Butter exculpated again

Government dietary “science” continues to get pounded.

The media release is below.


Little to no association between butter consumption and chronic disease or total mortality

BOSTON (Embargoed until 2 PM EDT, June 29, 2016)–Butter consumption was only weakly associated with total mortality, not associated with cardiovascular disease, and slightly inversely associated (protective) with diabetes, according to a new epidemiological study which analyzed the association of butter consumption with chronic disease and all-cause mortality. This systematic review and meta-analysis, published in PLOS ONE, was led by Tufts scientists including Laura Pimpin, Ph.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts in Boston, and senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the School.

Based on a systematic review and search of multiple online academic and medical databases, the researchers identified nine eligible research studies including 15 country-specific cohorts representing 636,151 unique individuals with a total of 6.5 million person-years of follow-up. Over the total follow-up period, the combined group of studies included 28,271 deaths, 9,783 cases of cardiovascular disease, and 23,954 cases of new-onset type 2 diabetes. The researchers combined the nine studies into a meta-analysis of relative risk.

Butter consumption was standardized across all nine studies to 14 grams/day, which corresponds to one U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated serving of butter (or roughly one tablespoon). Overall, the average butter consumption across the nine studies ranged from roughly one-third of a serving per day to 3.2 servings per day. The study found mostly small or insignificant associations of each daily serving of butter with total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said Pimpin, now a data analyst in public health modelling for the UK Health Forum. “This suggests that butter may be a “middle-of-the-road” food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarines and cooking oils – those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oils – which would likely lower risk compared with either butter or refined grains, starches, and sugars.”

“Overall, our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered “back” as a route to good health,” said Mozaffarian. “More research is needed to better understand the observed potential lower risk of diabetes, which has also been suggested in some other studies of dairy fat. This could be real, or due to other factors linked to eating butter – our study does not prove cause-and-effect.”


Additional authors of this study are Jason HY Wu, M.Sc., Ph.D., and Hila Haskelberg, Ph.D., both of The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Australia; and Liana Del Gobbo, Ph.D., formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School and currently a research fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford School of Medicine.

This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, under award number 5R01HL085710. For conflicts of interest disclosure, please see the study.

Pimpin L, Wu JHY, Haskelberg H, Del Gobbo L, Mozaffarian D (2016) Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Total Mortality. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0158118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158118

10 thoughts on “Butter exculpated again”

  1. There is not a week goes by that I do not see somewhere on my ISP webpage numerous posts condemning every food that human beings have ever eaten. “Never eat this!!!” “This popular food will kill you!!!” “Five things never to eat!!!” ad infinitum

  2. Harry: you’re spot on. Soybean oils is “solvent” (chemically) extracted, and has 100 times more natural pesticide than EPA will allow synthetic pesticides. (Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg).

  3. Worrying about all the things the fear mongers tell you are harmful is bad for your health.

  4. All of this junk “epidemiology” is attempting to dredge miniscule “associations” from mountains of data, entirely to propagandize the American fetish with orthorexia. This mainly allows the chattering class to feel superior to the poor schlubs who eat “normal food.”

    They entirely miss the 10,000 lb. elephant in the room–that fully 75% of all lifetime morbidity and mortality outcomes are the product of genetics and socio-economic status. How VERY convenient to keep shifting the blame to “individual choices” rather than a failing society!

  5. In my opinion, two of the four supposedly healthier fats are NOT so healthy: soybean and canola.

  6. I always thought “total mortality” was pretty well independent of causes and fixed at exactly “one to a customer.” I can’t see how it can be anything else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.