GOVERNMENT AGAINST DIETS
By Darius Mikolajewski
The Government of the Australian state of Victoria has started a campaign aimed at warning people of the dangers of fad diets. The campaign is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
With Australians second only to the US in both obesity rates and weight loss expenditure, the authorities are getting concerned about more and more people risking not only their money but also their long-term health by following fad diets. Especially low-carb diets like Atkins, and radical deprivation diets like the Cabbage-Soup-Diet, seem to be the target of the warning campaign.
As it is often the case with politicians, the warning message is not accompanied by a positive alternative you could use to lose weight and improve your health. Some general comments about calories reduction are not only unhelpful, but also against the trend of latest scientific research – research proving that most overweight individuals actually consume less food than those at normal weight.
The problem for the Government is that any science-based recommendations, for example to reduce consumption of sugar and sweets, could be very dangerous politically, as the producers of those products form strong political lobbies and may be able to swing crucial seats. So for the consumer it is a bit like those warnings on packages that we all hate – they tell you what not to do, instead of explaining how to actually use the thing!
In addition to the politics of it, there is also no universally accepted scientific truth about why we put on weight, and how to reverse it. While a lot of bona fide research points towards hormonal imbalance and the foods that create it, the powerful industries that produce those foods are easily able to fund twice as much research proving otherwise. We see the scientists becoming a little like lawyers: if you have enough money, they will prove whatever you want to be the truth.
Just like with all the other questions we have about life, looking up to the politicians is not going to give us an answer.