Will eating too much fat slow your mental development? Should the government levy special taxes on fatty foods? Despite the lack of any evidence that a low-fat diet can help us live longer, the conventional wisdom tends to demonize dietary fat. In the upcoming issue of Science magazine (subscription required), Gary Taubes explores the crossroads where public health policy and hard science meet. A few excerpts, courtesy of AgBioWorld.org:

• “Indeed, the history of the national conviction that dietary fat is deadly, and its evolution from hypothesis to dogma is one in which politicians, bureaucrats, the media, and the public have played as large a role as the scientists and the science. It’s a story of what can happen when the demands of public health policy — and the demands of the public for simple advice–run up against the confusing ambiguity of real science.”

•”[T]he anti-fat movement was founded on the Puritan notion that something bad had to have an evil cause, and you got a heart attack because you did something wrong, which was eating too much of a bad thing, rather than not having enough of a good thing.”