The Food Fix – Changing The Way We Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Dietary Guidelines Need to Change for People with Type 2 Diabetes.

Janine Freeman a member of the Western Australian parliament, chaired a Parliamentary Inquiry into the role of diets and Type 2 Diabetes, resulting in a comprehensive report released in April 2019 “The Food Fix”.

Recently, Janine gave a radio interview discussing the inquiry findings including the recent disappointing response by the Western Australian Department of Health. Despite the evidence supporting Low Carbohydrate diets with the recommendation from the inquiry that Low Carbohydrate diets should be a choice in the public health system, the Western Australian Department of Health rejected these findings and will not support a Low Carbohydrate dietary options.

I would like to highlight some really important points that I took away from the interview with a couple of links at the bottom of this post for those that wish to listen to the interview and read further into the inquiry findings.

The Food Fix report was produced by a bipartisan committee. This means that all political differences are set aside, and committee members unify for a common purpose.

  • There were no commercial sponsorship or funding monies given to the committee which means that any bias written into the Food Fix report findings are very unlikely.

Having qualified evidence based dietary approaches such as Low Carbohydrate diets to support people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes is necessary due to the fact that:

  • Type 2 diabetes is mostly viewed as a lifestyle disease. There are many lifestyle factors that are modifiable to significantly reduce a person’s risk in relationship to Type 2 Diabetes development and disease onset.
  • Diet is a major component of Type 2 Diabetes as a lifestyle risk factor and is modifiable for most people. Diet is also a major solution to help manage the disease both at a pre-diabetes stage and diagnosis stage.

The Food Fix report challenges the “Business as Usual” treatment approaches which predominantly centre on managing Type 2 Diabetes through medications and then monitored by a GP. Treatment approaches need to be more proactive.

  • There is a body of evidence being questioned in regard to the current management of Type 2 Diabetes, especially in respect to diet advice due to the fact that current recommendations are not working.
  • The dietary recommendations in The Food Fix are based on extensive interviews, hearings and submission by experts in the field of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • The committee travelled to the UK to speak with leading researchers, doctors and organisations that are challenging how Type 2 Diabetes is managed as a disease, especially in relationship to dietary approaches.
  • Many UK experts are using a very low calorie or low carbohydrate dietary approach to Type 2 Diabetes and are seeing significantly higher remission rates than the Business as Usual model. We are not seeing this in Australia or talking about the fact that remission is possible using certain dietary approaches, mainly Low Carbohydrate or Low Calorie diets.
  • The Food Fix report contradicts current Dietary Guidelines for people with Type 2 Diabetes. The committees view is that the Australian Dietary Guidelines are not appropriate for people with chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, this is also clearly stated in the Australian Dietary Guidelines themselves.
  • The written response by the WA Department of Health to The Food Fix report in not supporting Low Carbohydrate Diets is inconsistent with their own written evidence. The Department of Health confirmed the Australian Dietary Guidelines are not suitable for people with chronic health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, however, they will continue to only offer dietary advice to people with Type 2 Diabetes based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
  • One of the difficulties in getting a change to the current dietary advice for people with Type 2 diabetes is the Australian Dietary Guidelines are at a national level and Western Australia is tied to what is being down at the national level. The Food Fix report is essentially giving the WA Health Department an option to be more active in the dietary advice area rather than being tied to advice at the national level.

Committee Chair Janine Freeman spoke of Dr Gary Fettke. Dr Fettke is a Tasmanian orthopaedic surgeon who amputates limbs from patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The amputations occur as a consequence to complications associated with this disease, mainly due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

  • Dr Fettke was reported to the medical board for the fact, he advised his patients to try eating less carbohydrates (especially sugar) to help manage their disease. This was to help reduce further risk of future diabetic complications and further amputations.
  • Dr Fettke has since been exonerated – you can read more about Dr Fettkes case here >
  • Committee Chair Janine Freeman felt that the actions against Dr Fettke has made many doctors fearful to give dietary advice and continue with prescription-based treatments due to the risk to their practice and themselves
  • GPs are in the excellent position to take on a greater role in giving people hope that Type 2 Diabetes can be managed using certain dietary prescriptions, as was clearly demonstrated in the UK.
  • The Food Fix report should give GPs and the medical professional the confidence to actively debate Type 2 Diabetes treatment out in the general community and discuss with patients changes to their diet including using a Low Carbohydrate approach.

It is hoped that The Food Fix report is part of a ground up movement. It is evident in the UK that a Low Carbohydrate diet is a ground up movement with patients and doctors taking the initiative to the powers to and initiate changes to how Type 2 Diabetes is managed from a dietary perspective.

  • This was clear when the committee met GP Dr David Unwin in the UK who champions a Low Carbohydrate diet approach for his patients and has been instrumental in communicating this approach with other health care professionals.
  • The committee also meet several of his patients and his patients not only felt hope that they were able to put the disease in remission but were confident that they were in control of their own health by using a Low Carbohydrate dietary approach.