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National Obesity Forum campaigners quit over low-fat report

Rounds of cheese Image copyright AFP

Four members of an anti-obesity campaign have resigned after a controversial report suggested low-fat and lower cholesterol diets were having "disastrous health consequences".

National Obesity Forum (NOF) deputy chairwoman Deborah Cook and clinical psychologist Dr Jen Nash have now quit.

This follows Thursday's departure of Dr Matt Capehorn and Sangeeta Agnihotri.

A NOF spokesman said they had not been "consulted or shown any of the drafts of the document" before publication.

Dr Capehorn is a clinical director and Ms Agnihotri is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

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The Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs And Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity And Type 2 Diabetes report was published on 23 May and generated a huge backlash among the scientific community.

The report argued that saturated fat did not cause heart disease and that full-fat dairy foods - including milk, yoghurt and cheese - could actually protect the heart.

It also said eating fat could help reduce rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes and that the promotion of low-fat food had had "disastrous health consequences" and should be reversed.

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Media captionHas fat been unnecessarily vilified?

NOF chairman Professor David Haslam said on Thursday that he was "not stepping back on the content" of the report, which has been backed by global experts.

However, he did add that the way the report's message was delivered may have been problematic.

He said: "They [the NOF] do not disagree with the content of the report, just the way in which the report was published without their final say on it.

"Other board members feel, quite rightly, that, had they known that this [report] would be going around the planet, they would have wanted a more emphatic input in it. I agree and apologise."

'Not consulted'

Speaking after the Thursday resignations, an NOF spokesman said: "The publication went out without their knowledge or having seen a draft of anything. In a democratic organisation that is not what you do. It has caused a huge amount of problems.

"They feel they were not consulted or shown any of the drafts of the document."

The NOF charity was set up in 2000 to raise obesity awareness and promote measures to tackle it through "achievable and manageable lifestyle changes".

Speaking after the report's publication, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a senior adviser to the NOF, said: "The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history.

"We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eat fat to get slim, don't fear fat, fat is your friend."

But other experts disagreed, saying the report cherry-picked and misquoted evidence and had not been though scientific peer review.

Public Health England's chief nutritionist, Dr Alison Tedstone, responded to the report's publication by saying it was "irresponsible" to call for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories.

The Royal Society for Public Health has described the report as a "muddled manifesto of sweeping statements, generalisations and speculation".

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