Post Hoc, ergo propter Hoc

Even if we accept the epidemic of obesity and diabetes as the unintended consequence of the war against dietary fat – collateral damage, you might say – what about the intended consequence of that campaign: the reduction of heart disease? Here is where the low-fat campaigners have chosen to make their last stand, pointing proudly to the fact that after peaking in the late sixties, deaths from heart disease fell dramatically in America…

Whether the low-fat campaigners should take the credit for this achievement is doubtful, however. Reducing mortality from heart disease is not the same thing as reducing the incidence of heart disease…A ten year study of heart disease mortality published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998 strongly suggests that most of the decline in deaths from heart disease is due not to changes in lifestyle, such as diet, but to improvements in medical care…For while during the period under analysis, heart attack deaths declined substantially, hospital admissions for heart attack did not.

– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food,pp. 60 – 61.

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This entry was posted in Food.

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