Debrief Staff | Contributing Writer | Monday, 23 May 2016

Controversial Report Says Official Advice On \\\'Low Fat\\\' Diets Is All Wrong

Controversial Report Says Official Advice On 'Low Fat' Diets Is All Wrong

The Debrief: ...but what we really need are some simpler messages around what we should and shouldn't eat

Is anyone else pretty confused about what we’re supposed to be eating? About what’s good for us and what’s bad? About what is ‘healthy’ and what is definitely not?

Every week there seems to be new advice on what we should and shouldn’t be eating and new reasons as to why. It comes at us from all angles: the government, bloggers, magazines, films like Cowspiracy and newspapers who tell us everyother day that eating a bacon sandwich will probably hasten your demise with every bite.

To confuse things further today the official advice on low-fat diets and cholesterol has been called out by the National Obesity Forum and Public Health Collaboration as they claim that most of what we are told about ‘healthy eating’ is actually wrong.

Apparently previous drives to get people to follow low-fat diets and lower their cholesterol are having ‘disastrous health consequences’. According to the report saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease and full-fat dairy such as milk, yoghurt and cheese can actually protect the heart. The authors call for a return to what they term ‘whole foods’ such as meat, dairy and high-fat healthy foods like avocados (OK, good, we already knew all about this).

The report says: ‘Eating a diet rich in full-fat dairy – such as cheese, milk and yoghurt – can actually lower the chance of obesity.’

‘The most natural and nutritious foods available – meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, olive, avocados – all contain saturated fat. The continued demonisation of omnipresent natural fat drives people away from highly nourishing, wholesome and health-promoting foods.’

Anything labelled ‘low fat’, ‘lite’ or ‘low cholesterol’ should be avoided, the report says. It also says sugar, that friend we all love to hate, should be avoided at all costs.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, the authors of the report argue that, to date, the sceicne behind advice on what to eat and what not to eat has been ‘corrupted by commercial influences’ from the food and drink industry.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, consultant cardiologist and founding member of the Public Health Collaboration said that existing dietary guidelines which promote low-fat foods were ‘perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history, resulting in devastating consequences for public health’.

So what should we take away from all of this? In a nutshell (pardon the pun) this new advice tells us what we already new on the whole which is: eat the most natural and nutritious foods available to you such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados.

The report argues:

  • Eating fat does not make you fat
  • Saturated fat does not cause heart disease and full-fat dairy is probably protective
  • Processed foods labelled 'low fat', 'lite', 'low cholesterol' or 'proven to lower cholesterol' should be avoided
  • Starchy and refined carbohydrates should be limited to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes
  • Optimum sugar consumption for health is zero
  •  Industrial vegetable oils should be avoided
  •  People should stop counting calories
  • You cannot use exercise to offset a bad diet
  • Evidence-based nutrition should be incorporated into education curricula for all healthcare professionals

However, experts are all arguing about this highly contentious report and don’t seem to be able to agree. Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: ‘In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible.’

So there you have it…as clear as mud. So there you have it…as clear as mud. It's all very well and good for those in the know to publish reports and argue about themselves but what we really need is simpler messages when it comes to what is and isn't good for us. 

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Science Says Being Vegetarian Is Worse For The Environment Than Eating Meat

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

Tags: Food, Politics