Findings raise further doubts over advice to avoid butter, full-fat milk and other meat and dairy products
Researchers looked through hundreds of thousands of health records. They found no statistical link between saturated fat and type 2 diabetes. 1983 guidelines advised us all to cut saturated fat in foods like butter. But some academics are now calling for those guidelines to be scrapped.
People who eat lots of butter or cream are no more likely to have an early death than anyone else, a study suggests.
Researchers trawled through the health records of hundreds of thousands of patients and found no statistical link between eating saturated fat and falling ill with heart disease, strokes or type 2 diabetes.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, raise further doubts about 32-year-old guidelines that warn people to avoid butter, full-fat milk and other meat and dairy products with high levels of saturated fats.
Britons were advised in 1983 to cut their fat intake to 30 per cent of their total energy, and saturated fat intake to 10 per cent, while increasing the amount of carbohydrates they ate.
But the latest evidence suggests that saturated fats may not be bad for you after all.
Academics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, looked at 12 previous studies, involving between 90,000 and 340,000 patients in each study, and calculated the overall link between saturated fat and different health conditions.
They could see no link to coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, ischaemic stroke or type 2 diabetes.
There was also no link to overall death, but their data was not strong enough for the team to confidently rule out an increased risk of death from coronary heart disease.
Professor Iain Broom, of the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said yesterday: ‘It is now time for the UK Government to grasp the nettle and stop an uncontrolled experiment, which has gone global and may have had bad outcomes in terms of the obesity explosion and creating a more unhealthy nation with the current idea of “healthy eating”.’
But not everyone is convinced by the findings. Professor Tom Sanders, of King’s College London, said: ‘It would be foolish to interpret these findings to suggest that it is OK to eat lots of fatty meat, lashings of cream and oodles of butter.
‘Death rates from cardiovascular disease have fallen in the UK by about 55 per cent since 1997, despite the rise in obesity.’
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