Book Review: “THE BIG FAT SURPRISE: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz

by Jan

favicon Big Fat SurpriseThere have been about five decades of research on heart disease. In this book Teicholz has reviewed the literature and detailed the research on the diet-heart debate.

She set out how scientific belief rather than evidence, NGOs, food manufacturers, government agencies, and other organisations over-promised and under-delivered. All this has very likely contributed to the current global obesity epidemic.

The food industry promoted the shift from expensive animal fats to inexpensive hydrogenated vegetable oils and their trans-fatty acids, then replaced these vegetable oils with the next shift towards sugars. They did this without any evidence of any benefits or safety.

Saturated fats still remain somewhat maligned. Over the centuries scientists’ research has been fraught with error, self-deception, grandiosity, bias, self-interest, and outright fraud.  But this book is alarming.

Teicholz has done an excellent job in analysing how weak science, dominant personalities, vested interests and political expediency has contributed to continued obesity and poor health. “It seems now that what sustains it,” argues Teicholz, “is not so much science as generations of bias and habit.”

This book should be a warning about risks of continued bias, habit, and the hubris of  basing public policy development on untested belief instead of hard evidence.