Low Fat Diets: Decades of Misinformation


February 12, 2014 by Dr. Sana Keller

Big Question: If ‘Low Fat Diets’ are recommended for our health, WHY AREN’T THEY WORKING? Let’s look back a few decades—to a time when obesity wasn’t a common health concern—back to the 1970’s. What changed? Is there a lesson to be learned from the past? I believe there is… low fat diet

Dietary patterns started to change significantly back in the mid-1970’s, when saturated fat was pinpointed as a ‘likely’ cause for heart disease, in part, since it was believed to raise cholesterol levels. Although no major studies were done to prove this theory, the Low Fat Diet became the common recommendation for most of the adult US population. Interestingly (and sadly), the growing trend in obesity started about the same time.  …things that make you go Hmmm… obesity graph

Further evidence (in addition to the obvious growing obesity trend) of the ineffectiveness of Low Fat Diets continues to mount: The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a study involving over 48,000 postmenopausal women) reported the following conclusions: Over a mean of 8.1 years, a dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD in postmenopausal women and achieved only modest effects on CVD risk factors, suggesting that more focused diet and lifestyle interventions may be needed to improve risk factors and reduce CVD risk. (CHD=coronary heart disease, CVD=cardiovascular disease)

A. Malhotra MD, an Interventional Cardiology Specialist in the UK recently published an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) entitled:  “Saturated fat is not the major issue” stating that, “The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades. Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks. Furthermore, the government’s obsession with levels of total cholesterol, which has led to the overmedication of millions of people with statins, has diverted our attention from the more egregious risk factor of atherogenic dyslipidemia.”

The past few decades of the Low Fat Diet craze have resulted in many health-related challenges that are now being linked to typical low fat diet, including:

  • Impeded weight loss
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Reduced ability of the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, & K)
  • Impaired blood sugar balance
  • Impaired digestion
  • Impaired detoxification by the liver
  • Dry skin
  • Achy joints

Now for the ‘Mind Bender’ for those of us who have been indoctrinated with the Low Fat theory:  Our bodies need proper amounts of HEALTHY FATS—of high quality—to provide us with energy, maintain healthy cell walls, produce compounds that decrease inflammation, assist with absorption of nutrients, help normalize blood pressure, help prevent blood clots, and provide the sensation of being ‘full’ (satiety). eat real fat

top secret file on wooden table.“It’s Time to End the Low Fat Myth” is a title from a recent Harvard School of Public Health article. The ‘word’ is getting out. Please remember, though, that the source of information usually determines what the information will say…various sources (governmental, Western medicine, pharmaceutical) have their own agendas that are not always focused on promoting true health for the masses. That’s why you will find loads of websites that focus on the harm of all saturated fats and the good of all polyunsaturated fats—not exactly science-based, current information.

Does this give us license to eat fats freely? Bacon all day? Everything marinated in butter? Obviously not, as I’m sure the logical side of you already figured out—although your crazy side may have been secretly hoping for such an answer. 🙂

No worries—I’m not going to leave you hanging, wondering what on earth to do (rather to eat). The next two blog postings on Healthy Fats will fill you in.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to your comments.

Sana Keller, PhD, RN, CNC       Healthy Lifestyle Coach & Cancer Survivor Coach

Health Unlimited LLC

Photo credits: justmeint1health.wordpress.com, thesmarterscienceofslim.com, fitperf.com, santofitlife.com

4 thoughts on “Low Fat Diets: Decades of Misinformation

  1. […] as ‘healthier’ over the decades. I’ve written a few blogs about that! Here’s one: Lowfat Diets: Decades of Misinformation, the first sequel: Healthy Fats: Which Ones Are They?, and the second sequel: Healthy and Unhealthy […]


  2. […] post is about specific healthy fat options. You may find my two preceding posts on Healthy Fats here and here helpful if you haven’t already read […]


  3. […] organic butter, ghee and coconut oil. If you would like to learn more about healthy fats, check out this post, then this post and finally this post. I make a point of not including any recipes on my Pinterest […]


  4. […] Balanced amounts of healthy fats are the key. You can learn more about this on my past blogs here, here and […]


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