat) instead of focusing on what kinds of fats they’re consuming. I think they need to be doing more studies on avoiding processed starches, refined sugars, and trans fats instead of saying all fat is bad for you.

I also want to add that there is NO distinction between trans fat and saturated fat in this study. It would be interesting to see studies done on the consumption of trans fat and heart disease over the past few decades.

Further to the lack of a trans/saturated fat distinction, there is no mention of the differences in utilisation between fats consumed with and without carbs.