While I’m in the mood for statistics, I’ll just add one more post, this time about a report I’ve been mulling over for a while – The European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics (2008 which is the most recent edition). It makes interesting reading (if you find tables of numbers interesting).
The diet section of the report starts by stating that ‘It is universally reconised that a diet which is high in fat, salt and free sugars, and low in complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables increases the risk of chronic diseases – particularly CVD and cancer.’
It is true that this is universally recognised – but it is fact?
Yes, there were findings linking low vegetable consumption to health problems, but the data presented do not support the notion that fat increases disease. The countries with the highest fat intake have low rates of CVD. Leaving aside the methods by which consumption was estimated, there’s nothing in the eating habits and health of the populations to suggest that eating fat is a killer as we are so often told.
The countries with the highest saturated fat intake were France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iceland, Belgium and Finland. France has a very low death rate from CVD. Ukraine had one of the lowest fat consumption percentages but a high rate of CVD. This does not support fat as a cause. In fact, France has had the lowest levels of CVD and the highest levels of saturated fat intake since the 1970s so that’s a solid correlation, not just an quirky blip.
Dr Briffa has written about ‘The French Paradox’ of high saturated fat intake and low rate of heart disease. As he points out it’s only puzzling if you start from a stance that considers heart disease to be caused by saturated fat. It isn’t.
What’s really puzzling?
Well, I find myself totally bemused by global messages that don’t match any of the evidence and wonder what it might take for this to change.