The BDA’s response to recent National Obesity Forum claims23 May 2016
The British Dietetic Association does not support recommendations made by the National Obesity Forum in regards to reversing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA), founded in 1936, is the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 8,500 members.
The National Obesity Forum (NOF) today made claims that increasing fat consumption, cutting out carbohydrates and avoiding snacking can reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. The claims specifically refer to the increased consumption of saturated fat.
In 2015, the BDA produced a policy statement Dietary fat consumption in the management of type 2 diabetes. The statement identified that more research is needed before suggesting any major changes to the current healthy eating guidance. Thus, despite some prevailing confusion, in the absence of evidence for either the superiority or the long-term effects of adopting high saturated fat diets, they should not be recommended for people with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally the policy statement outlines that there is no evidence suggesting that an increase in saturated fatty acid intake is beneficial in reducing risk of cardio-vascular disease. Moreover, the policy statement identifies that there is benefit for type 2 diabetes patients in replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat. The idea that the NOF are encouraging increasing saturated fat consumption could be extremely dangerous to patients.
The BDA policy statement identifies that there is best evidence to support the Mediterranean style diet for those with type 2 diabetes.
According to Diabetes UK guidelines, everyone with diabetes should receive individual and ongoing dietary and nutrition advice from a dietitian. Additionally, nutrition advice should be individually tailored so blanket statements claiming that eating fat, cutting carbohydrates and avoiding snacking should not be recommended for every type 2 diabetes patient.
This advice is potentially dangerous with possible adverse side effects. Not only is there limited evidence around carbohydrate elimination for those with diabetes, but cutting out food groups could lead to nutrition problems including nutrient deficiencies and adversely affect their blood sugar control, particularly in individuals taking certain medications or insulin.
With so much nutrition advice out there, it is unhelpful for the National Obesity Forum (NOF) to make such unsubstantiated claims. Whilst the NOF paper claims to be evidence-based, the evidence used is limited and the paper is not peer reviewed. It is simply adding to the confusion of the public and could potentially be damaging to public health.
Notes to the Editor:
- Visit the BDA website at www.bda.uk.com
- Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. Uniquely, dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
- Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, non-government organisations and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government, local communities and individuals.