Is the tide turning in Australian dietary advice?

Close-up of diet plan

Has the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) had a change of heart?

Just last month, we reported that the DAA was heavily influenced by sponsorships from the food industry. Perhaps in response to a great deal of bad press, the DAA just announced it will sever food industry ties.

Michael West: Vindication: dietitians cut ties with sugar lobby

Ending industry influence is certainly a big step in the right direction.

Speaking of the steps in the right direction, we see some gradual improvements in Australian dietary advice, too. The original food pyramid (below, on the left), introduced 33 years ago, resembles the dietary guidelines of other industrialized societies in that era. Fairly large quantities of high glycemic foods, such as bread and cereals were emphasized, while sources of fat were minimized. The recommendations were updated in 2015; as you can see in the revised graphic (below, on the right), grains are still there, but they no longer anchor the base of the pyramid.

Australian food pyramids

The revised pyramid still suggests a fairly high-carb, low-fat diet. The starchy foods that remain tend to spike blood sugar, especially when consumed as a stand-alone snack (without fat and protein). As the epidemic of type 2 diabetes rages on in Australia, a lower-carb approach may be better for many of its citizens.

There are some indications that the DAA is headed in that direction. In a recent statement, it acknowledged:

There is reliable evidence that lower carb eating can be safe and useful in lowering average blood glucose levels in the short term (up to 6 months). It can also help reduce body weight and help manage heart disease risk factors such as raised cholesterol and raised blood pressure.

That is certainly progress. With this sort of incremental change, we can hope that the suggestion that lower-carb eating is safe only “in the short term” will be eliminated, with a broader endorsement for long-term use of low-carb diets in the next iteration of these guidelines. Hopefully, this next step is not far off!

There seems to be a significant change going on in Australia. Step by step, they make progress.

Earlier

Dr. Gary Fettke exonerated! Receives apology from regulators

How the Dietitians Association of Australia became “little more than a PR machine for the food industry”

Vested interests and evidence-based medicine

Low-carb dietitians

Guide for low-carb dietitians

Dietary guidelines

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