SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Industrial Baking & Snacks

News > R&D

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 GMT

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.”

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE
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)...

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...

Egyptian bakery firm invested out of Arab Spring crisis

Prospering amid political crises: How one Egyptian firm invested its way out

Egyptian bakery equipment firm Morcos has faced financial difficulties amid political unrest in its...

Snack trends 2014: Euromonitor says popcorn and thins

Euromonitor: Popcorn and thins epitomize ‘indulgence without the guilt’

Popcorn has exploded and thins have sliced into action in snacking – both riding...

Continental Carbonic freezes food contaminants with dry ice

Steve Sullivan

Director of sales, Continental Carbonic

Bread in terminal decline? 'We’re actually very positive about the future of grain-based foods,' says Ardent Mills

Bread in terminal decline? 'We’re actually very positive about the future of grain-based foods,' says Ardent Mills

Lackluster sales of packaged bread & ready-to-eat cereals might suggest that years of carb-bashing...

Breakfast cereal decline: Mintel talks opportunities, challenges

Crunch time: Is breakfast cereal doomed to sink?

The global breakfast cereal market faces increasing competition as consumers turn to convenient alternatives,...

Fortified foods vs naturally healthy: IFIC says consumers like both

Fortified foods vs naturally functional: Consumers consider both ‘worthwhile’, says IFIC

Consumers are open to fortified foods just as much as those that contain naturally...

Gluten-free fueled by food skepticism & fad diets: Packaged Facts

Gluten-free: A ‘perfect storm’ fueled by food skepticism and fad diets

Processed food skepticism and fad dieting played a big part in the gluten-free boom,...

Bakers on trans fat crackdown: 'There are uses of PHOs that FDA wasn't aware of'

Bakers on trans fat crackdown: 'There are uses of PHOs that FDA wasn't aware of'

On the face of it, the FDA’s proposal to revoke the GRAS status of partially...

Mango powder metabolic promise: Vital Solutions Swiss

Mango metabolic promise: Vital Solutions wants to advance human trials

Vital Solutions Swiss will publish in vitro research that shows its mango powder Careless mimics caloric...

Sustainable ingredients: More industry effort needed, says Invenire

Sustainability woes: Ingredients firms aren’t doing enough, claims expert

Ingredients suppliers are uniquely placed in the supply chain to up their game in...

Fiber for weight management: Blends offer hope

Clever fiber blends offer weight management hope, says Professor

Fiber composite blends used in healthy food matrixes hold weight management promise, according to...

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...