Harvard Prof. Dislikes Term 'Low-Fat'

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Before you sit down to eat a low-fat muffin, hold the cheese on your salad at lunch, or indulge in a bowl of low-fat frozen yogurt, you might want to think again. Newly released information from Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, along with Ronald M. Krauss '64, director of atherosclerosis research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute highlights the merits (or lack thereof) of low-fat foods.

At the Worlds of Healthy Flavors conference last month, Mozaffarian and Krauss drew on their previous research to offer commentary concerning the relationship (or lack thereof) between low-fat foods and health.

"The issue is really that there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats," Mozaffarian said. "To tell people to avoid healthy fat is bad. Our goal is to change that."

At the conference Mozaffarian asked people in attendance to take a pledge against using the term "low-fat." Relief and surprise were the most common responses to the news, Mozaffarian said, although the change in terminology may come slowly.

"It's an uphill battle. It's going to take time for the concepts to filter down to to the actual industry," he said.

What does all this mean for us? Whether you're relieved, surprised, or merely ambivalent to this news, "the take home message is to avoid unhealthy fat and consume healthy fats, nuts, [and] fish," Mozaffairan said.

Need more advice about healthy eating? Check out the HUHDS website, which offers nutritional information for every delectable (or disagreeable) bite of dining hall food.

Photo by The Harvard Crimson

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