Jamie has been very busy with his Food Revolution Day which is part of his campaign to persuade governments to take action to combat obesity. While this is obviously a laudable objective, the harsh reality is that the strategies he is advocating are doomed to failure. So before you agree to lend your support to this initiative, it is important to examine what exactly Jamie is promoting. I have no quarrel with his encouragement of cooking skills and the use of whole foods. However digging a bit deeper it is evident that when it comes to the dietary guidelines, he is endorsing precisely those that are still being advocated by governments and the mainstream health professionals, which have not worked. There is no question that these have prompted the vilification of fat and contributed to increased consumption of carbohydrates which is probably the prime cause of the increase in the incidence in obesity.
On one of Jamie’s websites there is an article entitled “Understanding good and bad fats” (1). Here is an extract:
“In the Western world, fat consumption is far too high. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that by 2015, 1.6 billion adults will be overweight – that’s almost a quarter of the world’s population! Although we all need a small amount of fat in our diet, we need to be careful about the amount of fat we’re consuming, as there are many associated health problems such as weight gain, and higher risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”
“A diet rich in saturated fat can cause the cholesterol level in the blood to rise, which in turn can lead to thinning of the arteries, potentially causing a blockage and increasing the risk of a heart attack. We should all aim to keep the levels of saturated fat in our diet low.”
“The best source of omega 6 is seeds and their oils (hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and corn). These fatty acids are also found in a wide variety of nuts, grains and vegetables – so an easy way of getting some into your diet is using vegetable oils for cooking. Omega 6 fatty acids are also helpful in the clotting of blood, skin health, and to help lower cholesterol.
“A healthy diet is all about balance. Bear in mind the proportion of fatty foods you should be having at each meal according to the eatwell plate (see Understanding the eatwell plate), and try to make sure your meal includes foods from all of the different food groups. Fat is a small, but essential, part of the diet. Try to make good choices about the types of fat you eat and this should help to keep your cholesterol low, and your arteries healthy.”
Unfortunately this is the same old rubbish that has got us into trouble in the first place! It really is about time that Jamie and his advisers got themselves up to date. They have slavishly followed the government guidelines to such an extent that they support the notoriously discredited Eatwell plate.
Are they not aware of the fact that the “cholesterol theory” just does not stand up to rigorous examination? There is actually an increase in total mortality with low cholesterol values: the highest life expectancy is found in those with raised cholesterol levels, especially women. It is now becoming very clear that the support for cholesterol as a risk factor for heart disease is primarily limited to the pharmaceutical industry so that it can justify the case for the use of statins.
To be fair, Jamie is taking a strong line on sugar which is absolutely correct. However if progress is to be made then people have to be advised on a suitable replacement for the sugar which is removed from the existing diet. With the conventional approach the answer is the complex carbohydrates but these also cause the blood glucose to increase, which is the real problem. This is because insulin has to be produced by the pancreas to cope with the sugar. If the body is continually subjected to high sugar/carbohydrate then there will be insulin resistance, which is damage to the organs leading to a range of chronic diseases. Eventually the pancreas cannot cope and the result is Type 2 Diabetes.
The ideal replacement is fat but here again Jamie gets it wrong. Olive oil a monounsaturated fat is absolutely fine but Omega-6s/vegetable oils are a big NO NO. Current diets in the UK and in many other countries are far too high in Omega-6 content and there is not enough Omega-3. At these levels the excess Omega-6s contribute to the development of inflammation which can trigger the processes leading to heart disease and cancer. It is rather ironic that we should be consuming MORE saturated fat. The arguments to lower it have all been discredited. In fact the consumption has fallen in the last 40 years and where did it get us? So butter, cheese, full fat milk and the fat in meat, especially from grass-fed animals is all good news.
If Jamie is genuinely interested in tackling obesity (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) then he really must take a good hard look at the nutritional advice he is promoting. The relevant information is not hard to find. There are plenty of books and blogs available.
I would suggest that his starting point might be to go to the Diet Doctor website (2). Here he will see that Sweden is the one country where the increasing trend in obesity has been halted and that it is now starting to come down. Guess what? Butter consumption is now higher than it ever as before and there has actually been a shortage.
He should also make himself familiar with what is happening in South Africa. Go to the Biz News website and look at some of the articles by Marika Sboros (3).
Here is very good scientific paper which sets out the case in support of diets which are LOW in carbohydrates and HIGH in fat (4).
Finally he should read the books by Gary Taubes (5), Nina Teicholz (6), Zoe Harcombe (7) and Tim Noakes et al (8).
- Gary Taubes (2007) “The Diet Delusion” Vermillion: London
- Nina Teicholz. (2014)“The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” Simon & Shuster: New York
- Zoe Harcombe (2010) “The Obesity Epidemic” Columbus
- T Noakes, S-A Creed, J Proudfoot & D Grier (2014) “The Real Meal Revolution: Changing the World, One Meal at a Time” Quivertree Publications