Go ahead, eat those fried eggs. And add a slice of buttered toast and a side of bacon.

Enjoy it, because despite what you’ve heard for nearly 30 years, that fat and cholesterol won’t make you sick.

That was the surprising message that best-selling author Nina Teicholz brought to Columbus in June as part of The Truth About Food, a three-hour forum that examined how research about food and nutrition are relayed to the public and how that process could be improved.

Teicholz’s 2014 book, The Big Fat Surprise, challenges decades of advice by health associations and the government to stay away from saturated fat and high-cholesterol foods and opt for low-fat, low-cholesterol versions.

“We’ve gotten it wrong about fats,” Teicholz told an audience of more than 100 people at the Ohio State University Ohio Union. Reviews of scientific data over the last 15 years have found that saturated fats do not cause cardiovascular death, eating high-cholesterol foods does not worsen blood cholesterol, fat does not make you fat or cause cancer and low-fat diets can’t fight obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer, she said.

The hypothesis now, Teicholz said, is that carbohydrates cause increased insulin levels and that leads to obesity.

Ken Lee, OSU professor of food science and director of the university’s Food Innovation Center, said the “fats are bad” advice is a misconception that has permeated nutrition science, and it’s been difficult to change minds.

Keynote speakers from the Truth About Food panel included, from left, food author and journalist Nina Teicholz, science communicator Earle Holland and Ken Lee, Ohio State professor of food science and director of the university’s Food Innovation Center. They also joined Joe Cornely, OFBF senior director of communications, on an episode of Town Hall Ohio.

Lee was one of five panelists who discussed how scientists, journalists and science communicators can help unravel complicated scientific research for the public, in this case food science and nutrition.

“Nina has a message which is really important,” he said, noting that the study used by physiologist Ancel Keys that once supported his belief that fat and cholesterol caused heart disease was flawed. But it became so ingrained in popular culture and government recommendations over the years that it’s been nearly impossible to change the narrative.

Columbus Dispatch science reporter Marion Renault said translating the language of scientific studies into stories for the public can be difficult.

“You want to be general enough so that people can understand, but not so general that you’re incorrect,” she said.

These days, former Dispatch science reporter Misti Crane pointed out, only a handful of journalists focus on science and even fewer on nutrition. That makes it all the more important for scientists and science communicators to translate research and findings into lay speech, said Crane, now assistant director for OSU Research Communications.

“Then there’s a lot less chance for errors,” she said. Everyone, she said, needs to be honest about what science is and acknowledge that science moves very slowly.

“Don’t attempt to make it more than it is,” said panelist Joe Cornely, senior director of corporate communications for Ohio Farm Bureau. “Don’t take a possibility and make it a certainty.”

Thanks in large part to social media, there is enough of that happening as it is and it is one of the reasons miscommunication is spread.

Reporting about science has become more difficult than in the past because so much information is on the internet and lacks the quality control provided by the traditional media, said Earle Holland, former senior science and medical communications officer at Ohio State University.

“When everybody can be a publisher, all information appears equally valid, but it isn’t,” said Holland, who is now a contributing editor for Health News Review, an online non-profit organization that critiques medical and health news stories.

It takes time and energy to understand science, and journalists and scientists need to honestly and openly inform the public about what they need to know, he said.


Ohio State University’s Food Science and Citation Needed clubs will screen the documentary Food Evolution at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the Archie M Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union, followed by a group discussion. Visit u.osu.edu/citationneeded for information.


Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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