This week's prize for stating the obvious goes to a professor at the University of Texas whom I read about in the paper this morning and who declared, to a fanfare from the massed trumpets of the Band of the Utterly Self-Evident, that full fat milk is good for you. Woo bloody hoo.
Of course the professor didn't put it quite like that. Rather she said that a certain fatty acid found in whole milk may help reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from strokes. I'm not sure I quite follow the medical sense of that but let me begin at the beginning.
Without the professor saying a word, there is an abundance of evidence suggesting whole milk is good for us.
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That evidence is my generation. We were raised on the stuff. We drank more of it than any human beings in history. So fundamental to our diet was milk that uniquely among comestibles it was delivered to the door.
As kids we drank it before school, we drank it at school, we drank it after school and we drank it before bed. And the version of milk that we drank was the full fat version, the one with the cream on the top which was universally considered to be the best bit and which siblings would fight over (if the birds hadn't got there first by pecking through the foil tops as the milk stood outside the back door).
And the result of this massive if inadvertent experiment in human nutrition has been the longest-lived generation in the history of our species. We baby boomers are just going on and going on, occupying real estate, driving up prices, hanging on to our money and refusing to die.
Naturally one cannot give all the credit for our longevity to full-fat milk. We also consumed Mars Bars, potato chips, baked beans, fruit gums and galactic quantities of white bread. But given the amount of milk we drank and our collective longevity I think it is reasonable to conclude that the stuff is, at the very least, not actively harmful.
Nevertheless some 40 or so years ago people grew scared of it. And out came an alternative version that was effectively milk with the milk taken out. It was and is appalling stuff, grey, pallid, and wrong.
What caused the scare was that people were worried, rightly, that they were becoming fat. And they assumed that what was causing them to become fat was fat. It's an understandable assumption but it's wrong. And interestingly, the error is essentially grammatical. They confused an adjective with a noun.
If I admit to being fat I am using the word as an adjective. But if I eschew whole milk because it contains fat I am using the word as a noun. And implicit in my eschewing is the assumption that ingesting fat the noun leads to becoming fat the adjective. Which is like believing that eating a duck (noun) makes you ducklike (adjective). Nevertheless the belief that fat makes you fat took hold.
I eat a lot of fat. I slap butter on everything, drink whole milk and guzzle bacon. And, oddly enough, I'm as fat as that splendid blimp of Trump that they flew in London. But I am not fat because of the fat I eat. I ate precisely the same diet for the first 50 years of my life and remained slimmish.
Fat doesn't make us fat, and neither do the carbohydrates that the dietary industry is now pointing its profitable finger at. What makes us fat is indolence and greed and the prosperity to indulge them. And if you don't believe me turn on the evening news and watch people protesting in less prosperous countries. They will be poor and they will be slim.
Now let us come to the professor's assertion that whole milk may help reduce risk of etc.
Where have you heard such phrasing before? Precisely, it's a staple of that great contemporary imposture, the health food industry: 'a daily dose of grungewort extract may help support intestinal balance and promote joint health'. Indeed it may, but it may equally, and rather more probably, not.
The simple truth is that the body is not a slot machine. You don't put a certain food in and get a certain result out. Rather the body is a massively complex organism that we shouldn't pretend we understand and that has to die of something in the end.
Whole milk will not kill you. Neither will it save you. Neither will it make you fat or thin. And anything you hear to the contrary about any single foodstuff is propaganda born of fear of death.