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Mediterranean diet is best way to tackle obesity, say doctors

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Doctors suggest a Mediterranean diet may be a better way to tackle obesity than calorie counting.

In an article for the Postgraduate Medical Journal (PMJ), leading doctors have found that a Mediterranean diet quickly reduces the risk of heart attack and strokes – and it may be better than low-fat diets for sustained weight loss.

While the PMJ article argues a focus on food intake is the best approach, it warns crash dieting is harmful – according to the BBC.

While official NHS advice to monitor calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight, the PMJ text authors criticise the weight-loss industry for focusing on calorie restriction rather than ‘good nutrition’.

“We know the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is higher in fat – proven from randomised controlled trials – reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke even within months of implementation,” said lead author of the article, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra.

Scientific evidence, mentioned in the article, says adopting a Mediterranean diet after a heart attack is almost three times as effective at reducing deaths as taking cholesterol-lowering statin medication.

Following NHS leaders’ call for urgent action to tackle obesity and health-related problems last month, Public Health England is reviewing the dietary advice conveyed in the ‘eatwell plate’ – which is used across the UK for guidance on what to eat.

While the PMJ article stressed that the NHS is in a “key position” to set a national example by providing healthy food in hospitals and by ensuring doctors and nurses understand the evidence, the chief nutritionist at Public Health England – Dr Alison Tedstone – said there was no single silver-bullet solution.

If you are currently overweight, you will need to eat less to achieve a healthy weight and be active as part of a healthy lifestyle,” said Tedstone.

Although banning fast food outlets in hospitals would cause many legal issues, the chairman of the National Obesity Forum – professor David Haslam – welcomed the PMJ article, agreeing that healthy nutrition programmes could be put in place within NHS institutions.

Signatories of the piece included the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Prof Terence Stephenson, and Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, who has a senior role at NHS England.

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Doctors suggest a Mediterranean diet may be a better way to tackle obesity than calorie counting.
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The traditional Mediterranean diet, which is higher in fat reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke even within months of implementation / Shutterstock / Antonio Gravante
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