Another Big Fat Surprise

Scientists who called for the retraction of an article by author of The Big Fat Surprise Nina Teicholz take credit for end to low-fat diet

A scientific study examining the relationship between dietary fats and coronary heart disease (CHD) that featured in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) in October has been described as a “game changer” by a host of scientists and nutritionists, according to an article published Monday by MedPage Today

The “game changing” JACC study built on the recommendations of a scientific report by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), about which Harvard Professor Meir Stampfer, MD, said “for the first time, and based on strong scientific evidence … abandoned any explicit ceiling on total fat intake, focusing instead on the types of fat.” 

Other quotable notables from the MedPage Today article include Stampfer’s Harvard colleague Frank Hu, MD, co-author of the JACC study and member of the DGAC, who said “If saturated fat is replaced by refined carbs, there is no reduction in CHD risk.” 

If this sounds familiar, it should. Journalist/author Nina Teicholz heralded an end to the low-fat diet with the release of her book on the history of nutrition science, The Big Fat Surprise, in May 2014. Note that she has the good grace and humility to give credit where it’s due.

 Nina Teicholz EPI

In November, Teicholz was the subject of a letter that was sent to the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) requesting the retraction of her September 23 article, The scientific report guiding the US Dietary Guidelines: is it scientific?which criticised the methodology and findings of the 2015 dietary guidelines report. 

The letter was organised by Bonnie Liebman MS at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington, DC-based advocacy nonprofit, and was signed by over 180 credentialed professionals,¹ including several of those mentioned in the MedPage Today article.

After receiving the November 5 retraction request, the BMJ published this November 19 post by Executive Editor Theodora Bloom asking the authors of the letter to submit it as a “rapid response” on thebmj.com, requiring all signatories to declare any competing interests. 

As reported in an item I co-authored with US (Atlanta, GA) investigative reporter Peter M. Heimlich, on December 17 the BMJ posted an updated version of the CSPI letter, absent the names of 18 scientists and graduate students.

¹Including these three co-authors of the JACC study: Frank Hu, MD; Eric Rimm, ScD; and Walter Willet, MD.

This item has been updated to include the names of three signatories to the CSPI letter.