236. The Role of the Market in Achieving Dietary Change


We have now reached a point where it is obvious to anyone who examines the scientific evidence objectively that the habitual diet is the primary factor responsible for much of the poor standard of public health today. It is very clear that the increase in type 2 diabetes (T2D), obesity and related diseases commenced in the 1980s soon after the introduction of dietary guidelines, which emphasised the desirability of reducing the consumption of fat, especially saturated fat (SFA). This was based on a false prospectus. As a consequence, the fat intake declined and was largely replaced by increased consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. If we are to extract ourselves from this absolute mess then it is essential to reverse these trends in eating patterns. The big problem is that most of the leaders in medical and scientific fields are unwilling to accept that current guidelines are wrong. In fact, there is very powerful resistance to any proposals to make the necessary changes. Governments seem to be quite incapable of exerting any kind of authority even though the existing strategies are not sustainable in the long run. It simply will not be possible to meet the costs of treating all the diseases.

Grounds for optimism

The good news is that more and more people are discovering for themselves that they can improve their own personal health by switching to a diet which is low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats (LCHF). I have had numerous responses on my blog from individuals who have discovered for themselves the beneficial effects of doing so. Here is one example:

“My dietician was horrified that I ate avocados and nuts “All that fat!” When I dutifully replaced them with even more carbs, my blood glucose became uncontrollable, my BP went up and my lipids got worse. I gained 15 kg all around my gut and was semi-permanently exhausted and constantly hungry.

Naturally I was accused of “failing to comply” with the diet.

When I wised up and actually stopped complying with the diet I rapidly got better. I’ve seen this story countless times, especially from diabetics. Even worse is when the dietician refuses to believe you are eating the EXACT OPPOSITE of what she said and states “I see the low fat diet is working at last!”

They are so embedded in their dogma that they can no longer observe reality. I suspect all dieticians will have seen this countless times, and come up with the same excuse that the patient is failing to comply with the diet when actually the diet is failing to comply with the patient.

A diabetic I knew was constantly hassled to “eat more carbs”. Eventually she bought a packet of Cornflakes, put it in a shopping bag and carried it to her appointments. The dietician beamed. She never ate any, just carried them to the dietician and back, for years.”

What is absolutely appalling is the attitude of so many professionals when patients report their personal success.

There is no doubt that these messages are getting through. The fact that these experiences can be shared on social media is certainly helping to spread the word.

Opportunities for primary producers

As people learn for themselves, this is opening up opportunities in the marketplace for businesses to supply goods and services to meet these new demands. It is highly significant that the research department of the bankers Credit Suisse has produced a report which endorses the case for LCHF and has assessed how the demand for various commodities is likely change (1). Here are the key conclusions:

  • “The drive towards increased fat consumption witnessed over the last fifty years will accelerate due to the combination of higher per capita wealth in developing countries and the gradual acceptance in the developed world that fat is at least not bad, if not actually healthy. Fat consumption per capita is set to grow from the 26% of total energy intake registered globally in 2011 (based on FAOSTAT data) to close to 31% by 2030, with the U.S. going from the current 40% to 47% and the rest of the developed world from 35% to 40%.”
  • “Within fat, saturated fat is likely to experience the fastest growth, going from 9.4% in 2011 to 12.7% of daily energy intake by 2030, monounsaturated from 10.2% to 12.2%.”
  • “Carbohydrates will decline from 60% of global energy intake in 2011 to 55% by 2030. Some will think that this is an aggressive forecast, as it took fifty years for carbohydrates to decline from 67% in 1961 to 60% in 2011. But we believe that the rising awareness of the link between excess carbohydrate consumption (and particularly sugar) and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues and mental illnesses will most likely accelerate the historical trend.”

These are quite firm conclusions and provide specific guidance to businesses, which are in primary production.

Opportunities for restaurants

At the other of the food chain, the changes are already happening and this is illustrated by developments in South African restaurants.

In many big cities, there are numerous restaurants that now offer gourmet meals which comply with LCHF guidelines. An excellent example is the Banting Kitchen at the Cape Royale Hotel. Starters include crustless goat’s cheese and baby marrow quiche, spiced chicken roulade, and home-smoked salmon with roasted sweet potato crème fraiche salad. The main menu offers options such as wild mushroom caulisotto with parmesan, crispy shiitake and truffle oil, grilled lamb loin with sweet potato fondant and grilled venison with cauliflower and leek purée, sweet potato rösti, and a rich mushroom and roasted garlic jus. Desserts include red wine-poached pear with lemon curd mascarpone and red wine syrup or baked cheesecake with a chocolate brownie crust and berry coulis.

The Eat Out website (2) lists over 20 restaurants in the Cape Town alone not to mention those in the rest of the country. National groups have adopted the LCHF approach. These include Kauai, a fast food chain, Spur, a steakhouse chain, and Col Cacchio, an Italian food and pizza franchise.

Opportunities for the insurance business

Even more significant is that the insurance business is now taking a positive interest. Old Mutual is an international investment and insurance company. The Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Peter Bond. At the Low Carb Summit held in Cape Town in February 2015 (3), he was a keynote speaker. He described how the standards of public health across the globe are deteriorating because of the increasing incidence of T2D, obesity and the various related diseases. According to company estimates, 3.5 million South Africans have T2D and 50% are unaware of the condition, which is often only diagnosed when an insurance examination is done.  As a consequence, the application may be declined or subjected to an additional mortality or morbidity loading.

Seven out of 10 women and four out of 10 men are overweight or obese in South Africa, which is double the global rate of almost 30%. Clearly, current strategies are not working. If current trends are maintained, then the costs of health care will continue to rise. From the company perspective, this means that the premiums will have to be increased and therefore customers may allow their policies to lapse and it becomes much more difficult to get new business.

Old Mutual sells critical illness products. If those who purchase these policies can be persuaded to adopt lifestyle changes such as a LCHF diet, everyone benefits. The costs of pay-outs will be reduced, which results in lower premiums and increased profitability. From the individual perspective, a reduction in the chances of a serious illness equals better health and quality of life.

The fact that Old Mutual operates in many different parts of the world could be vital. If the initiative in South Africa is a success, then we may expect to see it repeated in many other countries. Ultimately, governments will wake up to the fact that there are actually ways of halting the apparently inevitable increases in the costs of health care.


The case for diets based on the LCHF principles is now well established and there is no doubt individuals who apply them usually experience substantial improvements in their personal health. As the number who benefit in this way increases, there are opportunities opening up in the market place. The activities of these new business ventures is helping to expand awareness even more. As the pressure continues to build it is inevitable that governments will ultimately have to alter the disastrous public health policies that have been so much to create the problems in the first place.


  1. https://doc.research-and-analytics.csfb.com/docView?language=ENG&source=ulg&format=PDF&document_id=1053247551&serialid=MFT6JQWS%2b4FvvuMDBUQ7v9g4cGa84%2fgpv8mURvaRWdQ%3d
  2. http://www.eatout.co.za/article/banting-list-get-lchf-meals-restaurants/
  3. https://vernerwheelock.com/183-the-significance-of-the-low-carb-summit-in-cape-town-february-2015/



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