The big fat surprise Why meat, butter, and cheese belong in a healthy diet

Nina Teicholz

Book - 2014

Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals here that everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. She documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past sixty years has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health. For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner, we are not trying hard enoug...h. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? Based on a nine-year investigation, Teicholz shows how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community and the public imagination, and how recent findings have overturned these beliefs. She explains why the Mediterranean Diet is not the healthiest, and how we might be replacing trans fats with something even worse. She upends the conventional wisdom with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat--including saturated fat--is what leads to better health and wellness. Science shows that we have been needlessly avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk, and eggs for decades and that we can now, guilt-free, welcome these delicious foods back into our lives.--From publisher description.

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2nd Floor 613.284/Teicholz Due Jun 14, 2023
New York : Simon & Schuster 2014
Physical Description
ix, 479 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. 407-453) and index.
Main Author
Nina Teicholz (-)
  • The fat paradox : good health on a high-fat diet
  • Why we think saturated fat is unhealthy
  • The low-fat diet is introduced to America
  • The flawed science of saturated versus polyunsaturated fats
  • The low-fat diet goes to Washington
  • How women and children fare on a low-fat diet
  • Selling the Mediterranean diet : what is the science?
  • Exit saturated fats, enter trans fats
  • Exit trans fats, enter something worse?
  • Why saturated fat is good for you
  • A note on meat and ethics.
Review by Choice Review

The diet-heart hypothesis has prevailed for more than 50 years and has influenced the American public to purge the diet of fats, especially saturated fats, and to adopt a plant-based Mediterranean menu. Teicholz, a journalist, has delved into the existing research leading to the current nutritional dogmas and reveals the flaws in the investigative studies relating diet to disease. The story resembles a nutritional revolution in which the current paradigm of healthy eating shifts back to earlier, heartier, fatty menus. The engrossing narrative exposes the determined personalities of the researchers, their fixation on the prevailing theory, the misreading of data, the disregard for relevant findings, and the effects of the saturated fat and cholesterol alarm on policy, industry, marketing, and medicine. The latest culprit in the food menu is now assigned to carbohydrates. While the book presents convincing arguments for including butter, meat, and cheese within the diet, there is no mention of the China Study, which would challenge this suggestion. Overall, The Big Fat Surprise presents an engrossing study of how food myths originate and why the food pyramid may take on yet another kaleidoscopic form. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. --Rita A. Hoots, Sacramento City College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission. Review by Library Journal Review

According to this journalist, everything we think we know about dietary fat is wrong. She suggests that eating more saturated fats is the key to health and wellness. (LJ 5/1/14) (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Journalist Teicholz combs the science, or lack thereof, to learn how the fats in the American diet grew horns and cloven hooves."Almost nothing we commonly believe today about fats generally and saturated fats in particular appears, upon close examination, to be accurate," writes the author. Appallingly, those are still fighting words when it comes to the mandarins who fashion our national health agenda, those crazy pyramids that flip on their heads now and again like the magnetic poles. Like a bloodhound, Teicholz tracks the process by which a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data. The author explores how research dollars are spent to entrench the dogma, to defend it like an article of faith while burying its many weaknesses and contradictory test results. In this instance, Teicholz zeroes in on the worries over skyrocketing heart-disease figures in the 1950s. Some (flawed) epidemiological work suggested that serum cholesterol deposited plaque in arteries, leading to coronary disease. This type of associative simplicity is that spoonful of sugar: the easy fix everyone wants when long-term, clinical tests are needed to appreciate the complex processes involved. This desire to corner the bogeyman targeted the world of fats, and it has stayed that way despite all the evidence and advancements in medical science, especially endocrinological studies, that have pointed to other biomarkers. Galling, though hardly unexpected, is the role played by money and the power we let it bestow. There were reasons the food industry wanted to stick with trans fats as opposed to saturated fats, and Teicholz tics them off, and there are reasons that the next great hope, vegetable oils, have dangerous health issues hidden instead of heralded. Sixty years after the fat attack, "a significant body of clinical trials over the past decade has demonstrated the absence of any negative effect of saturated fat on heart disease, obesity, or diabetes."Solid, well-reported science in the Gary Taubes mold. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.