This article from Health Impact News has been doing the rounds on Twitter over the last couple of days – so let’s hope it snowballs as the news spreads!
The independent Swedish Council on Health Technical Assessment reviewed over 16,000 studies before concluding that low carb dietary guidelines should be adopted instead of the conventional low fat high carb regime.
I think my favorite quote from the committee’s findings is..
Butter, olive oil, heavy cream, and bacon are not harmful foods. Quite the opposite. Fat is the best thing for those who want to lose weight. And there are no connections between a high fat intake and cardiovascular disease.
Will it have wider ramifications? If Sweden has accepted this then what will be the impact on the rest of Western Europe? As Sweden is in the European Union, then does that mean the debate widens to the rest of Europe automatically? Not necessarily I’m afraid!
The ‘official’ European view
I decided to take a look at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) website. The EFSA in their words do not set dietary guidelines, but provide scientific advice to support policy makers in EU member state governments.
So, what’s the EFSA view on the link between sugar and other carbohydrate consumption and weight gain?
Well, although their panel did find some evidence that high intake of sugars in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as carbonated soft drinks, might contribute to weight gain, they also state that they could not establish a a correlation between high intake of sugars (mainly added sugars) and weight gain for solid foods. Hmmm… how did they come to this conclusion? Well…
This conclusion is based on two expert reports that had reviewed the evidence from many studies – the report of the US Institute of Medicine (2005) and the report prepared for the World Health Organization by Van Dam and Seidell (2007). In addition, two specific studies (Saris et al. 2000; Poppitt et al. 2002) were cited in the opinion (both also cited in each of the expert reports) as the best available studies that addressed the effects on body weight of exchanging sugars with starch over six months in adults eating these diets freely without energy restriction.
Yes, you read that right… based on two expert reports! And let me take you back to the top of this post… the Swedish committee evaluated 16,000 studies.
I don’t think I need to say anything more!