Riposte regarding recent negative articles about the 5:2 diet and intermittent fasting

Dear All,

I thought I would contact you to wish you all a Happy New Year. On a slightly more depressing note I thought I would also alert you to an entirely misleading article about 5:2 and intermittent fasting in the Sunday Times, which was picked up by the Daily Mail and others. The headline was, “What a load of flimflab: proof that 5:2 diet works long-term is rather thin” and went on to quote me, totally inaccurately, as having said, “Mosley agreed there was no evidence of long-term weight loss among people following The Fast Diet plan”.

In fact what I said there are lots of animal studies and human studies that run to a year, but as yet no really long term studies.  I went on to explain to the journalist why really long term studies are so difficult to do and why they are only really done by pharmaceutical companies.  He ignored this.

There was also reference to a recent research paper which apparently  showed intermittent fasting didn’t work, even in the short term. When you read the actual science paper (which you can at what it concludes is that intermittent energy restriction diets do work rather well, at least in the short term (by which they mean up to 48 weeks, which is actually reasonably long for diet studies).

What they found is that intermittent fasting (IF) leads to average weight loss of at least 5 kg and multiple health benefits. “The findings support the use of weekly intermittent energy restriction as an alternative option for the treatment of obesity.”

This is almost the exact opposite of the spin the Sunday Times put on it.

The study also pointed out that people doing IF are twice as likely to lose over 15kg as those doing a more conventional diet.

Clearly more long term studies would be great, but the big question is, “who is going to pay for them?”

The Women’s Health Initiative, which included a very long term study looking for the benefits (or otherwise) of cutting fat from your diet, cost over $600m dollars and ran for over 15 years

The conclusion, at the end of all that time and money, was that low fat diets don’t work.