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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Avoiding the Big Six To Cure Or Prevent A Weight Problem?

At a recent eating disorders conference on emotional eating, Prof Haslam who is chairman of the National Obesity Forum has stated as follows:

“My advice for avoiding obesity? Stay away from the Big Six: pasta, rice, bread, sugar, potatoes and flour.”

One of the delegates is quoted as saying "Surely humans have been eating bread, potatoes and grains for many centuries – is it really the fault of the humble carb? What he explains is illuminating: that refined carbohydrates and sugars are present in ever-higher quantities in our diets, but they’re hidden. Crisps or pizza or fizzy drinks, for example, are classified as high-fat or high-sugar items, when in fact they’re loaded with carbohydrates. "

Is that so?  There are millions of people who remain reasonably slim who try one way or another to negotiate a clearly obesogenic society. We all live in central heating and this has been implicated in obesity. We sit down a lot and that is implicated (whether or not we try to compensate by going for a morning run). We are upsizing and downsizing and that is implicated too. Don't get me started on the causes of obesity, I could write a book.

So is the problem the hidden sugars in food? Yes, but only if you eat the foods with "hidden sugars" to excess - not by eating the humble carb.  Is there danger in such categorical opinions. (Has he been hi-jacked by the Dukan brigade?)

I weigh about 7 1/2 stones and my diet is largely based around the humble carb. I daily eat bread, slightly undercooked pasta with vegetables (another carb). I eat rice, couscous, barley, honey on my porridge, potatoes with and without skins and a bit of flour here and there for fun. I am highly trained in how the body works and I know that you need a good supply of carbs from many dietary sources. I have many people who recover from obesity while continuing to eat the humble carb.  Prof Haslam you are a doctor too, so where is this nonsense coming from. Recant!

Its really easy with a little knowledge and wisdom to avoid "hidden sugars" and high fructose corn syrups while continuing to embrace the lowly carb. in all its wondrous glory, with the fibre that helps us to maintain a healthy digestion and with the resistant starches that support the flora in our gut.  That reduces obesity too by the way.

I am uneasy about statements such as the one above which fosters fears about food, all or nothing thinking, good and bad food mentality etc which fosters obesity and leads to disordered eating. A professional needs to be careful about opinions? Without qualification?

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