A major study recently stated that a low-fat diet is not the best way to lose weight. This casts doubt on decades of health advice.
There is no evidence to support the belief that individuals should reduce the amount of fat in their diets, concluded scientists.
Further questions were raised by the study about the NHS guidelines going back 32 years that warned people to avoid full-fat milk, butter and other high-fat foods.
The researchers from Harvard said that health officials should be giving simple guidelines focused on unprocessed foods and portion sizes, instead of emphasizing carbohydrates, fat and proteins.
Dr Deidre Tobias, leader of the research based on data from over 68,000 adults, said that there is no good evidence for supporting a low-fat diet.
Government guidelines advised Britons in 1983 to reduce their fat intake to 30% of total energy and instead increase the amount of carbohydrates they consumed.
This played a part in the boom in diet food products, a fixation in calorie-counting and a huge weight-loss industry. New evidence suggests that not all varieties of fat are bad – some even play a vital role in protecting the heart and reducing weight.
In Mediterranean diets there is an increasing interest in high levels of fatty foods including olive oil, nuts and fish, as well as vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
The Harvard team concluded that reducing fat intake was a less effective way to weight loss than Mediterranean or low carbohydrate diets.
Adults on the low-carbohydrate diet lost an average of 1.15kg (2.5lb) more than those on low-fat diets over a year, the study showed.
It was found that a low-fat diet leads to greater weight loss only when compared to a diet in which participants did not change anything about their eating habits, with a 5.41kg (12lb) difference.
Adviser to the National Obesity Forum, British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, backed these conclusions.
However, not all experts are convinced. Professor Tom Sanders from King’s College London stated that in order to control weight it is still sensible to eat less and consume less amounts of sugar and fat, especially as sugar-sweetened beverages, fatty meat, cakes and biscuits, and deep fried foods.
Tracy Parker of the British Heart Foundation said that your diet does not leave you lacking essential nutrients needed for general health.