A documentary fronted by a celebrity chef that investigates the benefits of a ketogenic diet has caused controversy in Australia, after the country's medical association chastised Netflix for programming the film.
Celebrity chef Pete Evans produced and narrated The Magic Pill in 2017. The film focusses on the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet and follows several subjects as they attempt to change the way they eat.
A woman in the film claims the ketogenic diet shrunk a tumour in her breast. A mother, whose son has autism, is also profiled and says the diet had changed the responsiveness and abilities of her son.
Evans previously made headlines in 2015, after a cookbook for babies he co-authored suggested feeding infants bone broth as a baby formula. The thing about this recipe, as professor Heather Yeatman told Women's Weekly, was that it contained 10 times the safe daily intake of vitamin A for babies, and could potentially be fatal.
The controversial cookbook was recalled shortly after it was published.
When The Magic Pill was first released, then Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Michael Gannon facetiously tweeted that it should be nominated for an award for the film "least likely to contribute to public health."
The documentary was added to Netflix Australia's programming with little fanfare earlier this year.
Over the weekend, the AMA's new president Dr Tony Bartone said Netflix should "do the responsible thing" and remove the film from its programming.
"People out there are vulnerable to the messaging," Bartone told The Sydney Morning Herald, explaining that decades of research currently existed to back up the healthy eating guidelines.
"I respect Pete Evans' ability and expertise in the kitchen, but that's where it begins and ends."
To say Pete Evans took the criticism well would be...Not true.
On Sunday, Evans fired up his Instagram and accused Bartone of being "fearful of people in Australia becoming healthy".
"What would this mean to their industry?" wrote Evans.
"The information that is shared in the film by leading cardiologists, neurologists, doctors and scientists has prevention at the top of their priorities and to be used as an adjunct to modern medicine which then ultimately is a holistic approach.
"Can you also ask why doctors are not allowed to give dietary advice...Yet the head of the AMA who is a doctor, somehow is allowed to speak on this topic with authority, when his counterparts cannot?"
And things didn't get any better for Evans when current affairs program The Sunday Project took aim at him, with host Tommy Little alleging the celebrity chef used fake tan and had his teeth whitened.
On Monday Evans responded again on social media, writing on Instagram and Facebook that, yes, he had had his teeth whitened seven years ago, but that surfing was the responsible for his "all-year 'round tan".
Evans then said he would post a nude photo later in the evening to show his "real appreciation of the sun where you can see my tan lines".
The chef is yet to publish the nudes.
A Netflix spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the company programs for a wide audience and recognises that in doing so some content may be controversial.
"We hope that it helps to convey the unique perspective of the story and the storyteller," said the spokesperson.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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