How bad science created the obesity epidemic

This is a good talk by professor David M Diamond. Because of health issues of his own he started studying diet and health. Soon he realized that much of what we believe about healthy food today is based on bad science, preconceived notions and economic interests.

I agree with almost everything in the talk, except for one thing.

Cholesterol and eating fat

Diamond claims that eating high fat diets do not raise the cholesterol. For some people there is no change, but on average eating low carb high fat food will increase your cholesterol somewhat. This has been shown clearly in many studies.

However it’s mainly the good cholesterol, the HDL-cholesterol, that increases. And having a lot of HDL-cholesterol means that your risk of heart disease is a lot lower.

The problem with disagreeing too much

I think it’s very important that we do not fall into the trap of disagreeing with every conventional idea (e.g. global warming, vaccines, statins for people with heart disease). The fear of fat has been a mistake, but that obviously doesn’t mean that every conventional idea has been a mistake.

There may be other mistakes too. But even if so it may be wise to focus on one area at a time. Otherwise we make it harder for other people to take us seriously. The most important thing is of course to not contradict conventional ideas when they are correct.

High fat diets raises the cholesterol a little bit on average, high fat diets raises the good cholesterol. And that is a good thing.


The powerpoint-presentation for the talk

More about cholesterol

More about science and health


  1. Funderaren
    I think the problem with most conventinal ideas, is that they start as theorys in the science community, but presented as fact in the media community. And once they end up there its almost impossible to make people think different.
  2. Bart
    Thanks for sharing doc.

    Just a quick comment on disagreeing too much; it's certainly fair enough to only focus on one area at a time, to avoid being seen as a fanatic (if that's even possible!). My personal experience seems to show that many people who have come over to the LCHF side will also gain the ability to question more things than just that. I do find that many, if not most, conventional theories simply aren't worth subscribing to at all. But I tend to deal with the other issues after initially getting through to people. Everybody knows that the world is a corrupt place, after all. ;)

  3. It is not about disagreement. It is about remaining critical no matter how "conventional" an issue becomes. The moment you accept a belief as knowledge, you have nothing to stand on.
  4. FrankG
    Who was it that said "once you start believing in something you tend to stop asking questions"..?

    I find that since reading Gary Taubes GCBC I am not willing to simply accept the "authoritative word" of anyone -- no matter their credentials -- without some independent evidence that I can view for myself.

  5. FrankG
    Just to be clear: that is not to say that I am rude and question everything anyone says, but rather that I am no longer willing to accept "because I said so" as sufficient proof of anything... My Mum used to say that when I was a boy, and I like to think I have grown up somewhat! ;-)
  6. Tom
    Actually, Dr. Eenfeldt, while he's using the drop in total cholesterol as a kind of 'headline', if you cue to 14:23, you'll see that he does break it down farther and explain that good cholesterol rises.

    Just a quibble...thank you for your excellent blog.

  7. Bernardo
    I think when he says raises your Cholesterol actually he means makes your Cholesterol profile worse. I think he's not used to the whole Cholesterol naming and components. Someone has got to tell him.
  8. Mark
    In fall 2009 I had total cholesterol 219, HDL 42, LDL 142, Trig. 213. In 2011 after going LCHF I have total cholesterol 189, HDL 46, LDL 113, Trig. 148. YMMV, of course, and N=1, but I have no reason to disagree.
  9. lisa
    Great video/talk...thanks for sharing it.
    As I watched, though, I kept hearing the silverware on plates and wondering what exactly, the attendees were being served that evening! :)
  10. eddie watts
    this appeared on fathead blog some months ago.
    apparently the eaters were eating dessert! including cheesecake, from the comments section as the maker/writer/presenter whatever popped onto the blog to add his comments!

    very good watch and brings new sources of information to an already covered subject, which is always good imo

  11. Mike Ellwood
    Well, Taubes in GC, BC gives a pretty good breakdown on exactly which fats do exactly what to the blood lipids.

    But, for example, Barry Groves, has presented evidence in his books that the more your total cholesterol is, statistically, the longer you will live, which would surprise most people, and that statistically, at no time has it been shown that high total cholesterol in woman is associated with increased mortality (so statins for women are a complete waste of time). Also, higher cholesterol in men after a certain age is statistically associated with reduced mortalility, so statins in men after that age are a complete waste of time.

    So, yes, we should be gunning for statins and the people who push them, as well as those who say that animal fats and specifically saturated fats, cause CVD.

    And although there is nothing at all wrong with saturated fats, on a point of accuracy, for traditionally-raised animals, the breakdown in their fats is approximately half and half between saturated and mono-unsaturated, with a small amount of polyunsaturated.

    Mono-unsaturated fats, as people will no doubt know, are the main constituent of olive oil, the darling of the Mediterranean Diet aficionados.

    Of course we know that really, total cholesterol is a very poor indicator of cardio-vascular health or ill-health, and what we need to see is relative amounts of HDL and LDL, but even more importantly, whether it is "pattern A" or "pattern B", and also of course, level of Trigs. Statins don't address any of that, as far as I know.

  12. JGW
    Great video.
  13. Ron
    In June I went to a heart Dr to have my heart checked out because it was skipping 1000 beats per day. Turns out it wasn't a problem. How ever the Dr notesed from my work physical that my Total cholesterol was 212 my HDL was 35 my LDL was 154 & my Triglycerides were 129. I am 5'8" and weighted 193. He wanted to put me on a Staten. I wasn't to keen on this idea( although i did take 2 pills and they made me very disoriented & dizzy). I decided to lower them with diet. that is when I got off of processed foods totally. I eat meat- eggs- fish- fruit- vegetables- raw nuts- real butter- full fat dairy- Coconut oil- olive oil. I went back in late August my weight had dropped to 165, my cholesterol was 162- HDL was 44 LDL 110 & triglycerides were 57. I haven't been back yet but My weight has now dropped to 150 which is where I want it to be.
  14. Joyce
    Doctor, you are such a wise man! For example, I take statins, eat LCHF, but will not discontinue my statins.

    There is too much hysteria in general over these things.

    I agree there is a HUGE problem out there in the media...especially on low carb sites, about disagreement over issues such as statins, etc.

    That is why I love your blog! A voice of sanity!

  15. Margaretrc
    @Joyce, you will not discontinue your statins. OK. Your choice. But, did you know that a) most or all of the tests done on statins were done on men only and b) study after study shows that for women, higher cholesterol is not a risk factor and women live longer with higher cholesterol? And I don't know how old you are, but for both genders, after the age of 65, high cholesterol is not a risk factor for CVD and all cause mortality increases with decreasing cholesterol. I know doctors like to downplay them, but statins do have the potential for some serious side effects simply because of how they work, not the least of which is cognitive impairment. (The brain needs cholesterol.) If you haven't already, I might suggest you read Uffe Ravnskov's "Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You" (formerlly published as "The Cholesterol Myth") and/or Malcolm Kendrick's "The Great Cholesterol Con." Another good book is Dr. Duane Graveline's "Statins and the misguided war on cholesterol." You've taken a wise step switching to LCHF, which will supply your body with some of the cholesterol you are not allowing it to make. But it seems a bit contradictory to me to take statins to reduce cholesterol and then consume it in food. Just saying....And please forgive me if I've overstepped.
  16. Fergie
    Thank you!!!! you saved my life.... blood sugar dropped back to normal levels and I feel great!!!!!!! I have more energy and more mental clarity than my teenage students.

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