Why 40 years of official nutritional guidelines prescribed a low-fat diet that promoted heart disease

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Add the AMA BMI guidelines to that, it’s a shame that they still post BMI posters in gyms / dr. offices, they are total bullshit. I’m 55 / 5’10" / 220 lbs. and a lifelong athlete, the BMI says I’m obese, WRONG!


Speaking of, some years back I did Adkins for about a year and got great results. I dropped about 40 pounds, and my blood tests came back with happy faces and gold stars. The only downside is, it got boring. Salad and bacon is awesome, but after a while I missed my pasta.


Indeed, I’ve gone through periods of a lot of running where people told me I was way too skinny. Like, 28" in the waist skinny.

And of course, because of the muscle I carry in my legs (I am guessing, big meaty things compared to the rest of me which is pretty scrawny), I was even then borderline overweight. This is just from recollection, but again I plug 5’9" into that chart, and at 155 I’m almost overweight??

According to this chart 125 would still be healthy, but I haven’t been 125 since I was in puberty. The only way I can see getting down to that is if I am dying of something.


I can’t believe that thing is still being used.
I’m not quite your age, but close, 5’9" and weigh 175. According to this chart, I’m still overweight. I’ve been as low as 165 and when I was unhealthier (eating and drinking too much and not exercising) up to 195.
Although I am currently in the best shape of my life since I was about 25 (which I know is relative) and have a great diet - still fat.
I don’t even want to comment on the food thing. Eating a healthy diet is not hard, we all know what to do.
But BMI is bullshit.


Yes, I dropped a few Doctors over the years for the BMI chart harping. My current MD is the same age as I am, 25 lbs less and has no where near my cholesterol levels / EKG reads / O2 blood levels.
I just won’t use an MD that adheres to ancient med charts from the AMA good ole days.


Yeah I could ditch the meat (or a great deal of it, mmm bacon) easier than ditching rice and pasta.

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I’m 45, same height and am down 35 lbs from my all time high of 220 a year ago. 180 is my goal weight and just slightly more than I weighed in high school. I can’t imagine myself at 165 - I’d probably look like a cancel patient.

Losing 35-40 pounds is a significant challenge but frankly, I’ve found it hasn’t been all that difficult all things considered. I simply made the decision to eat differently and start exercising. The big difference from times in the past is I finally made it important - elevating its priority to a higher on my daily list of activities. Instead of trying to fit a workout into my busy day, instead I fit my day around my workout. It’s subtle but it’s made a huge difference in outcome. I also tell myself to just be patient and trust myself - I didn’t get fat overnight and I’m not going to get skinny overnight either.

The other big difference is eating for me now focuses on satiety and flavor and not quantity. Cut out fast food and all sugary drinks entirely. Coffee and water (and occasional beer) is all I drink now and I just don’t miss the other stuff anymore. As my exercise went up and endocrine levels became more normal I just lost my appetite for big meals. It was so gradual but natural so now it’s become second nature. I achieve satiety much quicker now and just don’t snack or crave food anymore. I can see how this is now a lifestyle change for me now and not just a diet.


I feel like we had this discussion about Yarvin (AKA Mencius Moldbug) not that long ago. No one is ever so brilliant in their own lifetime that they can’t do major damage that takes decades to rectify. These topics are weirdly coinciding with my studies of the philosophy of science, and increasingly I’m coming to realize that the social component of the scientific method is irreducible. Evidence never stands on its own any more than a holy book can be literally interpreted. So long as ideas exist only in the minds of living breathing flawed and cognitively biased people, there is no vacuum in which they can be meaningfully isolated. Being singularly absorbed in the lab and at the whiteboard carries a unique joy, but if you’re doing science, an activity that depends of reproducibility and peer-review, you ignore sociology at your peril.

It is, but it’s cheap and convenient bullshit you can put up on a fridge. Real accurate assessments involve the use of calipers to measure body fat, but this requires training that isn’t widespread and getting consistent results from practitioners is difficult. Electroconductive fat analysis has a margin of error that skews results too, and pretty much anything you can afford gives only ballpark estimates. This is why BMI is still used. If I was at my ideal BMI, I’d be underweight and probably unhealthy. At my lowest adult weight, I was packing (conservatively) about thirty pounds of extra fat based on ballpark body fat. I was still sixty pounds above my ideal BMI. I had guidance coming up with these figures from RDs too, so this wasn’t a DIY assessment of my own health.

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I totally get what you’re saying.

If I don’t exercise, my waistline expands and my weight goes down.

If I stop eating because my pants don’t fit any more, I have to start exercising daily, otherwise my body consumes the muscle instead of the fat, and my waistline stays the same even though my weight goes down even more.

Back when I was in my mid-30s I was fighting or practicing three to five times a week, was just under 6’2" tall, had a 34" waistline and weighed 220 lbs.

According to the chart, I was obese - but at the time, people claimed my facial features were so lean as to be “skeletal” (totally not kidding, it was a running joke for decades).

I have no idea if this is a quirk of my own physiognomy or something totally commonplace. Or if it’s related to my diet - I don’t like sweets and I’ve always eaten mostly meat and raw vegetables.

But the idea that you accurately gauge how fat a person is by their height, weight and age is pretty loopy. You’d be better off just looking at silhouettes, and even that would only give a coarse scale.


BMI was never intended to be used on an individual basis, but as a tool to study obesity in populations.


One reason for Key’s success was good old-fashioned magical thinking. It is easy to look at a pool of congealed grease on a dinner-plate and think “the fats I eat must be pooling on the insides of my arteries”.

Another reason is the foundational assumption in public-health that it is better to burden people with some dietary advice, any advice, even if it’s wrong, because they might start losing faith in the system if you gave them no advice at all.

James Lefanu has been pushing back against the “fat = heart attack” paradigm for at least 20 years. With only limited success.

I’m a cyclist and at “race weight” of 70kg - 72kg (I’m 181cm tall) I’m around the middle of the healthy range (I don’t have big legs and am reasonably proportioned at that weight). But I’m pretty skinny, even at 72kg. To be underweight, I’d need to lose more than another 10kg! That just seems ridiculous. I’d look like a skeleton, even at 65kg.


Extremes are still problematic. Too much fat or too many carbs lead to starving for whatever is out of balance. I have realized that trying to include a balance of fat, carbs, protein, fiber, and micronutrients in every meal prevents overating naturally; I don’t crave whatever is missing.

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Yeah, just wait until you get old and start to shrink in height; then you’ll really be “fat”.

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Bad, bad science! No cookies for you!

Just say no to “lite”.

Just maybe, large quantities of saturated animal fats are not terribly good for you. But processed, “lite”, “low fat”, food products containing huge amounts of sugar, HFCS, salt and hydrogenated vegetable oils are even worse.

Next stop: Statins are a conspiracy. Discuss.


ooc, Cory, do you know a Mister Mailer from Positive Internet? He talks about this sort of stuff all the time, quite straightforwardly and adroitly, and was from your neck of the woods before LA.

no no no, actually it is a modification of a method to estimate the weight of cows! Dr. Stu Savory wrote so!

Stu is this guy:

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I think it’s absolutely standard knowledge that these aren’t supposed to be accurate for athletic or well-muscled individuals. Your doctor will know that too. You’re making an assumption about a tool that isn’t supposed to apply to everybody.