ABC Nightline’s simplistic, book-promoting approach to saturated fat

Anchorman Dan Harris reads his lines:

Is it possible that everything we have long held as dietary gospel is backwards? Tonight you will meet a mom/investigative reporter who says all of those high-fat foods we have been told to avoid are actually good for us. Not only that, she says if you eat things like cheeseburgers, meatballs, and bacon, all my favorite foods, you may actually lose weight.

And with that, ABC’s Nightline was off and running last night/early this morning with another episode of “You write a diet book, we’ll give you lots of publicity.”

Nightline devoted more than 6 minutes to promoting the new book, “The Big Fat Surprise: Could Saturated Fat Be Good For You?”

First, the idea isn’t new. For example, for years Gary Taubes has raised such questions.  He has written several books on this topic, and now works on The Nutrition Science Initiative to research such questions. That work may have deserved the air time rather than the book promotion ABC delivered.

The anchor intro above smacks of the storyline from Woody Allen’s 1973 movie, “Sleeper,” forecasting a future in which deep fat, steak, cream pies and hot fudge become health foods.

Even the reporter’s first sentence was:  “It is an age-old debate: Low carbs? Or low fat?”

So, why, then, was this new book considered to be worthy of 6 minutes of network TV time?

For expertise, the segment featured dueling book authors, the personal doctor of one of them, and a restaurant waiter as the experts.  Period.  Those were the sound bites in the piece.

It was a diet of pure puffery – for 6 minutes.

Now go to bed, Nightline.


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