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The Denise Minger Interview; America Fat & Stupid? and, Processed Food Will Never be Real Food

~ What a nice surprise this morning to see that Jimmy Moore put a rush on doing an interview with Denise Minger, the young & very bright woman who got a hold of the original China Study Monograph, and using the same data Campbell did, demonstrated conclusively that he's far more guilty of the sorts of statistical shenanigans he accuses others of. Go listen to the interview.

Denise tells some of the back story, including her own experiences with raw veganism from as early as age seven. She also tells how she got interested in -- and then hooked on -- this data project. I really appreciate her giving me such a thankful mention at about 20 minutes in. This is where the groundswell began and I'm super pleased to have played a major role in that. Hours after that posting, Denise went from 20 visits per day to 20,000 visits in a few hours. I believe she told me in an email that she exceeded 50,000 visits in those first two days. Of course, that was not only from my posting but the fact that so many of you -- readers and other bloggers alike -- went out and spread the word.

~ Next up is a really fantastic article in The Huffington Post from a few days ago which I got wind of via Dana Carpender. So go get a load of Justin Stoneman's piece entitled America: A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation. There's way too much great insight there to do justice to excerpts, but I'll try.

Stupid? Welcome to a population who know less about what they put into their mouths than they do about, well, take your pick...celebrities or cars or American Idol or iPhones? Animals have the intelligence to know what to eat and to never get fat (except the ones fed by humans). Yet that simple challenge, gaining nourishment without destroying the body, is beyond your capabilities? [...]

"Insanity," declared Einstein. "Is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Was the sharp little man predicting your strategy against the impending obesity epidemic? Thirty years of repeating the same mistakes. Not just failing to halt the crisis, but actually exacerbating it.

And the new plan today? Fundamentally, it is identical. Michelle Obama's current, corporate-led, child obesity campaign scores 100% on well meaning -- and 0% on wholesale change. All that matters, what you are told to put in your mouth, is aligned to the same destructive, corporate-sponsored dietary doctrine. I apologize for my original accusation America, this is not stupidity -- it is insanity.

I'd dispute that anything a professional liar does is "well meaning," but I catch his drift.

As ADA past president Martin Yadrick stated in a 2008 US News & World Report article: "We think it's important for us to be at the same table with food companies because of the positive influence that we can have on them."

But, Martin, darling, they are paying you to be at their table. You are publicly telling America that you are somehow the one wearing the trousers in the relationship? My headline must be correct -- even the ADA seem to think that America is stupid. [...]

Your grandparents were raised in a generation aware that God's supermarket was better than man's. Saturated fat was a vital part of their diet. For them, obesity was not a common health problem. They were not suffering malnutrition in the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Remarkably, you, dear Western reader, probably are.

A processed product with 'zero fat' stamped on it (invariably high in sugar, chemicals and carbs instead) is great for making profits, but useless for losing weight. Wreaking havoc with insulin and your body's biochemistry is not clever. The majority of the western world now do so on a daily basis.

If you want to have some fun with graphs, you can go and look at the corresponding obesity spikes in other countries when they followed the 1977 change in US advice.

In Canada, the point was near-parallel. In Britain it happened in 1983. The Australians struck around the time of the Brits, launching their magically stupid 'Health Pyramid'. The obesity rate in each territory began its steady ascent. Big fat corporate party time.

Interestingly, while the article focusses much attention on food and drug company profits at the expense of health the author, to his credit, does not seem to be calling for controls or regulations. Rather, he's calling for you, individuals, to stop being so stupid and gullible.

It is not up to me to tell you the science; research that yourself. Do it thoroughly, the corruption and manipulation of facts is on a far greater, more shocking scale than the story I have detailed so far.

Look at the true details of the Keys' 'Seven Countries' study. How the food industry have used it to falsely demonize fats and change global policies. How we have been lied to about the relevance of calories. How the false 'crimes of cholesterol' can be simply resolved by picking up a globe and looking at the proximity to the equator of the 'Seven Countries' involved in the study.

Educate yourself and spot the lies that your trusted sources are feeding you. Alarmingly, few supposed 'experts' are free from bias. Including many learned figures who try to voice opinion on this great site. Do not ever underestimate the power of industry and the corrupting influence of money. People have vested interests and through intent, ignorance (or a dangerous combination of both), preach some unforgivable lies.

"Including many learned figures who try to voice opinion on this great site." Hmm, I wonder what lying Chubby Face he could be talking about. But let's not single out Dean "Smiley" Ornish. Dr. David Katz, MD, is an opportunistic liar pushing a guilt inducing, deprive yourself dietary regime as well.

Think of it this way: if you can get the sorts of stellar body composition and health results so many of my readers get for free, along with help from others of my readers (not to mention the many other bloggers out there doing similarly), then why do you need dishonest, self-promoting, false authorities like Ornish or Katz? You see, they are all about being perceived as authorities, smarter than you, and with exclusive access to the keys for health and longevity. They are all about complicating; making it harder, more complex, mysterious, counter-intuitive...nearly impossible -- and especially: unpleasant.

The Church has the key to Heaven, the State, to Social Standing and the Medical and Nutritional Licensees, to "Health."

They all (Church, State, Health Conglomerate) operate under a common theme and method.

  1. Guilt (sin, selfishness, gluttony - respectively)
  2. Fear (damnation, incarceration, pain and death)
  3. Reward (eternal life, authoritarian social standing, lean health)
  4. So...Sacrifice (your true animal nature, fruits of your labor, your gastronomic desires)
  5. And...Repent (confess to an authority, embrace the authoritarian political process, buy a vegetable steamer)

Then, and only then can you enter the kingdom of heaven, gain social respectability and feel superior to everyone else. But here's the fraud: none of them can deliver. Well, perhaps if you're willing to become part of the problem by becoming one of these "authorities" yourself, you can at least make a pretty decent -- though dishonest and fraudulent -- living here on Earth.

~ If you're got your shit together then there's nothing in the world wrong with being ridiculed. It's only kooks like me who ridicule the sorts of people who satisfy the three steps to total authoritarian conformity I outlined above. So with that in mind:

We once made fun of "Paleos," the "small New York subculture whose members seek good health through a selective return to the habits of their Paleolithic ancestors." But, by God, Dutch food conglomerate 'Unilever' is doing the same thing!

Unilever is the multinational food conglomerate that owns, among other brands, Ben & Jerry's and Lipton. According to the Times of London (Subscription required), Unilever has amassed a team of anthropologists, chemists and other experts to study the "average caveman's diet."

Well clearly, neither Adrian Chen nor Foster Kamer bothered to Google Paleo Diet or anything similar in order to determine that it's just a bit more than a "small New York subculture." But whatever.

Anyway, here's a link to an article describing what Unilever is up to, which truly is ridiculous. It's contradiction in terms laughable. Paleo foods already exist all over the place: meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, fruits -- you get the idea. It's called Real Food, the exact opposite of what Unilever produces and profits from.

Now, something that comes in a package or box might could be made in such a way as to be less bad, perhaps even beneficial and nutritious -- and that's fine I might add -- but it's never going to be Paleo, Primal, Evolutionary or resemble anything from the original human diet.

And whether or not they ever come out with such products and whether or not any Paleos ever indulge in them or not, the distinction must always be clear: Paleo is Real Food and only real food; forever. always. for all time.

Comments

  1. Hey Richard.

    Indeed, Denise started it all out, shared intriguing results AND data. Other analyses, on the same data, supported her findings very strongly. This has become an interesting story.

    I think we’ll still get a few surprises from the China Study data. Parts of the dataset seem pretty good (there are some tests one can run on the data to check for that “goodness”). But other parts seem odd – e.g., county averages for blood glucose in the 40 mg/dl range!

    If one uses the variables that seem to have a lot of data collection error built in, the related analyses can lead to very misleading results. Results that can lead to a lot of controversy, even supporting the “animal foods are bad” idea.

    By the way, regarding your other post, on paleo spreading like wildfire. I think that is definitely the case, but I think we’ll have some surprises there as well – good and bad. One of the reasons is something I mentioned a while ago – more recent adaptations to forced diet changes:

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-long-does-it-take-for-food-related.html

    The other reason is that, even among hunter-gatherers, we have not found people with the longevity of the traditional Okinawans. There are also some groups who eat grains and live long lives.

    I don’t know, but dairy and certain grains may be quite good for some people. (They don’t seem to be good for me.) Conversely, a generic paleo diet may not be very healthy for some people, with some serious tweaking.

    • Ned:

      Thanks as always. I still do really owe you a good word in the main body of the blog and Im going to pay up soon. In the meantime always know you are totally welcome and encouraged to drop your relevant links in comments you have always been super on point, circumspect and giving added value in that regard.

    • I agree Ned, I noticed the low blood glucose too. Pretty weird, and must be some kind of assay problem involving either underestimation or glucose degradation during storage.

      Chris

      • Ronald Pottol says:

        Well, the USA uses a different scale for blood glucose than everyone else, is that by the US numbers, or world numbers?

        I’ve heard of plenty of people running 70-80 on paleo, and a few who stay in the 50-60s.

      • Hi Ronald,

        That’s true but not the issue here. The Standard International (SI) units (mmol/L)are so different from the American units (md/dL) that no one would mistake one for the other. Normal fasting blood glucose in SI is about 5.0 mmol/L.

        Chris

  2. Whoa, denise is pretty hot

  3. Nathaniel says:

    I second everything that has been posted above me; Ned Kock is an excellent blogger and always on point, and Denise Minger is quite attractive.

  4. I’m picturing the Gawker crowd, sitting at their desks, sipping Splenda-sweetened soymilk lattes, and munching on low-fat HotPockets fresh out of the microwave as they hurl snarky derision at people who are smart enough to simply eat real food.

    • Ineeed, Alex. Listen to Denise admit and explain how she allowed herself to be one of the Vegan Hezboolah (my term), basically putting her hands over her ears and going la la la la.

  5. Alright you guys!

    Now Richard, I know you have an axe to grind with regard to religion. But must you really trash it? Sometimes your proselytizing against religion is as bad as those that do for it. Believe me I’m not a religious fanatic. I’m more lukewarm than anything. But I’m certainly not hostile toward any belief system.

    • Proselytizing against religion?

      That’s rich.

      Just connecting dots, Kim. Now you can follow “The Paleo Diet” all you like, Im sure you’ll do just fine and there are tons of blogs that will go out of their way to never bunch up your panties.

      In case you haven’t noticed, I live to bunch up panties

      This is far more profound – and fun – than a mere diet.

      Genuflection to presumed authorities is what got us into this mess and only a derisive dismissal of them will ever get us out of it.

      Accordingly, Im about digging deeper

  6. I’d love to see all of the critical analyses of The China Study located in one place just to show the multiple levels at which such analysis can occur. So far, the great analyses I’ve encountered include those by Denise Minger, Ned Kock, Chris Masterjohn, Loren Cordain’s protein debate with The Man himself, and Dr. Mike Eades.

    • Now there’s a good idea for a static page with a link on the title bar.

      On it.

    • Another interesting critique is from Harriet Hall at Science Based Medicine
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=6092

      Even though she relies heavily Minger’s analysis, it adds some interesting elements to the debate. First, Science Based Medicine is a somewhat reputable organization that specializes in calling out pseudoscience where they see it. Someone who specializes in calling out BS has read both Minger’s analysis and Campbell’s book, and she calls BS on Campbell. Campbellites also cannot invoke the WAPF boogey men or other claims of bias against Hall.

      The other interesting element is that if you read through the comments, one of the commenters that repeatedly steps up to defend Campbell is actually persuaded in the end that Campbell has taken the leap into pseudoscience.

  7. “they … operate under a common theme and method … Then, and only then can you enter the kingdom of heaven, gain social respectability and feel superior to everyone else.”

    Oh, for goodness’ sakes, Richard.

    I think it’s interesting that the vegetarian movement has arisen as religious belief has declined in the West. It probably does offer some of the emotional comforts that belief did. And it certainly does seem to produce a lot of people who feel that they are morally superior to others, which was sometimes also the result of religious observance. However, the gospels do warn specifically against that: you must know the parable about the pharisee and the publican, for example.

    And any extended comparison with Christianity seems not only tenuous but misguided and ungrateful. Ungrateful, because this is our own cultural heritage – what has helped make our world and us.

    Would a Martian reading that piece appreciate that English-speaking Christian culture had produced anything as profound and moving as Piers Plowman?

    http://www.amazon.com/Piers-Plowman-Norton-Critical-Editions/dp/0393975592

    Would our Martian be aware that the whole modern view of man – which, among other things has resulted in our interest in his dietary past – has arisen from the scientific worldview, and that that has flourished in Christian culture as in nowhere else in the world. It’s not always been a smooth ride, but that historical fact is no accident.

    We can be more specific, too. Our view of the human past developed as our view of geology changed, and we have much to thank scholars like William Buckland for there:

    http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/learning/pdfs/buckland.pdf

    Buckland was, like many scientific pioneers, a clergyman. He was also working at Oxford, which was originally a Christian Foundation.

    We’re also talking about a religion that inspired breathtaking artistic achievements, like Chartres Cathedral, the Bach B Minor Mass, Paradise Loss, and Rogier van der Weyden’ s “Descent from the Cross” – now in the Prado in Madrid – zoomable reproduction here:

    http://www.museodelprado.es/en/visit-the-museum/15-masterpieces/work-card/zoom/2/obra/descent-from-the-cross/oimg/0/

    it seems a bit philistine not to acknowledge all that.

    And here’s where your comparison really breaks down. What’s come out of vegetarianism? Plenty of sickly people, a fair amount of whining, and an awful lot of really bad recipes.

    • Yep, Mike, it is truly remarkable what can be accomplished by lying to people – which I might point out could very well have been innocent on the part of many, particularly small parish priests truly not into the whole organizational domination thing – roughly analogous to the 7/11 merchant compared to Quaker Mills.

      The only pass I give religion – now – is that in the west it’s no longer compelled by being burned alive. But at one time it was the authority and it’s not, any longer because people rebelled. Unlike the apologists of today, much like yourself.

      Hey, perhaps they’d have even sent a man on to the moon, given enough loot from scaring people shitless by burning their fellows and family at the stake.

      Nostalgia is no argument.

      • Aaron Curl says:

        I agree with your religious, state and health views 100%. I have discovered these truths over the years myself and have come to a realization, a person who sees both sides of any thing, can see the truth. A person who can only see one side is blinded from the truth. Great post today!

      • Hmmm, that presumes there are but two sides. :)

        In any case, we HAVE to reduce our thoughts and observations to abstractions and summariazations that in no way capture the depth of what is. So be open-minded, but that also means being open-minded to how you’re probably not being all that open-minded.

        I was with my dad once, and we were driving along a country road, and he pointed to a barn and asked “What color is that barn?” I told him it was red and he asked me if I really knew that. I thought it was obvious.

        Then he pointed out I was only seeing part of the barn. I said “Okay, it’s red on this side!”

        And then he pointed out that if I got closer to the barn, I’d notice some of the paint was flaked away. And he pointed out I hadn’t even mentioned the white trim! Or the black hinges on the doors, etc.

        At that point he told me the whole point was in realizing that as we go through life, most people will call the barn red. I’ll call it red. But calling it that and it BEING that are two different things. And we can never go through life without reducing complexity to the point at which we can operate on it. Sometimes, as a result, we end up summarizing incorrectly and acting on our summary with results we don’t anticipate.

        Finally, what we call “the truth” is much more multi-faceted than the barn. And saying you have to see both sides makes since when talking about a piece of paper, not so much with a perfect sphere. I’ll wager that life is more like the sphere than the paper, but then that’s my summary and simplification so I can try to understand it. :)

      • Sense, not since. Sheesh. (Egg on face)

      • Aaron Curl says:

        I guess I just made my comment short and to the point. Believe me when I say, I am aware of more than one or two ways of looking at something. In the “reality” most people live in there are basically only two sides to any subject or object, which leads people to be for or against. I agree with you 100% because I live in a different “reality” than most. I’m not saying I’m enlightened or anything but I make an effort to see things for what they are and make an effort to stop my preconceived notions while “seeing”. Thanks for the clarification Bill because you are spot on. Was your father a Zen Master? :)

      • No, but a good man to this day. He and another man about his age are my models and mentors.

        Every man needs a man their senior by 20 years or so as a glimpse into where he will be in 20 years. I just remind myself that my dad and my mentor are one version of me 20 years in the future, and then I ask the questions I’d like to ask of that future self. It’s helped in many ways.

        Turns out I’m pretty wise 20 years from now and give great advice! ;)

    • The only good thing to ever come out of religion is some architecture and some music. The rest of it is a putrid concoction of the most evil, vile and debase imaginings that only the sickest minds could invent and perpetuate.

  8. Love the analogy, Richard!

    Just today there’s a study out showing that atheists and agnostics are the most knowledgeable regarding religion. (http://tinyurl.com/366d93p)

    Does that make us the atheists of nutrition? Questioning, researching and not being afraid of being wrong certainly opens ones eyes.

    • Wow, Sonya. That sort of describes me. Raised fundamentalist baptist from the age of around 1o – with a Mormon (mom) and Lutheran (dad) background, then being educated in a tiny fundie baptist school and later divinity school, it was super easy to dump it all as gibberish..

      Look: it was taught to me, by people to whom it was taught. And it’s fucking ridiculous on so many levels it’s laughable to me there’s even a debate.

      Fear is power.

      I’m tempted to shoot the dice and work up a paleo context in which to blog this.

      • Please do, would love to read it.

      • It’s me too, Richard. :) Only I was in a religious cult for 10 years before I finally started thinking, researching and asking questions. I think, in general, too many people are happy being told what to believe and think about important things. We give too much power and trust in people rather than *really* looking at the message.

        Elaine Pagels, “The Origin of Satan” provided my religious “ah ha” moment.

        The Eades, “Protein Power”, my nutrition one.

        Both have been a great eye-opening ride since then.

  9. “The line of investigation also addresses modern questions around what an optimal diet is, aiming to enhance our understanding of which plant-based foods are best for us to eat, and precisely why.”

    No need for Unilever to research, they already know what they want to find.

  10. I laughed myself silly when I read that BBC report about Unilever going to study our Paleo ancesters.

    I live in Holland where Unilever is based and a couple of years ago they and other food manufacturers in Holland decided to promote a logo called “Ik kies bewust” = I chose healthy. This was in response to government pressure to lower the fat, salt and sugar content in their products.
    The agricultural university was going to check and approve those products that warrented the logo. It became quite a hype, everyone was chosing the products that carried the logo thinking they were making healthy choices. What it didn’t say on the packets was BY HOW MUCH the salt, fat, and sugar was reduced. I mean, if at first there was 30 grams of sugar in the product and now there was 29 grams of sugar in the product, it got the logo. And what really killed it for me was, the first product to get the logo was yoghurt made from skimmed milk that’s been on the market for over 40 years!!

    • Ronald Pottol says:

      Well, yeah, run a calorie deficit of 1200 per day, and you will loose weight (a few people may not on 90% high glycemic carbs, but kinda rare), thing being, very few people can stand that sort of diet for any period of time, except low carb/paleo sort of diets.

      • I have to disagree. I think those who can withstand a 1000-1200 kcal deficit over a decent period of time, like 2 months likely do so by eating foods they love, to the exclusion of most else.