National Obesity Forum fat report rejected by board members

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

The National Obesity Forum report on fats and carbohydrates has been attacked by its own board members
The National Obesity Forum report on fats and carbohydrates has been attacked by its own board members

Related tags: Nutrition

Health lobby group the National Obesity Forum (NOF) has come under swingeing attacks from some of its own medical advisers in press reports over the past weekend, following controversial advice it rushed out last week advising people to eat more fatty foods, reduce carbohydrate intake and stop counting calories.

According a report in The Observer​, which claimed to have seen internal NOF emails from members of the group’s board, some medical advisers are said to be very angry about not being properly consulted before the new report was publicly issued.

These experts on food and obesity claimed not to have approved the findings of the new report, titled Eat fat, cut the carbs and avoid snacking to reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes​, which they feared would confuse the public even more about what they should eat to remain healthy and avoid becoming obese.

The report was issued by the NOF chairman Professor David Haslam, who co-wrote it with Dr Aseem Malhotra, a heart doctor who is the NOF’s cardiological adviser, and US anti-sugar campaigner Robert Lustig.

Health body outrage

Public health bodies in England and Scotland were outraged when the NOF report was first issued, claiming it lacked any nutritional scientific basis and consisted primarily of “opinion”.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist with Public Health England, described the NOF’s advice for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories as “irresponsible”​.

Tedstone 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 ​[from the NOF], 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.

“International health organisations agree that too much saturated fat raises cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and obesity is caused by consistently consuming too many calories.”

Too much sat fat

She warned that people who ate too much saturated fat could raise their cholesterol and so increase their risk of a heart attack or obesity. The British Dietetic Association, which represents dieticians, similarly said the advice to people to eat more saturated fat could be “extremely dangerous”.

The British Nutrition Foundation, the charity offering independent nutritional advice based on sound scientific evidence and Food Standards Scotland, which provides public advice on nutrition and health north of the border, were also scathing about the NOF report and the potential damage it could cause to public health.

Several of the NOF’s board members who were highly critical of the report were, according to The Observer​ article, threatening to resign from the group unless a formal retraction was made this week.

However, in The Observer​ article Haslam denied that NOF board members had not been aware of the report’s findings before publication. He claimed that the report had been welcomed by many healthcare professionals and clinicians.

Neither Haslam nor Malhotra were available for comment as went to press.

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