The ECONOMIST: "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."
“Refreshingly empowering. This wonderfully researched text... provides total validation for welcoming healthful fats back to the table, paving the way for weight loss, health and longevity.” — DAVID PERLMUTTER MD, Author, New York Times #1 Bestseller “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar, Your Brain’s Silent Killers”
Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fats is wrong. She documents how the past sixty years of low-fat nutrition advice has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health.
For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner it must be because we are not trying hard enough. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? What if those exact foods we’ve been denying ourselves — the creamy cheeses, the sizzling steaks — are themselves the key to reversing the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?
In this captivating and convincing narrative, based on a nine-year-long investigation, Teicholz shows how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community as well as the public imagination, and how recent findings overturn these beliefs. She explains why the Mediterranean Diet is not the healthiest, and how we might be replacing trans-fats with something even worse. This startling history demonstrates how nutrition science has gotten it so wrong: how overzealous researchers, through a combination of ego, bias, and premature institutional consensus, have allowed dangerous misrepresentations to become dietary dogma.
With eye-opening scientific rigor, THE BIG FAT SURPRISE upends the conventional wisdom about all fats with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat — including saturated fat — is what leads to better health, wellness, and fitness. Science shows that we have been needlessly avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk and eggs for decades and that we can, guilt-free, welcome these “whole fats” back into our lives.
“[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.” — Trevor Butterworth, 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
This is a striking study, thoroughly researched and carefully footnoted, which may well change the way you eat. I, for one, won’t ever hesitate to order a steak again. — Financial 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. — Times of London
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
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. — Chicago Sun-Times
Journalist Teicholz combs the science, or lack thereof, to learn how the fats in the American diet grew horns and cloven hooves. “Almost nothing we commonly believe today about fats generally and saturated fats in particular appears, upon close examination, to be accurate,” writes the author. Appallingly, those are still fighting words when it comes to the mandarins who fashion our national health agenda, those crazy pyramids that flip on their heads now and again like the magnetic poles. Like a bloodhound, Teicholz tracks the process by which a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data. The author explores how research dollars are spent to entrench the dogma, to defend it like an article of faith while burying its many weaknesses and contradictory test results. In this instance, Teicholz zeroes in on the worries over skyrocketing heart-disease figures in the 1950s. Some (flawed) epidemiological work suggested that serum cholesterol deposited plaque in arteries, leading to coronary disease. This type of associative simplicity is that spoonful of sugar: the easy fix everyone wants when long-term, clinical tests are needed to appreciate the complex processes involved. This desire to corner the bogeyman targeted the world of fats, and it has stayed that way despite all the evidence and advancements in medical science, especially endocrinological studies, that have pointed to other biomarkers. Galling, though hardly unexpected, is the role played by money and the power we let it bestow. There were reasons the food industry wanted to stick with trans fats as opposed to saturated fats, and Teicholz tics them off, and there are reasons that the next great hope, vegetable oils, have dangerous health issues hidden instead of heralded. Sixty years after the fat attack, “a significant body of clinical trials over the past decade has demonstrated the absence of any negative effect of saturated fat on heart disease, obesity, or diabetes.” Solid, well-reported science in the Gary Taubes mold. — Kirkus (starred review)
“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' is a fascinating historical and technical account of a dreadful scientific misunderstanding...For anyone with a passing interest in their health, and the most salient scientific knowledge that informs it, this is required reading. — Ivor Cummins, The Fat Emperor
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.
“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, New York Times #1 Bestseller, "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar, Your Brain’s Silent Killers”
“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: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health.
"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."
“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 bestsellers Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause
“This fascinating book raises important issues as Americans battle obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The author provides an extensive bibliography of scientific literature, notes, and a glossary. VERDICT Thought provoking and well worth purchasing.” — The Library Journal, Starred Review
"Reading Nina Teicholz’s outstanding book The Big Fat Surprise was a bit like watching the movie Titanic. The story was long, but also so well written, I was never bored. And even though I already knew about the impending disaster, I found myself mumbling “Oh, no!” as each misstep brought it about – as if the story could end any other way….This is a fascinating book, even if you already know the broad outlines of the story. I highly recommend you add it to your library."
“First of all, Teicholz writes like a dream... Teicholz has the facility of Michael Pollan, with a sharper intellect, more warmth, and a less condescending attitude. She assumes her audience is smart enough to follow her through the maze of science without wanting to stop to examine every risk ratio ever produced. At the same time, she brings us with her into those difficult moments in an interview when she has to ask a nice person a hard question. And she does ask some tough questions.” — ADELE HITE, MPH RD
"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, and in her digging unearths many hidden truths about conventional nutritional wisdom that have somehow never reached the mainstream." — Erin Van Genderen, Paleo Magazine
“Could a single man, Ancel Benjamin Keys, indirectly be responsible for more mayhem than any other figure from the 20th century? Keys’ so-called 'diet-heart hypothesis' convinced a generation to eschew eating fat and turn instead to sugar, carbohydrate and processed vegetable oils for nutrition. It may turn out to be one of the most deadly ideas of modern civilization.” — Adam Kosloff, Caloriegate.com
“You know how one week you read "eat THIS!" and the next week the papers say, "eat THAT!" This beautifully researched book tells the story of why and how that happens, at least when it comes to fat and cholesterol. Teicholz's argument is not only compelling, it reads like a gripping drama. I found myself stunned by the power of personality over science when it came to national nutrition policy. I also found myself buying steak (from a local farmer) for the very first time. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Read it! Now!” — R. Aronson on Amazon.com Reviews
“The Big Fat Surprise is a truly remarkable and persuasive book in that it is extremely well written, fully accurate in fact, and sincerely heartfelt in approach. Sentiments most often expressed in comments by readers are: I could not put it down.” — Alice and Fred Ottoboni, Ketopia