In August the British government promoted an economic and food support operation. It was called "Eat out to help out", literally "eat out to help out". In practice, from Monday to Wednesday meals (and non-alcoholic drinks) with a 50% discount in a vast network of affiliated businesses. An attractive offer, exploited and appreciated by millions of people.
It may have saved jobs and supported the food sector after the coronavirus freeze, but it is unlikely that it has helped to eliminate citizens' obesity. Data gathered around several recent and past studies show that restaurant meals are on average twice as caloric as the equivalent home-cooked dish.
The British are in bad shape
But the news inspired me a post. Because I discovered (the British are said to eat badly, but I didn't think it was literally) that the UK has one of the fattest populations in Europe. Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself attributed the complications of covid-19 to being overweight. And yesterday he announced a national obesity strategy.
In the UK we only get heated snippets of previous anti-obesity plans rather than following the latest science of nutritionBoris Johnson
What will the British plan to eliminate obesity look like?
It is likely to include more calorie labeling, restrictions on junk food advertising, and "Buy one, get one free" offers (they favor compulsive calorie shopping). Neither of these measures will do any harm, but benefit? As a strategy to eliminate obesity it will have zero results. These remedies fall short of the latest science.
Nutritional research is undergoing a revolution. The latest evidence shows that the way we respond to food it varies so much from person to person that there is no one-size-fits-all healthy diet.
This may explain why science has failed to eliminate obesity. And yes it would be a billionaire business.
What would it take to eliminate obesity instead?
Consider a recent test of the effectiveness of low-fat versus low-carb diets for weight loss. The DIETFITS study put more than 600 overweight people on a diet for a year: some low-carb, some low-fat. In the end, the average weight loss was the same in both groups,
about 5,5 kilograms, but there was enormous individual variation, ranging from much greater losses to a few grams. For some, even significant weight gain.
This leads to the conclusion of another cutting-edge nutritional research: a personalized diet is needed based on an individual's metabolism and microbiome. To work out such diets is almost at hand, it will be possible in a very few years. Very few tests will be enough and a successful meal plan will be developed.