Four NOF members resign over controversial report publication

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

Board members objected to the way the report was published - not its contents, a spokesperson said. © iStock
Board members objected to the way the report was published - not its contents, a spokesperson said. © iStock

Related tags: Public health, Nutrition

Four board members of the National Obesity Forum (NOF) have resigned because they were not consulted before the publication of a controversial report which slammed public health advice for fuelling the obesity crisis.

Spokesperson for the NOF, Tam Fry, told FoodNavigator the resignations came not because of the report’s conclusions​, which have proved controversial, but because of the way it was published “in a rush​” and “without going through the board”.

He said he expected “maybe one more”​ resignation.

So far the NOF’s clinical director, Dr Matt Capehorn; consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Sangeeta Agnihotri; nurse consultant and NOF vice-chair, Debbie Cook; and  clinical psychologist Dr. Jen Nash have resigned.

NOF Chairman David Haslam has since apologised for way the report was published, according to the spokesperson.

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Dr Matt Capehorn. Photo: Linkedin

However, the organisation is now bracing itself for a potential backlash from the scientific community as a result of this lapse of usual protocol.

Fry said: “We don’t know at the moment but I think there’s a severe chance it [the NOF] will be censored by the scientific and medical community -  this was to be a proper consultation document but because it was rushed out without approval, the community will see that in a very bad and suspicious way,” ​he said.

The report, which was jointly drawn up by NOF and the Public Health Collaboration, said the official UK dietary guidelines are based on “flawed science​” and are having “disastrous​” consequences on the nation’s health.

It immediately provoked a backlash among public health campaigners and industry.

The advice was slammed as irresponsible by the chief nutritionist of Public Health England. ““In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible. Unlike this opinion piece ​[from the NOF], our independent experts review all the available evidence – often thousands of scientific papers – run full-scale consultations and go to great lengths to ensure no bias,” ​she said.

“International health organisations agree that too much saturated fat raises cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and obesity is caused by consistently consuming too many calories.”

The report’s co-author, founding member of the Public Health Collaboration and consultant cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra, defended the conclusions. “We’re not saying you should consume as much saturated fat as you like,”​ he said. “We’re saying that saturated fat does not cause heart disease. We’ve got multiple randomised control trials to support this.”

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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