The National Obesity Forum (NOF) and Public Health Collaboration (PHC) has just issued a joint press release which is a direct challenge to the UK Government/NHS advice on healthy eating (1). Introducing the report Professor David Haslam, who is chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said:
“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.”
Professor Haslam is certainly not alone. There is a growing number of medical and health professionals who know from their own experience that the current guidelines are not working despite the fact that many people have altered their diets so that they comply with the Government recommendations. The hard reality is that we have a major public health crisis on our hand because of the unprecedented levels of obesity. Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is even worse with the incidence having more than doubled in the past 15 years and all the indications are that it will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The real scandal is that the official advice is to reduce the consumption of fat and INCREASE that of carbohydrates. There is overwhelming evidence that this makes the condition worse. Hence those affected suffer from poor health and some may eventually have to have limbs amputated.
The other side of the equation is that the carbohydrates should be replaced by healthy fats which include the saturated fats (SFAs), which are present in milk and meat but include coconut oil. This is in direct conflict with the official advice which insists that the SFAs must be reduced. The report draws attention to a recent study which found that:
“Compared with subjects on low-fat diets, subjects on low-carbohydrate diets experienced significantly greater weight loss, greater triglycerides reduction and greater increase in HDL-cholesterol after 6 months to 2 years of intervention.”
The report also emphasised that the low calorie approach to weight loss has not been effective, while there are studies which demonstrate conclusively that diets which are low in carbohydrates and high in fat (LCHF) do work successfully. These may have about 65% of calories as fat while the carbohydrate content is only 10%.
The report highlight the work of Dr David Unwin who has used this approach successfully with many of his patients who have T2D, fatty liver disease and wish to lose weight. On top of all this he has reduced the costs of drugs prescribed at his practice by about £45,000 per annum.
Added to this are the personal case histories of numerous individuals all over the world who have successfully treated their own T2D and lost weight. Very often this is in direct conflict with the advice from doctors and dietitians. Last year the American Diabetes Association (ADA) was bombarded on Facebook with messages from individuals who were highly of the ADA’s advice to increase the intake of carbohydrates (2).
It is therefore utterly amazing that there are still many who refuse to accept the obvious and defend the status quo with vigour. For example, Dr Alison Tedstone, who is the chief nutritionist at PHE, said:
“In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible. Unlike this opinion piece, our independent experts review all the available evidence – often thousands of scientific papers – run full-scale consultations and go to great lengths to ensure no bias.” (3).
Prof Simon Capewell, from the Faculty of Public Health, 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.
“By contrast, the report from the National Obesity Forum is not peer reviewed. Furthermore, it does not it indicate who wrote it or how is was funded. That is worrying.”
These attitudes reflect a “head in the sand” approach. The blunt truth is that the current policies are not only failing but are a major contributor to our current problems. These people simply cannot contemplate that they have been wrong and are incapable of facing up to reality.
This issue has all the characteristics of the Hillsborough incident in Sheffield where almost 100 spectators died at a football match because of the incompetence of the local police force. Although this was clearly shown in an Inquiry conducted by Lord Justice Taylor within months, it took the relatives 29 years before this was recognised by the Government. Documents released subsequently revealed the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had vetoed effective action by the Home Secretary on the grounds that the police had to be defended. It took concerted action by the relatives to the matter finally resolved.
With respect to nutrition, substitute the medical and health professionals who support the current strategy for the South Yorkshire Police Force. For the victims of the tragedy, substitute all those who suffer from T2D for a start. This means millions of individuals who are being given the WRONG advice which causes their health to deteriorate even further.
There is a clear responsibility on the part of the politicians to act but to date their performance has been absolutely pathetic. They appear to have neither the brains and/or balls to tackle the advisers. We are not dealing with complicated science here. In fact it is really quite straight forward as I have shown in a blog which draws a parallel between T2D and a house which has been flooded with water because of a burst pipe (4). The first step must be to stop the excess water entering the house. With T2D, it is exactly the same. Turn of the supply of glucose entering the body by reducing the consumption of sugar and carbohydrates, which break down to release glucose. Standard treatment of T2D is like telling a householder that the water cannot be stopped: here are some buckets and mops. You must do the best you can with these and face up to the fact that as long as you live in that house you will have to cope with the water coming in all the time!