Of Cascades and Diets

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This letter appeared on October 16, 2007 in the Science section of the New York Times:

To The Editor:

In "Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus" (Oct. 9), John Tierney rightfully decries the "cascade effect," the tendency of health experts (like most people) to echo the opinions of their peers, even if they aren t completely familiar with the literature in question.

While this social phenomenon may be responsible for some misleading health advice, many other factors are involved such as the desire for simplistic and false "good food/bad food" solutions to complex problems. We may well be seeing such phenomena playing out with respect to the demonization of trans fatty acids, which, while not health-promoting, are not the root of all health evils. Another cascade, perhaps?

Ruth Kava
New York

The writer is director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health.

See also: ACSH's full report on Trans Fatty Acids and Heart Disease.

Trans Fatty Acids and Heart Disease