The National Nutrition Council Governing Board (NNC GB) chaired by Health Secretary and Chairperson Francisco T. Duque III approved during its meeting on 21 June 2018 the Policy Statement on Fad Diets, as explained in the NNC Governing Board Resolution No. 4 Series of 2018. This is to address the issue of the proliferation of fad diets which is growing in popularity among Filipinos interested in losing weight.
The policy declares that the NNC does not recommend the use of fad diets for weight loss as it may pose potential health risk and dangers. Instead, the NNC recommends the adherence to a holistic, sustainable, adequate, and nutritionally-balanced diet, complemented by an active lifestyle and lifelong behavioral modifications. Moreover, to prevent further increase of overweight and obesity prevalence in the Philippines, the NNC Governing Board also asserts that population-based interventions, particularly through the promotion of healthier food environments and systems, as well as public awareness through behavioral change, should complement individual efforts to combat overweight and obesity.
Fad diets, also known as crash diets or diet cults, are dietary regimens or practices promoted for weight loss and improvement of health although not in accordance with the standard dietetic-led weight management advice. Often, fad diets comprise a very restrictive eating plan with few or an unusual combination of foods or food groups done only for a brief period. Many fad diets become enticing as they claim dramatic results, although poorly supported and have insufficient evidence.
Fad diets are interesting to many people due to its novel or unusual way of eating, which breaks the monotony and boredom in regular food intake. At present, numerous studies and researches are being conducted to verify its health benefits. In fact, some of the most popular fad diets nowadays, like ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting, claim improved organ functions, lower risk for NCDs, and aid in longevity and aging. Nonetheless, although promising, the majority of these new studies are still questionable since they have not been performed for longer durations, thus inconclusive of its long-term benefits.
It was found that the similarity among these fad diets is in its principle of energy deficit (wherein there is a decrease in caloric intake, increase in energy expenditure), thus leading to weight loss. However, according to several studies, the short duration of these diets frequently results in greater possibilities of weight gain. Fad dieters are also at a greater risk for nutritional imbalances due to the restriction for certain food groups and micronutrients. In addition, the concept of restrictive eating can create a psychological stress which can later manifest as mental and eating disorders.
Following a short and limiting dietary regime is medically unsuitable and unsustainable as it leads to poor dietary adherence and long-term behavioral change. Hence, the dietetic advice still recommends safe, healthy, and holistic dietary, exercise, and behavioral plan in order to achieve desirable weight loss and improvement in overall health. This can be best accomplished with the help of a registered nutritionist-dietitian, licensed physical therapists, and lifestyle physicians.
The policy statement on fad diets was developed in consultation with doctors, experts, and professionals in the field of weight loss and diet management. This policy statement is also based on the review of numerous peer-reviewed literature and reference materials on obesity, weight loss, and weight management.
The full Policy Statement on Fad Diets can be found on this link.