Food firms linked to watchdog’s trashing of ‘eat less carbs’ report

The government health watchdog enlisted the support of an industry-funded body whose members include Kellogg and Warburtons — to help rebut a report claiming consumers should eat more fat and fewer carbohydrates.

Public Health England (PHE) sought the help of the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) — a charity with close links to the food industry — to criticise the report Eat Fat, Cut the Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. The charity’s other corporate members include Coca-Cola, Mars UK and United Biscuits.

Zoe Harcombe, a public health nutrition researcher who contributed to the report, said it was inappropriate for PHE to be working “hand in glove” with BNF over nutrition advice: “The BNF is funded by companies with a vested interest in people eating more carbohydrates and processed foods.”

The Eat Fat, Cut the Carbs report — produced by the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and Public Health Collaboration — said nutritional advice to eat “low-fat” foods had resulted in “disastrous health consequences”.

Dr Alison Tedstone, the chief nutritionist at PHE, wrote to the BNF about a strategy to rebut the report. She wrote: “We need a united front. Need the nutrition community to be more supportive.”

Internal emails also reveal Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, wrote of the report: “Totally irresponsible and fodder only for the rags.”

The Eat Fat report was criticised for a lack of robust science. Four NOF members resigned over it.

BNF said last week that its funding came from a variety of sources, including public bodies.

Selbie said the report was widely criticised and a that broad range of stakeholders had been contacted about PHE’s response.