It's only fair to share…

Let us start with the part we can all agree on – the average weight in most countries has increased over the last 40 years, albeit the number of those with serious weight issues is much less than the numbers quoted. This is because although the Body Mass Index (BMI) is a discredited measure it is the one public health clings to. In turn this is because it makes the case for “government funding” seem stronger.

What change was introduced around 40 years ago? Was it FM radio? Was it automatic teller machines?  No doubt some academic could do a paper and draw a statistical conclusion blaming either one of these.

The answer of course was the introduction (with no evidence whatsoever) of the low fat dietary guidelines.  Paediatrician Dr James Bailes writes on Real Clear Policy.

“Today, the guidelines advise six servings of grains per day — including three servings of refined grains — and up to 10% of calories as sugar. Natural fats found in milk, cheese, and other animal products are still actively discouraged…”.

These changes in eating habits have coincided with a rise in obesity and other chronic conditions. In 1980, just 5% of American kids were obese. Today, about 20% are.”

This has been replicated worldwide.  Adult figures are higher.

And what is the suggested solution to this government created problem? The American Academy of Paediatrics now recommends weight-loss drugs to children as young as 12 and offer bariatric surgery from age 13.

The same group warns of the “dangers” of a low carbohydrate diet. Presumably it is a danger to the hip pocket of some. Assessments of conflicts of interest in members of Medical treatment guidelines panels have shown that up to 83% of panellists making decisions have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

So what about those making decisions on dietary guidelines? Have a guess.  Hana Mensendiek writing on US Right To Know has the answer based on a report done by that group.

“Nine out of 20 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have conflicts of interest with food, pharmaceutical or weight loss companies or industry groups with a stake in the outcome of the guidelines … An additional four members had possible conflicts of interest. … Abbott, Novo Nordisk, National Dairy Council, Eli Lilly, and Weight Watchers (WW) International had ties to two or more DGAC members”. 

Last month I wrote about the medical industrial complex and how mission creep involves expanding disease definitions and reducing thresholds at which results can be declared “abnormal” and in need of a pharmaceutical agent to “treat” it.

It arguably gets worse when the same people seeking to offer “treatment” have played a significant role in creating the problem. Big public health academics claim that the public has not complied with its advice about low fat diets. Food sales tell the exact opposite story. Bailes notes.

“… Americans have complied with the government’s advice. We eat 28% more grains than we did in 1970, according to the government’s most recent food availability report, and 30% more carbohydrates as a portion of total energy since 2011”.

Oh dear!

Having created a problem by encouraging a diet which is (and there is unequivocal evidence for this) clearly unhealthy, the same people now offer drugs and surgery as the answer to an ever younger demographic. And by being on advisory panels you get paid from all sides that you make money for.

This could all make you despair. But there is absolutely hope. It comes from getting back to basics. Eat like your grandparents or great grandparents ate. Real food which until recently was growing or moving. Food that if not frozen needs to be thrown out in a couple of weeks or less. Drink water. Minimise highly process “franken food” with multiple additives. Ignore tick’s, stars and elephant stamps on foods. Get some regular physical activity.

Yes, when need be, seek advice from healthcare practitioners but also ask questions. But be aware that doctors are often obliged to tell you the official answer even if they do not agree with it.

Medical interventions can be literally lifesaving. They can also have significant downsides. We need to reach a point where medical interventions are used when needed and are not first line when there are other approaches.

Ultimately, we must take responsibility for our own actions – even where we have acted on bad advice. Only the individual has the capacity to change their own actions and their life.