Thursday, 19 February 2009

Dr Susan Jebb & Co.

The Medical Research Council's Human Nutrition Research is headed by Dr Susan Jebb, notorious among low-carb dieters for her outspoken criticism of the Atkins' diet, where she displayed all the ignorance of a babe in arms - complete with its lack of comprehension.
Speaking at a briefing at the Royal Institution, London in August 2003, Dr. Jebb said that the diet is a fad and based on pseudo-science. She rejects as fundamentally unhealthy any diet which cuts out an entire food group (carbohydrates in this case). She says that the Atkin Diet could pose serious health problems and that it would be negligent to recommend the Atkins diet to anyone who was overweight.

As we all know, Dr Robert Atkins never suggested that anyone should completely cut out all carbohydrates for ever, but obviously Dr Jebb believed the anti-Atkins propoganda without checking the facts for herself.

Has she actually done a study on low-carb, high-fat diets? Of course not - it's much easier to stick to the dogma! She was involved in one with children - Energy-dense, low-fiber, high-fat dietary pattern is associated with increased fatness in childhood, and I'm willing to bet that 'energy-dense' included lots of lovely carbohydrates! Unfortunately I can't afford to buy this piece of research, so I'll never know for sure.

By the way, she doesn't think much of a Glycaemic Index (GI) diet, either!

Dr Jebb's reputation took a bit of a hammering when it was discovered, just weeks after her diatribe against low-carb diets, that she was engaged in research funded by the Flour Advisory Bureau and the Grain Information Service.

Dr Jebb trained as a State Registered dietitian at Surrey University, and studied for her doctorate at the Medical Research Council (MRC). Unfortunately her influence spreads far and wide, as the following shows:

Cross-government - 2007- Chair, Expert Advisory Group on Obesity
Cabinet Office Strategy Unit - 2007- Expert Advisor to the Review on Food
Department of Health - 2006 - Chair, Expert Group developing the Healthy Living Social Marketing Programme
Department of Health/Food Standards Agency - 2004-2005 - Expert Working Group on Nutrient Profiling
Government Office for Science - 2006-2007 - Science Advisor, Foresight Project 'Tackling Obesities: Future Choices'

Dr Jebb was quick to describe the Atkins diet as 'pseudo-science', yet she seems quite happy that the two national surveys on which all the official 'advice' is based have major flaws. Next time I will try to trace some of the ways in which those surveys are still affecting all our lives.

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