Let's just face it: No one knows what the fuck to eat nowadays. In an era when your most health-conscious friend may just as likely be paleo as vegan, the truth is we're all just eating on a whim and a prayer. Even our governments are flip-flopping on dietary recommendations, one decade telling us to cut fat and eat carbs, the next decade saying, oops, carbs and sugar are the devil himself.
Similarly, when a recent report suggested that eating more fat could actually help people cut their risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, the chief nutritionist of Public Health England called the advice "irresponsible and potentially deadly."
Talk about fighting words.
The National Obesity Forum, which published the report, does not appear to be backing down. They say that the low-fat food craze of the 80s and thereafter has had "disastrous health consequences" on the nation and should be nixed. Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a senior adviser to the organization, said: "The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history."
Here's his advice, and the advice of the new report: "Eat fat to get slim, don't fear fat, fat is your friend."
This low-fat versus pro-fat battle is becoming the British equivalent of dueling banjos. Dr. Alison Tedstone, of Public Health England (the anti-fat coalition, in case you're losing track) responded by saying the following: "In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs, and ignore calories is irresponsible." She says she can cite "thousands of scientific studies" that say low-fat is the way to go, whereas the National Obesity Forum only cited 43 in their new report.
The Royal Society for Public Health jumped on the anti-fat bandwagon and said the new report was a "muddled manifesto of sweeping statements, generalizations and speculation."
So what does the report recommend? Simply to avoid processed foods labeled "low-fat," "lite," "low-cholesterol" or "proven to lower cholesterol." Avoid sugar and refined carbs. Forget about calorie-counting. Exercise won't override your lousy diet. And good fats are good for you.
Who will be victorious in the fat-versus-low-fat battles? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we'll all just have to continue eating whatever the hell suits our whim at the moment.