How the media whips people into a frenzy of fear

By lying. Consider today’s AP headline, “NYC’s trans fat ban made fast food a bit healthier”.

Utter nonsense: the myth of the danger of trans fats was debunked as early as 2002 yet the lie persists.

Consider what the AP propaganda actually says:

New York City now has hard evidence that its ban on trans fat in restaurant food made a meaningful dent in people’s consumption of the artery clogger and wasn’t just replaced with another bad fat.

So banning a food item reduces consumption – that’s hardly surprising, but where is the evidence of an improvement in health? Everything in the article  – “Artery clogging”, for instance – rests and builds on the disproved assumption that trans fats clog arteries with “bad” cholesterol. Take away that base and the headline is indeed baseless.

There are good fats and bad fats. Trans fat is widely considered the worst kind for your heart, gram-for-gram more harmful than its better known cousin, saturated fat.

Worse than that, according to the article, “[s] mall amounts [of trans fats]  occur naturally in some meat and dairy products. But much of the trans fat we eat is artificially produced, by hardening liquid oils so they can be used for baking or a longer shelf life.” Assumption: “artificial” is worse than “naturally occurring”. Facts to support that assumption? None.

As for the entire issue of trans fats fat in our diet, What does medical science say?

Trans fats were developed during the backlash against saturated fat — the artery-clogging animal fats found in butter, cream, and meats. Then food manufacturers realized that trans fats lasted longer than butter without going rancid. The result: Today trans fats are found in 40% of the products on your supermarket shelves.

“We used to use animal fats, and people said, ‘saturated fats are bad,’ so we switched to trans fats,” says Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, director of nutrition at the New York City-based American Council on Science and Health. “This kind of gives us an unfortunate focus on ingredients rather than the whole diet when the problem isn’t this fat or that fat, it’s too many calories.”

“Anything was good if it decreased saturated fat consumption in the 1950s through the 1980s,” agrees Alice H. Lichtenstein, Dsc, professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston. “But then studies began to question trans fats,” too. Finally, in the 1990s, the evidence became clear: When vegetable oil is turned into a solid, like butter, it acts like butter inside the body.

But butter turns out to be good for you. So trans fats that act like butter must also be good, no?

So we’ve gone from saturated fats being a deadly health hazard to a beneficial part of of diet. The media and its hysterical news consumers need a whipping boy and alar apples having been debunked, these people have, for today, focused on trans fats. In the end, all that we really know is that the entire hysteria is unnecessary and irrelevant:

NYT: Low fat diets do nothing to prevent heart disease or cancer.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

”These studies are revolutionary,” said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. ”They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy.”

”We are not going to reverse any of the chronic diseases in this country by changing the composition of the diet,” Dr. Howard said. ”People are always thinking it’s what they ate. They are not looking at how much they ate or that they smoke or that they are sedentary.”

4 Comments

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4 responses to “How the media whips people into a frenzy of fear

  1. Libertarian Advocate

    Gee Chris, you sure do make it sound like Mayor Mike’s real concern is that his delicate aesthetics not be offended by having to see fatties in the streets of his fiefdom.

  2. Cobra

    This makes me hungry. Off to McDonalds!

  3. ListenUp

    but, but the LA Times says it’s a “significant reduction”…..

    http://www.latimes.com/health/la-sci-trans-fat-ban-20120717,0,431029.story