Calling for a major overhaul of dietary guidelines, the report warns people on low-fat, low-cholesterol diets end up snacking between meals. Consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said Public Health England dietary guidelines promoting low-fat meals have been a disaster that has created “a metabolic timebomb”. He added: “It is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history resulting in devastating consequences for public health.
“We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and Type 2 diabetes.” National Obesity Forum chairman Professor David Haslam said: “Current efforts have failed, the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been. The guidelines suggesting high carbohydrate, low-fat diets are the universal panacea are deeply flawed.
“Figures show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of government.”
Professor Iain Broom, from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, added: “For almost 40 years we have been subjected to an uncontrolled global experiment that has gone drastically wrong.” The NOF and PHC report urged Brits to ignore the official government advice and stop counting calories. It said: “Eating a diet rich in full-fat dairy, such as cheese, milk and yoghurt, can actually lower the chance of obesity.
Butter is back on the menu
“The most natural and nutritious foods available… meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, all contain saturated fat. The continued demonisation of omnipresent natural fat drives people away from highly nourishing, wholesome and health-promoting foods.”
It warns sugar should be avoided and claims the idea that exercise can help you “outrun a bad diet” is a myth.
Instead, a diet low in refined carbohydrates but high in healthy fats is “an effective and safe approach” for stopping weight gain, the report claims.
But the paper has sparked an angry backlash among health chiefs who insist high-fat foods are unhealthy and there is a wealth of evidence to back it up.
PHE’s chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said: “Calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible.” The Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on obesity Professor John Wass added: “There is good evidence that saturated fat increases cholesterol.
“What is needed is a balanced diet, regular physical activity and a normal healthy weight. To quote selective studies risks misleading the public.”
British Heart Foundation associate medical director Dr Mike Knapton said: “The report is full of ideas and opinion, however it does not offer a robust and comprehensive review of evidence.” The NOB and PHC also accuse medical chiefs of colluding with the food industry by urging people to cut fat to lower cholesterol.
The report claims the science of food – including Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide – has been “corrupted by commercial influences”.
It revealed a healthy eating graphic for the guide was developed with food and drinks industry giants.
They included the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation and the Institute of Grocery Distribution. The Eatwell Plate healthy food guide was drawn up partly based on their advice. But the Faculty of Public Health rejected claims the guide was unduly influenced. The body’s Professor Simon Capewell said: “We fully support Public Health England’s new guidance on a healthy diet.
“Their advice reflects evidence-based science that we can all trust. It was not influenced by industry.”
Dr Tedstone said decisions on the eating graphic were made “separately to the nutritional recommendations underpinning them”. Last year PHE was criticised for evidence it relied on in its report on e-cigarettes.
Researchers pointed to links between some experts involved in the report and the tobacco industry and firms that make e-cigarettes.
The Lancet said the conclusion that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking was based on an “extraordinarily flimsy foundation”.
Who’s behind the new advice?
The National Obesity Forum was formed 16 years ago to raise awareness of the problem.
Its founders say it also aims to promote the ways in which obesity can be addressed.
The charity trains medical professionals to tackle weight issues and organises campaigns and initiatives to alert the public to the dangers of obesity.
The Public Health Collaboration consists of GPs, dieticians and cardiologists, who support research and probe public health issues.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, Consultant cardiologist and adviser to the National Obesity Forum
The low-fat message is based upon what we now know is flawed science which resulted in advice to reduce consumption of fat and saturated fat, which were thought to be responsible for heart disease.
Saturated fat was demonised as people say it raises cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease.
We have grossly exaggerated cholesterol’s risk factor.
The biggest risk factor for heart attacks in men is insulin resistance and the best way to combat that is to go on a diet low in refined carbohydrates and low in sugar. You should also reduce stress and do the right kind of exercise.
When you eat foods high in saturated fats, your overall cholesterol risk profile improves. Eating low-fat, lite foods increases snacking, a major cause of obesity. If you eat good, nutritious food you feel fuller longer and don’t snack.
It is irresponsible to give the public low-fat, low-cholesterol diet advice as it is based on flawed science and is driving Type 2 diabetes and obesity, and is clearly influenced by the food industry.
So what is good?
Full fat milk
And what is bad?
Food labelled low fat, lite or low cholesterol
Mirror: Low fat diet bad for your health and cutting back on meat, dairy and eggs a disastrous mistake