Christmas diet? Don't bother, say scientists

By Katelyn John

SYDNEY - One in four Australians intend to be on a diet over the Christmas festive period, but new research shows most don't know what they're taking on.

A recent Newspoll survey shows myths like cutting out carbohydrates in the evening and misunderstanding the popular GI (glycemic index) diet will lead to many well-intentioned diets failing by the new year.

Nutritionist Karen Inge says accepting celebrity-endorsed diet fads as fact puts people's health at risk.

"Results from this national survey should sound a warning bell for Australian health authorities," Ms Inge said.

"If people are confused about the basics of a nutritious diet, and believe cutting carbohydrates from their daily intake is a healthy option, they're going to have trouble when it comes to choosing the right foods for themselves and their family."

The Newspoll research, which involved 1,200 Australian adults, showed almost one third of all women would be attempting a diet this festive season.

The results show that seven out of ten Australians believe following a low carbohydrates diet, or cutting them out completely after 5pm, will help them lose weight.

However, Mr Inge said there was no existing evidence that carbohydrates were any more fattening than any other food group.

Likewise, seven out of 10 Australians believed they should choose foods based on their GI rating, although only half knew to eat low GI foods instead of high GI foods.

"When it comes to a strategy such as 'not eating carbs after 5pm' as a way to lose weight, this is nothing more than 'voodoo' science," Ms Inge said.

"The best approach when trying to lose weight is to maintain a balanced diet with a focus on low fat foods ... and more exercise."


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