Fad diets are making Brits fat, claims gastro expert

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Obesity, Nutrition

Fad diets are contributing to Britain’s obesity crisis, the president of the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) said at the Gastro 2009 conference in London this week.

There has been ongoing debate about which diets have the greatest impact on weight loss, and for the food industry this has had an impact on products, particularly in the aftermath of the low-carb Atkins diet phenomenon. Many diets have emphasised the importance of various proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate.

But BSG president Professor Chris Hawkey told an audience of digestive specialists that if Britons continue to follow unhealthy diets and favour certain foods over others, nine in ten are likely to be overweight or obese by 2050. Currently that proportion stands at six in ten, according to the Department of Health, although a new BSG/YouGov poll found that only 49 per cent of British people consider themselves to be overweight.

“Food has been shrouded in myths and fairytales since time immemorial as people argue over what is good for you, what should be avoided or eaten to your heart’s content,” ​Hawkey said. “But what’s important is to recognise that despite the popularity of fad diets, we are losing a grip on the fight with obesity…We need to do away with quirky diets and get people to realise what will keep them healthy in the long run.”

Hawkey also highlighted BSG/YouGov findings about attitudes toward food and various diets. In particular, he said that one in 20 women would try the Atkins diet if trying to lose weight, although only two per cent of British people think it is healthy; 21 per cent of Londoners would try weight loss pills in order to lose weight; and nine per cent of Brits think that a diet high in fish is bad for their health.

Hawkey said: “The problem facing society is not the content of our diet but it’s the quantity we are consuming and the consequential impact of obesity.”

He also suggested some fad diets that he thinks are worth avoiding, including rawism, which involves only eating uncooked food; the Hallelujah diet, which only allows consumption of fruits and seeds on the basis of Genesis 1.29; the Hollywood Grapefruit diet, which claims that grapefruit contains an enzyme that burns fat; and the low-carb Atkins diet.

Related topics: Science

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