University of Minnesota

Keys-Hegsted End Letters

A major issue and minor polemic in the “diet-lipid-heart” matter was the difference between Ancel Keys’s and Mark Hegsted’s equations for the the effect on serum total cholesterol levels of change in dietary cholesterol intake.
In their early, independent, and meticulous metabolic ward diet experiments of the 1960s Hegsted found a linear relation. Keys, however, found a curvilinear relation indicating that in the usual range of diets the serum cholesterol response quickly flattened out with dietary cholesterol intakes above @ 250 mg daily (that is, above the amount of cholesterol in 1 egg yolk); thus explaining why many diet experiments of adding eggs to the usual U.S. diet caused little change in total serum cholesterol level.
These letters between them in the 1980s indicate a slight modification in Hegsted’s findings and opinion with his playing new statistical games with his old data. This was hardly a reconciled or identical view among them, but was apparently sufficient for Ancel to comment with some pleasure that Hegsted had found out his early “error!” (HB)

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