Viewpoint: Let them eat cheese: Evidence shows this ‘guilty pleasure’ doesn’t deserve its unhealthy reputation

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

A large body of research suggests that cheese’s reputation as a fattening, heart-imperiling food is undeserved. When it comes to weight and other key health outcomes (and setting aside the issue of lactose intolerance, with apologies), cheese is neutral at worst, and possibly even good for you. And yet that research doesn’t seem to have broken through into common knowledge. 

A 2011 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed three cohorts that together tracked 120,877 US adults over several decades. The authors found that foods like potatoes, processed meats, and refined grains were associated with weight gain over time, while yogurt, fruit, and nuts were associated with weight loss. Cheese was right in the middle: On average, eating more or less of it had essentially no effect on weight.

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So just to recap so far: The evidence tends to show that cheese does not make you gain weight. Why hasn’t this amazing news spread more widely?… Thanks in part to the work of authors like Michael Pollan and Gary Taubes, the low-fat diet mantra of the late 20th century has been discredited, replaced by an awareness that added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods are the likelier culprits in America’s obesity epidemic.

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