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Dietary Fats: Corrected Meta-Analysis Raises a Fuss — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 27, 2014

Dietary Fats: Corrected Meta-Analysis Raises a Fuss

By Joe Elia

A recent meta-analysis — reported here as an example of "the shaky underpinnings" of guidelines encouraging the intake of omega-3 fatty acids — has been corrected in the Annals of Internal Medicine, but not without raising a kerfuffle. A Science news story quotes nutritionist Walter Willett as calling for a retraction.

However, Rajiv Chowdhury, the first author on the Annals meta-analysis, has written in an email to Physician's First Watch that "these changes did not affect our overall conclusions of the paper."

According to the Science story, the meta-analysis wrongly concluded that one study on omega-3 fatty acids showed a slightly negative effect on coronary risk, whereas it had in fact shown a strong positive effect.

One of the paper's authors says the whole point is "there is no strong support for the guidelines and we need more good trials."

Reader Comments (1)

H Rivert Silverstein, MD, FACC Physician, Cardiology, Preventive Medicine Center
Competing Interests: none

2 relevant comments made by others are worth repeating: Harvard's Frank Hu, MD, relevantly stated "the single macronutrient approach is outdated." J T Guy, MD, stated re meta-analyses: "What is gained in statistical power may be lost through compounding of error." I say the wrong question was asked: the correct question is "What typed of foods are correct for this human biology that has an anvil like (herbivore), not scissors type jaw action (carnivores), a carbohydrate (herbivore) digesting enzyme in the salivary glands, a long small bowel comparable to herbivores, a lack of fangs & claws (carnivores)... The human biology is almost certainly 90 +% vegetarian by anatomy of ideally unprocessed whole foods with anything once in a while (10 % = 2-3 meals a week).

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