OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — “Diets don’t work. Full stop,” said Dr Khosro Ezaz-Nikpay, founder and managing director of Zendegii Ltd, a London-based start-up incubator with a focus on reengineering unhealthy food and beverage categories, taking to the stage at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers hosted in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate. “Everybody tries to sell you something on the promise of the panacea. We have various images dumped on us of how we should look or what could cure us, or we’re told we’re either too fat or toxic and we need to detox."
Dr Ezaz-Nikpay explored the myths and realities of nutrition, unpacking the societal fascination with diets and the socio-economic costs of poor health. “In Japan, despite the fact the most men smoke far more cigarettes than in the US, on average the population live five years longer than Americans. On the other hand, if you look at the cost to keep people healthy, the US is 2.6 times the cost of keeping someone healthy than in Japan.”
He criticized much of what is floating around the market for nutritional information, which is rife with so-called solutions that are not clinically proven. Instead, he offered a simple solution of his own. Instead of fat, sugar and protein, each of which are often overdosed on — fat by 20 to 50 percent, sugar by 200 to 300 percent and protein by 50 to 70 percent — one can improve health dramatically by consuming more fibre, which can be found in fruits and vegetables and is, on average, under-eaten by approximately 50 percent of society.
“Roughly speaking, 5 to 7 percent of diets that actually reduce your weight by a depreciable amount. Of those that actually work, only 30 percent reduce your body weight by more than 10 percent… There is no other solution but fibre. If you do not want to go to drastic measures, the answer is fibres… If it were a drug, it would be a multimillion dollar drug,” said Dr Ezaz-Nikpay.
Dr Ezaz-Nikpay is also the chief executive of the healthy frozen food platform Frill Holding AB, which launched on the Nasdaq First North earlier this year. The product is a plant-based alternative to conventional ice cream, created using patented flavour and texture technologies. “We get fruit and vegetable, and freeze it as soon as possible from the field, and make it into a fun product,” he explained. “If you ask a child whether they would like vegetables or ice cream, I can tell you what they will say. The key is to make the vegetables into ice cream."