This study 40 years ago could have reshaped the American diet. But it was never fully published. By Peter Whoriskey. Science is bureaucratized nowadays, so it often falls victim to political fads or commercial pressures:
it suggests just how difficult it can be for new evidence to see the light of day when it contradicts widely held theories.
This story begins in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when researchers in Minnesota engaged thousands of institutionalized mental patients to compare the effects of two diets.
Today, the principles of that special diet — less saturated fat, more vegetable oils — are recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the government’s official diet advice book. Yet the fuller accounting of the Minnesota data indicates that the advice is, at best, unsupported by the massive trial. In fact, it appears to show just the opposite: Patients who lowered their cholesterol, presumably because of the special diet, actually suffered more heart-related deaths than those who did not.
They got it wrong, then systematically ignored and suppressed the evidence that they got it wrong:
Had this research been published 40 years ago, it might have changed the trajectory of diet-heart research and recommendations.
Those defending the established-but-wrong position, and their lucrative jobs, use the very same language as the climate scientists — dismiss evidence as “irrelevant”, while claiming “many lines of evidence” without producing it:
“The bottom line is that this report adds no useful new information and is irrelevant to current dietary recommendations that emphasize replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat,” Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at Harvard University, said in a blog post from the school. “Many lines of evidence support this conclusion.”
Another example of bottom-up science, where normal people discovered sugar and carbs were the culprits and had to overrule the experts.