Saturday, 30 August 2014

"The Big Fat Surprise - Why butter, milk and cheese belong in a healthy diet."

                 I finally finished "The  Big Fat Surprise - Why butter, milk and cheese belong in a healthy diet." by Nina Teicholz.   An entertaining enough read that reviews most of the  major studies regarding diet and cardiovascular disease, all of which are open to interpretation and therefore none of which are definitive. So, apart from a little entertainment, what have I learned from this thick  volume about the influence of diet on health and longevity?  Not much that  I  didn't  know before.  There is really nothing new here but it is a good overview of the various controversies that continue to rage.

                 Ms Teicholz does an excellent job of describing and then taking each study  and  the research teams that generated them apart. She efficiently reviews their shortcomings and does seem to enjoy highlighting  the human frailties that,  naturally  enough, prejudices even the most honorable researchers in favour of their own conclusions and their tendency to massage the data to prove whatever point they are trying to make.  It could be that the offending component is any of the food groups or even subgroups (e.g. saturated v unsaturated fats)  She makes the point that as soon as there is a minimal amount of data and often not enough to come to any firm conclusion, the food industry start planning how to turn the greatest possible profit from it.  She describes well the "Fat and Oil Wars" and how Big FoodCo  spends vast sums politicizing the health issues and extravagantly entertaining all categories of health care professionals and researchers in an attempt to support theories that they believe will help to promote their products.  Various scientific meeting are hosted in exotic places so it is not difficult to get the world experts to attend meeting, debating the Mediterranean Diet in Greece or some other pleasant Mediterranean resort. 

                 If I was still practicing medicine this book would not change my management of overweight patients but then I never subscribed to any of the fads of the day.  Nor would I change my dietary approach to cardiac patients.      As my parents used to say, "moderation, in all things".  And they never even went to medical school!


No comments:

Post a Comment