Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Diet Gurus Ignore the Weight of Evidence in Guidelines

By Rosemary Stanton

Diet gurus are blaming Australia’s obesity problem on government dietary guidelines they claim are unhealthy, when the real issue is that too few people follow them.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It’s hard working in public health nutrition in Australia. Not only do we try to cope with Australia’s massive weight problem – 70% of men, 56% of women and 26% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese – but nutritionists are now being blamed for the disaster.

Netflix has recently been criticised for streaming a program produced by celebrity chef Pete Evans that claims the medical profession has an interest in keeping Australians unhealthy. The recommendation of the program’s self-described “experts” include claims that a low-carb/high-fat diet can even cure autism, asthma and some cancers. The evidence produced consists of single case studies with no understanding that anecdotes do not equal evidence.

According to these and other self-styled diet gurus, Australia’s obesity problem has arisen because our dietary guidelines “got it wrong”. This message is now being spread among their massive numbers of social media followers.

It’s possible these critics have not actually read the guidelines (see It’s also possible they don’t understand the National Health and Medical Research Council’s strict criteria for the evidence statements that are included in the guidelines. However, the main silliness lies in blaming the guidelines...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.