The new year is barely a few weeks old, and we've already got our first phony panic over fats -- and this time, the claim is that a high-fat diet will cause brain damage.
But don't give up your steak and eggs yet -- because this study didn't distinguish the good fats your body needs from the bad ones that'll swell your belly and rot your brain.
And here I thought we were finally moving beyond lumping all fats together. Maybe next year.
In this one, researchers fed rats a "high-fat" diet, then watched as the parts of the brain that control appetite and body weight in the rodents slowly fell apart over eight months.
They didn't repeat the study on humans (I don't blame them -- who wants to watch fat people eat junk for eight months?), but brain scans of 34 volunteers found that obese people had similar damage in that same region.
So what does it prove? Nothing about dietary fats, that's for sure.
The rats in the study were actually bred to be obese -- and sure enough, they fulfilled that promise. And the obese people given MRIs were, of course, already obese.
Even the researchers admit that means they can't tell whether the brain damage came from the fats in the diet... or if it was caused by the obesity itself.
And like I said, the diet given to the rats didn't distinguish the good fats from the bad -- but since the researchers say the formula mimicked what obese people eat every day, we can assume it was mostly junk regardless of fat content.
So all the study really proves is that a steady intake of junk will cause you to get obese -- and since obese people have already lost control of both their appetite and their weight, OBVIOUSLY that part of the brain is going to be missing a few cells.
But don't blame fats in the diet for that... blame the fats collecting in your waistline instead.