Are these assertions even true?

Reading an article this morning on the recovery from anorexia, I stopped to actually look on the bottom bar of my browser to see where the little underlined key-word links went to. I hovered over the word “fat” and saw it linked to an NYTimes nutrition page.

Here’s one section of the ‘article’ on fat:

Side Effects

Eating too much saturated fat is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. A diet high in saturated fat causes a soft, waxy substance called cholesterol to build up in the arteries. Too much fat also increases the risk of heart disease because of its high calorie content, which increases the chance of becoming obese (another risk factor for heart disease and some types of cancer).

A large intake of polyunsaturated fat may increase the risk for some types of cancer. Reducing daily fat intake is not a guarantee against developing cancer or heart disease, but it does help reduce the risk factors.

Whaa? Are these assertions even true? I’m pretty sure that ‘fat’ doesn’t give you cancer; there was a falsehood to this effect circulated last year that was eventually debunked. Check out the Junk Science link on my “Fat Links (Science)” page.

First they mentioned a diet high in saturated fats causing problems (which has been widely shown), but then they go on to say “Too much fat also increases the risk…” of several horrifying diseases (I’m surprised they didn’t mention anything about diabetes), which seems to signify not a diet high in fat, but being fat “increases the risk” of OMG TERRIBLE DISEASES AND EARLY DEATH WTF.

And, by the way, how did a bullshit BMI designation suddenly become a “risk factor”? It’s just a designation, a way to group people statistically, and is completely arbitrary.

Studies have shown there is a U-shaped curve plotting risk of early death against weight; at the extreme ends risk of early death rises (i.e., when one is extremely under- or over-weight). However, the local minimum of the curve (where one is ostensibly healthiest, since they have the lowest probability of dying young) occurs in the 30 < BMI < 25 category, which is what insurance companies have deemed ‘overweight.’

Well, the curve doesn’t shoot up sharply right after that point, since it’s entering the magically unhealthy ‘obese’ BMI region. It’s a U-curve, shooting up near the extremities, which implies there is likely a grouping of ‘obese’ BMI individuals that are normalized with respect to those extremes that comparably healthy to individuals of ‘normal’ BMI (since that BMI group occurs at the left of the healthiest ‘overweight’ BMI, and the obese group at the right).

In other words, the ‘normal’ BMI group is already normalized by discounting the severely underweight. I argue that if one discounted the other end of the curve from the ‘obese’ category, obese individuals would have comparable death age-rates as normal individuals.

Bullshit junk science which has been widely disproved === studies of which have been reported in the NYTimes itself, no less —  appearing on a page purporting to be scientifically sound is journalistic blasphemy. NYTimes, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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