The Big Fat Surprise

The Big Fat Surprise

Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in A Healthy Diet

Book - 2014
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A New York Times bestseller
Named one of The Economist 's Books of the Year 2014
Named one of The Wall Street Journal 's Top Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
Forbes's Most Memorable Healthcare Book of 2014
Named a Best Food Book of 2014 by Mother Jones
Named one of Library Journal 's Best Books of 2014

In The Big Fat Surprise, investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. She documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past sixty years has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health.

For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner it must be because we are not trying hard enough. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? What if the very foods we've been denying ourselves--the creamy cheeses, the sizzling steaks--are themselves the key to reversing the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?

In this captivating, vibrant, and convincing narrative, based on a nine-year-long investigation, Teicholz shows how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community and the public imagination, and how recent findings have overturned these beliefs. She explains why the Mediterranean Diet is not the healthiest, and how we might be replacing trans fats with something even worse. This startling history demonstrates how nutrition science has gotten it so wrong: how overzealous researchers, through a combination of ego, bias, and premature institutional consensus, have allowed dangerous misrepresentations to become dietary dogma.

With eye-opening scientific rigor, The Big Fat Surprise upends the conventional wisdom about all fats with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat--including saturated fat--is what leads to better health and wellness. Science shows that we have been needlessly avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk, and eggs for decades and that we can now, guilt-free, welcome these delicious foods back into our lives.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Simon & Schuster, c2014.
ISBN: 9781451624427
Branch Call Number: 613.284 Tei
Characteristics: ix, 479 pages : illustrations


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Jan 08, 2018

"The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" or the book that might as well be titled "How We All Became Guinea Pigs to the Food-Processing, Oil-Consuming, Lying-Career-Building-"Scientists" of the Food Industry Cabal". Got it? I am reminded of a recent visit to a cardiologist. There, on the wall of his examining room there was the must puzzling poster. Superimposed over the picture of a family happily cavorting about, leaping and enjoying themselves, was the caption "These People are Happy Because They are Eating Lard". Did my cardiologist have a very wry sense of humour or was he up-to-date about the shenanigans of the oil-pushers and the trans-fat scammers before they had been totally discredited?
Oddly enough, Teicholz's book makes sense of the poster. Those old-time fats: lard, butter, tallow are starting to look a whole lot better health-wise than the concoctions churned out by "big oil"'
The author may not have the fancy academic credentials like those of the fancy consultants in hock of the food conglomerate but she certainly has a lot of insight courtesy of the huge amount of investigation she has conducted. She has uncovered conflicts of interest between these same academics and major food producers; the old boys network of professional associations that works hand in glove with universities; the "scientific" research who's findings are fudged to suit the needs of its sponsors.
You are bound to find the contents of this book infuriating. It's an exercise in deja-vu just like the scandal of Carson's "Silent Spring"; Nader's "Unsafe at Any Speed"; and the denials of the Tobacco Lobby. monochlorpropane, glycol esters, aldehydes: are they part of a healthy diet or more appropriately found in a chemistry lab or at an undertakers.
Teicholz's writing is clear and lucid. Even, I think, a lay person can understand it. Rarely have I found non-fiction, almost expose writing, this compelling. This is a book you must absolutely read especially if you've had a brush with obesity, diabetes, heart disease or the other health culprits associated with this toxic health syndrome. In addition, this book features an imposing bibliography that will prove to be more enlightening than Doctor Google.
My take-away: bacon, schmalz, and eggs fried up sunny-side up in butter are better for you than white bread, no red meat and hold the cheese and whole milk anytime.
My next read: The Atkins Diet.
Bon apetit.

Jun 26, 2017

I love this book. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

What I like most about this book:

1. She did extensive and detail research on the subject. Not only she collect the paper , she study the DETAILs of the paper and report her reading and conclusions.

2. She tried to INTERVIEW persons involved in the subject matters.

From this book I learn many things that were not reported, sept-under the rug, and many a research and reserchers' unconcienable conducts. All due to researcher's power grabbing, grant/money grabbing, unspeakable, despicable behavior, disregard of people's health.

Please, read this book.

Sep 06, 2016

Essential reading for correcting the horrible misconceptions and contrived lies that have ruled government and dietary recommendations for 50 years. Painstakingly researched and supported. Documents the bad science that strong personalities like Ancel Keys and George McGovern used to force their preferences upon us, with disastrous results for millions of people.

LoganLib_LW Jun 28, 2016

Food has turned into a political mine-field. Find out how we made such a mess of the human diet.

Feb 02, 2016

Fascinating book which as a minimum gives an insight into the history of nutritional advice and the politics involved in decisionmaking. Really needs to be read twice to take it all in. You do need to realise that the author as a low carb advocate is not as neutral as she makes out and there are valid counter arguments to many of the points she makes. Nevertheless an excellent book to read for anyone in an interest in the whole diet-fat -heart debate.

Jan 04, 2016

An excellent look at the faulty science that promulgated polyunsaturated fat as a healthy alternative to saturated fats. As recent studies have indicated there never was a linkage between saturated fats and heart disease. Pretty much everything you think you know about fats is wrong. The most recent research indicating that your body, when overloaded with omega 6 fats replace the omega 3 fat in your brain is quite scary. An excellent read for your health as well as the sad state of science. When funding and bias triumph scientific results and are combined with journalists and government bureaucracy you know that you will be misinformed. A very good book presented in a very readable manner. Worth it.

Sep 23, 2015

Great book. Shows how we are "shaped" by opinion. I have been advised that the Canada Food Guide is being changed.

Sept 2015 CBC Radio commentary in authoritative and accusatory tone; "Salads are expensive and have no nutrition. Lettuce is mostly water and it is expensive to fly water." I heard about this 30 years ago about celery; "It takes more energy to digest celery than the nutrition the celery provides." Intelligent people were sucked in. I countered; "We must all stop drinking water right away." They got the irony. At least, eat nothing but salad for a few weeks to test this recent claim. Especially in a country where too much nutrition is a major health problem.

Apr 01, 2015

An excellent, lucid account of how the American diet went wrong, and how we can now enjoy cheese, eggs, full-fat dairy, and meats, secure in the understanding that a healthy diet almost assuredly requires saturated fats in abundance.

Jan 26, 2015

Haven't read the book yet (waiting for book on hold.). But this is in line with paleo, Whole 30 and the Westin A. Price Foundation way of eating. Basically, any companies that can afford to advertise is not to be trusted when they tout "healthy", "natural", "4 out of 5 doctors/dentist/surgeons/etc", "wholesome" and any "good for you" message. People need to do their own research as most studies out there are published by Crisco, Monsanto, big pharma, etc.

MaxineML May 28, 2014

A well-researched and utterly fascinating look at our modern diet, health and the politics that have led us to this place.

Highly recommended for anyone who eats food.

It seems, based off of Teicholz's research, that after the introduction of Crisco in 1911 the overall health of Americans went downhill. In the 1940's and 1950's with heart-disease starting to strike down many men, researchers went looking for a reason. Based off of small samples, and flawed studies, they hit on cholesterol as the culprit. However, there is a difference between the cholesterol you eat and the cholesterol your body makes (just like there is a different between dietary fat and bodily fat), that went unnoticed by the researchers at this time. Saturated dietary fats were unnecessarily maligned, and people told to stop eating them (red-meat being the biggest one).

And we did.

And replaced those saturated fats (lard, butter, whole milk etc.) with partially-hydrogenated oils (Crisco, etc.), and vegetable oils (corn, soy, sunflower).

Yet, heart disease didn't go down. In fact, it went up - as did heart disease in women, diabetes, obesity and the other metabolic syndromes.

However, by the time people started finding out these other ideas about saturated fats, carbohydrates, sugar, and HDL and LDL cholesterol, the "low-fat" diet had become entrenched in government health pyramids, research funding, university professors, general nutrition research and societal eating habits. If you think it's difficult for an organization to change tack when new information comes to light, that is nothing to how government will react (very slowly, if at all).

There are also fascinating glimpses in this book to the politics of nutrition research and funding, and the cult of personality that has built up around some of the key characters in this story - Ancel Keys, Walter Willett, Dean Ornish, Robert Atkins...

Teicholz is pointing the finger here at vegetable oils, and a lack of saturated fat in our diets, but there is also quite a bit of evidence that the increase in sugar in our food, as well as the increase in refined carbohydrates can also be linked to these metabolic diseases.

So - eat all the butter and cheese and red-meat that you'd like. Cut down on sugar and refined carbs. Cut down on vegetable oils. And generally disregard any health claims made by anyone :)

Truly, a great book - I don't think I can recommend this enough. For those who are interested in the topic you can also read: Good Calories, Bad Calories and Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.

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