Food & Agri

Low fat diets are no better than high fat diets

Sunday, Nov 15, 2015,13:56 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | A landmark study found that nearly 13 per cent of the 1.2 billion population could be suffering from obesity. The India Diabetes Study was spearheaded by the ICMR finds that a huge number 153 million that is comparable to the half the population of the US could be suffering from abdominal obesity or what is colloquially called having a large paunch or a pear shaped body.

If one needs to maintain low body mass, then Mithal says what matters most is that one burns more calories than consumes. Towards that, a low fat diet may seem attractive since fats have a lot more stored energy as compared to carbohydrates. However, on the flip side Mithal says people on low fat diets end up eating more carbohydrates to satiate their appetites. Compliance becomes a huge problem.

Indian diets are high on calories and low on fibers, says V Mohan, a specialist on diabetes from Chennai, adding rice accounts for almost half of the calorific intake in Indians. Polished rice is mostly carbohydrates. Concurring with the findings of The Lancet (D&E) is Ishi Khosla, one of India’s best-known nutrition and dietary habits experts who says the relevance of low fat diet shifted for over two decades in clinical practice in favour of low carbohydrate diets and good fats.

This was prompted by the recognition of the benefits of high fat Mediterranean diets and the French paradox. This in fact was more relevant in the Indian population burdened with the epidemic of diabetes. Low fat diets are high in carbohydrates which is counterproductive. Incidentally, most diet plans fared poorly especially when long-term weight loss was measured over more than a one-year period.

This is probably because people getting into a diet plan follow it rather strictly in the beginning but as time passes they start consuming the same amount of calories and start gaining weight. Mithal says the large public health message from the huge study is rather simple if you have to lose weight, eat fewer calories and burn them and a balanced diet helps to that faster as compared to trying to stick by the current fad of sticking to ‘low fat’ diets.