SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Industrial Baking & Snacks

News > R&D

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 the player...

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.”

Bread hit hard by price wars

Bread is ‘price war casualty’ – FoB director

Bread is one of the biggest casualties of the supermarket price war, as retailers...

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,...

USDA WASDE: Wheat supply up but ‘quality issue emerging’ says AHDB

Wheat supply up but ‘quality issue emerging’

Wheat supplies have hit record levels across the globe, but for France and some...

UK gluten-free businesses should storm Europe

Europe is ripe for UK gluten-free businesses

France and other European countries are prime targets for the UK’s established gluten-free (GF)...

Manufacturers are struggling with healthier food calls

Bakeries struggling with calls to cut salt, sugar and fat

Manufacturers of baked goods are reaching a point where calls to cut salts, fats...

Thins in packaged bread could spark growth, Mintel

Can ‘thins’ save a dwindling packaged bread sector?

‘Thins’ have taken off in the US and Canada with bread, bagel and even...

Bread innovation needed amid carb, additive backlash: Mintel

Additives and carb backlash stumps bread innovation, says Mintel

Stephanie Pauk and Pam Yates

Analysts, Mintel

Snacks and candy blur: NPD and retail fueling, says NCA

Is that a snack or a candy? ‘It’s so blurred now’, says NCA president

Snacks and confectionery have truly blurred from a product perspective and retail slant, says...

MycoTechnology at IFT, mushrooms can remove gluten from cereal crops

Could mushroom mycelium add a new dimension to the gluten-free market?

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the 2015 IFT show, MycoTechnology CEO Alan Hahn recalls the...

How is Californian drought affecting almond supply?

How is Californian drought affecting almond supply?

Stacey Humble

Vice president of global marketing, Almond Board of California

Lights, camera, action! Edible insects in focus at IFT 2015

Lights, camera, action! Edible insects in focus at IFT 2015

No self-respecting food conference would be complete these days without a session on edible...

How to succeed as a start-up in Europe (and not get swallowed by Big Food)

How to succeed as a start-up in Europe (and not get swallowed by Big Food)

Julian Mellentin

Director, New Nutrition Business

The making of a brand: Contract manufacturers share secrets to success

The making of a brand: Contract manufacturers share secrets to success

The firms that manufacture healthy food and supplement products do much more than just...

Outsourcing science: Where does the future of industry research lie?

Outsourcing science: Where does the future of industry research lie?

An trend for outsourcing science and research may be good news for contract research...

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...

Bakery sector ExxonMobil Anuga FoodTec

Bakery sector satisfies sweet tooth at ExxonMobil Anuga stand

ExxonMobil treated guests to samples of bakery products, in partnership with its customers who...

Snack innovation: Packaging inspiration Anuga FoodTec

Critic-free innovation: What snack makers should learn from students

Snack manufacturers can follow in the footsteps of design students – innovating positively, without...

Dave's Killer Bread takes on the carb-bashers at Expo West

Bread is back! Dave's Killer Bread takes on the carb-bashers at Expo West

While retail sales of packaged bread have been pretty sluggish in recent years, one...

Key Industry Events