The Banting Diet: Dangerous for Kids
In my last post, we looked at if the Banting Diet is safe for children. It most certainly is not a safe diet for kids. Youths, who are still growing and developing, are especially sensitive to changes in diet. A healthy diet can do them an enormous amount of good and an unhealthy diet can do a tremendous amount of damage. The Banting Diet is downright dangerous for children and teens.
Dangerous for Children and Teens
Actually, low carb diets can be dangerous for anyone. Cutting out an entire nutrient group is not ideal to the human condition. But children are especially sensitive, as they are growing and developing. In fact, it could actually be downright dangerous. Dr. Fuhrman, a well-known medical doctor, points out on his blog just how dangerous low-carb diets can be for kids:
Most recently, a sixteen-year-old girl who had no history of medical problems died after two weeks on the Atkins diet. When the paramedics arrived, she was pulse-less, and the electrocardiogram revealed ventricular fibrillation (a usually fatal loss of normal heart rhythm). Her emergency room evaluation showed electrolyte imbalances that occurred as a result of eating a diet of meat, cheese, and salads for two weeks. She was doing the diet together with her mother.
Of course most cases won’t be this extreme! But the fact is that low carb diets of any kind can be dangerous and a high animal fat diet like the Banting Diet poses even greater risks. The “low fat” diet that was touted as healthy for so many years has now been shown not to be the fastest way to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean that suddenly switching to the opposite extreme is the best reaction.
Animal fats are saturated fats, which themselves carry lots of disease-causing potential. Saturated fats “have no double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules.” Their chemical structure means that we digest them differently than unsaturated fats. This can lead to the development of high cholesterol, which is showing up in younger and younger populations. It is also a major risk factor for heart disease. Indeed, reducing saturated fats specifically (as opposed to fats overall) is the most effective way to prevent coronary heart disease in women. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of saturated fats to no more than 7% of your diet – well below what the Banting Diet insists on! It is no coincidence that kids placed on a balanced vegan diet showed drastic improvement and major reductions in their heart disease risk factors. Those kids were eating basically the exact opposite of the Banting Diet!
Bear in mind that the Banting Diet is doing more than just restricting carbohydrates and promoting animal fat consumption, the dangers of which we have already discussed. The Banting Diet is also restricting the intake of other foods, too. The whole long list can be found here. We’re not just looking at a diet that cuts out wheat, like in a gluten-free diet. This is a diet where corn, peas, agave, and any kind of fruit juice is absolutely forbidden. Fruits are also on a highly restricted list, so you can have them, but only in small amounts. For example, three small figs or one small banana is all the fruit you’re allowed each day. Notice I said ‘or’ – not ‘and.’ This is not much fruit for a child, who needs that nutrition to thrive.
Children need a balanced diet in order to get all of the vitamins and minerals they need for their bodies to develop. Lacking enough of certain nutrients can have long term effects even beyond what science can currently fathom.
What Do You Want For Your Children?
After reading all of this, what do you want for your children? Hopefully you want to provide them with a balanced, healthy diet. Hopefully your goal is to reduce their disease risks and give them the foundation they need to grow and develop optimally. Doing so will help them live a healthier life, regardless of what choices they make later in life.
The Banting Diet is dangerous for adults and doubly so for children. Tamzyn Campbell may be a nutritionist, but just having a piece of paper with your name on it does not mean you are always right. Similarly, not having a piece of paper with your name on it does not mean you are wrong. I hope I have made a strong case here for why Tamzyn Campbell, nutritionist though she may be, is wrong, dreadfully wrong, and therefore dangerous.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are the words of Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. (whose father is one of my top nutrition idols):
One of the best examples of the low carb misconception is the Atkins program and Paleo both of which emphasize meat which is so deleterious to health. And certainly not for children.
You are right to be alarmed about the Banting Diet……for anyone, especially children.
Do what is right for your children and choose a healthy plant-based diet.