The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
I was as surprised as the brilliant Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick is in his blog below – that a Swiss investment bank has got it so completely right about dietary advice public health authorities globally have got so completely wrong since the 1970s, and even earlier. In my last blog headlined: No bread, please, just pass the butter, I wrote about the groundbreaking report by Credit Suisse, through its research arm, The Credit Suisse Research Institute. The authors of the report have more than enough locus standing, and they looked at all the research down the years. They come to the only reasonable conclusions anyone with a half a scientific brain should draw from all the research – were they not in the thrall of the powerful vested interests in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Those conclusions are heartbreaking literally and figuratively. They show in stark relief the devastating effects of decades of officially disseminated medical and dietary advice over the past 50 years: global epidemics of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, unnecessary pain and suffering of millions, and millions of unnecessary, premature deaths. They vindicate Kendrick’s work documented in his blockbuster books: The Great Cholesterol Con, and mostly recently, Doctoring Data. (Kendrick is often called a maverick, which he is, compared to many of his orthodox medical peers, but that doesn’t even vaguely do him justice.) The conclusions also vindicate the work of University of Cape Town emeritus professor Tim Noakes, who has been subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification after courageously admitting he got it wrong for so many years. Ditto for other pioneers of the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) movement, also known as Banting or ketogenic eating, that is taking off worldwide.
Here, Kendrick takes a penetrating look at the Credit Suisse report, and why it is likely to be swiftly and ruthlessly vilified. If those gearing up to do the attacking hope they will be able to stem the scientific tide once more, they are likely to be in for a big, fat surprise – one which US investigative writer Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, would specially appreciate. – Marika Sboros
By Malcolm Kendrick
A kind reader of my blog pointed me at a report by Credit Suisse entitled Fat, the New Health Paradigm. I suppose I half expected the usual. Saturated fat causes heart disease, cholesterol causes heart disease:
“We are a respected bank, what the hell did you expect – that we would rock the boat in some way. Don’t be daft.”
What seems to have happened is that they actually looked at the evidence in this area and came to the conclusion that the current dietary advice is utter bollocks, and is not based on anything at all.
I shall start with a few key points from the Introduction:
“Saturated fat has not been a driver of obesity: fat does not make you fat. At current levels of consumption the most likely culprit behind growing obesity level of the world population is carbohydrates. A second potential factor is solvent-extracted vegetable oils (canola, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil).
“Globally consumption per capita of these oils increased by 214% between 1961 and 2011 and 169% in the U.S. Increased calories intake—if we use the U.S. as an example—played a role, but please note that carbohydrates and vegetable oils accounted for over 90% of the increase in calorie intake in this period.
“A proper review of the so called ‘fat paradoxes’ (France, Israel and Japan) suggests that saturated fats are actually healthy and omega-6 fats, at current levels of consumption in the developed world, are not.
“The big concern regarding eating cholesterol-rich foods (e.g. eggs) is completely without foundation. There is basically no link between the cholesterol we eat and the level of cholesterol in our blood. This was already known thirty years ago and has been confirmed time and time again. Eating cholesterol rich foods has no negative effect on health in general or on risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), in particular.
“Doctors and patients’ focus on ‘bad’ and ‘good’ cholesterol is superficial at best and most likely misleading. The most mentioned factors that doctors use to assess the risk of CVDs—total blood cholesterol (TC) and LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol)—are poor indicators of CVD risk. In women in particular, TC has zero predictive value if we look at all causes of death. Low blood cholesterol in men could be as bad as very high cholesterol1.”
At one point they go on to say…
“Here is our final hypothesis on why health authorities have remained so certain of their position and unwilling to change their view on saturated fats, omega-6 or carbohydrates:
- Health authorities advance very slowly and are afraid to change the market’s status quo (not a wise medical posture).
“We have known since the 1960-70s that dietary cholesterol has no influence on blood cholesterol. Yet it took more than fifty years for the USDA/USDHHS to lift recommended upper limits of fat consumption. It took close to 20 years in the US —that was quick — to ban transfats. So we should not look at public health authorities as leading indicators of potential health hazards, but rather as lagging behind.
“Bureaucracy tends to move slowly, but when the health risks tied to ‘incorrect’information are so high, one would hope for swift action and the courage to reverse past mistakes. There was no fundamental reason to move from butter to solvent extracted vegetable oils.
“If we assume that research was the main reason — as it was claimed at that time—the health authorities now have enough information to change their recommendations, or if still in doubt issue no recommendations.”
All quite extraordinary. This report is about as scathing as an organisation like Credit Suisse could possibly be. They have stripped apart the evidence on eating fats and saturated fats. They have come to exactly the same conclusions as I, and many others, have done.
When they say:
“There was no fundamental reason to move from butter to solvent extracted vegetable oils.”
That means, there was not one single scrap of evidence. Nothing, zip, nada, zero.
So when you see various flower-like margarine manufactures promoting their products as super-healthy…. you know it is just the most complete nonsense. Even a Swiss Investment Bank says so.
And what do they have to say on raised cholesterol levels? Well they have many things to say, mainly that it does not cause heart disease. The shortest summary of their conclusions would be the following:
We can draw the following conclusions:
- High cholesterol (above 240mg/dl) (this is 6.2mmol/l) is only a marker of higher cardiovascular death for men. Please note that high cholesterol does not cause heart attacks, it is just a marker.
- For all other illnesses, higher cholesterol levels pointed to lower death levels. Why? Because cholesterol helps support, or is a marker of, a better immune system.
I know that this report will be ruthlessly attacked and vilified. Mainly on the basis that it was written by a Bank! And what can bankers possibly know of medical research?
How very dare they? My own view on this is that, you know, anyone can read medical research, and if you are in possession of a functioning brain you can also work out what that research is saying.
Indeed, in my opinion, the best placed people to review any form of research are those who do not have a dog in the fight. The authors of this report have no reputations to maintain in medical research.
They have no reason to support one side or the other. These people represent an investment bank, and all they are interest in doing is advising their “customers” on what is really true, and what is likely to happen.
They are a bit like bookmakers. No emotions involved just “what are the odds”.
As they say that odds are, as follows
‘The bottom line of these assumptions is that fat consumption per capita is likely to soar by 23% from now until 2030, protein by 12%, and carbohydrates will likely decline by 2%. This implies annual compound growth of 1.3% for fat consumption, compared to 0.9% over the last fifty years. Total demand for fat will be much higher—43% up for fat or 1.9% a year— given the 16% growth in the global population expected over the next fifteen years.’
Pork bellies are a “buy”. How strange to find myself on the same side of an argument as a Swiss Investment Bank. I would have given you bloody good odds on that yesterday.
- This blog first appeared on Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s website and is republished with permission.
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