Posted by: fireweaver | November 1, 2007

cartman very likely not lying

his offended cries of “i’m not fat i’m big boned!!!” may actually be a whole lot closer to truth than comedy…well, at least if a)you believe in the power of statistics and b)he was a post-menopausal chick.

once upon a time, way back in the early 90s, the NIH funded the gi-effing-normous grandmother of all observational health/diet clinical trials. it apparently occurred to someone that all of the things we take as gospel truth about eating healthy – that doing so will make you skinny, take away your heart disease risk, prevent cancer, etc – are technically just old wives’ tales, not proven fact. lo, the women’s health initiative randomized controlled dietary modification trial was born. about 50 thousand women were followed for about 8 years each, with the control group eating whatever they pleased, and the modification group markedly cutting total and saturated fats and upping fruit/veggie and grains consumption. now, a decade and $415 million is not some weekend science fair project, nope, this was a hard-core long-term put our money where we’ve been telling everyone to put their mouths for years thing. the results were dropped last year, and were indeed eyebrow-raising.

oh, wait, didn’t hear of them? huh, me neither. no big press release for this one. here’s a pretty scathing summary, but here’s the nutshell version (links to published JAMA abstracts):

a low-fat dietary pattern did not result in a statistically significant reduction in invasive breast cancer risk over an 8.1-year average follow-up period.

a dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD.

no tendency toward weight gain was observed in intervention group women overall or when stratified by age, ethnicity, or body mass index.

yes, kids, you read that last one right too: not only did eating like a good little girl for 8 years not do a damn thing to ward off cancer or heart disease, but also, those poor bitches didn’t even get skinny. 8 years of carrot sticks instead of fried whatever on-a-stick, just to be shopping the same clothes stores as their non-intervened peers.

soapbox time: someday i sincerely hope we can stop equating fat with unhealthy. obviously, i’m not talking about people who’ve gotten so large that their bone structure can no longer support them, that being just as unhealthy as someone who’s gotten so thin that their resting metabolism causes fainting spells. but nearly every time i’m at the doctor’s for whatever reason, they feel the need to bust out the fattie lecture. never mind that i do, in fact, eat very healthy, that i can sprint the stairs in my office without passing out, that my cholesterol is fine and my blood pressure is low (always a total shocker to the nurse taking the b.p.), that things are all working like they should and that the only risk factor i have for whatever is the size of my hips.

screw it. apparently the answer really is all things in moderation, including a bite of cheesecake or some cheese fries when you want. remember, deprivation = stress = a real, actual heart disease & cancer risk factor.


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