On "The Big Fat Fix"

Seems a cardiologist, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, has released a crowdfunded documentary on diet called “The Big Fat Fix,” in which he talks about how our culture has developed a dangerous misunderstanding of dietary fat. Basically over the past 50 years or so, dietary fat has been “demonized” and blamed for a variety of health problems, yet scientific study has pretty much failed to verify that it really does cause these diseases. In fact, a diet with a good amount of fat in it may help treat or prevent some diseases, such as diabetes.

With all due respect, this is not new information. A seemingly endless parade of studies has shown that higher fat diets are a healthy alternative, and in certain cases (or even most cases) a desirable one. However we don’t blame the good doctor for being motivated to make a film—it seems that nothing will assail the citadel of misinformation in the media on this topic. “Fat is bad” is the kind of meme so many bloggers and /or journalists without any medical or nutritional training feel they can repeat without bothering to look for any sources, so the myth perpetuates and perpetuates.

Oh, sometimes concessions are made: maybe there are “good” fats, like olive oil or nuts or fish. The fact is, even fats found in dairy or red meats (gasp) are not intrinsically bad for you. It may take a lot of films to overcome all those years of governmental and other propaganda on this topic, however.

Of course a crusader isn’t happy without an enemy, and here’s where we part ways a bit with Dr. Malhotra. He wants to substitute “sugar” as the new evil one in place of fat. But demonizing “sugar” is just as problematic and overly simplistic as demonizing fat. After all, vegetables, which the doctor extols, are nothing but sugar, mixed up with a lot of water and some wood. It’s certainly possible, even easy, to eat more sugar than your body requires, but that doesn’t mean we need another lazy diet meme to replace our anti-fat one.

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