Dr Says: Drink Your Beer, Eat Your Bacon

Worthington’s regional economic development organization WREDC does a bang-up job bringing together an annual conference each spring to address issues in agriculture and bio-sciences.   The sessions bring together folks working in agricultural industries and bio-tech in Southwest Minnesota—actually across Greater Minnesota, rural Iowa and South Dakota as well.  Previous Biosciences conferences have ranged from life sciences to renewable energy.

I’m a bit behind on this posting.  There was just too much good stuff that I wanted to cover. from the 8th Annual Regional Bioscience Conference, 29-30 March 2012. Sessions featured speakers from companies such as Worthington’s Prairie Holdings Group and Pacific Vet Group USA, and technical advisers such as the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and Southwest Minnesota State University.

So before my memory goes stale, I wanted to mention a highlight.  Dr. Lance Baumgard, associate professor of Animal Science at Iowa State University, took the podium mid-morning Thursday.  His visit to Worthington was a bit of a homecoming for the Round Lake native, and he had a contingent of family fans in the standing-room crowd at the Regional Biosciences Center.

Professor Baumgard addressed the link between animal fat in your diet and an increased risk of heart disease or cancer.  I should say, he addressed the perceived link between consuming animal food products and heart disease or cancer.  As the Worthington Daily Globe reported (video on site):

To prove his point, Baumgard spoke of a study involving 12,000 people, half of which were told to stop drinking alcohol, exercise more and reduce their fat intake. The other half “could do whatever they wanted.” At the end of the study, Baumgard said there was no difference in mortality due to heart disease. However, the special intervention group did have a higher mortality rate overall.

“So, drink your beer, eat your bacon,” Baumgard told a crowd at Thursday morning’s session of the Regional Bioscience Conference in Worthington.

While the crowd laughed, Baumgard said he was dead serious. For years, the messages conveyed to consumers have been that meat and milk products are bad for them — they need to buy lean meats, low-fat dairy products and incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables into their diet.

“The Average Joe affiliates animal food products with some type of human disease, unfortunately and wrongly,” Baumgard said, a Round Lake native.

The myth isn’t new. In fact, Baumgard said a 50-year-old hypothesis made by Dr. Ansel Keys claims that eating saturated fat increases cholesterol, which causes clogged arteries, which leads to heart attacks and potential death.

“I’m not going to trivialize heart disease, but the connection between disease and our diet is actually quite weak,” he added.

The jist of his point was, we have substituted sugar for animal fat—the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar per person each year—leading to greater obesity and risks of heart disease, etc.  His conclusion:

“Eat a balanced diet, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”


Once again, WREDC got the conference streamed live for the world to see and hear.  The Worthington Daily Globe also does an excellent job covering this conference, translating at-times arcane topics into kitchen table English.  The link above may disappear behind their paywall.  If you sign-in (try Facebook login if you don’t need another password to remember) you might get the article longer.


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