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The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet -

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(generated from captions) of the Kyoto Protocol. Jonathan Harley with that report. Now to a book that has squeezed 'The Da Vinci Code' from the number one position on the best-seller list. And for some Australians, it might just provide the way to keep that New Year's resolution to take some kilos off and keep them off. While popular with dieters, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has slammed by some of Australia's nutritional heavyweights and raised questions about the involvement

of the country's foremost research institution

in the weight-loss publishing sensation. Critics say the high-meat diet is potentially dangerous and questions the fact that funding for research behind the book was provided in part by Meat and Livestock Australia. Many dieticians, though, say that the diet is sound and that if it helps tackle Australia's growing obesity problem, it should be encouraged. Tracy Bowden reports.

I feel fantastic. I tried many

diets from Weight Watchers, Aitkens,

milk shake and nothing ever

succeeded until CSIRO diet came

along. Louise Borg has been trying

to lose weight for years, but those

excess kilos just wouldn't shift.

Then she did what more than 500,000

Australians have done - bought

herself a copy of a diet book that

bears the name of Australia's

foremost research organisation.

It's really just a balanced eating

plan, so I wouldn't call it a diet.

It's more a healthy lifestyle

eating. Seven months ago, Louise

Borg tipped and scales at # 9

kilograms. She's lost 27 kilos and

now in the early stages of

now in the early stages of pregnancy says this is the first time she's

been able to stick to an eating

plan. I thought it balanced out

plan. I thought it balanced out your fruit and vegetables very well to

your protein, your meat, your fish,

your chicken. So I thought it was

quite a balanced eating plan.

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is a

low-fat, high-protein program. It

advocates 200 grammes of lean red

meat, fish or chicken daily.

meat, fish or chicken daily. Sounds like a sensible, moderate approach,

but the reaction from some

nutritionists has been anything but.

Well I think the main problem is

that it's based on not very good

science. I think it's a bit of

science. I think it's a bit of grand dsz standing. Once again if she

dsz standing. Once again if she was so concerned she should have raised

it with CSIRO and that certainly

it with CSIRO and that certainly has never been done. ADVERTISEMENT:

You're standing on the edge of

nowhere... Weight loss is a

fast-growing business with more

fast-growing business with more than 65% of Australian men and 45% of

women overweight, there are big

bucks to be made telling people how

to slim down. While the CSIRO book

has become a best seller, the diet

has come under fire. The

highly-respected international

science journal 'Nature' has

questioned whether the book might

ultimately damage the reputation of

the CSIRO. I think one of the

problems is that people do trust

problems is that people do trust the CSIRO and so they should. And so

that has given this book an element

of sort of truth for the public

which I don't think is backed by

which I don't think is backed by the actual research results that CSIRO

have published. Rosemary Stanton

herself the author of a string of

books on nutrition is so concerned

about the CSIRO diet she's written

to the Federal Government. Now,

there's a fair bit of evidence that

if you keep up this very high meat

intake for a long period of time

you're substantially increasing

you're substantially increasing your risk of bowel cancer. So I don't

think it's safe for the long-term.

If it's not safe for the long-term,

then probably it's not the right

diet for people to follow. It's

essentially a good balanced healthy

diet. It's a lot better than what

most Australians are eating. We're

not about to convert vegetarians to

carnivores but Australians do like

their red meat and they eat fish

their red meat and they eat fish and the foods that are in the diet.

the foods that are in the diet. And I think it is a dietary pattern

I think it is a dietary pattern that people can feel confident will

improve their health substantially.

The co-author of the book Associate

Professor Manny Noakes anticipated

the diet would be controversial,

the diet would be controversial, but insists it's based on sound science.

We've done a number of studys and

also people overseas have

also people overseas have researched and area of high-protein diets for

some time and the reason it's a

little bit - and I say only a

little bit - and I say only a little bit to current dietary

recommendations - is because it's

based on new science. But I should

also point out that the critics are

virtually shooting themselves in

virtually shooting themselves in the foot because the Australian dietary

guidelines explicitly say that lean

red meat does not relate to colon

rectal cancer which the critics are suggesting that the dietary pattern

we're proposing does do. There's

lots of way people approaching

health - the critics have their own

theories that they're promoting

theories that they're promoting that is different to the CSIRO diet.

This dietician spent a decade

researching nutrition with the

Garvan Institute. Hi runsz a

private business and says any

criticism of the diet should factor

in a crucial thing - for some

people, it works. It's a good

people, it works. It's a good chance for people to make decisions about

their health and as it provides a

general framework for them and it's

quite successful and people who go

on the CSIRO diet do lose weight

on the CSIRO diet do lose weight and they tend to keep the weight off

they tend to keep the weight off for a long period of time. As one

weight loss tool it's proven to be

very effective. What also concerns

Rosemary Stanton is the way Meat

Rosemary Stanton is the way Meat and Livestock Australia funded and

Livestock Australia funded and CSIRO research, then used and results.

My interest is purely along the

public health lines. So I'm

interested in what is good for the

public, what is good information

public, what is good information for the public and when the CSIRO name

is being used to sell a program

is being used to sell a program that I think goes well beyond the actual

research results, I'm concerned

about where good science should be

going. The research was of our

instigation. It was done at arm's

instigation. It was done at arm's length and the results and the

report they had no input into.

They've certainly promoted and

results and promoted the dietary

pattern and I think that's fair and

reasonable. The important thing is

that Australians are overweight and

we're inactive. We need to do

something about it and we need to

something about it and we need to do something about it that improves

something about it that improves our health. The best seller has already

made the CSIRO $1.5 million in

royalties, which the organisation

says will be spent on further

research into nutrition. Louise

Borg says for her, the diet

succeeded where nothing else has

succeeded where nothing else has and she says that's what matters most.

I don't think I'd be pregnant today

if I hadn't of lost 27 kilos. So

if I hadn't of lost 27 kilos. So as far as a lifestyle change in that

fact, as far as more energy, more

self-esteem, yeah, definitely. So

yeah, it's changed my life, yeah, forever.