A major health charity has made controversial statements regarding low-fat diets and cholesterol, as the obesity epidemic shows no signs of abating.
The National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration suggest that a major overhaul of dietary guidelines is necessary, with the two bodies going further and accusing major public health bodies of deliberately colluding with the food industry.
Both organisations believed that the existing guidelines are having catastrophic health consequences, and that people should instead be advised to cut the level of carbohydrates in their existing diets.
The two charities believe that the obsession with low-fat diets is failing to address Britain’s obesity crisis, while snacking between meals is making people fat.
As an alternative to the existing dietary advice, both organisations believe that the general public should return to consuming whole foods, with meat, fish, dairy, as well as high-fat healthy foods such as avocados, being central to this approach.
“Eating fat does not make you fat” is the central message of the report.
The report also argues that saturated fat does not cause heart disease, while full-fat dairy, including milk, yoghurt and cheese, can actually protect the heart.
Processed foods labelled “low fat”, “lite”, “low cholesterol” or “proven to lower cholesterol” should be avoided at all costs.
Meanwhile, those suffering with type two diabetes should eat a fat-rich diet rather than one based on largely carbohydrate consumption.
Certainly it seems difficult to argue with the last of these conclusions, considering that excessive carbohydrate consumption has been strongly linked with the increase in incidence of diabetes.
With carbohydrates turning to sugar once consumed, the report also places a significant emphasis on avoiding sugar in diet.
The extent of added sugar in processed food in particular can be considered one of the primary factors in the existing obesity crisis, and thus the conclusions of the report in this area seem sound.
More contentious are the ideas in the report that people should stop counting calories completely, and the suggestion that it is impossible to “outrun a bad diet” via increased exercise.
The excessive diets of some athletes should disprove this completely, and while everyday people probably cannot commit to such an extreme regime, it does seem likely that the more sedentary lifestyle which people leave nowadays has significantly contributed to the obesity epidemic.
Summing up its views on diets, the report concludes thus:
“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.”
Prof David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, outlined his belief that diet advice provided to the general public is fundamentally flawed.
“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, were 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.”