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25 September, 2012
Not everyone knows where the ideas or recommendations for food that we eat on a daily basis come from. We hope (maybe a little blindly) that it is with excellent science and irrefutable research that governments make their recommendations for a healthier nation.
In the early 70s the American government decided to create recommendations to the public about food and chose a senator (not a nutritionalist) to decide on what those recommendations would be. And so the McGovern report was born, named after Senator George McGovern. For the first time the government recommended four nutritional guidelines.
- We should reduce our consumption of fat
- We should switch from animal fats to vegetables fats
- Reduce cholesterol to 1 egg per day
- Eat more carbohydrates, especially grains.
Where did these suggestions come from? Ancel Keys was a scientist that produced research in 1953 that changed everything for ever. His study undeniably showed that fat consumption was linked with heart disease from research from 6 different countries. And it was born – the obsession with fat, health and heart disease (or the lipid hypothesis to be technical). However no one knows that at the same time there was a another world renowned researcher called John Yudkin producing relevant research blaming sugar on the rising fat epidemic and increase in heart disease.
And so the great battle was on, Ancel Keys on one side showing that the more fat a nation consumes, the more that population dies from heart disease, and John Yudkin, also showing that the more sugar a nation consumes, the more heart disease is present.
So Senator George McGovern had a choice – Yudkin or Keys? A choice that today still influences us as we buy low fat milk and low fat cheese from the supermarket. George McGovern choose Ancel Keys’s work and recommended the four nutritional guidelines stated above to the american public. Lets hope this was the right decision!!
These recommendations helped to drive the creation of the food pyramid that saw whole natural foods such as meat and fish pushed to the top while refined carbohydrates sit underneath creating a smug foundation.
Since Ancel Keys research in 1953, there have been many national and international studies that have gone out to scientifically prove the link between fat and heart disease. The most prominent was the American National Institute Of Health in the 1970s who put 12000 men on a low fat diet which avoided red meat and restricted their cholesterol which cost $115 000 000 and took years to do. The result was that the lower fat group suffered more heart attacks!!
Ancel Keys and consequently Senator McGovern got it wrong!!
It has also been shown also that Ancel Keys had originally 22 counties to choose his data from for his original study, but he only chose to plot the data from 6 (hence the 6 nation study). Why did he do this? Because if you plot the data from all 22 countries – their was no link between fat and heart disease.
So if you are looking for true health, don’t use the food pyramid as your guide, stick to whole foods that are natural regardless of how much fat or cholesterol they contain and stay away from refined breads, pasta, rice and cereal and never ever choose low fat products – unless of course you don’t value your health!