Seven’s news program Sunday Night has been lambasted by the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA) for being a “blatant promotion” for celebrity chef Pete Evans and his paleo diet. However, Seven has hit back, saying the DAA “rushed to judgement” after seeing only the first segment of the series.
The first segment aired last Sunday night, August 16, focusing on journalist Mike Willesee who embarked on an exploratory mission to try the Paleo diet – a diet inspired by what the cavemen used to eat – under the guidance of Evans. The second segment aired last night (August 23) to an audience of 1.120 million, according to OzTam preliminary ratings.
Evans is the celebrity chef for Seven’s hotshot reality cooking show My Kitchen Rules, and has been the subject of much contention online for his book Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo way for new mums, babies and toddlers for health implications, particularly in relation to serving infants bone broth.
After the first segment aired the DAA released a statement condoning the program for just being a promotional package for Evans.
The statement from Claire Hewat, CEO of DAA, said the DAA was “disappointed” to see the story.
“This one-sided piece seemed to be a blatant promotion of the personal dietary views of one of the network’s prime time stars, celebrity chef Pete Evans,” she wrote in an open letter to the chief of staff at Seven.
However, Sunday Night’s executive producer Steve Taylor said, the DAA had “rushed to judgement”, releasing a public statement before the airing of the second segment last night.
“Sunday Night’s Great Paleo Challenge was always pitched as a series of stories. Without seeing the remaining two segments, the DAA has rushed to judgement,” said Taylor.
“We have been clear from the outset. This is not a classic investigation. It’s an experiment featuring Mike Willesee as a self-declared ‘lab-rat’. We’ve documented his 10 weeks on the diet for his very personal perspective on the pitfalls and perceived benefits and shortcomings of Paleo.
“We’ve explored the claims for and against, and examined the criticism of the diet itself and Pete’s championing of it in both parts of the story.
“You’ll see strong counterpoint tonight and we’ll deal with some of the DAA’s assertions as well.
“Importantly you’ll also hear Mike’s personal judgement on the pros and cons.”
However, the DAA tweeted out last night asking why its concerns about Evans’ book were not voiced on the program.
— DietitiansAssocAust (@DAA_feed) August 23, 2015
The Sunday Night twitter account has tweeted out a link to the full story and video, including the DAA response.
— sunday night (@sundaynighton7) August 23, 2015
Watch the video here.
Twitter went bonkers after the second segment.
— Fitness Enhancement (@FitTipsFEPT) August 23, 2015
— Matt O’Neill (@MatthewONeill) August 23, 2015
— Tim Trotman (@trotsky87) August 23, 2015
— Nic Carrington-Sima (@NicCarrington) August 16, 2015
However, many Twitter users were quick to defend the chef and the segement.
— riekiedplessis (@riekiedplessis) August 23, 2015
— ⭐️ Kellie Block ⭐️ (@block_kellie) August 16, 2015
— Cassie (@xocasssie) August 16, 2015
— christian o’keefe (@cjokeefe86) August 16, 2015
Within the original letter to Seven after the first segment, while stating some positive aspects, the DAA said its main concern was the lack of mention of Evans’ book.
“The very serious concerns raised about Bubba Yum Yum earlier in the year were not mentioned in the Sunday Night interview, and Australian health professional’s well-publicised concerns were essentially dismissed.
“DAA believes Pete Evens has misrepresented on Sunday Night the reason that the book was not published through Pan Macmillan and we feel compelled to ask that this misrepresentation of the facts be corrected by: Making this letter from DAA available to the public through the Sunday Night website, and providing an apology and outlining the facts in the follow-up segment (the second part of Mike Willesee’s challenge).”
The statement also outlined how nutritional advice must come from someone qualified and applauding Willesee for wanting to change his diet.
“So regardless of whether he goes the ‘Paleo way’ or not, tweaking these habits will undoubtedly make a difference to his health and weight.”
Evans responded on his Facebook page about the DAA comments: “You can’t help but see the correlation between the DAA and their corporate sponsors in their ongoing attack against a NATURAL offering instead of something that has vegetable oils, soy protein, high fructose corn syrup as their main ingredients.”
Read his full post here.