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The Big Fat Debate

The University of Cape Town is committed to academic freedom as the prerequisite to fostering responsible and respectful intellectual debate and free enquiry. It is in this spirit that we publish perspectives on a current issue which has significance for public health - the debate around the impact of high fat diets such as the Banting diet on long term weight loss and health.

It must be noted that based on the existing body of evidence, the Faculty of Health Sciences advocates that weight-loss programmes should include an energy restricted balanced diet containing good quality carbohydrates, good quality proteins and reduced fat products. The weight loss diet should be combined with appropriate levels of physical activity and behaviour change strategies to ensure permanent lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss and good health over the long term

These viewpoints are expressed in a range of press articles and video recordings featuring both proponents and opponents of the debate.

 The extraordinary real meal revolution of  Tim Noakes

 Low carbohydrate diets are not more effective for weight  loss  than balanced diets, so what does this mean?

Eating fat is good for you. That's the extraordinary claim by South African health and exercise guru Tim Noakes, who has snatched headlines with his controversial new diet plan – high fats, high protein and next to no carbohydrates, ideally none. - Media Club South Africa A recent systematic review found that low carbohydrate diets result in similar weight losses over 2 years compared to diets containing a recommended balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein. - Issued by Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Chronic Disease Initiative for Africa, Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, Nutrition Society of South Africa and Professional Board for Dietetics and Nutrition of the HPCSA


Academic Publications

5 reasons why you should be on a balanced diet and not Banting - News24 interviews Stellenbosch University's Professor Jimmy Volmink & Dr Celeste Naude

Read full article & 3 part video

Lifestyle and diet - Lionel H Opie

A Call for an End to the Diet Debates - Pagato & Appelhans 2013 JAMA
The ongoing diet debates expose the public to mixed messages emanating from various trials that have yielded little but have heavily reinforced a fad diet industry that derives billions of dollars from a nation that is not getting healthier. Because behavioral adherence is much more important than diet composition, the best approach is to counsel patients to choose a dietary plan they find easiest to adhere to in the long term.

Low Carbohydrate versus Isoenergetic Balanced Diets for Reducing Weight and Cardiovascular Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis - ​Celeste E. Naude, Anel Schoonees, Marjanne Senekal,Taryn Young,Paul Garner,Jimmy Volmink

Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?​ - D.L. Katz and S. Meller

Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults - A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society

The Vitality Summit Big Fat Debate

Steps to watch video

  1. Click on ‘watch it here live’.
  2. Click on the play button on the left next to ‘Microsoft windows using internet explorer’.
  3. Register using your name, surname and twitter name / handle

The Big Fat Debate - Carte Blanche
​Prof Tim Noakes & Prof Lionel Opie

The Centenary Debate - Faculty of Health Sciences
Prof Tim Noakes & Dr Jacques Rossouw

The Centenary Debate - Faculty of Health Sciences
Prof Tim Noakes & Dr Jacques Rossouw