If 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.
DAA 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.