SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition - EuropeUS edition

News > Research

Read more breaking news

 

 

Cutting carbs, gluten or fat? The 'utter nonsense' behind claims to be the best diet

By Nathan Gray+

17-Apr-2014
Last updated on 17-Apr-2014 at 15:25 GMT2014-04-17T15:25:16Z

Cutting carbs, gluten or fat? The 'utter nonsense' behind claims to be the best diet
Cutting carbs, gluten or fat? The 'utter nonsense' behind claims to be the best diet
Loading...

From the benefits of gluten-free to those of Mediterranean and Palaeolithic diets, many claims that one dietary strategy are better than another for health and weight loss are simply 'unjustified' and 'sometimes utter nonsense', according to a new review.

Mixed messages in media headlines and competing claims over which dietary strategies are 'the best' for weight management and health routinely refute both the conventional wisdom and one another, warns Dr David Katz - the author of a review that aims to unravel the scientific basis for a variety of claims made by proponents of different dietary strategies.

The invited review, titled 'Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?' appears in the Annual Review of Public Health, in which Katz asserts that such claims are almost entirely unsubstantiated and often 'nonsense'.

“The basic theme of optimal eating for human health and weight control is very strongly supported by a vast and diverse literature,” explained Katz, who is director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “But arguments about the best variant on that theme are mostly unfounded, sometimes utter nonsense, and often about attempts to sell something to a public that is particularly gullible on this topic. 

"Most of the competing claims about diet invoke either a particular scapegoat or panacea, and that seems to conform to the prevailing variety of wishful thinking.”

Competing claims, but the same basic themes

Katz noted that while many of the 'competing' claims of being the best dietary strategy seem to be at odds with each other - in fact, most of the diets are variations of the same basic nutrition patterns - which are all linked to health benefits.

“From altitude, it’s pretty clear that Michael Pollan pretty much nailed the description of an optimal diet when he recommended eating ‘food, not too much, mostly plants'," he said. "But importantly, that theme can be represented by a diet low or high in fat, low or high in carbohydrate, lower or higher in protein. It can be represented by a Mediterranean diet, a traditional Asian diet, a Paleo diet, a vegetarian diet, or a vegan diet." 

"If any one of these is ‘best’ we lack the evidence to say so; there are, not surprisingly, no lifelong studies that randomly assigned people to optimized vegan or Paleo diets.  Who would sign up?" said Katz.

What about grains, and gluten free?

The Yale expert also refuted the currently popular concept that wheat or grains are particularly to blame for weight or health problems. 

“People with celiac disease or lesser forms of gluten sensitivity clearly need to avoid gluten and its sources, just as people with peanut allergies need to avoid peanuts," said Katz. "But whole grains figure in the diets of some of the longest-lived, healthiest people on the planet, as highlighted by the Blue Zones project."

"Like most other competing claims about diet, these seem convincing because the authors only cite the work that supports their point of view, ignoring a vast literature that refutes it.”

African probiotic project reaching 10,000 infants a day

African probiotic project reaching 10,000 infants a day

Professor Gregor Reid

Chair , University of Western Ontario & Human Microbiology and...

Germvangelist set to shake Probiota with holistic shout

Germvangelist set to shake Probiota with holistic shout

Jason Tetro

Researcher, author, The Germ Guy

Creepy proteins will be hot

New proteins are creeping on trend

Alternative proteins are a “hot area” of interest and products such as sandwich spreads...

Dairy ingredients giant on Indonesia: ‘A lot of opportunities here’

Dairy ingredients giant on Indonesia: ‘A lot of opportunities here’

Jake Riddle

General manager, Kerry Asia Pacific

Indonesia stakes claim as SE Asia's most important food market

Indonesia stakes claim as SE Asia's most important food market

Indonesia's food industry will continue to grow in importance as its population of around...

NPD category busters: From ‘Teagurt’ to coffee fruit energy to Milo expansion

NPD category busters: From ‘Teagurt’ to coffee fruit energy to Milo expansion

Jane Barnett

Insights manager for Australia-New Zealand, south east Asia and India,...

HI-Japan show wrap: Ageing (& shrinking) population forces government-led nutrition rethink

HI-Japan show wrap: Ageing (& shrinking) population forces government-led nutrition rethink

Japan has always led the world in functional food experimentation even if the results...

Rise in demand for products with added proteins: expert

‘Weekend warriors’ drive added protein demand

Weekend fitness fanatics are driving the demand for more mainstream food and drink products,...

Saturated fat guidelines out, food guidelines in?

Get rid of nutrients and focus on foods in guidelines, says sat fat researcher

Benoit Lamarche

Saturated fat researcher, Laval University

UK researcher backs supplements for omega-3 intakes

UK researcher backs supplements for boosting omega-3 intakes

Philip Calder

Professor, University of Southamption

What does ‘responsible innovation’ really mean?

What does ‘responsible innovation’ really mean?

Many food firms talk about the need for ‘responsible innovation’, but what does this...

Shifting demands: Where will the growth in healthy foods come from?

Shifting demands: Where will the growth in healthy foods come from?

With an ever increasing consumer demand for healthier food products, many within the industry...

How has social media changed food marketing?

How has social media changed food marketing?

The rise of social media has led to a shift in the way consumers...

Is personalised nutrition about to go public in a big way?

Is personalised nutrition about to go public in a big way?

Radek Sali, CEO,Swisse Wellness;

François Scheffler, head, BASF human nutrition;, Loren Israelsen, president, United...

Who is responsible for battling the big issues in food?

Who is responsible for battling the big issues in food?

From obesity to malnutrition and water scarcity, the world is facing an ever-growing number...

Newly available oilseed species features 'game changing' SDA content

Newly available oilseed species features 'game changing' SDA content

A new, more efficient form of plant-based omega-3s is coming to market in the...

Biased by industry? Do academic and business collaborations work?

Biased by industry? Do academic and business collaborations work?

Like many areas of nutrition research, probiotic and prebiotic science relies on strong collaboration...

Expert insights: What is the future for probiotics and prebiotics?

Expert insights: What is the future for probiotics and prebiotics?

Probiotics, prebiotics, and microbiome science are big business, and already generate a great deal...

Game on: Probiotics & sports performance

Game on: Probiotics & sports performance

Dr Ralf Jäger

Co-founder and partner, Increnovo

6 years of hurt: Probiotic heavyweights debate the EU’s health claim blockade

6 years of hurt: Probiotic heavyweights debate the EU’s health claim blockade

Yakult and leading academics expressed frustration at what they see as unfair and opaque...

Live Supplier Webinars

Balanced blood sugar levels for long term health
Beneo

On demand Supplier Webinars

The NutraIngredients Omega 3 Forum
William Reed Business Media
All supplier webinars