In a review of Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, a new book about the food industry, David Kamp writes:
The term “bliss point” . . . is used in the soft-drink business to denote the optimal level of sugar at which the beverage is most pleasing to the consumer. . . .
The “Fat” section of “Salt Sugar Fat” is the most disquieting, for, as Moss learns from Adam Drewnowski, an epidemiologist who runs the Center for Obesity Research at the University of Washington, there is no known bliss point for fat — his test subjects, plied with a drinkable concoction of milk, cream and sugar, kept on chugging ever fattier samples without crying uncle. This realization has had huge implications in the food industry. For example, Moss reports, the big companies have come to understand that “cheese could be added to other food products without any worries that people would walk away.”
By “fat” Moss means animal fat (the fat in cheese, for example). I haven’t seen the book but I’m sure Moss doesn’t consider the possibility that “there is no known bliss point for fat” because people should be eating much more animal fat. In other words, it is hard to detect the bliss point when people are suffering from severe fat deprivation.
My view of how much animal fat I should eat changed abruptly when I found that large amounts of pork fat made me sleep better. One day I ate a lot of pork belly (very high fat) to avoid throwing it away. That night I slept much better than usual. I confirmed the effect experimentally. Later, I found that butter (instead of pork fat) made me faster at a mental test. This strengthened my belief that I should eat much more animal fat than countless nutrition experts have said. (Supporting data.)
My sleep and mental test evidence was clear and strong (in the sense of large t value). The evidence that animal fat is bad (based on epidemiology) is neither. That is one reason I trust what I found rather than what I have been told.
Another reason I trust what I found the fact that people like the taste of fat. That evolution has shaped us to like the taste of something we shouldn’t eat makes no sense. (Surely I don’t have to explain why this doesn’t mean that sugar — not available to prehistoric man — is good for us.) In contrast, it is entirely possible that nutrition experts have gotten things backwards. Epidemiology is a fledgling science and epidemiologists often make mistakes. Their conclusions point in the wrong direction. Here is an example, about the effect of beta-carotene on heart disease:
Epidemiology repeatedly found that people who consumed more beta-carotene had less heart disease. When the idea that beta-carotene reduces heart disease was tested in experiments, the results suggested the opposite: beta-carotene increases heart disease.