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Swedish health advisory body says too much carbohydrate, not fat, leads to obesity

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 15 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6873

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  1. Anders Hansen
  1. 1Stockholm

An influential Swedish health organisation has recommended a diet that is low in carbohydrates but not low in fat for people who are overweight or obese or have diabetes.

The advice from the Swedish Council on Health and Technology Assessment is the result of a two year review of 16 000 scientific studies of diet.1 The recommendation contradicts the generally held belief that people should avoid foods that are rich in fat, especially those high in saturated fat.

The council, which advises the Swedish healthcare system, concluded that the scientific evidence did not support a low fat diet. Instead people should focus on reducing their intake of carbohydrates.

Fredrik Nyström, from the University of Linköping, who helped develop the guidance, recently told the local Swedish newspaper Corren that many of his colleagues had been sceptical about recommending a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. However, they changed their minds when they reviewed the scientific literature.

“It feels great to have this scientific report and that the scepticism towards low carb diets among my colleagues has disappeared during the course of the work. When all recent scientific studies are lined up, the result is indisputable: our deep seated fear of fat is completely unfounded. You don’t get fat from fatty foods,” Nyström said.

The guideline advises that meat and fish rich in fat, along with nuts and olive oils, should form a large part of a healthy diet, while the consumption of pasta, potatoes, and white bread should be reduced.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6873


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