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Is it time to change our attitude to fat?

School Of Nutrition Posted May 27, 2016 Future Fit Training

With two totally different pieces advice regarding healthy eating, how do we know which is right and what to follow?

Is it time to change our attitude to fat?

A few months ago Public Health England published an updated version of the Eatwell plate. There were some notable changes such as the removal of foods high in sugar from the plate, however the core message remains the same as it  has been for the past 20 years: we should base our meals around starchy carbohydrates and limit our fat intake.

This week a report was published which called into the question the accuracy of this advice. In fact it recommended that we do the exact opposite: limit our carbohydrate intake and increase our fat intake. The report was published by a charity called Public Health Collaboration  whose members include a dietitian, a cardiologist and a number of GPs.  The report claims that the focus on low-fat diets is failing to address Britain’s obesity crisis and calls for a return to unprocessed whole foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and nuts. The report also argues that saturated fat does not cause heart disease and that carbohydrate restriction rather than calorie counting is the optimal way to lose weight.

Public Health England have responded by calling the advice within the report dangerous while The Royal Society for Public Health described the report as a "muddled manifesto of sweeping statements, generalisations and speculation".

So how can the experts be so divided about such an important issue?

The truth is both sides have good evidence to support their position. Unfortunately when it comes to the relationship between what we eat and our health it is difficult to know anything for certain. Our diets are a complex mix of foods and nutrients and identifying the role any one element plays in the development of a long term health condition is incredibly challenging. It is very common to find nutrition studies that seem to completely contradict each other. Each scientific study that is published provides us with a piece of the jigsaw but we don’t know the full picture. I have been a nutritionist for the past 10 years and I don’t claim to know anything for certain about nutrition.

What I do know is that experts in health and nutrition are increasingly polarised on this issue, which is saddening. It is good that we are having this debate and I hope we can continue the debate without losing sight of the fact that we are  all on the same side - we all want a healthier and less overweight population. We just don’t agree on how best to achieve it.

You can read the full report by clicking here.

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