Four people have resigned from the National Obesity Forum (NOF) due to a lack of consultation on its pro-fat report.
The forum’s clinical director Matt Capehorn, consultant Sangeeta Agnihotri, vice-chair Debbie Cook and clinical psychologist Jen Nash have all handed in their notice over last month’s report, which urged the public to “bring back the fat” into their diets.
NOF spokesman Tam Fry stressed that their resignation was not down to a dispute over the report’s content, but the way in which it was published.
The Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes report was billed as a joint effort between the NOF and the Public Health Collaboration, but published “without the NOF board seeing it”, Fry told The Grocer. Although “a lot of people agreed” with the publication’s message that sugar was more damaging than fat, Fry said it was “only intended to be a discussion document”.
Fry said the report had nonetheless “raised issues that needed to be discussed”. “Many people were extremely unhappy with the way over the last 30 or 40 years the focus has been on low fat, which has led to foodstuffs being stuffed with sugar,” he said.
The document named sugar as a leading cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes and called for it “to return to its role as a decadent, unnecessary thing”. It branded the government’s Eatwell Guide a “timebomb” for suggesting that 22 teaspoons of sugar daily fell within guidelines.
Controversially, it also suggested a healthy, high-fat diet was an “acceptable, effective and safe approach” to maintaining a healthy weight or weight loss.
The claims prompted a backlash from Public Health England, which branded the message “irresponsible”. Scientists also questioned the evidence behind the advice. “There is only very limited evidence on the long-term impact of using dietary fat as the main source of calories,” said Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritional scientist at the University of Reading.