Expert Reaction to Newly Published Report on Diet

Expert Reaction to Newly Published Report on Diet

Expert Reaction to Newly Published Report on Diet

A report published earlier this week by the UK’s National Obesity Forum and the newly-formed ‘Public Health Collaboration’ suggests people should eat more fat, cut out carbohydrates and ignore calories. These recommendations conflict with current health and nutrition recommendations from around the world and have attracted considerable criticism from experts in the field of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In response to this report, Claire Kerins, lead Specialist Cardiac Dietician with Croí and the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology, encourages the public to be cautious when interpreting these recommendations. Ms Kerins explains “This report is mostly based on ideas and opinions, and not based on good science or research. The recommendations from this report are simply irresponsible and misleading for the general public”. She went on to say “If we were to follow the recommendations in this report, such as increasing our saturated fat intake from foods such as cheese and butter, the outcomes would be an increase in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight”.

According to Croí and the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in Ireland, with approximately 10,000 people dying each year. It is estimated that by 2020 the incidence of cardiovascular disease in Ireland will rise by 20-30%. It is important to note that up to 90% of cardiovascular disease is attributable to modifiable risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure and weight (things we can do something about). When we examine the risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease, we can see that diet explains more than 50% of cardiovascular events.

Ms Kerins explains “The report is not robust and is not based on a comprehensive review of the evidence – it is fundamentally based on ideas and opinions. The authors, who are not named, have simply ‘cherry-picked’ research findings to support their claims and this is not good practice or good science”. She also added “The public need to be encouraged to follow a Mediterranean style diet, which has a solid evidence base, known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases”.

Mediterranean Diet

The key elements of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • More healthy fats such as olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • Less ‘bad fats’ found in red-meat, butter and full fat dairy
  • More oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardine, trout
  • Generous amounts of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Herbs and spices to replace salt
  • More wholegrain foods in the diet
  • Small portions of nuts and seeds
  • Alcohol in moderation

All the elements of the Mediterranean diet act synergistically to protect the body from cardiovascular disease. Speaking about the Mediterranean Diet, Ms Kerins, reports “There is a strong body of evidence demonstrating that a Mediterranean style diet is associated with a lower rate of

cardiovascular disease. The health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet are due to the synergistic effects among foods and nutrients in the Mediterranean diet, rather than an effect of only one nutrient, food or food group. The diet is effective in reducing cardiovascular risk by having a positive effect on different cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, and inflammatory markers”.


Based on the current body of evidence, it would be potentially dangerous to think you can eat as much saturated fat as you want without it having an effect on your cardiovascular health, in particular your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. With so much attention being placed on the role of fats in our diet it is crucial to highlight that dietary advice on preventing and managing cardiovascular disease does not begin and end with fats. We also need to be mindful of our diet as a whole and the balance of foods within it Cardiac Specialist Dieticians with Croí and the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology continue to encourage a nutritionally balanced and varied Mediterranean-style diet for optimum cardiovascular health.

For further information on diet and lifestyle advice, please visit or call 091-544310.

Heart Disease Public Talk

Heart Disease Public Talk

Heart Disease

The Road from Prevention to Recovery

VENUE: Croí Heart & Stroke Centre, Moyola Lane, Newcastle, Galway

DATE: Wednesday 1st June 2016

TIME: 6.30pm


Internationally Renowned Guest Speaker
Dr. Elaine Steinke (Wichita State University, USA)

Professor Kieran Daly – Consultant Cardiologist, GUH

Ms. Denise Dunne – Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist, Croí

Supported by an educational grant from:


World Hypertension Day 17th May 2016

World Hypertension Day 17th May 2016

Know your blood pressure is the key message of World Hypertension Day, taking place on Tuesday 17th May. High blood pressure is the number one cause of premature death worldwide and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. High blood pressure is very common in Ireland, with 60% of Irish adults suffering from the condition.

Known as the ‘silent killer’, high blood pressure rarely causes any signs or symptoms therefore the only way to detect the condition is to have your blood pressure checked.

The good news is that blood pressure (BP) is easily measured, with little discomfort and Croí recommends that everyone should get their blood pressure checked at least once every year. Croí will host a free popup blood pressure clinic at the Eyre Square Shopping Centre on Tuesday the 17th May from 10-12:30pm. The popup clinic will offer free blood pressure screening and advice. The next bit of good news is, once you know you have elevated blood pressure you can take action to help control it.

What are the ideal target levels for blood pressure?

Knowing both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers is important and could save your life.

  • If your blood pressure is below 120/80 (meaning less than 120 mmHg of systolic blood pressure and less than 80 mmHg of diastolic blood pressure) then you have normal healthy blood pressure.
  • If your blood pressure is less than 140/90 but above 120/80 you are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and you need to take some steps to improve your lifestyle.
  • If your blood pressure is above 140/90 you need to be assessed by your GP or Practice Nurse to be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

It is important to be aware that high blood pressure cannot be diagnosed on one single reading, you need to have it checked on numerous occasions and you ideally need to have 24 hour blood pressure monitoring.

How can you reduce your blood pressure?

Everyone can benefit from taking measures to lower blood pressure. Even if you have a healthy blood pressure you can still take steps to ensure it remains healthy. Lifestyle measures such as weight control; increased physical activity; alcohol in moderation; quitting smoking; increased fruit and vegetable intake; opting for low fat dairy products and reducing your salt intake have all been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Did you know?

  • A 10% weight reduction can lower you BP by as much as 10-20mmHg
  • Having no more than a half a teaspoon (2.4g) of salt a day can lower your BP by 2-8mmHg.
  • If everyone in Ireland reduced their salt intake by this amount this could prevent approximately 900 deaths per year from stroke and heart disease.
  • A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can lower your BP by 8-14mmHg
  • Taking a brisk walk every day for 30 minutes can reduce your BP by 4-7mmHg
  • Reducing your alcohol intake to the recommended safe limits can help reduce your BP by 2-3mmHg.

Join Croí at the Eyre Square Shopping Centre from 10 -12:30pm on Tuesday 17th of May and get to know your blood pressure.

By taking control of your blood pressure you can make a positive step towards reducing your overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease. For further information on how to control blood pressure please visit

European Heart Failure Awareness Day 6th May 2016

European Heart Failure Awareness Day 6th May 2016

European Heart Failure Awareness Day, the platform to launch “Keep It Pumping”

The “Keep It Pumping” campaign was officially launched today, European Heart Failure Awareness Day, to raise awareness of heart failure and the importance of recognising heart failure symptoms. The event which is being held in Dundrum Town Centre from the 6th – 8th May, is supported by The Heartbeat Trust and Croí and sponsored by Novartis.

Heart failure is a serious condition affecting 90,000 people in Ireland2. There are another 160,000 people living with impending heart failure2. Heart failure causes up to three times as many deaths as advanced cancers like bowel and breast cancer and is the number one reason for hospitalisation in the over 65s3,4,5. Despite all of this heart failure awareness is worryingly low1. One in three Irish people mistake heart failure symptoms with the normal signs of aging1. One in four Irish people wait a week or more to seek medical advice when experiencing symptoms of heart failure1. Fewer than one in 10 people can identify three common symptoms of heart failure1 and these Irish figures emphasise how important it is for the public to learn more about the condition.

The “Keep It Pumping” campaign aims to raise awareness of heart failure and its symptoms. We are encouraging people to donate their heartbeats in support of heart failure awareness. The “Keep It Pumping” app is available to download for free and lets you record and save your “heartbeat”. It also aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of heart failure and encourages people to seek medical advice if they or a family member are experiencing these symptoms. Common symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, low energy, swelling of the feet and ankles and coughing/wheezing6.

In addition the Heart Failure Patient Alliance, founded by the Heartbeat Trust and Croí, is launching comprehensive heart failure education materials to support people who are living with heart failure and their carers, with the support of Novartis. This includes; practical advice on living with heart failure, helpful tips and advice from Irish people living with heart failure, their families, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians.

Professor Ken McDonald, Consultant Cardiologist, Medical director of The Heartbeat Trust and National Clinical Lead for Heart Failure, said; “Education plays a huge role in disease prevention and management. The burden of heart failure is enormous from both societal and economic perspectives. Everyone needs to be better informed about heart failure: from symptoms and prevalence, to consequences and what can be done about it. Our aim is to help to reduce the burden of heart failure through the provision of educational material. To access this material visit or”

Neil Johnson, CEO, Croí said; “It is important that people can recognise heart failure symptoms and if suffering from them speak to their GP at their next appointment. The most common symptoms of heart failure are; shortness of breath or trouble breathing, fatigue, swollen feet or ankles.”

Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland said, “Research conducted by Novartis in Ireland clearly shows that the awareness of health failure symptoms, is worryingly low, with most people mistaking the symptoms to be signs of aging. The only way we can start to tackle and manage the condition, is by raising awareness and uniting to improve the lives of those living with it.”

“Novartis is proud to support the Keep It Pumping campaign to help people identify symptoms of heart failure early, so they can act immediately to ensure that they will have an earlier diagnosis leading to better outcomes. For people already diagnosed with heart failure we are delighted to support the Heart Failure Patient Alliance to bring education and support to patients and their carers ensuring they are empowered and informed enough to manage their condition effectively.”

More information on heart failure and access to the heart failure educational materials visit and


  1. TNS UK Limited, March 2014. Survey of 11,000 members of the public aged 50+ years old in Europe, funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. 7. Irish Heart Foundation, Step by step through
  2. Department of Health and Children. Changing Cardiovascular Health. National Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010-2019. Dublin: Government Publications, 2010.
  3. Stewart et al. More ‘malignant’ than cancer? Five-year survival following a first admission for heart failure Eur J Heart Fail. 2001;3:315322
  4. Zannad F. et al, Heart failure burden and therapy, Europace 2009, 11; v1-v9
  5. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project 2009 (…)
  6. Heart Failure…. Accessed August 2013