Britain’s leading anti-obesity campaign group is in turmoil after its controversial new dietary advice provoked serious infighting and threats by leading doctors to shun it over its “misleading” views.
Privately, the National Obesity Forum (NOF) is in disarray over recommendations last week that people should eat more fat, reduce carbohydrates and stop counting calories.
That would explain a tweet I saw last week about NOF's chief spokesman, Tam Fry...
— Chris Cashin (@CardiffNC) May 23, 2016
It is noticeable that there is still no mention of the report on the NOF website. It was actually published by the Public Health Collaboration, a recently formed group of low carbers who realised that you can get the media interested in any old rubbish so long as you've got the words 'public health' in your name (the 'collaboration' bit is probably intended to invoke the Cochrane Collaboration).
The link with the National Obesity Forum seems to be confined to three men, two of whom will be familiar to regular readers...
Internal NOF emails seen by the Observer reveal anger among board members that none of them was given the chance to approve the incendiary report before publication, except its chair, Dr David Haslam, who co-wrote it with Dr Aseem Malhotra, an outspoken heart doctor who is the NOF’s cardiological adviser, and others, including Robert Lustig, an American expert on sugar. Haslam, a GP, told them on 12 May that he would seek their advice before publishing but did not do so, it is claimed.
And get the popcorn ready because...
The group plans to issue a statement this week disowning the findings, which will leave Haslam facing serious questions.
And get some more popcorn ready for this...
The emails show that a number of renowned authorities on obesity and medical organisations plan to review their links with the NOF because it was “inexcusable to confuse the public with incorrect science”. Concerns are so great that it may be expelled from the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 30 health organisations that is urging ministers to take tough action to tackle the growing epidemic of obesity.
And then this...
The “fallout” is so great that the forum’s annual conference, due to take place in November, “is now in jeopardy”, adds Capehorn. Obesity expert Mike Lean, professor of human nutrition at Glasgow University, has already withdrawn from speaking because of the controversy, Capehorn claims.
This is all tremendously funny and yet it is difficult to pick a side to cheer on. It's like having to choose between Assad and ISIS, or Clinton and Trump. On the one hand, you have cretins like Aseem Malhotra whose downfall is long overdue. On the other hand, you have horrible nanny statists like Tam Fry, Mike Lean, Susan Jebb and Simon Capewell who are only an improvement on Malhotra insofar as they understand the laws of thermodynamics.
The standard of debate is much as you might expect from the 'public health' racket. Instead of arguing about the scientific evidence, they have retreated to their comfort zone and thrown ad hominems at one another. Malhotra has accused Jebb of being in the pay of Weight Watchers and Jebb has accused the National Obesity Forum of being in the pay of Big Pharma.
It's like watching children at play. The Observer quotes an anonymous (why?) 'expert' who makes the stupidest criticism imaginable of a report that richly deserves to be criticised.
One of Britain’s leading experts in public health, who did not wish to be named, told the Observer that the report’s authors had inadvertently damaged efforts to educate the public about what they should and should not eat. “The report’s conclusion to opt for a ‘balanced diet’ is a disaster. Because that is exactly the phrase the junk food industry use to justify ‘a little of what you like will do no harm’; that is, ‘eat junk, snacks and soda whenever you want – and make us rich’.”
This is absolutely pathetic. The food industry didn't invent the term 'balanced diet' but even if they did it wouldn't make it invalid. Doctors tell people to eat a balanced diet and so does the NHS. In any case, the problem with the Public Health Collaboration report isn't that it advocates a balanced diet. It does pretty much the opposite, telling people to pile their plates up with unlimited quantities of fatty food and not worry about calories.
These people are so obsessed with the food industry that even while fighting each other they can't give up the rhetoric. Let's not pick a side in this row. Let's hope they keeping punching each other until they both fall over.