ISU alumnus starts nutritional Kickstarter project

Kevin Schwanz, 2010 ISU graduate in dietetics.

Kevin Schwanz, 2010 ISU graduate in dietetics.

Jasmine Schillinger

If someone told you saturated fats were healthy and it was vegetable oils that were the ones contributing to heart disease, wouldn’t you think they were crazy?

That’s exactly what happened to Kevin Schwanz, registered dietitian and 2010 graduate in dietetics, soon after he graduated. After coming across several other credible sources making the same claim, Schwanz was motivated to conduct his own research.

Schwanz has recently launched the project Kickstarter to raise funds for independent nutrition research.

Kickstarter is a worldwide crowd funding operation that helps bring a variety of people’s projects to life.

“It can be difficult gaining access to articles; you either have to subscribe to the journal, pay $35 to $40 for a single article or have a library access the article for you,” Schwanz said. “It’s one of the reasons I’m trying to raise funds to support the research.”

Schwanz became interested in this topic after recognizing how many people have widely accepted the idea that saturated fats are unhealthy.

“I started reviewing studies that the American Heart Association referenced related to saturated fats,” Schwanz said. “I found very little evidence that supported their guidelines; most of the studies were from the 1960s and 1970s and were very poorly done.”

After realizing that people had a good reason to be skeptical, Schwanz became even more drawn to the topic. 

“Existing guidelines either don’t analyze the studies properly, don’t consider all relevant trials, are completed by researchers that have ties to the food industry or — most often — a combination of all three,” Schwanz said.

With hopes of his Kickstarter project being fully funded, Schwanz would like to continue his work full-time.

“Since I have already reviewed a large portion of relevant studies on the topic, I’m estimating that I could complete it in about two to three months,” Schwanz said. “If my project doesn’t get funded, I will still continue to work on it, but it will have to be in my spare time so it will just take longer to finish.” 

Schwanz plans to produce two different versions of his guidelines — one aimed at registered dietitians and other health professionals and a second version that is more understandable to the general public. 

“My primary goal for this project is to develop an objective and definitive guideline for the intake of saturated and polyunsaturated fats in relation to heart disease,” Schwanz said.

If you are interested in helping fund Schwanz’s project, you can visit his Kickstarter page or check out his website.