Saturated fat and cardiovascular disease: Then and now


In today’s world one can find studies, guidelines, and popular press articles both espousing the benefits of reduced saturated fat as a means of reducing cardiovascular disease, as well as advocating that saturated fat is unrelated to heart attack and stroke or in some cases even beneficial in preventing these diseases. 

It comes as no surprise that these strongly expressed opposing viewpoints create a sense of confusion. But what is the evidence? This presentation takes a step-by-step historical approach to review how the concept of reducing dietary fat became world-wide public policy, starting in the early 1900’s until today.

With an evidenced-based approach, the consumption of dietary fat and its relationship to cardiovascular disease is being reevaluated, as will specific dietary elements such as cholesterol, dairy saturated fat, butter, and eggs. Current food guidelines are reviewed, including the recent Heart and Stroke Foundation position statement on saturated fat which shifts away from an isolated macronutrient-restrictive approach towards a food-based paradigm.

Symposium Speaker
Andrew Samis, BSc(Hon), MSc, MD, PhD, FCCP, FRCSC, FACS


Queen’s University, Ontario

Dr. Samis has a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s and PhD from Queen’s University, as well as an MD, General Surgery fellowship, and Critical Care Medicine fellowship. This was the result of 30 continuous years of university study, and gives Dr. Samis the dubious honour of being the longest continuous student in Queen’s University history.   

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Chest Physicians, and is an Intensivist, General Surgeon, and Physician Stroke Champion at Quinte Health Care in Belleville. He also works as a Regional Trauma Team Leader, Medical Response Team physician, and Cardiac Surgery Intensivist at Queen’s University where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery.

Dr. Samis developed a research interest in diet and cardiovascular disease after completing his doctorate in GI physiology. He has published in this area and has served on several national expert panels associated with the development of guidelines related to diet and cardiovascular disease. He was one of the experts that served on the Advisory Panel for Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s 2015 Position Statement on Saturated Fat, Heart Disease and Stroke. In addition, Dr. Samis was instrumental in establishing a telestroke program at Quinte Health Care in Belleville Ontario in 2010, and the program has since become one of the busiest Telestroke Centres in Canada. Dr. Samis has participated in various stroke-related education and policy activities at the local, provincial and national levels.

He had a second career as a reserve soldier in the Canadian Army and retired, after 29 years of service, at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He lives in Kingston with his wife and four teenage children.