The Hospital Group nutritionist reveals healthy-eating rules from around the world

A nutrition expert has revealed the rules to weight loss from around the world -including eating seven pieces of fruit and veg and fish three-times-a-day. 

George Hamlyn-Williams, based in Nottingham, is the principal dietitian from The Hospital Group and following research that puts the UK’s obesity rate ten times higher than countries such as China, he turned to several countries’ nutritional guidelines to see what they were doing differently.   

He looked into diet recommendations from countries including Japan, Italy and Norway and pointed out which recommendations should be followed and which should be avoided. 

He pointed out, for instance, that Japan’s recommendation to add more fish to the diet, up to three portions a day, was sound nutritional advice, but said that Italy’s recommendation to eat seven biscuits a week was ‘ambiguous.’

He revealed exclusively to Femail his findings and ten of his dos and don’ts when it comes to weight loss and nutrition from around the world.

George Hamlyn-Williams is the principal dietitian from The Hospital Group talked us throgh the dos and don’ts of nutriational advice around the world. China recommends a daily intake of seven fruit and vegetable instead of the West’ recommendation of five a day. Pictured: an assortment of vegetables (stock image) 

DO – Have seven portions of fruit or vegetables a day (China) 

‘China recommends having at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day. It’s no secret that fruit and veg are packed full of the good stuff, including vitamins and minerals and folic acid,’ George said. 

‘Folic acid can help reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a substance that research suggests can be a risk factor for coronary heart disease,’ he added.  

‘A combination of seven different types of fruit and vegetables is more than the global average recommendation, with Australia and the UK recommending five portions. 

However, the variety that China promotes is to ensure a healthy intake of vitamins and keep feeling full throughout the day.

Japan recommends to eat fish up to three to five times a day. Pictured: a bento box comprising of sushi, salad and pork

Japan recommends to eat fish up to three to five times a day. Pictured: a bento box comprising of sushi, salad and pork

DO – Limit red meat intake (Norway)

While eating red meat once in a while was fine, George explained it was better to eat poultry or lean meat like in Norway.  

‘Norway’s dietary guidelines limit red meat intake to two to three small portions per week – ideally choosing poultry, lean meat or lean meat products,’ George explained. 

‘Research has correlated over consumption of red meat such as bacon, beef and pork can increase a person’s risk for colorectal and bowel cancer. 

‘In addition, it’s prone to increase the risk of type-2 diabetes – with research showing that people who upped their red meat intake by 3.5 servings a week had a 50% increased chance of developing it.

DO – Tailor food allowances to individuals (US)

George explained that food guidelines were very detailed for each individual – as opposed to other countries around the world.

‘The US government acknowledge that calorie intake varies based on age, sex, height, weight and level of physical activity and therefore provide twelve different calorie levels and food subgroups to consume,’ he said.  

Greece recommends two greasy meals a week, but George said to be careful, as the Mediterranean diet already contains a lot of oil. Pictured: olive oil in a jar, stock image

Greece recommends two greasy meals a week, but George said to be careful, as the Mediterranean diet already contains a lot of oil. Pictured: olive oil in a jar, stock image

‘American guidelines recommend certain allowances for grains (including how many should be whole), oils and protein and dairy,’ he added.  

‘The twelve different calorie guides mean that appropriate recommendations can be made for individuals rather than a blanket recommendation for all.

DO – Prefer natural or minimally processed foods (Brazil)

George said we should follow the Brazilian recommendation to eat little to no processed foods at all, as they are usually high in sugar and salt.  

‘Many ultra-processed foods contain an alarmingly high amount of sugar, which as well as leading to weight gain can have devastating effects on metabolism,’ he said. 

‘In addition, processed foods contain more refined carbohydrates that freshly produced food. Whilst carbohydrates are essential for energy intake, carbs from whole foods are much better for the body than refined carbs, as they break down slower – releasing energy for longer and preventing spikes in blood sugar levels,’ he added. 

DO – Regularly include fish in diet (Japan) 

‘Japan recommends having 3-5 servings of fish per day, and fish recommendations is also given in government food guides from all over the world from Kenya to Malaysia,’ George explained. 

‘Japan recommends one of the largest servings compared to other countries, and the benefits of introducing more fish into the diet include omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the brain. 

‘Fish is also considered one of the most ‘heart-healthy’ foods and those who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and developing heart disease,’ he added. 

DON’T – Have a salt-heavy diet (China) 

Whilst the seven fruit and veg servings per day was good advice from China, Geroge stressed that some other recommendation were to take with caution. 

‘China’s obesity rate has increased over the past decade, and the government has acknowledged it’s down to an over-consumption of salt and oil in citizen’s diets,’ he said.  

‘China’s cuisine involves foods such as soy sauce, which has an incredibly high salt content and can contribute to this over-consumption,’ he explained.  

Eating too much salt can lead to increased blood pressure, ultimately enhancing the strain on the heart, arteries and kidneys. High blood pressure is one of the integral causes of conditions such as strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease.

DON’T – Set amount of ‘biscuits’ per week (Italy) 

‘Italy’s government food recommendations suggest that having 1 biscuit a day (7 per week) is an appropriate amount to consume. 

‘Whilst it’s clear that the Italians are trying to limit consumption of sugary treats such as biscuits to one a day, the guidelines are ambiguous – with some biscuits being covered in additional sugar, or chocolate,’ George explained. 

‘It’s hard to gauge what biscuit would be acceptable, and also could promote overeating the wrong kind of foods,’ he went on.  

‘Whilst biscuits can be enjoyed in moderation, this recommendation is confusing.’

DON’T – Go for ‘greasy’ foods (Greece) 

Greece actually recommends ‘greasy’ food once to twice week.

‘Whilst oil can be an integral part of a Mediterranean diet, preparation of certain foods in oil or cooking with oil can vary greatly,’ George explained. 

‘A “serving” guide can be ambiguous, so suggesting an exact measurement could be beneficial to prevent over-consumption of oily or greasy foods,’ he added. 

DON’T – Over-consume fermented milk (Kenya) 

Keynan food guidelines advocate for consuming fermented milk daily, George explained.  

‘Whilst consuming fermented milk can be beneficial for those with lactose intolerance, it can be known to reduce blood pressure – and therefore could become too low for those who already live with existing low blood pressure,’ he added. 

DON’T – Confuse your carbs (Italy) 

‘Whilst some governments such as Italy recommend having 2-3 servings of bread a day, it’s important to remember that different types of bread contains different nutritional benefits,’ George said.  

‘Avoid white breads and stick to wholemeal, high fibre alternatives which contains less highly-processed flours and additives. All these can cause erratic blood-sugar levels, increasing the risk of conditions such as type-2 diabetes.’

 The Hospital Group provide weight loss and cosmetic surgeries in clinics and hospitals around the UK.