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Low fat diets

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 31 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:804
  1. Rhona MacDonald (rmacdonald{at}
  1. BMJ

    So, it's official: low fat diets don't do much to improve cardiovascular morbidity and mortality (p 757). This conclusion is both surprising and counterintuitive and no doubt will send health promoters into a spin.

    In general we in the West are obsessed with fat and with low fat diets. But in true form we still want to have our cake and eat it—so we have invented low fat junk food and pills that allow us to take in as much as we want then excrete a lot of it. Anything to avoid making an effort and actually having to eat healthily. A search on “fat and diet” at confirms this: there are over 800 000 sites devoted to lotions, potions, and notions that claim to burn, flush, and remove fat from your system while you continue eating whatever you want. I will not give them free advertising by mentioning them here, but I'm sure you know the sort of thing I mean.

    In light of this, thank goodness for, whose mission is to inform the public about diet scams. If you type “fat and diet” into its search engine you will find a list of dodgy sites and what is wrong with them. Obviously, the list is limited, but this site makes a good attempt at naming and shaming some of the culprits.

    If you want to stay healthy the old fashioned way or are looking for a site that your patients can turn to, is worth a look. The Health Education Board for Scotland has had much experience in trying to change the dietary habits of a nation that has one of the worst diets in the world. You can find an animated list of the top 10 tips for healthy eating ( There is also a carrot telling you that it is “brill to grill” and “good to wok.”

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