Links on the Saturated Fat Controversy

In February, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee submitted the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which gives recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the upcoming Dietary Guidelines. The Advisory Report is not the final Dietary Guidelines.

Of note, the Advisory Committee removed the advice to reduce dietary cholesterol and the advice to include lean meat. Ginny Messina, RD wrote a good summary of what this means for animal advocacy in her article, The 2015 Dietary Guidelines: What Will They Mean for Vegans?

On February 20, the New York Times ran an opinion piece, The Government’s Bad Diet Advice, by Nina Teicholz. It’s the typical Weston Price-type, pro-animal-product piece, in the same vein as writings by Nina Planck (no, they are not the same person).

David L. Katz, MD, MPH wrote a fun response to Teicholz’s piece, We’re Fat and Sick and The Broccoli Did It!

And speaking of Dr. Katz, he recently wrote a thoughtful piece on the Paleo diet, Paleo for a Shrinking Planet?


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8 Responses to “Links on the Saturated Fat Controversy”

  1. Dan Says:

    Significantly off topic but are there any nutritional deficiency disorders that involve hyperpigmentation and coarsening of the skin over joints (and particularly those joints that get heavy use – in the hands and feet).

    I know that Addison’s Disease has something very similar in it, but that has nothing to do with nutrition!

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Hi Dan,

    I’m not aware of anything like that. I wouldn’t be very common.

  3. Melissa Says:

    Dear Mr. Norris,

    Recently I was leafleting for Vegan Outreach and someone asked me if I had heard about the study that links a decrease in the intake with animal fats with a susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease. He then asked me about the differences between “animals fat” and “plant fat”. I told him that I would get more information. Have you ever heard of the above study?


  4. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Hi Melissa,

    As long as you get enough vitamin B12, a vegan diet should not lead to Alzheimer’s disease and might even be protective. Here are some short articles you might find interesting:

  5. Melissa Says:

    Much appreciated! I will take a look.

  6. Tom Says:

    This is an interesting area. However, AD takes a long time to develop and long-term randomised controlled trials are not feasible. Observational studies, on the other hand, are subject to confounding. There is therefore much opportunity for legitimate debate on the role of nutrition in the development of AD
    Low carbers and their ilk are frequently posting articles saying why animal fats should be protective. This appears to be merely wishful thinking on their part. I am not aware of any good studies showing that they are – although some observational studies suggest fish consumption may be protective because of marine omega 3 fats.

    There are however good quality observational studies that suggest that diets high in meat and animal fats are more likely to promote AD. These include the 7th Day Adventist studies (
    and a population based study from Poland which concluded:
    “Using factor analysis, we identified major eating patterns, one for Alzheimer’s patients and a different one for control group. The AD dietary pattern, FACTOR AD was characterized by a high intake of meat, butter, high-fat dairy products, eggs, and refined sugar, whereas the other pattern, (FACTOR C) was characterized by a high intake of grains and vegetables.”

    Hu in 2013 wrote a useful summary of current knowledge about nutrition and AD but effectively finds that more research is needed before firm conclusions can be reached.

  7. Melissa Says:

    Thanks again for your input here. Yes, it would seem that due to the longevity and of the disease would prove difficult for detailed “lifestyle” studies and how our choices throughout our life affect our susceptibility to Alzheimer’s Disease. For one I always side on the side of whole, plant based foods, they have done me well thus far! Also, it is my understanding that leading a life which allows for an active body/mind in some ways lessens the likelihood of AD, as well as many other diseases.

    Thanks again for all this information. I will take a look so that I have more answers the next time I go leafleting!

  8. Tom Says:

    Thanks Melissa. You might also want to watch Dr Greger’s very interesting videos on AD and diet.

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