Public Health Disasters
It is interesting that government interference in public health is probably, in at least part, responsible for the current obesity epidemic. There is increasing peer reviewed research about how low fat diets have actually significantly contributed to obesity. Around the time big Western governments started promoting low fat diets there is a knee in the curve of obesity in the west where a lot more people started being reported as obese. In fact, since the beginning of promotion of low-fat diets, calories from fat in the average western diet have reduced by 1000 basis points. Those calories are now being consumed in carbohydrates. There is again increasing evidence that the increased consumption of carbs is at least partly responsible for increased levels of obesity. The reasons of this (as explained to me by my diet doctor) are relatively simple:
1) When you eat a lot of carbs you get an insulin spike. When this dissipates a few hours later you feel hungry again. Unlike eating fat and/or protein when you don't get the post-eating crash.
2) The metabolic pathway for eating fructose (and carbs containing fructose like sucrose, and most starches) produce no chemical to tell you to stop eating. This is unlike eating protein or fat when the metabolic pathway includes the production of chemicals that tell your brain to stop eating.
3) When you have produced lots of insulin from eating carbs, this insulin binds to receptors in your cells that make it difficult for those cells to break down fat into glycogen for a number of hours. After carb loading your body won't burn fat.
Personally, I've applied this knowledge to lose about 50kg. I cut out most of the carbs in my diet, and then used the reduced appetite that results from (1) and (2) above to reduce calorie intake (largely by restricting fat). The funny thing is, throughout the diet I've not been feeling hungry between meals (again see (1) and (2) above). Most of the weight loss (according to my diet doc) is actually fat.
Anecdotally, a lot of people talk about the eating of fast food helping to make people fat, and then associate it with fat. Burger and Chips contains quite a lot of fat, but is also a tonne of carbs from the potato and bread. Fish and Chips is tonnes of carbs. Even going out for a curry involves eating a load of bread and rice. I've been eating loads of curry on my diet, just without the bread and rice. Correctly, people associate beer drinkers with being fat. That has little to do with fat, but loads to do with all the carbs in beer. If you drink 4-5 pints of beer a night you are probably getting 100g of carb from it.
Reliance on BMI is another of the public health disasters. Fortunately, the insurance companies are moving away from it now.