Sorting health fad from fact

18 March 2016

While there is evidence that unhealthy eating can take its toll on workplace productivity1, on the flipside, food fads and diet myths that spread among the office can be seriously damaging. Here, we seek out the truth behind the headlines and old wives’ tales, in an effort to prevent employees from endorsing common food fads without any scientific backing.

Staying healthy used to be easy; you simply ate a balanced diet and exercised regularly. But every day, a new study seems to debunk what we thought we knew. Not all of these claims are backed by sufficient evidence and some can even be dangerous. Read on to discover the truth behind the stories before any unsubstantiated food fads take hold in your workplace.

1. Carbohydrates make you fat

The truth: Carbohydrates have become a nutritional enemy since the rise of low-carb diets like Atkins. Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy and are needed by the body to fuel brain and muscle cells2. The government’s healthy eating advice is for a third of your diet to be made up of starchy carbs, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta3.

2. ’Lite’ foods are good for dieters

The truth: Foods described as 'low-fat' or 'fat-free' are often higher in calories than standard products due to the sugars and thickeners used to boost the flavour and texture4. Unsaturated fat, found in avocados, olive oil and some nuts including almonds and Brazil nuts5 provide the body with energy and aid absorption vitamins A, D and E.

3. Diet drinks cause weight gain

The truth: Diet drinks can cause weight gain according to two American studies that found that the risk of obesity was highest in those people only drinking diet soft drinks. Researchers believe that the artificial sweeteners in the drinks trick the brain into thinking it’s about to consume a lot of calories and when that doesn't happen, you eat more to compensate6.

4. Processed meat will give you cancer

The truth: A World Health Organisation study discovered that 50g of processed meat – bacon, ham and sausages – a day increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%7. But experts believe it can still be part of a healthy diet providing you also eat plenty of fruit and vegetables8.

5. Snacking can be part of a healthy diet

The truth: Healthy snacking can aid weight loss and is a good way of getting variety into the diet9. The government suggests that snacks can make up around 20% of our total daily calorie intake. Avoid crisps, chocolate and sugary snacks and instead choose low fat yoghurt, a banana or a handful of almonds10.

Don’t let your workplace be consumed by false health stories. Being alert to the facts can help stop food fads that potentially damage your employees’ wellbeing from spreading.

For more information on Bupa’s Health and Wellbeing products and services, please speak to our small business team.

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