It is really challenging to get dietary stories up in the media – unless there is a sensationalised angle or promise of significant weight loss you can kiss regular TV appearances and news headlines goodbye. It is for this reason that so many self proclaimed gurus break through in the media – they can make sensationalised statements such as ‘sugar is poison’ or ‘grains will kill you’ without any professional repercussions and get their stories and profile out there.
And hence my frustration at seeing the most ridiculous headline in today’s press that some of the fruits and vegetables we are eating are making us fat. Are you serious? It is not the prolonged hours we spend sitting, the soft drink, refined carbs or excessive alcohol consumption that is seeing us pile on the pounds, rather the corn, potatoes and peas we are eating in excess? Such a dramatic statement is not worth the webpage it is written on.
The study quoted has been published by Harvard University and merely cites an association between a higher intake of some types of ‘vegetables’ (mind you I would not put the starchy carbs potatoes and corn in the vege group anyway, rather a ‘carb’ food group), and weight gain over a 4 year period. It is not an intervention study just an association and we make a stupid headline out of it. It is not mentioned that the majority of vegetables have very few calories; that potatoes and even corn are very different to other ‘vegetables’; nor that potatoes and corn are often served with other sauces and high fat dressings. No, we make a headline that some fruits and vegetables could be making us fat.
And most importantly of all, the story forgot to focus on the most important finding of all – that most vegetables were associated with lower rates of weight gain over the 4 year period. Seriously.
The take home message, 2 pieces of fruit and truckloads of salad and low cal veges (carrots, celery, pumpkin, zucchini, squash, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach) is not going to make you fat anytime soon. Concentrate on those and you will be on the right track. And as usual when it comes to dietary headlines let’s keep the skepticism up – if it sounds too good to be true, there is usually more to the story, and where it is coming from.