Warning against high protein, low carb diet

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pretoria - The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has urged the public to consult a registered dietician or nutritionist who has the expertise to design a balanced healthy diet if they want to lose weight.

The HPCSA has expressed alarm at the recent spate of people encouraging the following of a high-protein, high fat and low carbohydrate diet - warning that these diets have severe health consequences for those who follow them long term.

The council said that as the spotlight falls on National Nutrition Week, many South Africans are trying to shed the winter kilos and warned people not to be swayed by media reports suggesting expensive high protein and saturated fat diets with long term unhealthy effects.

Chairperson of the Professional Board for Dietetics and Nutrition, Professor Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen said the board has expressed its concern over the controversial unhealthy diets that have been recommended in the media by individuals, who are not specialized in the dietetics and nutrition fields.

"Although low carbohydrate diets containing less energy may have short term beneficial effects on weight control and insulin resistance in some individuals, a healthy diet remains a balanced diet," said Professor Wentzel-Viljoen.

Professor Wentzel-Viljoen also stressed that exercise played a very important role in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

"A healthy diet remains one that is balanced in terms of carbohydrates, protein and fats as well as vitamins and minerals. The best way to reach a healthy balanced way of eating, is to follow the South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines," she explains.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that low carbohydrate-high protein diets, used many years on a regular basis are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that a 20g decrease in daily carbohydrate intake and a 5g increase in daily protein intake would correspond to a 5% increase in the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.

In 2010, in another study published in Circulation, a positive association between intake of red meat and risk of heart disease among women was reported based on the large Nurses' Health Study. - SAnews.gov.za