News

13-11-2014

The ABC science affairs program Catalyst is due to screen an episode on 13 November that makes a strong claim that  losing weight and tackling the obesity epidemic will be achieved by replacing  daily carbohydrate intake with fat. Not ever-one is comfortable with the promotion of this dietary guideline, in particular the Heart Foundation and Dieticians Association of Australia.

The program follows a recent public debate between celebrity chef Pete Evans, the Paleo diet advocate and the Dieticians Association of Australia. The Heart Foundation concedes that the Paleo diet may achieve weight loss, however may increase serum cholesterol levels and blood pressure, both of which have been well established as significant risk factors in heart disease. The Paleo diet advocates foods low in carbohydrates, but high in protein and fat, with a significant reduction to daily intake of grains. The diet is very fashionable, but for those with heart disease risk factors particularly the long term aspects to this type of eating plan are unknown.

There is much confusion in the area of which type of " diet" is most helpful for weight loss and health as all the fashionable eating plans come with " evidence" that they work within the limited sample and time span with which they are tested. All come with front page publicity.

The September issue of JAMA published a meta-analysis of all the major ?name" diets head-to-head and demonstrated they all work, with little between them. The researchers concluded the best diet for any one individual is the one that a person can stick to. Recent findings on " fat memory" and the gut microbiome demonstrate why this is so and why any diet that works has to be one that can be adhered to for a lifetime.

Dietary guidelines attempt to address a person's total intake , whereas the popular diets pick a theme. No research supports a return to large quantities of saturated fat such as larger steaks, fatty bacon, butter, cream or adding coconut oil ( 91% saturated fat). Many studies continue to show the hazards of a diet high in saturated fat. Australia's latest dietary guidelines continue to recommend reducing foods high in saturated fats, reducing sugar-sweetened drinks , confectionary and added sugar healthier fats are found in foods such as nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and other liquid oils and avocado. Most importantly advice continues to advocate increasing consumption of vegetables and legumes, fruits and whole grains. These recommendations are well supported by published research over long time periods and follow-up regarding health outcomes, particularly relating to heart disease.

 

Those using the low carbohydrate/high fat-protein style of eating for weight loss could arrange to closely monitor changes to the measurable heart disease risk factors such as BP/serum cholesterol - HDL and LDL levels whilst following the eating style.

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