Sunday, 27 September 2009

Jebb on Atkins

Atkins Diet 'Dangerous'

August 13, 2003
Daily Mail (London)
by Jenny Hope

THE hugely-popular Atkins Diet is medically unsound and a major health risk, nutrition experts warned yesterday.

They said the high-protein high-fat diet, followed by stars such as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Geri Halliwell, was a giant experiment which could have disastrous effects for millions.

Dr Susan Jebb of the Government-funded Medical Research Council said it would be 'negligent' to recommend it for long-term use and called for research into its safety.

She dismissed the theory behind the diet, that it changes the body's chemistry to burn off fat, as 'pseudo-science'. Adverse effects could include kidney damage and bone loss.

The alert comes from one of the country's leading experts on obesity. Dr Jebb is head of nutrition and health research at the MRC's Human Nutrition Research Centre in Cambridge.

She was speaking at a special summit held in London to warn of the dangers that crash dieting poses to the nation's health.

Dr Jebb said the Atkins Diet was the least healthy of a number of trendy 'faddy diets' followed by people desperate to lose pounds in a hurry. She said: 'Fad diets prey on the overweight, offering quick fixes and psychological tricks. I see no medical benefit at all in them, and in particular the Atkins Diet.

'It is nutritionally incomplete. It works in the short term but so does any diet that reduces the amount of calories eaten.

'The diet is a massive health risk, it's medically unsound. We have no idea what will happen in the long term because no one is evaluating the results of the experiment.

'Obesity is a massive problem in the UK but this is not the way to solve it.' The warning is the latest in a series from health professionals over 'gimmicky' diet regimes, endorsed by celebrities.

A multimillion-pound book industry has grown on the back of claims that extreme eating patterns work.

The Atkins Diet is even challenging Harry Potter for world sales figures books about it are currently in first and third place on the British Hot 100 of online retailer Amazon.

Invented 30 years ago by American Dr Robert Atkins, who died earlier this year, it tells followers to eat vast amounts of meat but severely restrict carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables.

The theory is that carbohydrates increase the body's production of the hormone insulin, which encourages cells to store fat. This leads to both hunger and weight gain.

Cutting carbohydrates right down, Dr Atkins asserted, turns the body from a carbohydrate-burning machine to one that burns fat.

But Dr Jebb dismissed the claim as 'pseudo-science'.

She said following the diet long-term would mean a dramatic change in eating habits for most people, protein accounts for only around 15 per cent of total calorie intake.

Dr Jebb said: 'It's a profound change and we simply do not know the long-term health implications.

'I certainly think we should be adopting a precautionary principle in terms of public health.' The diet is known to put extra stress on the kidneys, which can lead to kidney stones and more serious damage particularly for those with pre-existing problems they might be unaware of.

There is also a fear of bone problems because the diet encourages the excretion of calcium which would otherwise go to build them.

Although two U.S. studies found the Atkins Diet was safe and effective, Dr Jebb said the dieters involved had been on it for only six months and a year.

She also pointed out that, longer-term, it had proved to be no better at permanent weight loss than a conventional low-fat diet.

Dr Jebb said people had to lose weight sensibly and slowly because 'there is no way to lose a stone in a few weeks without putting your health at risk'.

Among other experts warning about the Atkins Diet is Amanda Wynne of the British Dietetic Association. She says the process of ketosis it triggers where the body burns up stored fat can result in nausea and tiredness, while drastic reduction in carbohydrates can lead to constipation and digestive problems.

Dr Jebb's colleague Toni Steer says: 'If you don't eat fruit and veg, you are excluding a lot of essential minerals and vitamins.

'And we know that consuming these foods reduces your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.' Professor David Barker, a specialist in foetal health at Southampton University, has warned that mothers-to-be who follow such diet regimes are putting their baby's health at risk.

The diet would deprive an unborn child of essential nutrients and raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes in adulthood.

Dr Jane Ogden, a reader in health psychology at King ' s College, London, told yesterday's meeting the Atkins Diet was popular because weight watchers could follow the instructions to the letter.

She said: 'What fad diets do is tell people in black and white what they can and can't do, and they identify with that.'

Friday, 18 September 2009

Kebab text (news report link is down)

Post-Pub Kebabs Add 1000 Calories

4:33pm UK, Tuesday January 27, 2009

Doner kebabs in the UK have been found to contain the equivalent fat to drinking more than one and a half wine glasses of cooking oil.

A nationwide sample of the nutritional content of the takeaway meal found the average doner also contained close to an adult's entire daily recommended intake of salt.
Before adding salad and sauce the average kebab contained 1,000 calories but researchers found some with 1,990.

Last year food scientists tested a doner kebab containing 140g of fat - twice the amount a woman should eat in a day.

This was said to be the calorific equivalent to drinking a wine glass full of cooking oil.

The most gut busting kebabs in this latest study provide 346% of a woman's saturated fat intake, close to drinking two wine glasses of cooking oil.Given that 60% of kebabs have been found to contain cholesterol raising trans fats, fans of the takeaway could be risking their health.

Another big finding was that 35% of the meat sent to kebab shops listed a different meat species than was actually contained.

Six kebabs were found to include pork when it was not listed as an ingredient, two of which were described as Halal - which Muslims are permitted to eat.

Christopher Baylis told Sky News that Lacors want to make sure everyone is given the right information.

We had never assumed that kebabs were a health food option - but it was certainly surprising.

Christopher Baylis, Lacors spokesperson

"The labelling is on the kebabs when they come from the manufacturers. It is bad not to convey exactly what is in the kebab," he said.

The minute weight difference between a small and large kebab is also a problem, said chairman of Lacors, councillor Geoffrey Theobald.

"With obesity rates rising so rapidly in the UK, portion size is as important as what is being consumed," he said.

"Reducing portion size is an easy and cost-effective way for small businesses to help people eat sensibly."

The study sampled 494 kebabs from 76 councils and found that the calorie count varied up and down the country.

The average kebab in the North West of England contained 1,101 calories while in Scotland it was 1,084, in Wales 1,055 and 1,066 in south-west England.

The lowest calorie kebabs can be found in Northern Ireland where the snack weighed in at an average of 843.