Calorie counters have it all wrong: cardiologists

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Source:  6 Minutes

An obsession with calories at the expense of good nutrition is contributing to the world obesity problem, says a  group of UK cardiologists and epidemiologists in a hard-hitting journal article.

They blame the food and weight loss industries for this and say that unless the emphasis shifts obesity and death from cardiovascular disease will continue to rise.

They also criticise GPs and specialists for failing to give evidence-based advice that nutritional content that matters.

“Primary and secondary care clinicians clearly have a duty to their individual patients and also to their local populations,” they write in the journal Heart.

For example, boosting omega 3 fatty acid (from fatty fish, olive oil and nut intake) has been associated with reductions in deaths from all causes within months, they say.

Yet, the focus on total energy consumed has been exploited by the food industry, which has added sugar to over 80% of all processed foods.

To illustrate their point, they cite research that shows a handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts) or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil has three times the calories of a can of soft drink but significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The authors call for sugary drinks to be taxed, government subsidies to make fruit, vegetables and nuts much more affordable and tighter controls on the marketing of junk food.

“Applying these population wide policies might achieve rapid reductions in disease and hospital admissions visible even within the electoral terms of most politicians,” they suggest.

“It’s time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality.”

Recommending a high-fat Mediterranean-type diet and lifestyle to patients is a good place to start, they say.

It’s time to stop counting calories, and time instead to promote dietary changes that substantially and rapidly reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality

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