According to a BBC report today, a Mediterranean diet may be a better way of tackling obesity than calorie counting, leading doctors have said.
Writing in the Postgraduate Medical Journal (PMJ), the doctors said a Mediterranean diet quickly reduced the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
And they said it may be better than low-fat diets for sustained weight loss. Official NHS advice is to monitor calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight.
Last month NHS leaders stressed the need for urgent action to tackle obesity and the health problems that often go with it.
The PMJ editorial argues a focus on food intake is the best approach, but it warns crash dieting is harmful.
Signatories of the piece included the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Prof Terence Stephenson, and Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, who has a senior role at NHS England.
They criticise the weight-loss industry for focusing on calorie restriction rather than "good nutrition".
Better than statins
And they make the case for a Mediterranean diet, including fruit and vegetables, nuts and olive oil, citing research suggesting it quickly reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and may be better than low-fat diets for sustained weight loss.
The lead author, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, says the scientific evidence is overwhelming.
"What's more responsible is that we tell people to concentrate on eating nutritious foods.
Inspired by traditional cuisine of countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has long been associated with good health and fit hearts.
Typically, it consists of an abundance of vegetables, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, olive oil and nuts, as well as poultry and fish, rather than lots of red meat and butter or animal fats.
"It's going to have an impact on their health very quickly. We know the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is higher in fat, proven from randomised controlled trials, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke even within months of implementation."
For the full report click here.