February 2010

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Last week the NHS published an interesting report providing us with up to date information on obesity in the UK. It did not attract much press attention because it repeats the same sad old story which is that the fat are getting fatter and diabetes and other associated illnesses are on the rise. What was slightly new was that there was a 100% growth in bariatric surgery which reflects the desperation for those who are overweight or obese.
These studies are great but only if someone actually reads them and then decides to take remedial action otherwise why bother spending all that money collecting all that data if you are just going to carry on doing what you are doing regardless. Amazing really.
In the same week we were also told that due to obese people had increased our incapacity benefit bill by £80million. God knows what the bill would be if you then added on all the costs to the NHS dealing with the side effects of obesity. With the average bariatric operation costing £7,000 the figure of £80million would equal 11 million operations.
This is quite an eye opener. Now if you then said that we could get the same results as bariatric surgery for just £1000 that would increase the number of people, who could solve their obesity problem, significantly. How mad is all this? £80million spent unnecessarily on a problem that can be solved by a simple diet change or the surgeon’s knife.

18 February 2010

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Last week I wrote about the publication of a study which suggests that there is no link between the intake of saturated fats and CVD and this was referred to today in an food industry newsletter. In particular they referred to the actual conclusion of that study:
“Our meta-analysis showed that there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD”

The journalist for this particular industry publication then went on to ask for a comment from the FSA ( Food Standards Agency) as this particular government office has only just recently announced that it wants to reduce our intake of saturated fats even further.

“The Agency recognises that there is evidence to support an indirect link between saturated fat intake and increased LDL cholesterol, which may lead to increased risk of CHD. This is in line with World Health Organization and other eminent health bodies,”

So let’s just make this clear. You can’t eat saturated fats because of an indirect link that may lead to ……heart disease. This is the vaguest connection I have ever read from a so called serious scientific body. This is the same organisation that released a statement just three weeks ago telling us to stop eating saturated fats because it would definitely save lives…Hello. We have gone from a definite risk to a really vague connection. Well just so that we are all clear. The studies that they are relying on when they make this statement are so flawed it would make you weep.

Secondly the FSA appears to be hiding behind another organisation’s view – the WHO.

This would be all fine and dandy if it was correct but unfortunately for the FSA, the WHO has recently published a study which shows that there is NO LINK between the intake of saturated fats and heart disease. I suspect that the FSA have not been keeping up with publications by the WHO.

So when you feel all warm and cuddly relying on the advice of the FSA and believe that it is backed by the WHO and other eminent health bodies ….STOP. It isn’t. When you reach for the low fat spread believing that it is good for you remind yourself that humans were never designed to artificial fats. And as you tuck into the pasta the rice the bread and the potatoes remind yourself of the fact that this food is perfectly designed for a 17 hour day in the fields and not for the life of a modern man.

12 February 2010

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This week the Lancet officially recognised its role in the issue over MMR jab and the apparent link with various problems. They chose to officially withdraw the publication of the article which apparently showed the link.
Whilst I must applaud the Lancet for doing this, which is right a proper in light of the various ruling since the unfortunate event, it would be good to know that the editor and the peer review process takes a closer look at how it goes about approving any research for publication. Over the years since I have been looking more closely at various studies published in the Lancet and other medical publications it is disappointing to a significant number of studies published which “misrepresent” actual findings. For example there was an study published in the New England Journal of Medicine ( a most respected medical journal) which talked about low carb throughout the paper but only after a very very close read was it apparent that low carb meant about 125- 250 grams of carbs. This is not nor ever has been low carb. It is true that there is no legal definition of low carb but any expert in diet would know that there is a significant difference between reducing carbs to a level that the body goes into ketosis and simply a general reduction in carbs.
This problem of publication of research which has misleading conclusions is constantly happening and digging into past copies of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition a 2006 study was published which concluded that there is no benefit to altering the macro nutrients of diets and that everything is based on calorie intake.
If you were a lazy reader it would be easy to read the conclusion and rely on the standards of the publication and peer review process to provide the comfort you need that the conclusion is proper and thorough. Unfortunately if you did not trust the peer review process and actually read the study you would find that:-
1. They studied “adults adhering to A ketogenic low-carbohydrate (KLC) diet or A nonketogenic low-carbohydrate (NLC) diet.” but concluded Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets, ” that is , they studied one diet but drew conclusions about all.

2. If you want to demonstrate metabolic advantage you have to show that some people lost more weight, calorie for calorie, than others, that is, you have to show individual behaviour. The paper is all group statistics.

So the problem faced by the Lancet is probably an issue for numerous publications.

5 February 2010

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