Low-carb advocates Belinda Fettke and Dr Georgia Edes have recently brought to our attention another piece of pro-vegan, anti-meat propaganda flouncing round digital media poorly disguised as a scientific study.
The study is also nasty piece of scaremongering worthy of the Daily Mail. Its conclusion strapline is:
‘Adolescents who consume a diet high in saturated fats may develop poor stress coping skills, signs of post-traumatic stress disorder as adults.’ Sat fats give teenagers PTSD – that’s quite a claim, isn’t it?
Sometimes, when I tell someone that a large majority of nutrition science over the past 100 years or so is ALL WRONG, they usually give me a pitying look. I am nobody (true); how could I know better than The Trusted Scientific Community, which must be correct (untrue).
This study is such a perfect example of how we’re being lied to for ulterior gains that I wish everyone who eats the standard western diet could read how its conclusions are fallacious.
Not only does this study prey upon people’s potential fear of saturated fat, it also plays the repulsive ‘If you loved your children you’d do X for them’ card, where X is usually ‘feed them Kellogg’s cereals/McDonald’s Happy Meal/Froobs/Quavers etc. If you loved your teenage sons and daughters you’d do everything in your power to keep them away from the Devil that is saturated fat.
Religious ideology is being used to shape dietary and health guidelines for people who do not belong to that religion. Simply, bloodboilingly outrageous.
This anti-fat study was carried out at Loma Linda, the private Seventh-day Adventist University in California. Loma Linda was founded, to quote its own promotional material, ‘to produce medical missionaries.’ It started as a sanitarium, then grew, at the urging of Ellen White, and a sense of a ‘divine mandate’ into a medical college. God (a vegan God) wants us to do nutrition research.
As Belinda Fettke points out, the Seventh-day Adventist church promotes a wholegrain, plant-based, cereal, soy, vegan diet which their Food Industry arm supports world-wide. (Sanitarium in Australia and New Zealand). The Seventh-day Adventist Church is anti-meat – especially animal protein and saturated fat, for religious reasons. Can we expect that this study’s findings about the evils of saturated fat are accurate? Or reasonable? Or might it just be an evangelical attempt to get people to follow their beliefs?
Let me take you through Dr Edes’s analysis of the study and see what lies lie behind the headline.
First, although the study warns about the effect of sat fat on teenagers, the human variety, the study was carried out on rats. But hey, at least they were adolescent rats. To the shame of the journalists who disseminated this story, this key fact was omitted.
The design of the experiment is what Edes focuses on next. In a paper by Michael Bracken for the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine about the usefulness of drawing conclusions from rat studies, he notes how badly, generally, the studies are carried out: ‘In one systematic review of FK506 [a stroke drug], for which 29 animal studies were found, only one study had blinded investigators to the intervention and only two blinded observers during outcome assessment. None of the 29 studies met all 10 quality criteria applied by the reviewers (one study met no criteria; the highest score was 7).’ Might this study also fall below the standard?
Edes reveals a glaring error that renders the entire study worthless, ‘The answer lies in the chow [rat food], my friends,’ she says.
She continues, ‘The researchers set out to compare the effects of:
a “Western high-fat diet” to a standard “control” diet. Unfortunately, the study’s authors don’t disclose the ingredients in either chow, stating only that both chows are “based on” a formula manufactured by Bio-Serv, catalog #AIN93G. We (should not have to) go to Bio-Serv’s website to find the ingredient list for the base formula, which turns out to be:
Corn Starch, Casein, Maltodextrin, Sucrose, Soybean Oil, Cellulose, Mineral Mix, Vitamin Mix, L-Cystine, Choline Bitartrate, tBHQ’.
If this is the base formula for both chows, the supposed bad and the supposed good, then both chows are high in polyunsaturated fat and highly refined carbs. Then the ‘high fat diet’ that supposedly will give our teenagers PTSD had 17 times the amount of sugar as the ‘standard control’ diet. Does the rank stupidity of drawing conclusions about fat from a diet that is higher in sugar need pointing out? (Sorry, I just did that).
Edes goes on to say, ‘Any (human) high school science student who designed a saturated fat study like this would get an F in biology’.
‘Nowhere in their paper do the authors mention or explain any differences between the two diets other than the fat content. Why didn’t the scientists mention these other MAJOR differences in the two diets?’
‘In my opinion, (says Edes) the two most likely possibilities for this glaring omission are:
1 – They didn’t bother to look at the chow ingredients. If this is the case, it is not only lazy—it is scientific malpractice. The single most important thing about any diet study is the composition of the diet. If you don’t know what you’re testing, you should find another job.
2 – They are (consciously or unconsciously) biased against saturated fat and either don’t want readers to know what else was in the chow or can’t fathom that any other ingredient matters. Do we have any evidence that these scientists may have an anti-fat agenda? In this case, knowing the Seventh-Day Adventist ideology of evangelising a low-fat, plant-based diet, we absolutely do.
So the true conclusion of the study, based on the evidence and not on ideology is that adolescent rats’ brains are adversely affected by food that is high in sugar, low in protein, high in calories and completely refined. There, Loma Linda ‘researchers’, fixed it for ya.