Nov. 25 2011 06:00 AM

Nonfat is a feeding fad that isn't necessarily good for you.

Jack Sprat was trendy far ahead of his time, but he may have been wrong about his diet. In case you missed it, the "CBS Sunday Morning" TV show on November 20 aired a segment that presented a much different skinny on fat. Specifically, that cooking with it and eating it in moderation isn't evil. In fact, many chefs and health professionals are speaking up and saying fat is good for you. The video pointed out that studies in scientific journals, including one last year in Annuals of Medicine, have documented that higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate diets reduce cholesterol, compared to lower-fat, higher-carbohydrate diets. Humans have eaten animal fats since the dawn of time, but a turning point in U.S. public perception may have been the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs chaired by George McGovern from 1968 to 1977. Its findings advocated that consumers eat less fat and cholesterol. Scientists challenged that advice, including Dr. Robert Olson at St. Louis University, who told committee members, "This is not a question of the last iota of proof. This is a question of any proof." Saturated fat is a different matter, one that medical and health organizations firmly say consumers should regard as dangerous. Moderation of fat intake is the key. But, like many things, that's easier said than done in the U.S., where fat is so plentiful and where consumers tend to have so little self-control Back to Mr. Sprat. Did you know "Jack Sprat" was a slang term in 16th century England for people of small stature? Because fats are so dense in calories (twice as much per gram as protein or carbohydrates), people who eat little or no fat are at risk of being small due to low-calorie intake and retarded growth. Click here to see the video "Singing the praises of fat."