finally some justice done to Dr Atkins and likewise people who stay true to Low-Carbing...
<b>If you think a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet wil help you lose weight, think again. This is because new research is suggesting otherwise </b>
THAT bowl of fat belly pork might not be as sinful as you think.
For years, medical experts around the world have been urging people to embrace a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
Now, a report in the July 7 issue of the New York Times magazine, titled What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?, suggests that people could have been eating the wrong food all along.
Fat may not be as harmful as many have come to believe. What may be really causing obesity and heart disease, and killing people are carbohydrates.
But this high-fat, low-carbohydrate school of thought is nothing new.
In 1972, Dr Robert Atkins, in his best-selling book Dr Atkins' Diet Revolution, said that people could lose weight eating steak, eggs and butter. He blamed obesity and coronary disease on carbohydrates like pasta and sugar.
But the American Medical Association brushed him off as a fraud for advocating 'an unlimited intake of saturated fats and cholesterol-rich foods'.
New evidence found in the last five years, however, shows that perhaps Dr Atkins' prescription may have been the healthier choice after all.
Walter Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says: 'The idea that all fat is bad for you - the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic.'
He is the spokesman for the ongoing longest-running, most comprehensive diet and health study ever performed, involving nearly 300,000 people.
There are many reasons which suggest that the low-fat-is-good hypothesis is untrue, says the magazine report. For starters, the world is in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started in the 1980s. Around that time, medical experts were actively advocating a low-fat diet.
Type Two diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also increased significantly during this period.
Research has also shown that low-fat weight loss diets have failed both in clinical trials and in real life.
The percentage of fat in the American diet has been decreasing over the last two decades. Cholesterol levels, and the number of smokers, are also falling.
Yet, the incidence of heart disease has not fallen along with them, as one would have expected.
So, the current worldwide epidemic of obesity cannot be blamed on what Yale psychologist Kelly Brownell describes as a 'toxic food environment' - cheap food, large portions, pervasive food advertising and sedentary lives - or, at least, not entirely on it.
Fast food consumption did grow steadily through the 1970s to the 1980s, but not at the pace at which obesity surged.
Exercise and increasing obesity rates also have little correlation.
The US Center for Disease Control's 1990 data shows that obesity rates continue to climb, even though the levels of exercise remain unchanged.
Studies show that consuming more carbohydrates makes your body produce higher levels of insulin, which is needed to break them down into sugar molecules to be transported into the blood stream. And as long as insulin levels are high, there is less chance of the body burning its own fat.
When there is too much insulin, blood sugar drops. This leads to hunger pangs which, in turn, leads people to eat more carbohydrates, produce more insulin and so on, until they get fat or even dangerously obese.
By contrast, if people had more fat in their diets instead, they would not be staying so hungry. Thus, they would not consume as many carbohydrates, says the eat-fat, stay-slim school of thought.
So, if carbohydrates create a situation that is ripe for obesity, how did fat become known as 'the greasy killer'?
WHY A LOW-FAT DIET WAS ALL THE RAGE
UNTIL the late 1970s, the accepted wisdom indeed was that fat and protein protected against overeating by making people feel sated. Carbohydrates just made them fat.
But in 1977, a US Senate committee published its Dietary Goals For The United States, advising Americans to drastically curb their fat intake to prevent an epidemic of 'killer diseases' that was sweeping the country supposedly.
In 1984, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended that Americans over the age of two eat less fat. Then, it spent several hundred millions of dollars trying to show a connection between eating fat and getting heart disease.
Nothing came out of their research.
And so, the NIH latched on to a study which found that reducing cholesterol by drug therapy could prevent heart disease.
It then made its own conclusion that if a cholesterol-lowering drug could prevent heart attacks, then a low-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet should do the same.
That led to the food industry producing thousands of reduced-fat products to meet this new dietary decree.
But foods like biscuits, chips and yoghurt did not taste as good when the fat had been removed. So. sugar, often high-fructose corn syrup, was added to satisfy the taste buds.
All these added up to more calories, and subsequently, more cases of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
The Atkins' diet is back in the limelight, not to be mocked as it was before, but to be tested to see if it really can help curb the obesity epidemic.
So far, five US studies have shown that subjects on some form of the Atkins' diet lost twice the weight as the subjects on a low-fat, low-calorie diet.
Results also suggest that the heart-disease risk could actually be reduced when fat is added back into the diet, while starches and refined carbohydrates are removed.
As Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, director of obesity research at Harvard's prestigious Joslin Diabetes Centre, told New York Times Magazine: 'For a large percentage of the population, perhaps 30 to 40 per cent, low-fat diets are counter-productive.
'They have the paradoxical effect of making people gain weight.'
For now, more tests are needed to find out if people are growing fatter because of how they have been eating wrongly all this time.
And to see if the health authorities who have long promoted a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet will be forced to eat humble pie.
Why some fat is needed in the diet
IT'S A NUTRIENT
Fat is one of the three nutrients, along with protein and carbohydrates, that supply calories to the body.
It serves as the storage substance for the body's extra calories. It fills the fat cells (adipose tissue) which help insulate the body.
HELPS IN ABSORPTION
Fat helps in the absorption, and transportation through the bloodstream, of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
PROVIDES FATTY ACIDS
Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. It provides the essential fatty acids, which are not made by the body and must be obtained from food.
Fatty acids provide the raw materials that help in the control of blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation and other body functions.
AN ENERGY SOURCE
It is an important energy source. When the body has used up the calories from carbohydrates, which occurs after the first 20 minutes of exercise, it begins to depend on the calories from fat.
Also, healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat.
Facts provided by the Nutrition Programme Management, Health Promotion Board.
WHAT'S GOOD AND BAD
Good: Complex carbohydrates are a good source of minerals, vitamins and fibre. They can be found in bread, cereals, beans, lentils, dried peas, legumes and pastas.
Some simple carbohydrates, which also contain vitamins and minerals, can be found in fruit, vegetables and milk products.
Bad: These are simple carbohydrates found in processed and refined sugars, which provide calories but lack vitamins, minerals and fibre. They can be found in foods like candy, table sugar, syrups (not including natural syrups such as maple) and carbonated beverages.
Good: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat may help to lower blood cholesterol. Foods high in polyunsaturated fat include margarine, vegetable oils (like corn oil, soy bean oil and sunflower oil) and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Foods high in monounsaturated fat include olive oil, canola oil, groundnut oil and avocado.
Bad: Excessive consumption of saturated fat and trans fat can raise blood cholesterol and increase the risks of developing heart disease and stroke. Foods high in such fat include animal fats, butter, coconut cream, pastries and biscuits.
<b>picture caption</b> : Don't eschew the fat, like this dish of pork belly. Some studies have found that cutting back on fat could actually increase the risk of heart disease instead. So, lard it on because grease is the word. --