David Gillespie’s new book about vegetable oils is a load of codswallop

On the weekend a story by lawyer David Gillespie was published in several newspapers promoting his new book titled ‘Toxic Oil’. I’ve also tracked down an extract from his book on the internet. Mr Gillespie’s theme is that the consumption of vegetable oils, especially oils rich in omega 6, is killing us.There are so many errors and misleading statements in these short extracts that I can’t say I am looking forward to reading the full book. Here is a taste.

Gillespie says: … the amount of omega 6 oil we consume has exploded … our average polyunsaturated fat intake is currently … 11 per cent of our total calorie intake – more than double what it was in 1996.

This is just plain wrong. Intake of polyunsaturated fat in Australia has never been anywhere near as high as 11 percent of daily calories and rather than ‘exploding’ it has been declining for three decades.

The evidence on this issue is available to all in the two National Nutrition Surveys in 1983 and 1995, two CSIRO surveys and the 2007 Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. The overall picture is one of a steady decline in polyunsaturated fat intake from 1983 until the present. Page 17 of the latest survey report shows children’s intake of polyunsaturated fats to be just 4 percent of total calorie intake across both genders and all age groups, about a third of that claimed by Mr Gillespie. Children’s intake of polyunsaturated fat is little different from the mean intake of men and women of 4.5 percent of daily calories observed in the last survey of adults in 1995.

Where did Mr Gillespie get his figures from?

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The evolution of healthy eating advice: our new Dietary Guidelines

The most notable shift in the latest Dietary Guidelines is the move away from the low fat diet. The emphasis is now on fat type. But how will healthy eating advice evolve from here?

The first Dietary Guidelines in Australia were released in 1980 and recommended restriction of the total amount of fat in the diet as a strategy for chronic disease prevention. In the following 20 years this piece of dietary advice took precedence over all others and dominated the nutrition landscape. However, the writing has been on the wall for the low fat diet for many years now.

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Do the Five Food Groups make sense?

The Five Food Groups concept has been a cornerstone of nutrition education for decades. But are they based on good science and logic? Do the Five Food Groups make sense?

Food groups and ‘distinguishing nutrients’

The concept of food groups has been central to nutrition education in many countries for decades. It’s a simple idea: different types of foods make distinctive contributions to the diet so eating a variety of foods from the different food groups should ensure adequate intakes of essential nutrients.

Although all whole foods contain small amounts of a wide variety of nutrients, the distinctive contribution of a food group is due to 4-6 ‘distinguishing nutrients’ found in abundance. As foods in the same food group share distinguishing nutrients they can be exchanged without compromising nutrient intake. This nutritional equivalence allows flexibility in food choice.

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