I was writing another blog, on another matter, when someone sent me an email containing a petition signed by over two hundred Canadian doctors.
Re: Canada’s Food Guide Consultation
From: Group of concerned Canadian Physicians and Allied Health Care providers
For the past 35+ years, Canadians have been urged to follow the Canadian Dietary Guidelines. During this time, there has been a sharp increase in nutrition-related diseases, particularly obesity and diabetes.
We are especially concerned with the dramatic increase in the rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. In 1980, 15% of Canadian school-aged children were overweight or obese. Remarkably, this number more than doubled to 31% in 2011; 12% of children met the criteria for obesity in the same reporting period. This has resulted in a population with a high burden of disease, causing both individual suffering, and resulting in health care systems which are approaching their financial breaking points. The guidelines have not been based on the best and most current science, and significant change is needed.
Yesterday, the BMJ officially announced that it won’t retract a “controversial” 2015 article by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, author of NYT best-seller The Big Fat Surprise.
Following a lengthy investigation lasting over a year, the BMJ said that two independent reviewers “found no grounds for retraction,” and that Teicholz’s criticisms of the methods used by the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) “are within the realm of scientific debate.”
As reported on this blog and The Sidebar (my US blogging buddy Peter M. Heimlich’s crack investigative journalism blog), Washington-DC based advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) – in bed with prominent members of the DGAC – aggressively campaigned to get the article retracted.
US investigative journalist Nina Teicholz calls it “a victory for science.” South African scientist Tim Noakes says it proves that one person can “change the world.” I say it’s a decisive defeat for medical, scientific and dietetic establishments in their ongoing war against the critics.
The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has announced that it will not retract the peer-reviewed investigation it published by Teicholz in September 2015. The feature documents in detail how the US Dietary Guidelines (DGAs) have ignored vast amounts of rigorous scientific evidence. This evidence is on key issues such as saturated fats and low-carbohydrate diets.
Teicholz’s article has been the target of an unprecedented retraction effort that was organized by an advocacy group that has long defended those guidelines. The BMJ stance is becoming a lesson in unintended consequences for those attempting to stifle debate on the topic. It raises fundamental questions about who was behind the retraction effort and their motivation.
If you’ve been reading the news, you probably know that eating delicious foods like butter and eggs is no longer thought to increase risk of heart attack or stroke. This post discusses new information has come to light suggesting Ancel Keys suppressed evidence that polyunsaturated fats are more harmful than trans fat!
For those of you who aren’t fully convinced that butter and eggs are healthy, I’ve devoted the first half of this article to highlighting why, when your doctor recommends that you swap out saturated fats in foods like butter and eggs for polyunsaturated fat in products like Smart Balance and packaged breakfast cereals, it’s largely thanks to Ancel Keys and his misleading, even dishonest, public statements.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Ancel Keys designed a series of highly influential experiments that changed the course of American dietary history. Before Keys, Americans enjoyed traditional foods like butter, eggs, and bacon without worrying about their health. After Keys made the cover of Time magazine on Jan 13, 1961, the American public was introduced to the idea that saturated fats were clogging their arteries, and that idea ultimately led to a sea change in the foods we eat. Real foods would increasingly replaced by processed, and the era of obesity and chronic disease would begin.
A Tasmanian surgeon who was told by the nation’s medical watchdog to stop giving specific nutritional advice is one of several cases that prompted a Senate committee to call for an inquiry into the agency.
Gary Fettke is an orthopaedic surgeon and an advocate of a low carbohydrate diet.
He said he became passionate about nutrition after amputating limbs of diabetic patients whose diets were a big part of the problem.
“What I’ve been advocating for some years is cutting sugar down, particularly all the refined sugars in the diet,” he said.
“Over time that’s evolved, and it’s evolved to what I call low carb, healthy fat.
In July 2002, The New York Times Magazine published “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?,” a cover story by food journalist Gary Taubes arguing that the carbohydrates in our diets, not the fat, were the likely cause of obesity and heart disease. What sounds perfectly reasonable now — essentially a defense of Atkins and Paleo — was at the time akin to heresy. The critical avalanche that followed was swift and relentless, including aCenter for Science in the Public Interest newsletter cover accusing Taubes of promulgating “Big Fat Lies,” a Reason magazine takedown headlined, “Big Fat Fake,” and a Newsweek scolding, written by a former friend, titled, “It’s Not the Carbs, Stupid.”
Almost fifteen years later, much of what Taubes was pilloried for writing in 2002 has become conventional wisdom. Michael Pollan has since referred to Taubes as the Alexander Solzhenitsyn of nutrition research, and he’s been asked to lecture at over 60 universities and medical schools worldwide — from the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic to Harvard Law School and Oxford University. Taubes is now widely considered to be one of the most influential authorities in nutrition. With his latest book,The Case Against Sugar, coming out from Knopf in December, we asked him to write about his time in the wilderness. Below, in his own words, Taubes ruminates on bouncing back from professional ridicule.