Who Needs Carbs

managing an LCHF lifestyle in Israel

Turning facts upside-down, or “The Telephone Game”

telephone game


One story, of many, to show how our modern nutritional beliefs came about.



In 1957 cardiologist Oglesby Paul and his team did a study where they took 5400 men employed at the Western Electric Company (in USA). They did a very thorough checkup of their health statuses and then made a follow up 4 years later. In the meantime the men could continue their regular food habits.

When the four years were up, the researchers did another round of health checkups and found that 88 men had developed symptoms of coronary heart disease. Of these 88 men, 16 had been eating particular low-fat diets while 14 had been eating particular high-fat diets. I assume the remaining 50 men had been eating somewhere in between.

This was an observational study. There exist numerous variables that could have influencee the outcome but that is not the topic of this posting so let’s skip that for the moment.

As you can see from the results (14 on high-fat vs 16 on low-fat diet) the conclusion should be something like “there’s not really a difference”, right? But wait!

20 years later (1977), researchers Jeremiah Stamler and Richard Shekelle reexamined the men and made a new analysis. They found that those men who had reported back in the 50s that they were eating larger amounts of poly-unsaturated fats (vegetable oils etc) had slightly lower rates of coronary heart disease. They also found that those men who had reported, 20 years earlier, that they ate mostly saturated fats (like butter etc), regardless of amounts, had no significantly associated risk of death from coronary heart disease. However in the results and conclusions the researchers wrote that it is hard to document correlations when eating freely (I agree), and continued “…but positive results have been obtained in investigations besides the Western Electric Study.” They were referring to 4 studies that supported Ancel Keys hypothesis. In other words, “we got result X but we know it should have been Y so we think that X is really Y.”

Excuse me? Is that proper research conclusions? I don’t think so.

And the media reported the results like this:

In Washington Post: “The new report strongly reinforces the view that a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet can clog arteries and cause heart disease.”

New York Times wrote: “The message of these findings is that it is prudent to decrease the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol in your diet.”


And it gets better! (Actually worse…)

In 1990, 13 years later, the American Heart Association and the National Heart and Lung, and Blood Institute claimed in their report that the Western Electric study had “produced particularly impressive results…showing correlation between saturated-fat and coronary heart disease”.

Talk about turning facts upside-down.

Unfortunately there are more stories like this.


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This entry was posted on January 20, 2016 by in General and tagged , , , , , , .

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