'Low Fat' diets are making us all fatter, a new report claims 6 years ago

'Low Fat' diets are making us all fatter, a new report claims

'Fat' has been a dirty word in dieting terms for the past 30 years.

Government advice, dieticians and nutritional orthodoxy have long told us a 'low fat' diet is the way to good health, lower cholesterol and weight loss.


It has sparked a huge swathe of low-fat products hitting the shelves aimed at dieters (that were actually packed with sugar).

But now a leading obesity charity has called bullshit on the whole thing - claiming it's actually exacerbating the epidemic in obesity and diseases like diabetes.

The report by the National Obesity Forum says the long-standing official advice to eat a 'low fat' diet is having 'disastrous health consequences' for everyone.

Rather than making us healthier, it says the 'low fat' message has led people towards overeating junk food and carbohydrates.


"Eating fat does not make you fat," is the headline message. “Eating a diet rich in full-fat dairy – such as cheese, milk and yoghurt – can actually lower the chance of obesity.

Selection of healthy fat sources, copy space

“The most natural and nutritious foods available – meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, olive, avocados – all contain saturated fat.

"The continued demonisation of omnipresent natural fat drives people away from highly nourishing, wholesome and health-promoting foods.”


The authors of the report say we should all be making a return to "whole foods" such as meat, fish and full-fat dairy as well as foods high in healthy fats like avocados.

Unsurprisingly it says that people should be swerving away from sugar, as it has "no nutritional value whatsoever", in favour of a diet that is low in refined carbohydrates and high in healthy fats.

It claims this is “an effective and safe approach for preventing weight gain and aiding weight loss” and can cut the risk of heart disease and obesity.

The report said people should stop counting calories and claimed the notion that you could out-train a bad diet with exercise was a myth.


Dr Aseem Malhotra, consultant cardiologist, and founder of medics group Public Health Collaboration which co-authored the report said dietary guidelines on low-fat eating were "perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history."

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He continued: “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.

"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. It’s now truly time to bring back the fat.”


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, where deeply flawed.

“Current efforts have failed, the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been, and show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of government and scientists.”

Stack of assorted donuts on a white plate on pastel blue and pink background Stack of assorted donuts on a white plate on pastel blue and pink background

But this report has been attacked from all sides including leading doctors and clinicians, Public Health England and the British Heart Foundation.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), told the Guardian: “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.

He added: “This country’s obesity epidemic is not caused by poor dietary guidelines; it is that we are not meeting them.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible.

"Unlike this opinion piece, our independent experts review all the available evidence – often thousands of scientific papers – run full-scale consultations and go to great lengths to ensure no bias.”

Check out this feature on how to switch to a high fat diet and where to get your healthy fats from.

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