Misleading media reports on high fat, low carbohydrate diet for Australians

Fast Food QuestionsIf you read the recent news reports, or saw the story on Channel 7 News on high-fat diets, you may want to read the following response from the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).

Once again, this highlights the importance of seeking factual information that is backed up by scientific evidence, rather than simply believing ‘anecdotal evidence’, or information that does not hold up under scientific scrutiny.

The response from the DAA is as follows:

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) is disappointed with recent media reports, including a piece on Channel 7 News (23 May 2016) titled ‘Fatty foods don’t make you fat, but sugar is off the menu: Dieticians (sic)’. 

These alarmist reports contain many factual inaccuracies, with the information presented to Australians not in line with the latest evidence.

Sadly, such reports only confuse the Australian public about what to eat for good health. DAA, and the 5,900 members the Association represents, take very seriously our responsibility of promoting accurate, balanced and complete nutrition information to the public.

We are deeply concerned that yesterday’s media reports suggest ‘dietitians’ agree with the statements in the news reports, as this is not the case.

Check the qualifications of anyone providing nutrition advice

DAA recommends checking the nutrition qualifications of anyone providing dietary advice. As with any field, it’s important that advice is provided by those qualified to do so, working within their scope of practice.

Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) are nutrition scientists with a minimum of four years’ university study behind them. APDs assess individuals and provide tailored, expert nutrition advice and support, based on the latest evidence. They undertake ongoing training and development to ensure they are up-to-date, and like other health professionals, are bound by professional standards and accountable for the advice they provide.

Unfortunately, an APD was not interviewed for the Channel 7 News story, or other associated stories.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines: Evidence-based guidelines Australians can trust

It is without basis, and grossly misleading, to claim the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) are ‘making us sick’ (as was the suggestion in the Channel 7 News story).

The evidence-based ADG, which were developed by independent experts in nutrition, working with the National Health and Medical Research Council, provide a framework for healthy eating – and DAA supports these recommendations for the healthy population. An assessment of more than 55,000 studies informed the recent review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The ADGs are similar to evidence-based guidelines around the world, across a range of cultures and food systems – but our Guidelines are specific to issues and concerns within the Australian population.

Regarding fat and carbohydrates, the nutrition science tells us:

  • When it comes to carbohydrates, good-quality choices (such wholegrains and legumes) can be part of a healthy diet, and are in fact recommended to help meet daily fibre targets. When it comes to wholegrains, for example, there is strong evidence to link wholegrain intake with lower body mass index, smaller waist circumference, and reduced risk of being overweight.
  • A diet high in saturated fat is a risk factor for heart disease, one of our nation’s biggest killers. Saturated fats tend to increase LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol in the blood and current evidence suggests these should be eaten sparingly to minimize the risk of heart disease. Instead, foods that are rich in unsaturated fats (such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are recommended.

DAA agrees with the message to limit manufactured (or processed) foods – this is what the ADG also recommend, so this is nothing new. The ADG encourage Australians to choose whole foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruit, lean meats and eggs. And for foods within a package, DAA recommends Australian read the nutrition information panel to be able to make informed choices. An APD can work with people on these, and other strategies, to help them achieve a healthy eating plan, tailored to their individual needs.

autumn produceDAA points out that the ‘panel of global dietary experts’ mentioned in yesterday’s media reports consist of the UK-based National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration – whose views on saturated fat have been questioned by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England. See the response by Public Health England to the National Obesity Forum and Public Health Collaboration opinion paper.

DAA appeals to journalists reporting on diet-related issues in Australia to report responsibly, and to source and discuss facts with local experts.  


This article was prepared with a press release from the Dietitians Association of Australia, 24 May 2016.


Exercise…the right way!


Exercise Right Week 2016Our bodies are designed to move. Regular exercise and movement should be a natural part of our lifestyle. Unfortunately, more than half of all Australian adults are not active enough.

Exercise has many benefits for our health, including

  • Weight loss and/or healthy weight management: Regular exercise helps lose extra kilos, and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight
  • Increased muscle mass: This leads to a higher metabolism making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. It also improves your overall strength
  • Better appearance: Being fit, lean and healthy looks better than someone who doesn’t. And your clothes will also fit better!
  • Healthy immune system: A stronger immune system means you are less likely to get sick
  • Improved bone strength: This is really important to reduce your risk of osteoporosis
  • Decreased risk of chronic disease: You significantly reduce your risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes
  • Better energy levels: Regular exercise leads to increased energy levels, meaning you get more out of life
  • Reduced stress levels: Exercise leads to less stress
  • Improved sleep: Regular exercise promotes better quality sleep.


How much should you do?

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none.

If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

The current recommendations state that all Australian adults should be active on most, preferably all, days every week. Furthermore, we should aim to:

  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.


How do you start?

Everyone is unique and has their own goals and challenges. That’s why a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not work.

If you haven’t been active in a while or are currently living with health challenges or injuries, it is wise to speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who can design a program suited to your particular situation.

Accredited Exercise Physiologists are allied health professionals who work in many settings. They hold a four-year equivalent university degree and specialise in the exercise and movement for the prevention and management of chronic diseases and injuries.

They are able to help people with:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis
  • Mental health conditions
  • Cancer and cancer treatment recovery
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Post-surgical rehabilitation
  • Neuromuscular exercise therapy
  • Pulmonary disease, and more.

They can also help you identify the right professional to work with, where you should exercise (i.e. a gym, pool), and what time of the day will suit you best.


Exercise Right Week

From 23 to 29 May 2016, Australia celebrates Exercise Right Week. If you’re not exercising enough, why not take this opportunity to get off the couch and into exercise.

Visit Exercise Right (http://exerciseright.com.au/) to take the Exercise Right Quiz, and to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you.

There are so many benefits to regular exercise, so change your life and get moving today.

Further information

Exercise Right

Healthy and Active Australia Exercise Guidelines

Heart attack: Do you know the warning signs?

Heart attack warning signs

Every year in Australia around 55,000 Australians suffer a heart attack. That’s one heart attack every 10 minutes. Sadly, 9,000 of these result in death. That equates to one life every hour, or 24 Australians each day.

However, the earlier you seek treatment the less damage will be done to your heart. The key is to call for help as soon as you notice any warning signs, rather than wait for it to happen.

What is a heart attack?

Our heart is a muscle, requiring a good blood supply to keep it healthy. Blood is supplied to the heart through arteries. Healthy arteries have smooth inner walls that allow the blood to flow freely. Over time, our arteries can become damaged and blocked by fatty materials, called plaque.

When plaque breaks off these walls, blood cells and other parts of blood stick to the damaged area and form blood clots. When an artery completely bocks off the flow of blood or seriously reduces blood flow, a heart attack occurs.

As a result, part of the heart muscle begins to die. The longer the blockage is left untreated, the more muscle dies. If blood flow is not restored quickly, damage to the heart is permanent and the patient dies.

What are the warning signs of heart attack

Most people believe chest pain and discomfort are the only warning signs of a heart attack. While they are common symptoms, not everyone will experience chest pain at all. Some people will experience only mild chest pain or discomfort, and others may experience one symptom or a combination of symptoms. Because symptoms vary for everyone, it pays to know what to look for.

It is common to experience pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in your:

  • Jaw — You may notice discomfort in and around the lower jaw on either one or both sides, or it can spread from your chest to your jaw.
  • Neck — You may feel general discomfort in your neck, or a choking or burning feeling in your throat. The pain may spread from your chest or shoulders to your neck.
  • Shoulders — You may experience a general ache, heaviness or pressure which spreads from chest to shoulder(s).
  • Chest — You may feel heaviness, tightness, pressure or a crushing sensation in the centre of your chest. It may be mild or sever and it could make you feel generally unwell.
  • Note: Sharp and stabbing chest pain is generally less associated with having a heart attack.
  • Back — You may feel a dull ache in between your shoulder blades, which can spread from your chest to your back.
  • Arms — You may experience discomfort, pain, heaviness, numbness, tingling or uselessness in one or both arms. This feeling may spread from your chest to your arm(s).

Heart attack warning signsWhile you are experiencing symptoms, you may also:

  • feel nauseous or generally unwell
  • become dizzy or light-headed
  • break out in a cold sweat
  • feel short of breath or have difficulty breathing

Women are more likely to experience non-chest pain symptoms of a heart attack than men, so it’s important you know the signs.

What should you do if you notice warning signs?

If you experience any of the warning signs above, call triple zero (000) immediately. Don’t hang up but ask the operator for an ambulance. Many people die from heart attack as they wait too long to seek treatment.

Treatment begins the moment you make the call. The operator may provide you with advice that might just save your life. And paramedics are trained to treat you as soon as they arrive.

And if it turns out to be a false alarm, then be thankful. Don’t put off calling in case it is a false alarm and you’ll feel embarrassed.

What can you do to reduce your risk of heart attack?

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to reduce your risk of having a heart attack. This includes:

  • quitting smoking if you are a smoker
  • managing your blood pressure and blood cholesterol
  • managing diabetes if you have it
  • engaging in regular, moderate exercise on most days of the week
  • achieving and maintain a healthy weight
  • following a healthy diet, taking care to eat from a wide range of food groups
  • reducing stress in your life and seek treatment for depression.

Remember, you only have one heart so make sure you take care of it. The best way to do that, is to live a healthy lifestyle.

If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease or heart attack, be sure to speak to your doctor.

Further information

Heart Foundation

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