Low-fat diets

A leading obesity charity recently warned that thirty years of official health advice urging people to adopt low-fat diets and to lower their cholesterol is having disastrous consequences.

Eating fat does not make you fat, argues a new report by the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and the Public Health Collaboration as reported in the Telegraph Newspaper 23rd May 2016.

The report says the low-fat and low-cholesterol message, which has been official policy in the UK since 1983, was based on flawed science and had resulted in an increased consumption of junk food and carbohydrates.

The authors call for a return to whole foods such as meat, fish and dairy, as well as high-fat healthy foods like avocados. The report, also argues that saturated fat does not cause heart disease while full fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, can actually protect the heart.

Professor David Haslam, NOF chairman, 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.

Processed foods labelled “low-fat”, “low cholesterol” should be avoided at all costs and people with Type 2 diabetes should eat a fat-rich diet rather than one based on carbohydrates, the report urges.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, consultant cardiologist and member of the Public Health Collaboration, a group of medics said dietary guidelines promoting low-fat foods “is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history, resulting in devastating consequences for public health.”

“Eat fat to get slim,” he concludes. “Don’t fear fat; fat is your friend.”

Snacking between meals is one of the main causes of the current obesity crisis, the report argues, while added sugar should be avoided it has “no nutritional value whatsoever.”

Calorie counting is also a damaging red herring when it comes to controlling obesity, said the NOF report, as calories from different foods have “entirely different metabolic effects on the human body, rendering that definition useless.”

Similarly, “you cannot outrun a bad diet” the authors state, citing the “incorrect” assumption among the public that the solution to obesity is to burn more calories than are consumed. “Obesity is a hormonal disorder leading to abnormal energy partitioning which cannot be solely fixed by increasing exercise,” the report says.

Responding to the NOF document, Professor Iain Broom, from Robert Gordon University, said: “The continuation of a food policy recommending high carbohydrate, low fat, low calorie intakes as healthy eating is fatally flawed. Our populations for almost 40 years have been subjected to an uncontrolled global experiment that has gone drastically wrong.”

However, scientists from a range of fields have criticised the report and questioned its evidential basis.


I believe it’s important we think about what we eat in a balanced and controlled way so that we benefit from different food and their nutrients.

Although we were led to believe that low fat diets were good for us and would help us lose weight, they also contain more sugar to replace the fat and low fat diets incorporate low quality calories in processed carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice. That’s something else you might want to think about.

This new report also draws us away from the things we’ve been told about over a number of years, but I personally would draw caution to eating too many saturated fats. Saturated fats are associated with the build up of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, which can cause heart disease.

Finally, although the report concludes that milk, yoghurt and cheese might protect the heart, it has also been well documented that too much milk consumption can deplete bone density. Where the report concludes its findings in these circumstances, I would go with balance.

15 Aug, 2018

2 thoughts on “Low-fat diets

  1. I tend to agree with you. Research like this comes and goes and we ought to be cautious about reading too much into it.

    The consistent advice has been that we have a varied diet with a balance of proteins, carbs and fruit and vegetables while minimising processed foods and sugars and having an active lifestyle.

    Easy to write, not always so easy to implement.

    1. Thanks, yes not so easy to implement. But I think we all owe it to ourselves to take a common sense approach to what we eat.

      Everything we eat should be eaten in moderation and incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.

      In the meantime I will continue to bring these issues to our attention if I think they are of benefit and will always bring my thoughts into it.

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