Some counter-intuitive medical results

NPR had a report today on new studies that said that the common belief that high-fat dairy products increase the risk of obesity and heart disease may not hold up.

In one paper, published by Swedish researchers in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared to men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.

The second study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, is a meta-analysis of 16 observational studies. There has been a hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity and heart disease risk, but the reviewers concluded that the evidence does not support this hypothesis. In fact, the reviewers found that in most of the studies, high-fat dairy was associated with a lower risk of obesity.

“We continue to see more and more data coming out [finding that] consumption of whole-milk dairy products is associated with reduced body fat,” Miller says.

When coupled with other studies that suggest that so-called ‘good’ cholesterol that is supposed to keep one’s arteries clear can sometimes go rogue and block them, this has not been a good week for the conventional wisdom in medicine.

Dr Shannon Amoils, a senior research adviser for the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although traditionally we think of HDL as ‘good’ cholesterol, the reality is much more complex.

“We now know that under certain conditions HDL can become dysfunctional, potentially helping to clog blocked arteries.

“This interesting research pins down the exact chemical change that causes the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol to become bad.

People who tailor their diets according to what they think is the best medical advice can be pardoned for being confused as to what to do. I will stick with my regimen: eat a balanced diet in moderate amounts and hope for the best.


  1. Brandon says

    I’m wildly unsurprised by this; satiety per calorie consumed tends to be a lot more relevant to total calorie intake than just looking at the calorie density of a food. Anecdotally, it doesn’t take much cheese to fill me.

    Since I became more active (running ~40-50 miles per week), I find that the only thing I really need to worry about when it comes to weight is eating enough food to make sure that I don’t lose too much. Making sure to pack in enough glycogen for long runs has been the other big change for me.

  2. smrnda says

    I consume dairy a lot , though I seem to recall someone coming up with a new ‘healthy diet’ that had no dairy in it at all. Overall I feel relatively healthy and my checkups are good, so I’m not worrying. I figure that as long as I steer clear of lots of processed sugar I’ll be alright.

  3. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I guarantee the cows who are raped to make your cheese see no health benefits whatsoever.

  4. machintelligence says

    How brilliant it was for cows to have invented dairy farmers. They have been able to outsource most of their problems: food finding, predator avoidance and healthcare. 😉

  5. kevinalexander says

    There is lots of research to show that a low carb, high fat diet are healthier than the reverse.

    I’m just a sample of one but weight and my blood sugar is way down since I switched.

  6. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    How brilliant it was for cows to have invented dairy farmers. They have been able to outsource most of their problems: food finding, predator avoidance and healthcare.

    And how brilliant of the negro to have invented the slavemaster!

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