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National Obesity Week 2015: ditching out-of-date scientific dogma

British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) | British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT)

2 min read Partner content

In light of National Obesity Week, Miguel Toribio-Mateas Chairman of the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy calls for radical change in how government tackles the obesity problem.

One-size-fits-all dietary models have had their day. And about time too! As part of National Obesity Week, a BBC 3-day Horizon special "What's The Right Diet For You?" was aired last night. Those of us working in nutritional therapy have known for many years that individuals respond differently to diet. The public health ‘one size fits all’ approach has served us poorly but has unfortunately been the ‘evidence-based’ blunt policy instrument chosen to address the obesity crisis and diet-related disease. No wonder obesity is getting worse when the standard advice for the last 20 years is that obese people should base their diets around bread, potatoes and pasta and simply count calories!

BANT’s evidence to the 2008 House of Lords Science Technology committee inquiry into Genomic Medicine set out how the extent of inter-ancestral and inter-individual variation in physiological demand for - and response to - nutrients fundamentally challenges the foundations on which population guidelines have been based. Public health messages may be disadvantageous for some individuals or even whole sub-populations. In 2011 BANT’s evidence to the Behaviour Change inquiry surveyed the complex drivers for obesity (including epigenetic programming, circadian rhythms, satiety genes). In 2015 the one size fits all Eatwell Plate can no longer be regarded as a credible dietary tool.

Einstein said "we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Let’s hope that this week’s Horizon special heralds a radical change in how government tackles the obesity problem and ditches out-of-date scientific dogma.


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