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New Analysis Calls Saturated Fat Nutrition Advice Into Question

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

(North American Meat Institute)

A new analysis of data from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment, originally performed more than 40 years ago, is raising serious questions about nutrition advice to limit saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease. The new report , published in the BMJ, found that study participants fed diets higher in saturated fat had lower risk of death from coronary heart disease compared to participants fed a diet with lower saturated fat levels. This contradicts decades of dietary advice including recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The new analysis was performed after researchers discovered previously unpublished documents from the study. It generated considerable media attention in outlets around the world.

In response, the Meat Institute penned a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and an open letter to nutrition researchers and journal editors urging that research projects, no matter their findings, be published so they may be considered in public health deliberations.

"Our nation's nutrition policy should not be built on just half the story, but that is what happens when researchers may only have been able to publish papers that found linkages between foods and health outcomes, rather than those that found nothing. Concerns about how to publish data that challenges certain scientific dogmas or how to overcome journal editors' unwillingness to publish null or negative findings is not new and has become an increasingly frequent topic of conversation in the scientific community. Stanford researchers documented this failure to publish in the social sciences in a 2014 paper and argued that not only does failure to publish create an incomplete picture, it fails to prevent other researchers from wasting time and money pursuing hypotheses that have been disproven," the open letter says.

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