The weight loss advice we've been following for the past 30 years could be making us heavier, according to two health organisations. Last night,the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and the Public Health Collaboration caused controversy claiming that a focus on low-fat diets is having 'disastrous health consequences'.
But the call to eat more fat isn't a green light to gorge yourself on pizza and cream cakes. A return to whole foods like meat, fish and dairy is needed, say the organisations, while processed foods labelled 'low fat', 'lite' or 'low cholesterol' should be avoided. They also say a culture of snacking is leading to weight gain. Could this be a return to the old-fashioned approach of three balanced meals a day?
Prof David Haslam, chairman of the NOF, 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.'
The report calls for us to stop calorie counting as energy from different foods has different effects on the body. And they say extra exercise will not let you outrun a bad diet.
The advice goes against the Eatwell Guide from Public Health England (PHE), which encourages a balanced diet and says we should choose lower fat and lower sugar options when eating dairy.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a consultant cardiologist and member of the Public Health Collaboration criticised the Eatwell guide, saying it was 'more like a metabolic time bomb than a dietary pattern conducive for good health'.
'Eat fat to get slim,' he said. 'Don't fear fat. Fat is your friend. It's now truly time to bring back the fat.'
But their advice has been criticised by health experts. Chief nutritionist at PHE Dr Alison Tedstone said, 'In the face of all of 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.'