The online journal Open Heart just published a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) available to the U.S. and U.K. regulatory committees when they were creating the guidelines for dietary fat intake in 1977 and 1983. And this analysis showed that there was no evidence to support the dietary fat guidelines that were put in place.
The Dietary Guidelines have wide ranging impact on US policies and programs, and can have serious environmental, political, business and socioeconomic consequences. At their core, these guidelines influence our national conversation about what we eat -- and why.
However, what's rarely discussed is the science on which the dietary guidelines decisions are supposed to be based.
These dietary fat guidelines recommended that we cut the fat to about 30% of our total daily calories, and reduce saturated fat, from red meat and dairy products like milk, egg and cheese, down to no more than 10% of total calories. Yet neither of these recommendations were ever tested or proven. The result? We started avoiding fat, all right—in favor of carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugars and triglycerides and cause more harm than the fat that comes from red meat and diary products. Consuming package after package of cookies because they were labeled “low-fat" was clearly not the solution.
The guidelines, intended to make Americans healthier, have done anything but. Adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980 when the guidelines were first released, and they're set to increase another 50% by 2030. Meanwhile, childhood obesity and diabetes diagnoses have tripled.
The dietary guidelines are clearly not working towards their goal of improving public health and maintaining a healthy weight. The definition of insanity is often said to be doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. While there is some evidence to support a link between dietary fat consumption and heart disease, so many other factors need to be taken into account. Dietary fat consumption has little to do with cholesterol levels as compared to the cholesterol circulating in our bodies that is produced by the liver. Even the American Heart Association has softened its stance on dietary fat consumption, and now focuses on the types of fat you should consume and the quality of your diet as a whole.
While researchers have not determined the optimal percentage of fat consumption, if you're doing Atkins, study after study has shown that when we restrict or limit carbs (especially the simple carbs loaded with sugar) we are able to consume higher levels of fats because they are being burned for fuel. In other words, you are on the right track if you're consuming a diet rich in dairy, red meat, poultry, fish, healthy fats, fresh vegetables, and; in later Phases, (or if you're doing Atkins 40™); fruits, legumes, starchy vegetables and whole grains.