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Just recently I was pointed in the direction of the Mayo Clinic in the US which actively posts advice on its website about diet and nutrition. Recently it published a summary of a piece of research that apperently suggested that low carb diets were bad for diabetics.  This is a common held view but actually the published research does not reflect this assumption and indeed most significant studies which are low carb ( and now low gi) and high protien actually show a massive improvement in the health and well being of diabetics. 

So why is it that in the world of nutrition it is possible to give out advice which people will rely on without proper due regard for the obligations to present a proper and full picture?  Why is it that every day we read articles in the daily papers advising us on what to stop cancer or get thin which are not based on clincial randomized science or even a proper understanding of basic bio chemisty? Why is it that the same standards that apply to doctors, lawyers and accoutants don’t apply to diet experts?

The basic rule should apply to all so called professionals who influence people and the basic rule is very  simple.  If you know that someone is likely to rely on your advice ( e.g. you have some professional or authoritive capacity ) then you must be responsible for the subsequent results of that reliance. 

Now if that rule were applied to every diet expert that wrote a book or published an article we may find that the messages handed out on a daily basis would be slightly different.  In particular it would be possible for diabetics to sue for the loss of a limb or the loss of their eyesight if they could show that they had been encouraged by an expert to eat a high carbohydate diet and thereby increase thier need for insulin without having been advised at the same time that they could also choose a low carb diet and reduce their need for insulin .  Such a legal action would be particualarly interesting when it was brought to the courts attention that for years there have been randomised clincial trials published in peer reviewed journals consistently showing that a low carb diet will:-

  • reduce your waistline faster than any other low calorie or low fat diet
  • improve your cholesterol profile better than any other low calorie or low fat diet
  • reduce your need for insulin
  • improve your general health profile

Not only that it would be interesting for the court to note that the funding for much of the diabetic charities in the UK actually comes from the drug and starch companies who really dont want low carb diets to take off.

He Ho…I just think of the tobacco wars and remind myself that actually it was the lawyers who helped us change the law on tobacco and actually got the message out there much to the upset of the tobacco companies.

3 February 2009

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