1980s fat guidelines ‘lacked evidence’, study argues
Butter isn’t bad for you after all: Major study says 80s advice on dairy fats was flawed, as a new study argues dietary fat guidelines introduced in the 1980s lacked a rigorous evidence base.
The study in question looked at guideline advice on saturated fat published in 1983 in the UK and in 1977 in the US. The researchers wanted to see if the evidence available at the time – specifically, the results of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) – supported the recommendations made.
The researchers identified six RCTs available at the time. The pooled results showed that specific advice to control saturated fat intake did not have a significant effect on deaths from heart disease or other causes.
But it is very important that these findings are interpreted in the correct context – this means we cannot conclude the recommendations were “incorrect”.
We do not know what evidence was used to back up the official guidelines in the late 70s and early 80s. They could have looked at studies other than RCTs, such as observational studies (where health outcomes are studied over time).
This new review considered just six RCTs published before 1983, and all of them were conducted in men, most of whom already had heart disease.
Current dietary advice is not stuck in the 1980s, wearing shoulder pads and sporting a bubble perm. It has evolved as new evidence has emerged. In fact, a small amount of saturated fat is recommended as part of a balanced, Mediterranean-style diet.
But it would be a mistake to conclude from this evidence that you can eat as much saturated fat as you like without damaging your health.
Source: Daily Mail