Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Animals, Fat, Carbs, and Cognitive Dissonance

Newswise — Obesity among people who eat a high-fat diet may involve injury to neurons, or nerve cells, in a key part of the brain that controls body weight, according to the authors of a new animal study.

Now that's a catchy start eh?  Surely this isn't another "make rats sick to prove high fat is bad study"?

“The possibility that brain injury may be a consequence of the overconsumption of a typical American diet offers a new explanation for why sustained weight loss is so difficult for most obese individuals to achieve,” said presenting author Joshua Thaler, MD, PhD.
Thaler and his colleagues studied the brains of rodents for the short-term and long-term effects of eating a high-fat diet. After giving groups of six to 10 rats and mice a high-fat diet for periods from one day to eight months, the researchers performed detailed biochemical, imaging and cell sorting analyses on the animals’ brains.

OK, I guess maybe it is just another "make rats sick to prove high fat is bad study".  And because it is high fat, it gets uncritical coverage.

Here's a guess - there's too much omega-6 fats in the chow, or there's too much saturated fat in the chow - either way, while rats and humans have much in common, humans do quite well on diets consisting of monounsaturated and saturated fats, and rats generally do not.  As Taubes pointed out in Good Calories Bad Calories, for folks who really need to get fat, it's low fat and high carb that does the trick best (or milk).

If you want to make a human fat, however, you can't do it with a high fat diet, which is the point these "high fat rat" study authors don't get.  And feeding these rats a diet like the "typical American diet" would mean they get about 20% of their calories as HFCS, and another "healthy" dose of easily oxidizable omega-6 fats, not to mention hearty servings of potatoes, regular sugar, rice, beans, and grains.  Newsflash, if you feed rats neolithic frankenfoods they get sick, just like humans.

The strange thing is that these studies continue to be made and reported on.  We already have many many studies showing that humans flourish on high fat diets.  Unless the point of this study is to show that HFCS, poly unsaturated fats and transfats are just as bad for rats as they are for humans, this kind of study is beyond pointless.  However, this kind of study is also relatively cheap, and since folks can get these things funded, you'll see more.

But just to prove not every scientist that studies food and diet is completely wasting time, here's an example of an interesting, noteworthy, if small, study, which shows how to improve a basic human life function:  fertility.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects the fertility of women and is associated with obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance.  The Low carbohydrate/Ketogenic Diet led to significant improvement in weight and fasting insulin in women with obesity and PCOS, and some became pregnant despite previous infertility problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment