Diet & Nutrition

Pete Evans' Paleo cookbook Bubba Yum Yum will be published despite health warnings

Celebrity chef Pete Evans has declared his controversial Paleo diet recipe book will be published despite health authorities warning it could lead to babies dying.

Pete Evans

Celebrity chef Pete Evans has declared his controversial Paleo diet recipe book for babies will be published within the next couple of weeks, despite health and government authorities warning it could lead to babies dying.

The My Kitchen Rules TV star told his Facebook followers, "Our nurturing new book 'Bubba Yum Yum' will also being [sic] released in the next week or two, so we'll keep you up dated."

His announcement came after another peak health organisation, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), went public with its fears about the book, which includes a DIY baby milk formula based on blended liver and bone broth.

A DAA spokeswoman said an independent analysis of the DIY formula showed that despite the book's claim it was comparable in its nutrient profile to breastmilk, this was not the case.

"This formula could be very harmful to infants, their immature immune and digestive systems could not cope with this formulation and the levels of these nutrients it contains," the spokeswoman said. "In a newborn, the formulation could cause permanent damage and possibly result in death."

Among findings were that the DIY formula was 749 per cent higher in vitamin A, 2,326 per cent higher in vitamin B12, 1,067 per cent higher in iron, 879 per cent higher in sodium and 220 per cent higher in protein.

Babies can fall ill or die from vitamin A overdose, too much protein is linked to future obesity, too much iron can interfere with absorption of other nutrients and their kidneys cannot cope with large amounts of salt.

Advice elsewhere in the book, says the DAA, such as recipes containing runny egg and honey, may put babies at risk of serious infections like salmonella and botulism.

The Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way book publisher, Pan MacMillan refused to speak about the issue with The Weekly last week. Multiple calls to its publicist, lawyer and switch went unanswered.

 Pete Evans, who once prided himself on his pizza recipes, is now endorsing a Paleo diet for babies.
Pete Evans, who once prided himself on his pizza recipes, is now endorsing a Paleo diet for babies.

The push to publish the book comes as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls for health advice issued by celebrities and alternative wellness advocates to be scrutinised more rigorously before being published in books or online to protect the public.

The country's peak organisation for doctors issued the warning in the wake of a string of controversies over health claims made by popular alternative health and diet advocates without formally-recognised medical or health qualifications.

"We live in an era where people sometimes equate celebrity with expertise, which is not the case" Dr Stephen Parnis, vice president of the AMA told The Weekly online. "At best [alternative health and diet advocates] may advocate something which is supposed to be therapeutic but actually has no effect. But at worst, it can be dangerous."

Publishers Pan MacMillan and Penguin are currently facing questions over what measures they take to assess the health claims and advice made by their authors.

Last Wednesday The Weekly online EXCLUSIVELY revealed a Paleo diet recipe book for babies, co-authored by My Kitchen Rules celebrity chef Pete Evans, that was due to be published but was put on hold by Pan MacMillan because of major health concerns by health officials, including the Federal Government’s Department of Health.

 Wellness author Belle Gibson appearing on Sunrise before the controversy.
Wellness author Belle Gibson appearing on Sunrise before the controversy.

Meanwhile, serious doubts have been exposed by The Australian newspaper over the veracity of the personal story of social media entrepreneur Belle Gibson, author of the The Whole Pantry book and popular app. She claims to have used food and a healthy lifestyle to heal herself since allegedly being given just months to live after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer a few years ago.

Her publisher Penguin admitted it didn't check for evidence her story was true before publishing her cookbook, which gained credibility from her personal cancer survival story.

Last month, the Wellness Warrior Jess Ainscough died from a slow-moving cancer seven years after shunning conventional treatment in favour of Gerson Therapy, an unproven alternative health regime that includes coffee enemas and juices. She had previously attracted a strong social media following from fans who were inspired by her survival story.

Dr Parnis told The Weekly testing and evidence should be required before health claims and advice given by alternative health and diet advocates are published.

"Unfortunately when it comes to nutrition people may succumb to fads," he said. "The risk is that people may come to harm."

Alternative health advocates and their publishers should be prepared to take responsibility for health claims or advice that they give, Dr Parnis said, just as a doctor is liable for the care and advice they give to patients.

"It's fine for people to do their own looking about or research," he said. "But they should always check it with a reputable source - particularly with serious diseases, always run it past your doctor."

Independent consumer watchdog Choice echoed Dr Parnis' advice. "It's really important that people understand the difference between medical science and alternative therapies," a Choice spokesman said. "If you are really unwell, your first port of call should not be an alternative therapist."

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