Seems fair

Privately, the National Obesity Forum (NOF) is in disarray over recommendations last week that people should eat more fat, reduce carbohydrates and stop counting calories.

The influential group is facing a growing backlash from a range of eminent experts on food and obesity, who fear its new guidelines will deepen public confusion over what to eat, set back the fight against expanding waistlines, and even be dangerous to those with type 2 diabetes.

Internal NOF emails seen by the Observer reveal anger among board members that none of them was given the chance to approve the incendiary report before publication, except its chair, Dr David Haslam, who co-wrote it with Dr Aseem Malhotra, an outspoken heart doctor who is the NOF’s cardiological adviser, and others, including Robert Lustig, an American expert on sugar. Haslam, a GP, told them on 12 May that he would seek their advice before publishing but did not do so, it is claimed.

Because as Chris Snowdon has been pointing out, the report is complete bollocks.

50 thoughts on “Seems fair”

  1. Where has CS criticised this report? Do you have a link? Insofar as the report criticises low-fat diets, it seems quite sound. It would be fun to find CS on the same side as Public Health England, the Guardian etc, who are criticising the report

  2. “who fear its new guidelines will deepen public confusion over what to eat, set back the fight against expanding waistlines, and even be dangerous to those with type 2 diabetes”

    Because, as we are told repeatedly, the fight against expanding waistlines and type 2 diabetes is going so well under the current dietary guidlines.

    Oh… Wait..

  3. Tim, we live in a religious age where all sorts of dogma is called science and its priests, experts be it dietary, cholesterol, gender equality or climate. Heretics are publicly humiliated, labelled deniers and kept forever after from the liberal media. Actual science is about testing hypotheses, reproducing experiments and using fact to demolish previously cherished beliefs. It usually proceeds one funeral at a time but now that government and large players and troughers eg pharma, quangoes, UN bodies have a vested interest (and it’s not in truth ), earthquakes are probably necessary to crumble the fossilized edifice.

  4. If you look at the actual research you will find there is plenty of support for the efficacy of a higher than recommended level of saturated fat consumption allied with, crucially, a lower than recommended level of bulk carb consumption. If you look to the scientific authorities, however, you will get the impression that no such evidentiary support exists.
    Part of the problem seems to be that, as with the overwhelming preponderance of Keynsians in academic Economics and hard lefties in Sociology etc, there is ‘only one correct view’ that senior Nutritional Science academics can espouse.
    The remainder of the problem seems to be that debate, particularly public debate, is anathema to the scientific authorities whose sole consideration seems to be to keep the message simple so that the moronic public do not get confused. That may be OK on some level but not if the simple message is wrong. If that were to happen you might end up with an epidemic of obesity and Diabetes II, and no one would want that, I’m sure.

  5. So they describe the junk food industry’s message as ‘eat junk, snacks and soda whenever you want – and make us rich’ whilst themselves promoting the message ‘eat cereals, polyunsaturated fats and low-fat diet foods – and make us rich instead’. It’s hard decide which of those messages is worse or has been more damaging.

  6. So Tim, you’re now agreeing with the people who say there’s no safe level of alcohol consumption?
    I can only speak for myself, but I’ve lost quite a bit of weight on a low-carb diet – three stone over a year. My own GP is annoyed and puzzled by it, as it goes against everything he’s been taught.
    I’m also friends with a few medics, including two consultants, who think the low-fat advice is bollocks.

  7. “I can only speak for myself, but I’ve lost quite a bit of weight on a low-carb diet – three stone over a year. My own GP is annoyed and puzzled by it, as it goes against everything he’s been taught.”

    A doctor who wasn’t taught that people in a calorific deficit lose weight?

  8. ‘and even be dangerous to those with type 2 diabetes.’

    People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are getting their dietary advise from their doctor; the NOF is not a player, though they’d like to think they are.

  9. “A doctor who wasn’t taught that people in a calorific deficit lose weight?”

    That’s not really it. It’s more the fact that I eat a high-fat, low-carb diet. My total cholesterol has gone down, blood pressure too – though I have taken up weightlifting which could contribute to that. Incidentally, I’d recommend it highly – wish I’d started lifting 30 years ago.

  10. The report from Ancel Keys linking fat to heart disease and obesity has long been discredited.
    If this report positively advocates fat then it is not derived, at least not correctly derived, either from Atkins or Taubes, who advised more protein, less carbs, and an indifference to fat.
    There is a difference between eating the fat that naturally accompanies bacon as part of eating the bacon, and eating the fat without the bacon which this latter report seems to advocate.

  11. Jonathan – you’re spot on about lifting.

    I started lifting after i hit forty. The benefits are massive – slowdown in Testosterone production decrease, stronger bones and muscles, increased calorie burn at rest, psychological boosts from endorphin releases – and the personal satisfaction of working harder and lifting more than the posing kids!

    As for the dietary advice – high fat low carb in completely the way to go. It reduces hunger and the fat aids protein absorption.

    Its amazing that the “academics” dont want to draw the obvious inference – that the obesity crisis followed the advice of low fat, high carb diets.

  12. It’s my suspicion that those in the medical trades, and government propaganda trades, who have spent decades urging people to avoid fats – especially animal fats – and gorge on carbohydrates instead, have probably shortened more lives than Mao. Maybe many more. Maybe their death toll should be measured in a new unit, the Mao.

    That doesn’t mean I’m going to subscribe to some alternative diet zealotry, just that I think it’s pretty clear that the old zealotry was wrong all along.

    Note that it’s not really a case of “new research shows”, it’s just that the old research, such as it was, was bollocks. It’s a matter of guesswork how much of its success was due to stupidity, and how much to dishonesty. But the career of Ancel Keys is a pretty vivid demonstration that the most important root of evil is the search for power rather than for money.

  13. Dear Mr Worstall

    ” …new guidelines will deepen public confusion over what to eat,”

    Never been confused over what to eat, save maybe when faced with too many choices.

    Feel hungry? Check the fridge, check the larder, maybe pop out to the shops and buy something tasty.

    A bottle of wine to go with it? Maybe a little more confusion deciding which one, though these guidelines don’t actually mention drink, so perhaps the confused eating public won’t be confused about that.

    DP

  14. “I started lifting after i hit forty. The benefits are massive – slowdown in Testosterone production decrease, stronger bones and muscles, increased calorie burn at rest, psychological boosts from endorphin releases – and the personal satisfaction of working harder and lifting more than the posing kids!”

    I’m 53 and it’s been a revelation. I just feel better all round – stronger, fitter, better posture too. Plus huge smug feeling when some 25 year old is curling 20kg in one of the squat racks (why do they need a rack?)and I clean and press 60kg in the next one.
    It’s not a cult, honest.

  15. I’m another who will put his hand up for the low carb diet. I’ve been a natural fatty most of my life but I’ve managed to maintain myself at a healthy weight several times by pure graft (mostly long distance running, as well as resistance training). I’ve never been able to keep weight off from diet alone – as soon as I stop training it starts pilling on within weeks, and I’m not a big eater (one meal a day usually – unless I’m on holiday, etc.)

    As a preparation for starting training for a marathon next year (which I’ve yet to start…) I finally decided to cut out carbs a few months back, as a trial, if nothing else. The weight has just dropped off since then – like a stone in the first month, and I’m not really consuming less calories (I still eat one meal a day, a filling one).

    I don’t reject the scientific papers which say, on average, there is no difference between diets (the only difference is supposedly calories). I just think that not everyone is the average – a lot of people have very different metabolisms, and may metabolise different foods in different ways.

  16. @Bloke in Malta, May 29, 2016 at 6:54 pm
    “I don’t reject the scientific papers which say, on average, there is no difference between diets (the only difference is supposedly calories). I just think that not everyone is the average – a lot of people have very different metabolisms, and may metabolise different foods in different ways.”

    I was going to say the same. My body/metabolism wants a high carb, high fibre diet. Fat makes my digestive system unhappy and I overheat as body starts burning it to remove it which prevents me sleeping. Other than potatoes & parsnip, I prefer raw vegetables. Parents and sibling are the opposite.

    5’8″ & 70Kg (was 60Kg from 16 to 35)

  17. “Was a low fat, high carbs diet recommended, or just a low fat diet?” The food pyramid advocated high carb. You could argue that that was inevitable: if you aren’t getting your calories from fat it has to come from somewhere else, and carbs are the cheap source to hand. Also, without fat in your diet your appetite might be less sated, another invitation to eat carbs.

    The whole adventure has been a bloody disaster for many people.

  18. I remember watching a programme on’t telly about an expedition to Hull, or was it the Arctic, wherein the participants carried four tons of fat in their supplies, because the calorific value per gram of fat was so much higher than carbohydrates.

    Unfortunately, the dietary experts from Pubic Health England and the Guardian team of teach yourself everything about everything had failed to learn.

    Sorry, it was too tempting just to leave it there, ahem, had failed to learn that humans don’t digest fat terribly well.

    Which is why the Rumpole diet of a fried slice for breakfast and a claret a bit later on has seen me remarkably regular for the last 50 years.

  19. Sam Adams the Dog

    After years in the low 160s, I found myself at 183 lb twenty years ago. I tried exercise and high carb. I tried dietary limitation, to the extent that I was always hungry, for about two months. No weight loss. I tried low-carb, and lost 20 lb in about 4 months. I gained some of it back over the years, but never got above 173. I’m now 168. Over the years, I’ve been a bit careful with carbs, but not abstinent, as at the start. I’ve started being a bit more careful lately to see if I can lose about 5 lb. I suspect one or both of the following: (1) Individuals differ in dietary response, perhaps due to differing microbiomes; (2) Most low-carb diets are relatively high in fat. Fat gives an early sense of repletion, and perhaps you actually consume fewer calories on a high-fat diet because of this effect.

    IMO, what is bollocks is a one-size-fits-all dietary recommendation. I’ve seen these change and then change back several times in my lifetime.

  20. “Plus huge smug feeling when some 25 year old is curling 20kg in one of the squat racks (why do they need a rack?)and I clean and press 60kg in the next one.”
    Can’t say I’ve ever been particularly impressed by gym muscles. Handling a few tons of bagged sand (when they were a nominal 1cwt, not the modern girls’ size, & weighed considerably more when sodden with water) tends to find them out. There’s a great deal of difference between short bursts of strength & long haul resilience. Why that skinny Paddy with the hand rolled hanging off his lower lip often outperforms the Mr Universe hopeful..And why these exercise programmes rarely achieve much. Fooling your body into anticipating strenuous effort, then not actually delivering much confuses it.
    You want to lose weight the answer’s simple. Bloody well eat less. Nobody’s ever died of feeling mildly hungry, have they? Get used to it & you won’t actually feel hungry. Or, maybe, just not notice it. After all, a large portion of the human race feel like that permanently. Up until the last two or three generations most of the “obese” developed nations did too. Throw away your comfort blankets.

  21. At the height of my youthful gym bulking, where my biceps and triceps started to make t-shirts look stupid, I had an arm wrestle with my stick-skinny middle-aged uncle, who was a coal man for 20 years. No contest, he instantly flattened me.

  22. Did you hear of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment in which the diets of 9,000 in state mental hospitals and a nursing home were studied?

    “During the study, which was paid for by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and led by Dr. Ivan Frantz Jr. of the University of Minnesota Medical School, researchers were able to tightly regulate the diets of the institutionalized study subjects. Half of those subjects were fed meals rich in saturated fats from milk, cheese and beef. The remaining group ate a diet in which much of the saturated fat was removed and replaced with corn oil, an unsaturated fat that is common in many processed foods today. The study was intended to show that removing saturated fat from people’s diets and replacing it with polyunsaturated fat from vegetable oils would protect them against heart disease and lower their mortality”

    “The results were a surprise. Participants who ate a diet low in saturated fat and enriched with corn oil reduced their cholesterol by an average of 14 percent, compared with a change of just 1 percent in the control group. But the low-saturated fat diet did not reduce mortality. In fact, the study found that the greater the drop in cholesterol, the higher the risk of death during the trial.”

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/a-decades-old-study-rediscovered-challenges-advice-on-saturated-fat/?_r=0

  23. bloke in spain

    “There’s a great deal of difference between short bursts of strength & long haul resilience”

    Well, yes. That’s why one is called strength and the other endurance. Different things see.

    “Why that skinny Paddy with the hand rolled hanging off his lower lip often outperforms the Mr Universe hopeful..And why these exercise programmes rarely achieve much. Fooling your body into anticipating strenuous effort, then not actually delivering much confuses it.”

    Awesome, training advise from a taxi driver. I’d love to see the skinny paddy who outperforms me, there’s a world record in it if you find him.

  24. Jonathan

    “That’s not really it. It’s more the fact that I eat a high-fat, low-carb diet. My total cholesterol has gone down, blood pressure too – though I have taken up weightlifting which could contribute to that. Incidentally, I’d recommend it highly – wish I’d started lifting 30 years ago.”

    Cholesterol, BP and most other indicators improve if you are significantly overweight and lose fat. The actual type of diet makes very little difference. Perhaps it’s just a reminder that most doctors are almost entirely ignorant when it comes to nutrition.

    Weightlifting also improves most of these indicators at a moderate level.

  25. Bloke in Malta

    “I don’t reject the scientific papers which say, on average, there is no difference between diets (the only difference is supposedly calories). I just think that not everyone is the average – a lot of people have very different metabolisms, and may metabolise different foods in different ways.”

    There is no significant different between diets when calories are the same, but compliance can be wildly different, and that really is the most significant factor.

    Some people just function better on low carb diets when in deficit, often there seems to be a correlation between those people and people who struggle with weight issues. It’s more than just a ‘metabolism’ issue.

  26. ” I’d love to see the skinny paddy who outperforms me, there’s a world record in it if you find him.”
    Not too difficult. Used to get it all the time. Fit, sporty types wanting to make some cash labouring. They start well but fade quickly.
    I’m in my mid 60’s & about 12 stone. The only exercise I take’s lifting a glass. I had the heavy end of a 150kg American style fridge freezer, last week. Needed to go up some steps.(The 30s gym fit squash player struggled with the top) But then I’ve been doing this sort of thing, on & off, for best part of 40 years. So I probably won’t need the paddy.

  27. “Sorry Tim, but Chris Snowden is the one talking bollocks.”

    Oh well, that refuted him then.

  28. “Not too difficult. Used to get it all the time. Fit, sporty types wanting to make some cash labouring. They start well but fade quickly.
    I’m in my mid 60’s & about 12 stone. The only exercise I take’s lifting a glass. I had the heavy end of a 150kg American style fridge freezer, last week. Needed to go up some steps.(The 30s gym fit squash player struggled with the top) But then I’ve been doing this sort of thing, on & off, for best part of 40 years. So I probably won’t need the paddy.”

    All very nice. Squat 270kg and then I’ll think you have a point.

  29. Christ, there is a bit of a display of erect and semi erect penises going on here today? Put them away now lads, getting a bit fvcking boring.

  30. If a man can’t be a keyboard hard man on the internet, where else could he be a keyboard hard man?

  31. “There’s a huge amount of ‘sample size of one’ in this comment thread.”

    Yes but where are the people who have tried high carb/low fat diets, and lost weight easily?

    What we have is two opposing sides, one armed with a theory based on a statistical sleight of hand, that they cling to regardless of the reality unfolding around them, and the other being individuals who have experimented on themselves with the exact opposite of the ‘official’ dietary advice, and discovered that their version works.

    We’ve had 40+ years of low saturated fat/high carbs (+using poly-unsaturated fats where fat is essential) and where has this gotten us as a population? An ever increasing obesity problem, a virtual epidemic of type 2 diabetes (my father is diabetic, proper type 1 injections twice a day all his life type, when I was growing up in the 70s no-one had a clue what diabetes was. Now everyone will know someone who has it), and no great reduction in heart disease. Yes, less people die from heart troubles, but thats not down to them not having the trouble in the first place, its down to there being better drugs and medical techniques available to keep people alive when they have heart trouble. The point is the dietary advice hasn’t stopped heart problems.

    Wouldn’t a sensible person conclude that the dietary advice thats been given for over 40 years is in some way flawed, and perhaps those advocating it should shut the fuck up before they ruin the lives of any more people?

  32. So Much For Subtlety

    BraveFart – “there is a bit of a display of erect and semi erect penises going on here today? Put them away now lads, getting a bit fvcking boring.”

    Besides, it will make Jessica Valenti cry and we wouldn’t want that.

  33. Gym strength isn’t work strength. I’m not sure why, but people who work out in gyms never seen to have the work capability of those who gain strength via actual labouring. I think its because working exercises muscles in groups, whereas in the gym you work on an individual muscle in isolation. Thus while you can bench press X kilos, that very rarely needed on its own when working, its all about combinations of muscles to achieve a certain task. Plus working improves flexibility more than gym work does.

    The strongest man I ever knew was a fence erector, he would drive fence posts into the ground all day using just a manual post rammer and/or a sledge hammer. He was tall and rangy, no obvious big muscles, but was like iron, not an ounce of fat on him.

  34. You should not be expecting doctors to change their minds or prescriptions based on the evidence at hand. In most cases they are not scientists, either by training or inclination, they are priests dispensing divine guidance.

  35. Jim, we can’t all be stevedores, or fence erectors. Weight training has significantly improved my computer scientist body’s strength. I’m not trying to become the ‘strongest,’ or whatever. No one at my gym is pursuing extremes.

  36. I’m as wary of “one size fits all” as the next sensible person, but I will add my nod to the success of the low carb, “high” fat approach (it’s not really high, we’re not downing a pint of double cream just for the sake of it). I’ve lost two stone in a short time with no change to exercise, and it’s great to not feel hungry all the time.

    I still hold to the calories in / calories out baseline (because physics) but I now think there may be different equilibrium states depending on diet (and body type?). I think this may mean that farming (i.e. carbs) was a double whammy of civilizational success, enabling us to store calories in the harvest itself and, to some extent, on ourselves.

  37. @PJF
    “I still hold to the calories in / calories out baseline etc”
    Exactly. And that’s all there is. All this cockwaffle about low carb/high carb, gym regimes, the rest of it, just avoids the unpalatable obvious. You want to weigh less – don’t eat so much.

  38. “All this cockwaffle about low carb/high carb, gym regimes, the rest of it, just avoids the unpalatable obvious. You want to weigh less – don’t eat so much.”

    It may be true that there’s nothing intrinsically ‘better’ about a high fat/low carb diet, it just happens to contain less calories than a high carb/low fat one, but even if it is true, surely its better to recommend that people do whats easier to do (eat as much fat as you like while controlling carbs) than what is difficult to do (eat a controlled amount of carbs and fat), because the bodies natural satiation system makes you feel full up on fat quite quickly, but doesn’t on carbs?

    I don’t buy the ‘High fat/low carb diets just have less calories in them’ argument anyway – I eat butter, cheese and fatty meat like its going out of fashion, there is no way my diet is calorie controlled in any way. I just control the amount of carb intake there is. And I don’t get fat. The only time I put on weight is if I’ve allowed myself to eat more carbs than normal – once I swap back to less carbs, more fat the weight drops off.

  39. Who’s confused?

    My opinion mirrors that famously given to Elizabeth David by Norman Douglas: “Always do exactly what you please and send everybody else to hell”.

    i.e. eat whatever you like and ignore the lot of them; whatever they decide this week, they’ll decide the opposite next week.

    Life is too short so waste time paying attention to sanctimonious prodnoses.

  40. Andrew, I can’t speak for the rest here, but I was intelligent enough to spot that your “so” was meant to be a “to”.

  41. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I Atkinsed it a while ago. Hardcore, too. Steamed veggies, big lumps of grilled chicken, steak and fish. No potatoes, bread or pasta. Stopped boozing. I went from 85kg to 65kg in four months. And it was so intensely, mind-numbingly, godawfully fucking boring that I stopped doing it.

    Anyone can diet for a few months. Sticking with it is the hard part.

  42. Stopped boozing.

    Probably the key to godawfully fucking boring.

    I’m lucky enough to have never needed to be a big boozer in order to enjoy the booze, so that aspect of “low carbs” hasn’t been a problem. Moving from beer to wine has improved digestive health somewhat, but complexion is still that of rotting old scrote.

  43. Bloke in Costa Rica

    No, because I don’t drink now, and my diet is interesting. It has protein, fat and carbs. I can live without beer, but not without linguine.

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