How low-carbohydrate diets are ‘damaging the nation’s health’

New research by YouGov has found more than a third (37%) of people trying to lose weight have attempted to follow a low-carbohydrate diet, popularised by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian. The survey has also revealed that low-carbohydrate plans are difficult to follow, with respondents often feeling hungry (46%), limited in what they could eat (40%), and finding the diet boring (30%). In addition to the challenges of hunger and boredom, robust nutritional evidence from the World Health Organisation as well as UK and USA government guidance, shows that carbohydrates should be part of a healthy balanced diet within a weight-loss plan. Yet contrary to the scientific advice and despite the difficulty of sustaining a low-carb diet, two thirds (66%) of the YouGov survey respondents have heard that low-carbohydrate diets are better for weight loss, and one third (35%) had heard that it was impossible to lose weight without cutting carbohydrates. The findings reveal that people are bewildered about the role of carbohydrates in weight control due to conflicting and controversial messages from sources including the media (54%), the diet industry (30%) and social media (26%). Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition and Research at Slimming World, says: “There is a deep-seated misconception that people should avoid carbohydrates when they’re trying to lose weight, and as a nation we’re bombarded with anti-carbohydrate messages.

Carbohydrates play an important role in a healthy diet and sustainable weight loss – and the current carb confusion is damaging to the UK’s obesity problem.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World Head of Nutrition and Research

“It’s vitally important we provide people who’d like to lose weight with accurate information, alongside effective support for maintaining healthy, flexible and sustainable diets, which should help to reduce the burden on the NHS in the long term.”