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Increasing Incidence of Non-communicable diseases

The cause of an epidemic especially one beginning at an identifiable moment in time has one cause and is usually not multifactorial and complex. Occam’s Razor: "Of competing theories, the simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred”.

The June 2010 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlights growing evidence that nutritional advice provided by governments and health organizations for the past 40 years has been seriously in error. The result has been the exact opposite of that intended and instead these recommendations have created “a perfect storm” of nutritional conditions that has led to an epidemic of the diseases they were intended to prevent. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) To paraphrase a quote from Winston Churchill “we have sown the wind and we will reap the whirlwind”. The whirlwind we are now reaping was sown in the 1970’s. At that time the cause of heart attacks and strokes was poorly understood but a group of politically influential scientists in America were convinced that eating fat was the cause of these diseases. Although the evidence behind the claims was still highly contentious, nevertheless Senator John McGovern’s Committee on “Dietary Recommendations for the Health for America” created a campaign to reduce fat consumption and most countries in the world followed suit. Industry and the public bought into this belief and more and more low fat foods were produced but the fat was largely replaced with refined carbohydrates (6). Obesity, hypertension and diabetes were serious health concerns in the 1970’s but what has happened since is an extraordinary acceleration of the incidence of all those conditions, increasing 300% between 1980 and 2000 (7). The study in the January 2010 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition no increased risk of heart disease or stroke with saturated fat consumption. They did however find evidence of publication bias where many studies that failed to show a link between saturated fat and heart disease, the politically correct theory at the time, were never published (8). On the other hand there is growing evidence from many different scientific lines of study that carbohydrates and particularly refined or rapidly digested carbohydrates not only cause obesity but increase the risk of death from all manner of diseases through multiple mechanisms that produce metabolic disorders and chronic low grade inflammation (9) (10) (11) (12).

A Universal Metabolic Derangement:

Whilst obesity is the most apparent outward concern it heralds far more sinister issues regarding our internal workings best known as “Metabolic Syndrome”. The hallmark is abdominal obesity along with disorders involving