Embarrassing Fat Bodies & Fertility - embarrassingly outdated advice

by dee armstrong

I stumbled across Embarrassing Fat Bodies on the telly last night - they were focusing on the impact obesity has on fertility.  It's great to see airtime being given to the issues that weight can have on fertility but I was amazed to hear the advice given to the overweight women on the show.

The first, who suffered from PCOS, was put on a prescription medication that stops you from absorbing fat. You have to eat a low fat diet while on this medication otherwise the side effects  - uncontrollable diarrhoea - are truly horrific.  Aside from the side effects, the problem with this approach is that most people when going low fat will inadvertently end up consuming loads more sugar, because manufacturers add it to low fat foods to make it more palatable. And sugar is a demon.  Sugar messes with your hormones and makes you fat.  

The second overweight woman had no particular infertility diagnosis and was packed off to the gym and dietician, but not before Dr Christian had given her his oft repeated patronising lecture "it's just about calories in, calories out". Unfortunately it's just not as simple as that and we need to be asking why it is that people are driven to eat so much of the wrong foods. It may well be that it was all the fault of the editing and these two women were indeed given cutting edge advice on nutrition - but that doesn't really help those of us watching.

I recommend this talk given by Prof Robert Lustig at the University of California for the full low down on sugar and a very good explanation of why a calorie is not just a calorie - there's a briefer and less detailed version here.  In addition, recent research on nutrition and PCOS shows that meal timing can have a significant effect - loading more of your calorie intake earlier in the day can improve hormones and help women with PCOS to ovulate. A low fat diet is not something we advocate at the Natural Fertility Centre - yes, if you fill up on burgers and chips it's not going to do you any good but most of you aren't doing that and you need good fats and you need to know how to incorporate them into your diet - not a pill that will stop you absorbing them.  If you have PCOS consulting a good nutritionist is vital. As well as that you might find this website and these books helpful - The Hormone Cure and The Sugar Impact Diet.