Diet fad after diet fad after diet fad, people are bombarded with different messages about what is healthy and what is not. So how can anyone know what really is healthy and helps weight loss? The Retro Report from the NY Times investigates the past few decades of changing trends around diets and people’s attitudes towards them.
How many times have Americans read about a study damning this or that food, only to then hear the revisionist opposite? Avoid eggs, we were told; they clog your arteries. Wait, we then heard, eggs have nutritional value. Coffee can give you cancer. Hold on, coffee can improve brain function. Butter is terrible. Well, not really. Again and again, yesterday’s verity becomes today’s punch line.
The vagaries of nutrition claims infuse the latest episode of Retro Report, video documentaries exploring major news developments of the past and how they still resound. This installment harks back to the 1970s, when many health authorities asserted, with unshakable confidence, that a diet low in fat and cholesterol was essential for a healthful life (wheat germ and tiger’s milk presumably optional).
“Fat-free” became a mantra, not to mention a marketing tool to sell breakfast cereals and high-caloric snacks. If anyone qualified as a heretic back then, it was Dr. Robert C. Atkins, a cardiologist who died in 2003. The Atkins diet encouraged loading up on fat-laden foods like steaks and omelets, and steering clear of pasta, bread and other carbohydrates.
thumbnail courtesy of nytimes.com