Will Misguided Saturated Fat Beliefs Cause Weight Gain in School Children?

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Parents, Beware of the Dietary Advice Served Up to Schools

By Guest Blogger, David Brown, Nutrition Education Project

In the latest bulletin of The American Heart Association, it was noted that the Arkansas Child Health Advisory Committed is updating the allowable food and beverage list for schools. The USDA dietary guidelines inform dietary advice promulgated by groups such as AHA and hence, adopted by food manufacturers, school systems and other public or private institutions. USDA 2010 guidelines recommend Americans cut back saturated fat consumption even more, which is likely the reason for these updated lists.

As I understand it, there are two reasons cited for offering low-fat beverages to school children. One is to reduce fat calories to prevent weight gain and the other is to restrict saturated fats to prevent clogged arteries.

Regarding the weight issue, a student blogger on the ASN website wrote this:

According to a cohort study of 12,829 US children aged 9 to 14 years, weight gain is associated with excess calorie intake and consumption of low fat or skim milk, but is not associated with drinking whole milk products. This finding although surprising is consistent with some animal findings. Pigs fed reduced-fat milk gain weight easily while pigs fed whole milk stay lean. Male rats fed whole milk had significantly lower concentrations of plasma triglycerides, very low-density lipoproteins and apolipoprotein B than rats fed low fat milk. The effects of whole milk on lipid profile and body composition are not well understood, but the process of removing fat from milk may in part be responsible for some of the observed effects.

Milk is an emulsion of butterfat globules and water-based fluid. Butterfat contains unique nutrients that support thyroid function and help the body develop muscle rather than fat. The butterfat properties of whole milk are different from that of low fat or skim milk, which may help to explain the effects of whole milk on body composition. Future studies should explore the mechanism by which whole milk may protect infants from gaining weight.

A recent strength training study conducted at Texas A&M University indicated that trying to reduce LDL by restricting saturated fats may not be such a good idea. Here’s an excerpt:

Riechman and colleagues examined 52 adults from ages to 60 to 69 who were in generally good health but not physically active, and none of them were participating in a training program. The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, “a very unexpected result and one that surprised us.

In other recent findings researchers concluded that there is no connection between dairy fat intake and heart disease:

“Things like milk and cheese are very complex substances,” said Stella Aslibekyan, a community health graduate student at Brown University and the lead author of the study, published in advance online May 4 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. “We looked at [heart attack risk and] dairy products in their entirety and then looked at separate components of those dairy products, including fats, and it turns out that the results are null. Perhaps the evidence is not there.”

As it turns out, when it comes to controlling cholesterol levels and LDL particle size, restricting saturated fats is not nearly as effective as adding supportive nutrition and subtracting empty calories. It may eventually be decided that the any effects saturated fats have on cholesterol are purely physiological, not pathological, and likely beneficial.

And you must be aware by now that the saturated fat debate is being revived. That’s because evidence that saturated fats do not clog arteries is finally getting publicized.

Some dietitians and health professionals recently formed a group called the Healthy Nation Coalition. I urge you to explore their website.


David Brown

David Brown is a carpenter who is not happy with the government’s dietary advice. He writes frequently to thought leaders and opinion shapers in hopes of seeing the saturated fat controversy resolved and the omega-6 hazard publicized. To this end, he communicates current science on the subject to dietitians, and columnists who endorse the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Here is the video of the groundbreaking  press conference where representatives of Healthy Nation Coalition and Weston A. Price Foundation and other experts critiqued the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. It is two hours long, but well worth your time. Here is the YouTube channel for Westonaprice.org, where you can find the press conference divided up into shorter videos.


  1. Great post. Thanks for including links to the studies. This is great ammunition in communicating WAPF principles to the public.

  2. I completely agree with these viewpoints. I have personally lived on the low-fat high carb diet for almost 30 years and yet kept gaining weight and had a completely screwed up lipid profile. The Dr. almost put me on statins and thats when I decided to take matters in my own hands and started investigating exercise and good fats for heart health. I was of course shocked to not find a single piece of evidence that correlated dietary cholesterol to lipid cholesterol. I then started investigating saturated fats and still couldn’t find any evidence that saturated fat will cause heart attacks. I think when it comes to heart disease most of the medical community works off of hearsay where a doctor goes up on stage and announces, as-a-matter-of-factly, that cholesterol and saturated fats cause heart attacks and then the other doctors cite the previous doctor in their publications and so on and so forth. Its a vicious circle that’s been perpetuated for the last half a century and its time the medical community come clean. I highly doubt that’s ever going to happen given the fact that demonizing cholesterol has created a $26 billion industry of statin drugs that sponsors more research in this area. If you are a medical researcher serious about your career you better not say anything that will go against conventional wisdom of “cholesterol is evil” otherwise your grants will be cut and you will never publish any thing ever again. So from that standpoint I think the situation is abysmally bleak, but thanks to people like you there is some hope for people that are willing to take health matters in their own hands. Thanks for taking the initiative to educate the ordinary people about whats healthy and whats not!


    Yogesh Verma


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