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The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet Hardcover – May 13, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451624425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451624427
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (375 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A wonderful book [that] takes on everything we think we know about nutrition and examines it.." (Ruth Reichl, former editor-in-chief, Gourmet magazine)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER


“[Teicholz] has a gift for translating complex data into an engaging forensic narrative... [The Big Fat Surprise] is a lacerating indictment of Big Public Health... More than a book about food and health or even hubris; it is a tragedy for our information age. From the very beginning, we had the statistical means to understand why things did not add up; we had a boatload of Cassandras, a chorus of warnings; but they were ignored, castigated, suppressed. We had our big fat villain, and we still do.” (The Wall Street Journal)

"Ms Teicholz’s book is a gripping read for anyone who has ever tried to eat healthily.... This is not an obvious page-turner. But it is.... The vilification of fat, argues Ms Teicholz, does not stand up to closer examination. She pokes holes in famous pieces of research—the Framingham heart study, the Seven Countries study, the Los Angeles Veterans Trial, to name a few—describing methodological problems or overlooked results, until the foundations of this nutritional advice look increasingly shaky." (The Economist)

Teicholz’s book shows that not only are foods rich in saturated fat not harmful to our hearts, but they actually are good for us.… Read Teicholz’s excellent book and tell me you aren’t convinced she’s right. (Chicago Sun-Times)

"A devastating new book.... [The Big Fat Surprise] shows that the low-fat craze was based on flimsy evidence. Nina Teicholz, an experienced journalist who spent eight years tracking down all the evidence for and against the advice to eat low-fat diets, finds that it was based on flimsy evidence, supported by an intolerant consensus backed by vested interests and amplified by a docile press." (The Times of London)

The Big Fat Surprise should become mandatory reading in every science class.... Teicholz describes the human story of how bad science became federal policy, especially concerning the question of heart disease." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"Teicholz has a knack for discovering long-lost research…. The Big Fat Surprise—well written and hard to put down—should help Americans wake up—certainly a few, and hopefully a great many—before it is too late." (Sally Fallon Morell, President Weston A. Price Foundation)

"Bottom line: Teicholz’s book is well worth reading. It is an eye-opening dissection of some of the long-held nutrition myths we have accepted as fact.” (Psychology Today)

“Impeccably researched and expertly written, the prose glides while the citations are more than 100 pages in length. Through nearly a decade of research for the book, Teicholz consulted experts in the fields of research and epidemiology, clinicians and physicians, politicians and journalists, authors and food industry leaders. The Big Fat Surprise is a cross between a Who’s Who of the food policy world and Edward Gibbon’s extensive work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: it offers a complete record of the nutrition paradigm shift, from the birth of the diet-heart hypothesis, to the fabrication of the Mediterranean Diet, to the study of the Atkins Diet in action. Teicholz leaves no stone unturned...” (Paleo Magazine)

“Solid, well-reported science… Like a bloodhound, Teicholz tracks the process by which a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data.” (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))

“This fascinating book raises important issues as Americans battle obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease….Thought provoking and well worth purchasing.” (Library Journal)

"Nina Teicholz reveals the disturbing underpinnings of the profoundly misguided dietary recommendations that have permeated modern society, culminating in our overall health decline. But The Big Fat Surprise is refreshingly empowering. This wonderfully researched text provides the reader with total validation for welcoming healthful fats back to the table, paving the way for weight loss, health and longevity." (David Perlmutter, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain)

"A page-turner story of science gone wrong: what Gary Taubes did in Good Calories, Bad Calories for debunking the connection between fat consumption and obesity, Nina Teicholz now does in Big Fat Surprise for the purported connection between fat and heart disease. Misstep by misstep, blunder by blunder, Ms. Teicholz recounts the statistical cherry-picking, political finagling, and pseudoscientific bullying that brought us to yet another of the biggest mistakes in health and nutrition, the low-fat and low-saturated fat myth for heart health." (William Davis, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly)

"At last the whole truth about the luscious foods our bodies really need!" (Christiane Northrup, M.D., ob/gyn physician and author of the New York Times bestseller Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom)

"This meticulously researched book thoroughly dismantles the current dietary dogma that fat--particularly saturated fat--is bad for us. Teicholz brings to life the key personalities in the field and uncovers how nutritional science has gotten it so wrong. There aren't enough superlatives to describe this journalistic tour de force. I read it twice: once for the information and again just for the writing." (Michael R. Eades, M.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Protein Power)

"The Big Fat Surprise delivers on its title, exposing the shocking news that much of what “everybody knows” about a healthy diet is in fact all wrong. This book documents how misunderstanding, misconduct and bad science caused generations to be misled about nutrition. Anyone interested in either food or health will want to read to this book." (Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine)

"As an epidemiologist, I am awestruck. Nina Teicholz has critically reviewed virtually the entire literature, a prodigiously difficult task, and she has interviewed most of the leading protagonists. The result is outstanding: readable and informative, with forthright text written in plain English that can easily be understood by the general reader." (Samuel Shapiro, retired, formerly at the Boston University School of Medicine)

About the Author

Nina Teicholz has written for Gourmet magazine, The New Yorker, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. She also reported for National Public Radio. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

This book is an eye opener!
MarkS
Great book...well written so it is enjoyable to read, and well researched so it is accurate.
Fruit Smoothie
I will never go back to a semi-vegetarian, low fat diet ever again.
Consumerist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

359 of 390 people found the following review helpful By Adam on May 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Okay, look. I'm about as biased a reviewer as you can get. I read Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories in 2008 and was so moved by it that I radically overhauled my diet and started writing and researching about nutrition and obesity as a hobby.

So when I had the opportunity to review an advance copy of Nina Teicholz's Big Fat Surprise, I assumed I would enjoy it and agree with her conclusions... but I was in no way expecting to be so surprised and delighted by it... and so infuriated by the nasty nutrition politics that she exposes.

Could a single man, Ancel Benjamin Keys, indirectly be responsible for more mayhem than any other figure from the 20th century?

Was Keys' so-called “diet-heart hypothesis” -- which convinced a generation to eschew eating fat and turn instead to sugar, carbohydrate and processed vegetable oils -- one of the most deadly ideas of modern civilization?

These and other troubling thoughts can’t help but bubble to mind as you read Teicholz's nutritional thriller.

I’ll get to the juicy details in a second. But first, the overview:

In the middle of the 20th century, thanks to Ancel Keys and several other arrogant researchers, we began to fear dietary fat as an agent of heart disease and other ills. So we revised our diet to be “healthier” and wound up, ironically, suffering through profound epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases as a result.

Teicholz’s lucid summary of this disaster, The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease, was the #1 most read editorial in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal. Her piece prompted conservative pundit, Rush Limbaugh, to do a lengthy expose on his talk show about the low fat diet myth.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Dean Freedman on May 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Big Fat Surprise is not a diet book or a book about dieting, though you will learn a lot about what you should and shouldn't eat if you read it. It's more of an exposé on how today's diet recommendations came to be and why they're so out of whack with reality and actual scientific research.

The basic conclusion is that we should eat more fat and protein and fewer carbohydrates. That will help keep us healthy and lean.

Important points the author brings out:

- Our misunderstanding and misuse of cholesterol measurements often drives treatments and diet changes that are unnecessary and counterproductive.

- Carbohydrates, even complex carbs (like those found in whole wheat products), are unhealthy when eaten in large quantities.

- Overall, a diet based on meat (fatty is better than lean), eggs, and full-fat dairy products, including real butter, is better for you than one based on breads, cereals, potatoes, corn, rice, and sugary products (even fruit). This type of high-fat diet will also help you keep your weight down, believe or not.

- Overuse of vegetable oils in restaurants, especially for deep-frying, could be especially bad for our health.

As the author points out, we tend to jump to conclusions based on hype and promotion instead of science and long-term research. The Big Fat Surprise brings to light the results of the best, most current research and lays it out for you so you can make your own decisions about what, and what not, to eat. I'm having bacon & eggs!
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Format: Hardcover
What can I say? I’m blown away by the impeccable research and fact presentation in this book. At first, I thought this would be a mildly interesting book with some interesting insight. Nope. Nina Teicholz brought out the big guns. She lays out her well substantiated thesis and systematically digs in. She “specifically avoided relying upon summary reports which tend to pass along received wisdoms” and she went “back to read all the original studies…in some cases [seeking out] obscure data”. In other words, she meticulously lays out the evidence, slam dunking the point: fat ain’t bad.

My first instinct for a book that venerablizes one food would villainize another. This sort of happens here; those villains being: sugar, white flour, and refined carbohydrates. Most modern health articles seem to easily coincide with this. More paradoxical: “Our rush to banish animal fats from our diet has exposed us to the health risks of trans fats and oxidizing vegetable oils.” This oxidization of vegetable oils was the big one for me.

Now, about that yummy fat. Teicholz goes through the history of fat research, presenting hundreds of footnotes, showing previous cases of extreme selection bias, selective reporting, and overlooking of methodological problems. Furthermore, these clunky studies were presented to the public by the AHA since 1961 and adopted by the USDA in 1980 as health recommendations. Time magazine put it on their front cover, newspapers proclaimed the goodness of low-fat diets, and everyone bought in wholeheartedly.

Teicholz turns that tide through her research, not only using the source material, but often going back to interview the original researchers.
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