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Sceptics undermine effective dietary and heart health advice

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Recent reports questioning the link between saturated fats and coronary heart disease fail to convince

“Eat less saturated fat and more polyunsaturated fat” has been the central dietary advice for reducing early death from coronary heart disease (CHD) for more than four decades. This advice was based on evidence accumulated over many years, and the decline in developed countries in the numbers of premature deaths caused by CHD is attributable in some measure to its widespread acceptance.

In 2010 and 2014, two studies based on meta-analyses contradicted this longstanding advice,1,2 and their findings have been widely broadcast in the United States and the United Kingdom by the popular media, including the New York Times, Time magazine, New Scientist and the Independent.

The resulting discussion on the place of saturated fat in the diet and the management of cholesterol in the population has the potential to drastically impede further progress in reducing CHD. Why do the conclusions in these two articles depart so markedly from the international consensus that has been trusted until now?3

The first of these articles was the 2010 meta-analysis by Siri-Tarino and colleagues of prospective cohort studies.