Unsettling The Science

“You Can’t Run From A Bad Diet.”

A row has blown up over a report warning that decades of health advice urging people to adopt low-fat diets and to lower cholesterol is having “disastrous health consequences.”

Calling for major changes to food guidelines, experts said they were based on “flawed science” and have resulted in an increased consumption of junk food and carbohydrates.

The report in the UK by the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and the Public Health Collaboration says “eating fat does not make you fat” and argues the misplaced focus has caused a failure to address the obesity crisis.

The report, which has provoked a broad backlash among the scientific community, also argues that saturated fat does not cause heart disease while full-fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, can actually protect the heart.

The authors call for a return to “whole foods” such as meat, fish and dairy, as well as high-fat healthy foods such as avocados.

Professor David Haslam, NOF chairman, said: “As a clinician treating patients all day every day, I quickly realised that guidelines from on high suggesting high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets were the universal panacea, where deeply flawed.

“Current efforts have failed, the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been, and show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of government and scientists.”

Processed foods labelled “low-fat”, “lite”, “low-cholesterol” should be avoided and people with Type 2 diabetes should eat a fat-rich diet rather than one based on carbohydrates, the report urges.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, consultant cardiologist and member of the Public Health Collaboration, a group of medics, said dietary guidelines promoting low-fat foods “is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history, resulting in devastating consequences for public health.”

“Sadly this unhelpful advice continues to be perpetuated. We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

“Eat fat to get slim,” he concludes.

Snacking between meals is one of the main causes of the current obesity crisis, the report argues, while added sugar should be avoided because it has “no nutritional value whatsoever”.

Calorie counting is also damaging, said the NOF report, because calories from different foods have “entirely different metabolic effects on the human body, rendering that definition useless.”

Similarly, “you cannot outrun a bad diet” the authors state, citing the “incorrect” idea that the solution to obesity is to burn more calories.

However, Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said the NOF findings were “full of ideas and opinion” but could not be counted as a comprehensive review of the evidence. “This country’s obesity epidemic is not caused by poor dietary guidelines; it is that we are not meeting them,” he said.



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