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Keys dismisses Reiser's critique of his saturated-fat hypothesis.

January 1, 1973


Diet-Heart Hypothesis

Like Stamler, Keys allowed virtually no oxygen for debate. It’s astonishing, actually, to read his reaction to those who dared disagree with him. When Texas A&M professor Raymond Reiser wrote an extremely thorough and rigorous critique of the saturated-fat hypothesis for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1973, Keys began a twenty-four-page reply by saying that Reiser’s analysis “reminds one of the distorting mirrors in the hall of jokes at the county fair.” Keys’s tone throughout is relentlessly sneering: “This is a typical distortion,” he wrote, and “It would be difficult to pack more imprecision in a 16-word sentence”; “Resier pompously states . . . ,” “He completely ignores . . . ,” “Obviously, Reiser has no comprehension.”

Reiser was one of quite a few critics who had reexamined the important studies at the foundation of the diet-heart hypothesis. And he made a number of crucial observations that have recently resurfaced: he listed the many methodological problems undermining those early studies and noted that certain types of saturated fatty acids, such as stearic acid, which is the main one found in meat, demonstrated no cholesterol-raising effect at all. Keys’s response included rebuttals about specific problems, and although he agreed that stearic acid is “neutral,” he defended the cholesterol-raising properties of other types of saturated fats. Replying to Keys, Reiser wrote a short letter to the journal—reluctantly, he said, because “I feel I must give some rebuttal to the accusation that I have tried to smear the scientists whose papers I reviewed and that I have deliberately lied.”

-Nina Teicholz - The Big Fat Surprise - page 60