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Dietary guidelines and health—is nutrition science up to the task?

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 16 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k822

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Re: Dietary guidelines and health—is nutrition science up to the task? NO IT ISN'T

I am 60 years old, a teenager when dietary guidelines exhorted us all to switch to polyunsaturated fats, and carbohydrates in preference to meats. My family followed the news enthusiastically. Low fat products, cereals, feeling guilty at ordering a steak, which I hardly ever did. For the record I didn't eat sugar either - I did wholeheartedly embrace low fat though.

I distinctly recall conversations with my later, naturally slim husband, when he was tucking into his steak and I was eating my " boil in a bag" calorie counted, low fat, low sat fat , low salt option. He was so "Lucky" to be able to eat in such an unhealthy fashion.

Forty years on a perpetual roller coaster of hunger pangs, weight gain and ill health followed in 2016 by diabetes . I now find out that the " science" upon which this was all based was actually just a well -intentioned guess. One that went spectacularly wrong.

I found out a few more things too:

· That in 1915 we treated diabetics with a low carbohydrate diet - now totally counter to current carbohydrate heavy guidelines

· That in 1912 we knew how to fatten hogs -use cereals & skimmed milk - Official guidelines for all today.

· That in 1951 the advice to lose weight was to reduce carbohydrates.

· That food questionnaires upon which most of this epidemiological data has been generated are probably fundamentally flawed -

o Grapes & raspberries in the same box - why? because they are small ? they have totally different effects on the human body .

o Meat products "reconstituted animal by products wrapped in refined flours cooked in seed oils " confused with and now used to warn anyone from anyone eating traditional air dried meat products.

· That the questioners betray both their nutritional ignorance & their cultural bias, much of the meat consumed not even in the experience of the average American epidemiologist. (think cow's stomach - on the menu everywhere in Japan)

· That many of the studies of whatever origin come complete with a massive bias from the funder and that the "plant based" lobby largely represents the processed food industry.

· That this new standard diet is so appalling that just about anything will be an improvement - paving the way for an explosion in pharmaceutical interventions many simply attempting to deal with the consequences of poor diet.

I, like so many others, stopped going to my doctor, instead I turned to those with practical experience and sorted out my health myself .


I got rid of processed food, refined carbs. & polyunsaturated fats .

I got rid of anything with a " healthy" label - Low fat, low sat. fat, low salt = AVOID

If it's low sugar - turn over, find out just how many refined carbs are hidden in it - then AVOID

So in essence I moved back to eating traditional foods popular before epidemiologists "helped" to confuse us all as they continue to do.

The decision to vilify saturated fat and with it the food of our forefathers, paved the way to the current global catastrophe. Epidemiologists bear some responsibility for this catastrophe and continue to do so.

It is time that those responsible stood up and admitted to the world that they got it wrong, before we see an even greater fall in fertility and increase in suffering.

I , and thousands of others , are angry every time we see you justifying your existence blinded to the damage you have all done to us with your speculative pronouncements decrying the food we have eaten for generations.

I , watch with horror, as I see new generations being led down the same path - eat a carbohydrate heavy diet , experience massive hunger pangs but it's your fault if you can't resist the refined foods on display everywhere. Food aid of skimmed milk and cereals given to the poor. Cafe's where it's not even possible to put full fat milk in one's tea.

Doctors developing skills to remove parts of stomachs of those who succumbed to this evil brew of low fat, carbohydrate heavy processed foods.

I am only an N=1, my voice does not count. I IGNORE official guidelines and tell anyone I can think of that they need to do so too. The food pyramid derived from epidemiology is actively harming the population. and more importantly for me - ME.

Instead I eat - the same stuff my husband was eating to keep slim all those years ago - good quality proteins, meat of all types, offals, fish, vegetables. dairy, eggs. I avoid polyunsaturated fats and anything it gets put in, like the plague. Vegetables are side dishes, fruits - a sweet treat - nature's candy.

My reward ? weight loss, stable blood sugars, renewed energy, reversal of diabetes ( Hba1c 5.3% from 10.3%) improved cholesterol and all other health markers into a healthy range, no more hunger pangs, food cravings, need to snack . Such a simple fix - understand the power of real unprocessed foods - stuff that does not need a label at all.

When Harvard puts out a study suggesting that eating 63 portions of vegetables per day is a healthy option for humans, and governments stay silent, when instead they should withdraw funding, then you just know - we as human beings are on our own.

I am only N=1, but trust me, we number thousands and we will not put up with the current situation for much longer. It is time to be honest and let the world know that research got it wrong and that nutrition science as it currently stands is a total fail.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 May 2018
Amanda J Atkins
Chartered Accountant