Why listen to the news – or watch it? People claim, “You need to know what’s going on in the world.” Every time I switch on the radio, though, I’m forced to answer, “No, I really don’t.” The same goes for newspapers and magazines. I read them for years and finally began to wonder why I was accepting those issues as relevant to my mind and life. I don’t know the people writing the news. Why should I assume, by reading, watching or listening to their output, that they address what’s actually important?
But there are still those rare occasions when the free news magazine mysteriously lights on my desk and I thoughtlessly peruse it. Case in point, a copy of The Week. Normally just the tailings of a condensed, verbal trash compactor, I found a hint of actual news. It reads as follows:
For decades, health experts have issued stark warnings that foods high in fat and cholesterol cause heart disease and other illnesses. But new research has determined that these guidelines, which prompted millions to shun red meat and eggs, were not supported by good evidence and were, in fact, in error.
In the late 1970s, Americans were encouraged to reduce their fat intake to about 30 percent of their total daily calories. But after reviewing the research available at that time, a team of British scientists has concluded there was never any evidence that eating less fat would help reduce the risk of heart disease [emphasis added]. When Americans were told to avoid meat, dairy, and fat, they increased their consumption of simple carbohydrates such as sugar, white bread, pasta, and processed foods – the real drivers of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. “The obesity epidemic basically began with the first dietary guidelines,” points out Nina Teicholz, who’s written a book on that topic.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is no longer classifying cholesterol as a ‘nutrient of concern.” The decision, which reverses four decades of government advice, reflects recent research suggesting that eating foods high in cholesterol does not significantly raise cholesterol levels in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. Genetics, it turns out, has a much greater effect on cholesterol levels than diet. “We got the dietary guidelines wrong, “ Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic tells USA Today. “They’ve been wrong for decades.”
Maybe I’m naïve or maybe I missed it between CNN’s last headline about the newest, looming international crisis, but why isn’t this being shouted from the rooftops? Why aren’t the Cholesterol Police driving giant parade floats made of real butter into the darkest corners of suburban America shouting into megaphones, “You’ve tortured yourself long enough! Put down that Tofu and step away from the eggbeaters!?”
Well if they’re not going to do it, maybe we should. Instead of giving your neighbor on that horrendous low-fat diet another Kenny Loggins Christmas album for his birthday, just gift wrap a good old, room temp stick of butter and watch the joy spread across his face the second he unwraps it!
Seriously, folks, tell your friends about this. Set them free!