Thursday, June 12, 2008

Leslie Beck says the Food Guide Makes you Fat

If you live in Canada, you've probably heard of Leslie Beck - she's one of our most well known dietitians and aside from writing books and running a practice, she's also a health columnist for the Globe and Mail.

Yesterday her column entitled, Supersized servings, supersized people had her discussing portions and how certainly one of the main contributors to global weight gain has been global portion size gain.

She also had this to say,

"The first step in downsizing portions is to become familiar with the number of food servings you need each day (Canada's Food Guide is available on the Internet). If you're trying to lose weight, you'll probably need to eat fewer servings than recommended."
Of course that means if you don't reduce the number of servings recommended by the Food Guide, you won't lose weight.

That means that the number of servings recommended by the Food Guide provides you with enough Calories to keep you overweight.

That means that if you're a healthy weight and eat the Food Guide's recommended number of servings it would follow that Leslie Beck thinks you're liable to gain.

Now I've been criticizing the Food Guide seemingly forever but Leslie is now the second prominent dietitian to come right out and say that following the Food Guide makes you fat (the other was former College of Dietitians director Samara Felsky Hunt as I blogged about here).

If you travel back in time a bit further you can also hear Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, telling the Canadian Medical Association Journal's Margot Andresen,
"the Guide isn't meant to be "a weight-loss tool or a diet system," but rather, a means of helping Canadians make healthier choices."
So for those of you keeping score.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer says the Food Guide isn't a weight loss tool or a diet system and two of Canada's most prominent dietitians say that if you're one of the now minority of Canadians with a healthy body weight and you follow the Food Guide, you'll gain.

Great job Health Canada - that's one heckuva Guide.

[By the way, that graphic up top was sent to me by a loyal reader who wishes to remain anonymous - it's a testament to the fact that the only people who are truly benefiting from our obesigenic Food Guide are those involved in the food industry - more food = more sales. Please feel free to disseminate the graphic widely!]

Bookmark and Share


  1. I think I talk about your posts at least once a day in conversations with friends and coworkers. I like the graphic, and will most likely spread it around too.

  2. I'm not sure I'm following, and will have to read the articles in the links, but could you quickly explain something for me?

    I understand that if we follow the portion #'s on the food guide, those of us who are overweight are not likely to lose weight.

    But, I'm not understanding the leap that if we are already a healthy weight, and follow the food guide, we will gain weight.

    Something is missing from the logic. One does not necessarily follow the other.

  3. Oh no?

    Every bit of you currently burns calories.

    The larger a person is, the more calories their body burns.

    Overweight bodies are overweight because they are consuming sufficient number of calories to sustain the energy needs of that body.

    If an overweight person eats less than they burn, they will lose weight until they reach a new equillibrium where what they eat is now equivalent to what their now smaller body burns.

    If Leslie is saying that overweight people need to eat less than the Food Guide serves, what she's saying is that the Food Guide serves up enough food to sustain the calorie needs of an overweight body.

    If you are a healthy weight body and follow the Food Guide, and provide yourself with sufficient calories to sustain an overweight body, well then guess what - you're going to gain until your body reaches a new (overweight) equillibrium.

  4. Thank you.

    I thought overweight bodies were overweight because they consumed more calories than their bodies used. At least that's how they got overweight in the first place.

    To effectively drop your weight you need to consume less calories than your body uses, and to mantain the equation should be equal. No?

    But isn't that part of the reason for ranges of servings on the food guide?

    Is there somewhere to see a sample calculation of calories in a food guide day, assuming someone is making healthy food choices? I would be curious to see this.

  5. Yup.

    Just head on back so some of my old posts:

    A Match Not Made in Heaven


    Oh and you Can't Have Ketchup

    You can also click here to see a sample Food Guide approved diet that would bring in boatloads of calories - it's from my Guidance, What Guidance? post.

  6. Thanks again.

    I'm still not convinced the food guide is evil, just misguided. I agree it's incredibly incomplete and should not have been released in its current format.

    But, I also think North Americans have horrendous eating and food shopping habits and we could learn a lot from our overseas friends.

  7. Anonymous9:17 am

    Leslie Beck does not say that you will gain weight with the Food Guide. She says that people who need to lose weight will PROBABLY need to eat less than the Food Guide servings. This does not mean that she thinks you will gain weight. People with a healthy body weight may sustain their weight with the food guide.

    Leslie Beck does not say that the Food Guide makes you fat - this is your interpretation of what she wrote. Do not put meanings or words into other peoples mouths without checking with them first.

    I'm not involved with making the Food Guide and don't agree with all of it (especially the amount they expect elderly people to eat) but it can give people a good idea of what a real serving size looks like.