Fad diets accused of making the obesity epidemic worse

I caught this on radio media and in the national press on Monday 23/11/09.

Professor Chris Hawkey, of the British Society of Gastroenterology was speaking at the “Gastro 2009” conference in London. He claimed that promotion of unhealthy foods and diets has fostered over-eating and an obsession with eating only ‘good’ foods. He was set to tell the conference “the problem facing society is not the content of our diet but the quantity we are consuming.”

Please can the Professor explain this then? I have analysed the UK National Food survey for every year between 1974 and the year 2000 (the survey became the responsibility of the Food Standards Agency in 2000 and we have not had a survey since. You may understand why when you see what the survey tells us…) In 1975 we were consuming 2290 calories per person per day in the UK. In 1999 we were eating 1690 calories per person per day. Analysing the change in calories year on year, I calculated that if the 3500 calorie formula were correct (which it isn’t) we should have LOST an average 62.6lbs per person over this period of time (that’s over half of me)! Instead the average Brit gained approximately 20lbs.

What did change, however, was the content of what we ate. Down went meat, eggs, butter, milk, real potatoes, real vegetables. Up went confectionery, processed meats, processed potatoes, ice cream, flour, cereals, soft drinks, processed vegetables.

So Prof – are you sure it’s the quantity and not the content of our diet that is the problem?!

Fad diets are not the cause of the obesity epidemic. The Eatwell Plate and the basic advice given by dieticians and public health advisors are the cause of the obesity epidemic. They have told us to avoid meat/eggs/butter/milk (fats) and to base our meals on starchy foods (flour, cereals, cereal products, processed vegetables and potatoes etc). We have followed their advice (the survey confirms this) and we have paid a very high price – a six fold increase in obesity.

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