Wanted: Healthy Dialogue between Low-Carb & Low-Fat Experts

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With criticism of low-carb diets and low-carb foods heating up once again, the Carbohydrate Awareness Council seeks to bring the critics and proponents to the table for discussions and evaluation of scientific evidence.

In recent weeks and months, media attention questioning the healthfulness of low-carb diets has heated up, once again. Everything from the low-carb diets to the new foods being introduced are under the microscope of scrutiny. The war-of-words between which approach and which foods are healthier - low-fat or low-carb - has taken center stage again while consumers get lost in the crossfire.    

This isn't to say all the criticism is unfounded. "In some instances, criticism of low-carb is well founded," said Regina Schumann, COO of the Carbohydrate Awareness Council (CAC). "Some of the new product introductions, touted as 'low-carb', do little more than replace old junk food with new junk food. In an environment with no legal definition of 'low-carb', consumers are confused. The CAC agrees with one recent position taken by the newly formed Partnership for Essential Nutrition: A high priority must be placed on advocating for effective public policy to protect consumers from misleading 'low-carb' claims in food and beverage marketing."

Criticism of a low-carb dietary approach is not offering solutions to tackle America's obesity epidemic, however. "But that does not close the door of opportunity to enter into a healthy dialogue about nutrition, health and addressing the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Gil Wilshire, MD, FACOG, President and Chief Scientific Officer of the CAC. "In the United States, we are at a crisis level of obesity, and diabetes continues to be diagnosed at alarming rates. This is occurring despite more than 20 years of advocacy for low-fat diets."

Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, who sits on the CAC's Scientific Advisory Committee added, "We invite all concerned parties to step forward so we may open up a dialogue. The CAC is committed to making a difference and helping to improve the health of our nation. Organizations that are truly interested in our country’s health will support and incorporate emerging evidence into recommendations and practice. Surely they agree that no one diet is appropriate for everyone."

Could two diametrically opposed approaches - reducing fat & calories and low-carb - sit at the same table to begin a dialogue and review the scientific evidence?

"We have to start somewhere," said Keith Berkowitz, MD, of the Center for Balanced Health in New York City, "The continued low fat, low-carb debate distracts from the common mission each side is striving to achieve - that is, winning the war against the pandemic spread of obesity and each of its associated life-threatening conditions. Supporting the patient and their nutritional choice will foster better outcomes and lessen confusion for those who need to lose or maintain weight and health. The research shows that weight and health risks can be reduced with nutritional intervention. Professionals need to be prepared to provide individuals with options. No single dietary approach works for everyone. Thus, making it is necessary to explore the effectiveness of various approaches so clinicians can tailor recommendations to the individual."

Part of the Mission of the CAC is to establish dialogue amongst healthcare professionals, researchers, and industry experts, within a context of high ethical and scientific standards. In the coming months, the CAC will schedule a series of round-table discussions, which includes all approaches, to evaluate the scientific evidence objectively. Interested parties and organizations are encouraged to contact the CAC for more information so that energies may be focused where they belong: on improving the health of America through scientifically effective approaches.

Dr. Wilshire added, "As an organization, we're hoping to start the process of looking at all effective nutritional approaches so the medical community can utilize effective tools to affect change for the health of the nation, thus avoiding a political battle that overlooks the help professionals are committed to providing to the community."

Those individuals and organizations who would like to participate may contact the CAC via email at info@carbaware.org or visit the website for additional contact information at http://www.carbaware.org

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Regina Schumann
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