Last month a study of siblings found that breastfeeding conferred no health advantages, while a second study declared older paternal age to be associated with psychiatric problems in children. A third study found no link between saturated fats and heart disease. It was a month of unexpected, and sometimes unsettling, science.
In the aftermath of his commentary about butter in the New York Times, Mark Bittman and I -- along with several others, including Dr. Dariush Mozzafarian from Harvard, one of the authors of the study that set this all in motion -- were invited to discuss the health effects of butter on the NPR program, "On Point," this morning.
No, it is not suddenly good to eat more saturated fat -- and the new study grabbing headlines showed no such thing. The study, a meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine, shows the following two things in particular: (1) you cannot get a good answer to a bad question; and (2) there is more than one way to eat badly.
Here's what we actually know. In the U.S., more dairy in the diet -- of whatever variety -- is generally associated with better health and weight outcomes. But that is likely because in the context of our culture, more dairy means less soda. In global context, some of the world's healthiest diets and most convincing intervention trials have de-emphasized, or even excluded dairy.