/ Food & Drink

Time to stop confusing people with nutrition advice

Healthy food choice

So, it now seems that we can eat fat and not get fat? That’s what the headlines dominating today’s newspapers seem to be telling us anyway.

The newspaper stories quote a report that’s been produced by the National Obesity Forum called ‘Eat Fat, Cut the Carbs and Avoid Snacking to Reverse Obesity’. This emphasises the need to encourage people to enjoy food and stresses fairly uncontroversial and sensible messages such as the importance of avoiding snacking in order to control your weight.

But it also calls for an urgent overhaul of current dietary guidelines which it blames for driving the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The thing is, the advice has just been reviewed. And while it would be nice to believe that the guidance we’ve been receiving for the past 30 years was flawed and that we can just tuck into as many fried breakfasts as we like and pile on the butter after all, the over-riding consensus is that just isn’t the case.

Of course the report is more nuanced than that, but it is claiming that eating fat doesn’t make you fat and that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease.

Guidance needs to be clear

The Government recently updated its Eat Well guide on how to have a balanced diet. It’s in the form of a plate and gives you an idea of the proportion of different types of food you should be eating.

The guide is still clear, it’s not about whether it’s fat that’s bad or whether it’s sugar. It’s about overall balance – watching that you aren’t eating too much fat (particularly saturated fat), sugar and salt – and of course eating more fruit and vegetables as well as starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta.

The trouble is many of us struggle to follow this advice. But the issue isn’t about changing the advice, it’s about making it easier for us to act on. It’s also important that official sources – including the Department of Health and Food Standards Agency speak up so that people aren’t confused by contradictory claims.

The Government has promised there will be a Childhood Obesity Strategy, now likely to be published after the EU referendum. In the meantime, it’s not new advice (which appears to contradict the old) that’s required.

We need action that clamps down on irresponsible food promotions and marketing (particularly when it comes to children). We need action to ensure clear labelling, and to make sure healthier foods are more widely available and affordable. And we need action to encourage reductions in the levels of sugar, salt and yes, fat too, in foods where levels are unnecessarily high.

Comments
Guest
dieseltaylor says:
23 May 2016

If we are looking at obesity/weight etc perhaps we should have a Conversation that includes other factors that may give cause to excess weight.

People will no doubt be interested in the recent US research that shows PBA has an obesity effect on girls. A seven year study of pregnant women and their off-spring reveals those mothers with the highest PBA in their blood stream had the largest daughters. This complements previous research which did not monitor the pregnancy.

Intriguingly PBA does not make make boys fatter as they have different hormones.
motherjones.com/environment/2016/05/new-study-bpa-makes-young-girls-put-excess-fat

Read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A to see what other effects this endocrine disruptor may well have.

Guest

I followed the Atkins diet for two years and lost a lot of weight. But the problem is that no one really understands what causes heart attacks. It’s almost certainly unrealistic (not to mention impossible) to expect informed nutritional advice that works for everyone. Over the years achieving a consensus on healthy diets has been as difficult as training cats: it simply can’t be done, and competing ‘instant diet’ fads often place financial reward ahead of considered research. Just about the only thing that almost all dieticians agree on is to avoid processed food.

Saturated fat does appear bad in large quantities, but the body needs a fat intake, while some in the medical profession openly query why fruit is regarded as good. No easy answers, then, but probably a general leaning towards avoiding processed food, eating a lot of nuts and cereals and – best of all – doing a lot of regular and demanding exercise.

Guest

Well you cant say Which isnt “on the ball” or “up to scratch ” with the latest news . The NOF +PHC said the recent Eatwell Guide from PHE was produced with the “assistance ” of a large number of people in the Food + Drink Industry (visions of the Tobacco Industry ? ) anyway Professor David Haslam chairman of the NOF reckons the official guidelines are “flawed ” . He is backed by Dr. Aseem Malhotra consultant CARDIOLOGIST FM of the PHC also backing it up is Professor Ian Broom from Robert Gordon University Aberdeen . In rebuttal Professor John Wass of the RCP contradicts their findings along with Professor Simon Capewell of the FPH stating the NOF is not peer reviewed so you pick your Professors and chose a side – ding ! round -# 1 – Professor fights Professor . Actually I think both have a point .

Guest

Ian – Nobody understands what causes heart attacks ?? Well hereditary for one (DNA ) Smoking /overwork for two -remember my MOT and clutch change car repair shop owner collapsed and needed 5 stents put into his blood vessels because of constriction due in his case to heavy smoking and overwork . 24/7 fish+chips in lard + egg/sausages/ bacon done –a-la- transport cafe style . I could go on .

Guest

There are many contributory factors for heart disease, Duncan, but what actually causes heart disease is still not really understood. If it were we could expect the pharmaceutical companies to issue tiny pills from age ten onwards, or even vaccinate against the possibility. That may well come, in time, but for now it’s surprising how little is really known.

Guest

While I understand what you are telling me Ian are you not falling into the trap of 21cent. “quick speak ” of -there is a “fix ” for anything -just a pill or injection will do ? Heart attacks/strokes arent viruses or colds they are a built in organic means of limiting the ability of the individual to push themselves beyond the limit of their DNA or their physical make up either in work/play or in the food we eat . This isnt new human evolution has conditioned us over 100,000 of years it is only in this modern generation that people are dying in masses from either of those two things and its easy to see why they are -lifestyle – Look at Cancer they are now well advanced to blocking it by modern techniques but people who have a propensity to get it arent given a pill or injection and they are cured for life . Two weeks ago the bloke I met at a car-boot sale has just had a reoccurring of bowl cancer so he is getting chemotherapy for the second time . What scientists are fighting against isnt a disease -per say- but a DNA structure brought about by the combination of a man and womans DNA when sperm meets egg giving multiple variations on the ability to withstand many illnesses/diseases etc or not . You would have to trace back long lines of ancestors to see if you were susceptible to ant medical condition or if scientists could Change the DNA before you were born , dont laugh Ian – guess what US scientists are doing in secret with pigs etc ? and you now have Canadian “modified ” salmon coming onto the market -shades of Monsanto . But doing this in the open to human beings is a major moral dilemma as thoughts of “Frankenstein ” people would emerge . Also you would no longer be able to say as we like doing in Britain –I come from a generation going back 1000,s of years and am related to Lord/Lady this or that or Henry the V111 so a legal dilemma could also occur and where would your claim to being truly English/Scottish/ Irish/Welsh ? you would be a “composite ” being of no traceable heritage via your DNA . That might suite some but have you thought of religions other than dying Christianity ? like the Jewish or Muslim religions there would be uproar.

Guest

I wasn’t advocating anything, Duncan; merely stating the possibilities. But I don’t concur with your belief that it’s all about DNA. Our DNA evolves rather more often than we might imagine and the growing field of Epigenetics promises to be a source of some interesting discoveries in due course.

Guest
bishbut says:
24 May 2016

The next advice we will be given will be not to eat anything at all because all food contains things that will harm you,food is likely to kill you off so do not eat any food at all