How much hard, scientific evidence is behind the "Fat is bad for you" message that America has heard for the last 30 years? The answer might surprize you.
The Soft Science of Dietary Fat
by Gary Taubes
During the past 30 years, the concept of eating healthy in America has become synonymous with avoiding dietary fat. The creation and marketing of reduced-fat food products has become big business; over 15,000 have appeared on supermarket shelves. Indeed, an entire research industry has arisen to create palatable nonfat fat substitutes, and the food industry now spends billions of dollars yearly selling the less-fat-is-good-health message. The government weighs in as well, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) booklet on dietary guidelines, published every 5 years, and its ubiquitous Food Guide Pyramid, which recommends that fats and oils be eaten "sparingly." The low-fat gospel spreads farther by a kind of societal osmosis, continuously reinforced by physicians, nutritionists, journalists, health organizations, and consumer advocacy groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which refers to fat as this "greasy killer." "In America, we no longer fear God or the communists, but we fear fat," says David Kritchevsky of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, who in 1958 wrote the first textbook on cholesterol.
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