With the number of obese people in the world now outnumbering underweight people, we’ve got a serious problem on our hands. The number of obese people has risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million, and scientists are struggling to pin down a cause.
Could it be something we ate? That’s what British charity and group of medical experts, the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration, is saying in a controversial new report that accuses the UK government of colluding with the food industry to include bogus recommendations in its current dietary guidelines.
The organisation says recommending that people stick to low-fat diets and cholesterol-lowering measures is having “disastrous health consequences”, and that the current dietary guidelines set out by the Public Health England – an arm of the UK Department of Health – have been “corrupted by commercial influences”.
To get a look at the recommendations in question, download the PDF here. You can see there’s a clear focus on low-fat dairy options, including skim milk, soy alternatives, low fat cheese, and low fat yoghurt, and small amounts of unsaturated oils if you’re using oils and spreads.
But instead of filling our fridges with ‘low fat’, ‘lite’, and ‘low cholesterol’ products, people should be basing their diet around “whole foods”, such as meat, fish, and diary, says the report, and we should embrace – not shun – high-fat, but healthy foods like avocados, because, “Eating fat does not make you fat.”
“Eating a diet rich in full-fat dairy – such as cheese, milk and yoghurt – can actually lower the chance of obesity,” says the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration.
“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.”
Sounds pretty sensible, right? Well, not exactly, because while praising naturally fatty foods, it also recommends cutting carbs and ignoring calorie counts, stating that “Saturated fat does not cause heart disease, and full-fat dairy is probably protective,” and “Starchy and refined carbohydrates should be limited to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes.”
Scientists have been blasting it ever since it came out, because on top of a lack of supporting evidence and peer-review, the report that accuses the UK government of covering up collusions with the food industry is not exactly being forthcoming about its own sources and funding. Critics are now calling it an “opinion piece”, rather than a report.
“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,” Simon Capewell from the UK Faculty of Public Health, told the press.
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