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Health: The Real Story About Low Fat [news]

You may have noticed the headlines suggesting that low-fat diets--long recommended as the path to better health--don't do any good. Before you rush off to order a cheeseburger with an ice-cream chaser, however, you should take a closer look at the studies on which those headlines were based. You'll probably end up concluding, as I did, that paying attention to how much and what kind of fat you consume is pretty important after all.
First, some background. There were three studies, all published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and all part of a much larger project called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), which started in the early 1990s. The low-fat diet section of the investigation was designed to answer two related questions: 1) Can you get a lot of middle-aged women to adopt a diet that contains no more than 20% of its calories from fat? and 2) Will that low-fat diet protect them against breast or colon cancer? (As an afterthought, the investigators added a question about the diet's effect on heart disease.)

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