The Changing Understanding of Fats

I consider myself to be as fortunate as I am frustrated to witness the current revolution in our understanding of the role of fats in proper nutrition and health. The tide seems to be turning and we’re returning from whence we came. Every week, it seems, someone else is questioning the “fat is bad” orthodoxy, and medical practitioners are speaking out.

This week it’s the British Medical Journal, and I have Alice and Fred Ottoboni to thank for pointing it out to me.

When they say, “This is important…”, I tend to listen.

So what’s all the fuss? It’s about Dr. Aseem Malhotra’s Observations article in the British Medical Journal, Saturated Fat Is Not The Major Issue. He begins his piece by taking on the familiar obsession with saturated fat and heart disease:

The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades.

Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks. Furthermore, the government’s obsession with levels of total cholesterol, which has led to the overmedication of millions of people with statins, has diverted our attention from the more egregious risk factor of atherogenic dyslipidaemia. (source)

It gets better from there. If you’re familiar with Gary Taubes, Robert Lustig, or Alice and Fred Ottoboni (among others), there is little here that is new to you.

Read it anyway.

It’s as concise, referenced, and thoughtfully-penned assessment of the current sorry state of nutritional wisdom as you are likely to find anywhere.


2 Responses to “The Changing Understanding of Fats”

  1. This is a remarkable paper, not because of the information it presents but rather because of the fact that it was actually published by a major scientific journal.

    Even more surprising is that there was no disclaimer by the journal appended at the end of paper. Granted, the BBC did respond with a patronizing news item belittling Dr. Malhotra’s study (Saturated fat heart disease “myth”. BBC News. 22 October, 2013), but the connection was not as immediate as we have seen in the past.

    The only other scientific paper we have seen in a major journal that ran counter to establishment dogma was one that showed a strong association between regular aspirin use and a greatly reduced risk of developing malignant melanoma. It was published in the on line journal Cancer on March 11, 2013. (

    The ill-concealed panic engendered in the establishment by the data was evident in the disclaimer that follwed the paper: Despite this study and others like it, there are several reasons why aspirin is not the best defense against melanoma or other cancer, and may be harmful for some people. Eric Jacobs, PhD, American Cancer Society strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology, said:

    It is important to remember that aspirin is a real drug with real side effects, including sometimes causing serious, even occasionally fatal, stomach bleeding, even at low doses. (

  2. The name Aseem Malhotra is now up there, in my head, with the rest of the names of people who UNDERSTAND about food and are talking about it. I expect in twenty years his name will (finally) be well-known.


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