People should get off the ''high-fat bandwagon'' and
dismiss a recent article that promotes a diet of saturated
fats, University of Otago human nutrition professor Jim Mann
The article, Saturated fat is not the major issue - let's
bust the myth of its role in heart disease, by Croydon
University Hospital interventional cardiology specialist
registrar Aseem Malhotra, of London, said scientists
universally accepted that trans fats increased the risk of
cardiovascular disease but saturated fats did not.
The article said: ''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.''
Prof Mann said the article could undermine the public
confidence in leading a healthy lifestyle.
''It was written by a fairly inexperienced person, and given
a huge amount of promotion, and largely based on his failing
to understand the existing literature. This guy has written
an article which over-turns conventional wisdom, and public
health advice, and he had misquoted literature he doesn't
Many people in New Zealand were changing their diets and were
on the ''high-fat bandwagon'', despite a lack of evidence
that a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet would make them lose
The World Health Organisation had commissioned studies that
had confirmed the importance of fat reduction, which
typically involved a reduction in saturated fat, as well as
the reduction of sugars in helping to reduce obesity. In
Western countries, a reduction in saturated fats had occurred
in parallel with a reduction in blood cholesterol levels and
coronary heart disease, Prof Mann said.
Although heart disease had many causes, in Western countries
coronary heart disease risk was directly related to
cholesterol levels, he said.
''In parts of Sweden, the trend towards reducing cholesterol
levels has been reversed in association with the promotion
and adoption of high-fat diets.''
Diets high in saturated and total fat, and very low in
carbohydrate, had no peer-reviewed evidence of the long-term
benefit, or absence of harm, Prof Mann said.