Low-fat diets were a "global, uncontrolled experiment"

Thanks but that’s not at all what I said. I said there are controlled experiments, and reliable data. I’m not going to pretend I know what the data say - I haven’t studied the issue at all. But the article acts like nutrition is mysterious and nobody understands it.

Also, if a study “tries to prove” anything at all, it’s junk science.

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That’s correct, so the amusing answer to the original question is “Low fat caramel is just melted sugar”.

I bet the asshole that originally marketed pure sugar as low fat is so rich that they transcended the wealth-by-evil statutes of hell and are writhing in a pot of boiling gold while a demon sprinkles powdered sugar on them.


I don’t understand nutrition at all, really. I’ve gone through some radical changes in diet, level of exercise, and lifestyle, but my body composition never seems to change noticeably, and my weight hasn’t varied by more than five pounds since my late teens. I’ve lived with people, including blood relatives, who were eating smaller quantities of the same food as I was, and who were getting more regular exercise than I was, but who were continuously gaining weight.

I’m frustrated when I have to deal with people who think that there are a few simple rules to follow about nutrition, and that for some reason everyone else is doing it wrong. It’s clearly not a set of simple causal relationships that an amateur can identify in a week of observation.




Please help stamp out “Lite”. Same goes for “low fat”.

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The only populations that are harmed by diets are those affluent enough to have a choice in what foods they consume. The majority of the world’s people do not have this luxury. Starvation kills more people than fad diets ever will.


Scurvy. Rickets. Pellagra. Beriberi. Thyroid diseases. Konzo.


I understand that low-carb is the hip thing now, but is it really necessary to lower yourselves to denounce other approaches as stupid and dangerous? Although my low-fat sample size is rather small (1), all subjects are rather healthy and in no way dead.


Anyone trying to push a single solution diet (low-salt, low-fat, low-carb, low-gluten, low cholesterol, etc) for everyone should have their medical license revoked if they have one. I’ve spent 40 years watching supposedly smart people seize upon the evidence of the day to push useless or even harmful diet fads and realizing they don’t have a goddamn idea what they’re doing.

I never stopped eating eggs because I was pretty sure their certainty about cholesterol was bullshit, and that was indeed the case. Coffee, beer, wine, salt - how about that, everything’s fine in moderation. This is also how you get people to stop believing in science if they don’t realize that diet and nutrition is a special needs pseudo-science.


I don’t know if this recent doc offers a single-solution diet, but it did convince me that recent spikes in obesity and related diseases are highly correlated with increased sugar intake.

Basically, too much sugar (which most Americans consume; too much, that is) is poison. The corporate food industry has caused massive problems by going “Low Fat!” by actually going High in Sugar.

Edit: It also addresses the simplistic canard that all you basically have to do is eat about as many calories as you consume. What KIND of calories you consume, and what you consume them with, make huge differences, not only in obesity, but also in health.

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Actually extreme indifference can qualify in many jurisdictions- hence how drunk driving can actually result in a murder conviction.

This may not be especially germane, but here seems a fine spot to recount my tale of fat-replacement: Years ago, I worked a summer job in a factory that produced the powder that would be incorporated into foods from which fat had been removed, in order to keep them approximately food-like. The main ingredient was wood pulp. We’d get huge rolls of what looked like thick blotter paper. The rolls would be diced into ~1cm squares, and then the squares would be dissolved in hydrochloric acid. That slurry would be neutralized, by mixing ammonia into it, and then much of the moisture would be spun out. The pulp, at this point, had a consistency of dense fudge, and would tumble down a chute, at the bottom of which we’d collect barrels full, load the barrels onto pallets, and forklift them over to another part of the plant, where the fudge would be mixed in with a binder of some sort. It might be xanthan gum, or guar gum, or, most commonly, carboxymethycellulose, a/k/a CMC gum. That, to my knowledge, was the only ingredient that would show up on the package in the grocery aisles: whatever gum was used to stick the wood pulp to the rest of the food. This blend would be further dried and sifted into a fine powder, and shipped off to wherever people have had the fat sucked out of their food.

I remember this stuff went into Miracle Whip, and some kind of Sealtest fat-free ice cream-ish substance. Not sure who else our clients were/are, but I gather it’s a pretty common method for replacing fat in fat-free foodstuffs: acid- and ammonia-soaked wood pulp, blended with gum. (I know that the acid and ammonia neutralize one another, into something perfectly safely edible, but that doesn’t make it sound any less gross).


In this particular comment I am using the word ‘diets’ to describe self-chosen food restrictions, rather than a forced lack of food options. I am well aware that both are dietary behaviors in the more general sense of the word. Please don’t misconstrue my intended meaning.

So I might not be allergic to xanthan gum, I might actually be allergic to processed wood pulp. Good to know.


The advocates of low-fat diets and low-carb diets have many beliefs in common:

  • Sugar is bad.
  • Green vegetables are good.
  • Anecdotes trump data.
  • If you’re fat, it’s not your fault.

What about some low-fad diet, for change?

Well, it is a true statement. It’s not the vendor’s fault that people are so dumb to conflate “low-fat” with “healthy”.

If you exclude tasty things from your diet, you won’t live longer - even if it will feel that way.


The main take-home message is that it is better for governments to impose nutritional guidelines (e.g. “saturated fat = heart disease”) based on magical thinking, untested, and supported by cherry-picked observations than for them to impose no guidelines at all, for the latter option would threaten the status of nutritional advisers.

Here in NZ, the dairy industry were great supporters of the “reduced fat” marketing strategy. Previously the non-fat milk left over from the production of cream and butter had been an industrial waste, and a lot of effort went into finding uses for it (e.g. inedible “milk powder biscuits” which were dumped on the third world as “food aid”, or fermenting the lactose into alcohol which could be mixed with flavour extracts and sold as vodka). Suddenly a whole new market sprang up for “low-fat yoghurt”, i.e. a sugar-delivery vehicle.


Far more important than satiety is that many vitamins and other important compounds are fat soluble or found in fats. Sugar is just energy that can easily be converted to fat for storage.

Was with you till the end.

Pretty sure everybody who’s ever promoted dieting to me also blamed me for being fat. “Willpower” you know. Even though the anecdotes were vastly outnumbered by the data.