Cheer up fans of high-fat, low-carb living around the world because I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you today that will have you jumping for joy at the incredible progress being made about this way of eating right now in the nation of Sweden. Whether you realize it or not, there’s an outright low-carb revolution happening amongst the Swedish people that has been several years in the making thanks to an unprecedented chain of events that have unfolded featuring educated physicians and patients whose lives have been forever changed for the better because of healthy high-fat, low-carb living. This story I’m about to share with you today should inspire those of us in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and everywhere else livin’ la vida low-carb is impacting the lives of real people.
I’ve been telling you about the rise of the low-carb lifestyle taking place in Sweden for over three years now, including conducting podcast interviews with several of the key players in the low-carb movement there like medical practitioner Dr. Annika Dahlqvist, activist Per Wikholm, and triathlete Jonas Colting. And I’ll be interviewing the great “Diet Doctor” physician Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt on my podcast later this year to talk about the overwhelming success he has seen with his brand new 2011 book detailing what they call LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) is all about. But excitement about LCHF hit a fevered pitch this week when a new public opinion poll about Swedish eating habits released on Monday showed nearly one in four Swedes identify themselves as eating a low-carb diet. INCREDIBLE! Needless to say, this has lit a fire of excitement amongst those who have been championing healthy high-fat, low-carb living there–and I think it will encourage low-carbers around the world to continue spreading the good news about what this way of eating has done for our weight and health.
For those of you who have not been following this story about low-carb diets in Sweden closely over the past few years, let me catch you up on all that’s been happening. In December 2005, Dr. Dahlqvist was reported to a government entity called the National Board of Health and Welfare (similar to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration) by a pair of dietitians who claimed she was putting her patients at “severe risk” by recommending a low-carb, high-fat diet for treating diabetes and obesity. An investigation took place to determine whether Dr. Dahlqvist should be stripped of her medical license or if she would be able to continue to use the LCHF approach with patients. While the investigation was ongoing, her employer informed her she could no longer use her low-carb nutritional plan with patients–so she quit and went into practice for herself while awaiting the result of the charges filed against her.
On January 16, 2008, the National Board of Health and Welfare made their decision after carefully examining all of the evidence presented to them and declared publicly that a low-carb diet is “in accordance with science and well-tried experience for reducing obesity and Type 2 diabetes.” WOW! Sweden is likely the first country in the world to have an official government board admit that low-carb is a suitable treatment for diabetes and obesity. Dr. Dahlqvist was willing to put her entire medical career on the line to defend the low-carb nutritional principles she knew was helping her patients. Although the odds were stacked against her, she was confident in the science and stood strong in the face off immense adversity. In the end, she came out of this intense trial victorious as the Swedish government now recognizes healthy low-carb living, albeit begrudgingly. But this was merely the catalyst for some truly great things to come for the LCHF movement that immediately took off in Sweden.
By mid-2008, a public conversation about LCHF started happening led by Dr. Dahlqvist, Dr. Eenfeldt, and others to begin reeducating Swedish consumers about what a healthy high-fat, low-carb diet looks like so they can make changes in their own personal dietary habits to deal with obesity and chronic disease. You could say a high-fat, low-carb diet explosion began taking place as LCHF bloggers began popping up everywhere featuring people whose lives had been changed as a result of this way of eating. At times it even got a little heated in televised debates like this one in 2009 because the adherents to the conventional dietary wisdom were none-too-pleased at this promotion of saturated fats to consumers for their health. Because of the amazing work she did leading the charge for LCHF, I named Dr. Dahlqvist to my Top 10 Movers & Shakers of 2009 list…but she began having some help from a fellow Swedish physician who was also a big believer in high-fat, low-carb nutrition.
Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt created his “Kostdoktorn” blog which has since expanded in 2011 to an English version called “Diet Doctor” as a means for promoting the principles of a healthy high-fat, low-carb, real food lifestyle change that can be used therapeutically for patients struggling with health issues traditionally treated by medical doctors pharmaceutically. He wanted to reach outside the borders of Sweden, though, and began attending some American obesity conferences like The American Society of Bariatric Physicians and Nutrition & Metabolism Society Symposium beginning in 2010 (and I named him to my Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers of 2010 for his tireless efforts to educate himself further to pass along to the readers of his top-rated low-carb blog in Sweden). We also signed him up to be a guest speaker on The Annual Low-Carb Cruise in 2010 to share about the remarkable success of LCHF in Sweden. His very first English presentation was very well-received by nearly 100 enthusiastic supporters of healthy low-carb living in the United States. With the much-anticipated January 2011 release of his Swedish language book on LCHF called Matrevolutionen, Dr. Eenfeldt has set the stage for even more widespread communication of the low-carb message to the people of Sweden–and quite possibly around the world if the book’s amazing success so far continues and is translated into other languages (I’m looking forward hearing Dr. Eenfeldt speak again and meet a group of LCHF advocates who will be joining us on The 4th Annual Low-Carb Cruise coming up May 1-7, 2011).
So, is the LCHF movement making a REAL difference in the lives of the people of Sweden? That’s what a new March 2011 poll of 1,000 Swedish citizens between the ages of 18-89 conducted by Demoskop wanted to find out. Commissioned by Pagina/Optimal, the leading publisher of LCHF and other low-carb books (including Swedish translations of bestselling low-carb books like Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It, Leirre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth and The New Atkins For A New You by Dr. Stephen Phinney, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Eric Westman), they simply wanted to know the answer to the following question:
“Do you try to eat fat but minimize your intake of carbohydrates–the low-carb, high-fat or LCHF method?”
Here’s a graph outlining the results of the poll (it’s in Swedish, but I’ll explain below):
You can see the full report in Swedish by clicking here, but Dr. Eenfeldt provided some English translation assistance by creating this graph with the demographics of those who responded to the poll:
These numbers are pretty astonishing when you stop and think about it. Here are some of the key findings that are worth noting:
One of my Swedish readers told me the television news station that reported on this poll interviewed a dietitian rooted in conventional dietary wisdom about it and he said it was “all the normal nonsense” that you hear from these so-called health experts. She accused the Swedish people of being “carbphobic” and dismissed the findings as ignorance. Sounds like somebody has sour grapes to me and is extremely jealous of the attention being paid to a healthy and delicious nutritional plan that is greatly improving the weight and health of those who try it for themselves. The implications of this momentum happening in Sweden cannot be overstated. THIS IS HUGE!
Juxtapose this new poll with a Google Trender keyword search for “LCHF” in Sweden and the picture will become even more stark by comparison:
Prior to 2008, nobody in Sweden had even heard of LCHF. But after the National Board of Health and Welfare made their decision clearing Dr. Dahlqvist’s good name by noting a low-carb diet is “in accordance with science and well-tried experience for reducing obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” interest in the LCHF lifestyle began to skyrocket and the trend has not slowed down yet. In fact, Google searches for “LCHF” in Sweden have more than doubled in just the past year alone which likely led those people who were searching to visit any number of outstanding low-carb blogs there, get educated about what this way of eating is about, and then start doing it for themselves. That’s why the numbers in this survey were so incredible!
The fact is this has happened very quickly mostly through word-of-mouth since LCHF has not been endorsed by the government or health leaders. Can you imagine if low-carb, high-fat diets were to be deliberately PROMOTED to the Swedish people as “healthy” what would happen? Those poll numbers above would easily double overnight and the health of the citizens there would improve dramatically without the need for taking risky medications or ever going on a hunger-inducing, unpalatable low-fat diet ever again! Restaurants and grocery stores would need to cater to the LCHF consumer by offering higher-fat food offerings to consumers such as butter, full-fat cheeses, cream, steak, and low-carb staples like spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. It’s a revolution happening right before our eyes in a country that could easily be setting a trend for other nations to follow!
Most amazing to me is the fact that this has all happened on the grassroots level through the tireless efforts of a lot of people getting involved in promoting LCHF within their circle of influence. It’s as if people have given up being lied to about how to eat from those experts who are supposed to know better about what is most effective and now the people are turning to alternative sources of information coming from bloggers who are telling their success stories since they are real-life examples of what healthy high-fat, low-carb living can do. My speech on the Low-Carb Cruise in a few weeks is called “Following Your Passion To Change The World” where I will challenge the participants to find their talents and use them to bring about change in support of this amazing low-carb lifestyle. The time for making this happen is NOW!
Will we see a similar trend like what has happened in Sweden start to happen someday soon in the United States of America? It may seem improbable and maybe even impossible to fathom right now. But perhaps the Swedes are giving us a foretaste of the future of America, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries around the world who desperately need their own dietary revolution to take place. I have a feeling it’s coming sooner than later and I’ll be here ready, willing, and able to do my part to help educate, encourage, and inspire the masses when it does. Will you?