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Obesity charity’s praise for high-fat whole foods triggers health row

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A major new report from the National Obesity Forum says that long-standing advice to follow low-fat diets and to lower cholesterol is having “disastrous health consequences”. The report’s authors call for a return to whole foods such as meat, fish and dairy, as well as ‘high-fat, healthy foods including avocados”.

But some health experts say the National Obesity Forum report “cherry picks” research and that its advice to eat more fat is irresponsible.

The report argues that saturated fat does not cause heart disease and that full-fat dairy is probably protective. It also strongly recommends avoiding processed foods labelled ‘low fat’, ‘lite’, ‘low cholesterol’ and ‘proven to lower cholesterol’ – and it argues that the optimum sugar consumption for health is zero.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a senior adviser to the National Obesity Forum, said: “The change in dietary advice to promote low fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history.

“Sadly this unhelpful advice continues to be perpetuated. The current Eatwell Guide from Public Health England is in my view more like a metabolic timebomb than a dietary pattern conducive for good health.

“The current Eatwell Guide from Public Health England is in my view more like a metabolic timebomb than a dietary pattern conducive for good health”

“We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eat fat to get slim, don’t fear fat, fat is your friend.”

But some senior health experts warn that the report is based heavily on ideas and opinions and ignores a large body of evidence-based science.

Professor John Wass, the Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on obesity, said there was “good evidence that saturated fat increases cholesterol … To quote selective studies risks misleading the public.”

“This report is full of ideas and opinion … it does not offer the robust and comprehensive review of evidence that would be required for the BHF  to take it seriously”

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), told the newspaper: “This report is full of ideas and opinion, however it does not offer the robust and comprehensive review of evidence that would be required for the BHF, as the UK’s largest heart research charity, to take it seriously.

Dr Alison Tedstone, Public Health England’s chief nutritionist, called the report’s advice to eat more fat “irresponsible” and potentially deadly.

 

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