I find it questionable when we point fingers at things that have been around for thousands of years, saturated fats is one of them. Yet obesity in children has only become epidemic in America in the last few decades. What we should be asking ourselves is, what has changed in our diets causing this epidemic. The answer seems quite clear. The American diet consists of foods that are not really foods at all. They are full of artificial ingredients, fillers, preservatives and many are filled with ingredients that have been genetically modified. Are saturated fats getting a bad rap? Can we really blame it on the butter, for making our kids fat??
When did saturated fats become the big no no? It happened around the 1950s when emerging out of nowhere, heart disease imploded in the US, and was driven home after president’s Dwight Eisenhower’s heart attack 1955. There was an enormous fear overtaking the country when nearly half of all deaths in the US were due to heart disease. Many victims were seemingly healthy men according to NinaTeicholz author of the new book “The Big Fat Surprise”
In 1977 a senate committee published “Dietary Goals” for the United States, encouraging Americans to eat less food high in saturated fats like red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with more fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. Following suit, the USDA issued its dietary guidelines of avoiding fats and cholesterol. It was also the same year the government announced its $150,000,000 study the American Institute of Health recommended all people over the age of 2 cut fat intake. The message was clear: “eat less fat and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack”
Real foods began disappearing from the dinner table while easy to fix processed foods became the new American diet. Nearly four decades later Americans are sicker than ever. Type 2 diabetes has risen 166% from 1980 to 2012. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. One third of our nation is considered obese making us one of the fattest countries in the world! With 1 in 10 Americans having diabetes and 86 million being pre-diabetics, it is costing the American healthcare system 225 billion dollars a year.
We have been demonizing fats for years. Our fear of fat and obsession of weight now embed our culture. The market has skyrocketed with fat replacers, saturated fat foods are out and low nutritional foods filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives are in. Aisles at grocery stores are filled with these low fat foods and Americans are fatter than ever. Not only are these processed foods filled with ingredients our bodies do not recognize, there is evidence that the processing itself poses a risk to consumers. More and more foods are being designed by the food industry to make us want more of it!
We have known for some time that there are heart healthy fats like the fats found in some fish and vegetables like olives. However the saturated fats found in a lean piece of beef and a slice of butter are in question and may have less of an effect on the body than previously thought. While experts like Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health doesn’t totally recommend letting saturated fats off the hook, he says “We should be focusing on the quality of the food, real food”. “I think future dietary guidelines will put more and more emphasis on real food rather than giving an absolute upper limit or cutoff point for certain macro-nutrients.”
While it is important to note, the real message here is not to increase diets rich in saturated fats but to encourage a diet consisting of real foods, preferably organic free of pesticides, antibiotics and fillers as a healthier choice. While saturated fats may not be as bad as we thought, there are still environmental ramifications with increasing a diet rich of saturated fats from animals products.
So when it comes to real butter or jelly with high fructose corn syrup on your kids toast “organic” butter might be a better option.
5 Phases is dedicated to helping families achieve a healthier and organic lifestyle. Starting with baby, we develop products keeping both the environment and health of your family in mind. Learn more @ www.5phases.com follow us on twitter @5_Phases and like our Facebook page to help spread the word about healthy starts for infants.
Time Magazines “Don’t Blame the Fat” By Bryan Walsh
Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association 2014;311(8):806-814.
National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Features on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.