Fed Up With “Fed Up”

By T. Colin Campbell, PhD June 3rd, 2014 News45 Comments

In case you missed it, a new diet and health documentary movie called “Fed Up” was released in theaters on May 9. I’ve never written a movie review before—in fact, I am not much of a moviegoer. But my wife, Karen, and I decided to see this one, partly because this topic has been my career and partly because it seems that an unusually strong public relations effort was mounted to get people to see it.

But mostly, what specifically drew my attention was an op-ed piece by NY Times health science writer Mark Bittman who recommended it, so I took him at his word.

First, for the film’s credits. It mainly speaks of a problem that almost everyone agrees on—the sickening sweetness of too much sugar, especially for children. Who can disagree? But this message seems to me to be the beginning, the middle and the end of the film and it took almost two hours to hammer home what appears to be an obvious truth. A second message blames authorities (especially a few academics) for shoving so much sugar down our throats, a thought shared by many discontented citizens these days.

So, now, let’s look at some stories that failed to make it into the film. First, there is the title. It provides gravitas suggesting that the film is going to tell us what is the real cause of the big health problem that we suffer. They say it’s our excessive consumption of sugar that causes obesity that causes, in turn, other diseases, although they mostly left it to our imagination what these might be. Our really big health problem is obesity, so the film says, and if we could only eliminate this heavy-weight problem, our sickness would disappear. And, we can do this, of course, by eliminating sugar from our diets. So simple…..!

This is a very reductionist idea that seriously short-changes the far more comprehensive diet and health connection. Obesity should not be considered an independent disease outcome or a stepping-stone to other disease outcomes. Obesity was first granted its own independent disease status, with its own medical code number, about twenty years ago to make it easier for physicians to charge a fee for their obesity-treatment services and to bring more public attention to the problem—or so it was said at that time. I was not supportive of this decision then and still do not do so today. Any disease with independent disease status suggested to me that treatments targeted specifically for obesity might be developed, like weight loss pills, bariatric surgery or counting calories. And so it has come to pass, with little or no gain in long-term health.

Obesity is only one member of a broad spectrum of symptoms and illnesses, which are now known to share the same dietary lifestyle. And further, sugar is only one nutrient-like chemical member of a vast array of nutrient-like substances in food. It is unscientific and irresponsible for this film to target a specific cause of one outcome while ignoring countless other outcomes that share the same (collective) cause.

I know of no evidence that were we to eliminate all sugar from our diets, presumably leaving the rest of the diet the same, we could rid ourselves of disease and restore our health.

In a debate of sorts, four scientists, each having reputable research experience, compared their interpretations of the evidence for and against sugar, in its various forms of consumption (high fructose corn syrup, sugar-sweetened beverages, sucrose and/or fructose solutions) as a cause of obesity, diabetes and a few clinical indicators of these diseases. Their evaluations were just published in the April issue of Diabetes Care, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association.[1][2]

It may come as a surprise but the evidence showing sugar to be a major factor in obesity is relatively weak. There certainly is some evidence but closer examination shows that much of this evidence may be attributed to its contribution to calories or other factors not measured, an interpretation shared by both research groups. However you may choose which side of this debate you prefer, I am inclined to favor the argument that sugar is problematic[1] even though the effect is less scientifically qualified than we all tend to believe.

To make the film more authentic, the producers interviewed a large number of people they call experts on the topic of diet and health. In most scientific research disciplines, there usually are guidelines as to who qualifies as an expert. Based on the criteria used in my discipline, I have serious trouble agreeing that journalists (even those who are widely known) are ‘experts’. For that matter, I am equally concerned with some professionals (physicians and even nutrition and food science researchers) who allow themselves to be considered as experts simply because they may have a professional degree but have no relevant clinical or research experience. When these self-proclaimed ‘experts’ are less than candid about their professional qualifications and experiences, they tend to say almost anything they want. Thus, they are more inclined to rely on their personal and institutional prejudices, feeling free to cherry pick which cause and which effect to paint grand pictures. It would help if there were more transparency, which applies both to supporters and deniers of the connection between whole plant-based foods and their remarkable health benefits. The consequence of not being clear about qualifications and biases is that the public mostly cannot know who speaks sense and who speaks nonsense, who speaks truthfully and who tells lies. In such a maelstrom, important ideas can easily be destroyed.

The film hammers the food industry who contributes to this ‘sugar-dependent’ obesity problem—an understandable observation—but reserves its most critical comments for government advisory panels who make food and health policy. They begin with the 1976-1977 McGovern Committee of the U.S. Senate who initially advocated a “low fat” diet, a position affirmed by a few more advisory committees on diet and health during the 1980s and 1990s. According to the film, consumers entered this epic journey adopting low fat diets and actually got fatter! This happened, so they say, because we replaced the missing fat by increasing the consumption of more and more sugar-dense products.

False! During this period (from about 1975 to about 2000), I know of no evidence that we actually ate less fat. If anything we consumed more fat (reviewed in The China Study, page 95[3]). Moreover, the film refers to ‘low fat’ diets as those containing about 30% of diet calories that was recommended by policy makers. This is not low fat, at least when compared to the whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet, at about 10-15% fat. The WFPB diet, of course, also is rich in nutrients and related substances now known to prevent and/or reverse a wide spectrum of health problems—including obesity.

The missing message in this film is that concerning the effects of a multiplicity of dietary factors/nutrients, which prevent a wide range of seemingly diverse diseases and which does so remarkably quickly—days to a few weeks. To explain the significance of this concept, I find it useful to group foods into three classes, animal-based, plant-based and processed or convenience foods.

The benefits of these foods are best assessed by their nutrient contents, most of which were not mentioned in the film. It is very clear that for optimum health, we must consume a wide variety of antioxidants and complex carbohydrates (this includes dietary fiber) that are only produced by plants and that must be consumed as whole foods, thus giving the whole food plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle. Based on fundamental evidence from many years ago, this diet easily provides all the protein and fat needed for good health, as well as appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is the balance of these nutrients and their integrated functions that explains the exceptional disease prevention and reversal effects of this diet now being observed. In modern day parlance, this diet is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune-enhancing, and capable of controlling hormone dependent aberrant cell growth (as occurs, for example, in cancer growth). These, and others, are very complex systems that account for the remarkable biological effects of the foods comprising the WFPB dietary lifestyle. Animal-based and processed foods have no capability for producing the same benefits.

The ‘authorities’ in this film are mostly the same people who have been chanting the same mantra against the WFPB diet at other venues and in other media. They are making headway with the public, partly because they use reductionist argument and experimentation and partly because they have ready access to resources and supporters who want to maintain the present systems of food production and health care.

This “Fed Up” film, aptly named from more than one perspective in my view, is an abysmal failure that lures unassuming consumers to ignore the big picture while mostly maintaining the present status quo. The film’s assertions have little or no credence or potential to resolve the health crisis (poor health, high health care costs) in the U.S.


a b Bray, G. A. & Popkin, B. M. Dietary sugar and body weight: have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? Health be damned! Pour on the sugar. Diabetes Care 37, 950-956 (2014)
Kahn, R. F. & Sievenpiper, J. L. Dietary sugar and body weight: have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? We have, but the pox on sugar is overwrought and overworked. Diabetes Care 37, 950-956 (2014)
Campbell, T. C. & Campbell, T. M., II. The China Study, Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health. (BenBella Books, Inc., 2005)


An Independent Critique of Low-carb Diets

February 2013
Volume 12 Issue 2

An Independent Critique of Low-carb Diets: The Diet Wars Continue
Part 3

In the September and October 2012 McDougall newsletters, I presented readers with articles addressing the dangers of low-carbohydrate diets, which are also popularly known as Paleo and Primal diets and as Atkins-type diets. Please take this opportunity to read these articles.

In this article I look at some specific populations who lived before the globalization of the western diet and explore the health of a number of cultures that lived both on low-carbohydrate (meat, poultry, fish, egg, and milk) based diets and high carbohydrate (rice, corn, and potato) diets.

I present findings on the health of the nomadic populations from the Steppes in Central Asia and the Pampas in South America who lived the “low-carbers dream”, subsisting on enormous amounts of grass-fed meat and milk. Their ways of eating did not protect them from obesity, heart disease, and cancer. On the other hand, I present populations from Asia-Pacific and Africa, subsisting almost entirely on plant foods (up to 95% of calories from carbohydrates), which were lean, muscular and largely free of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The Nomadic Kirghiz and Dzungarian Plainsmen

In the 1920’s, Kuczynski reported on the nomadic plainsmen of the Kirghiz and Dzungarian Steppes in Central Asia and estimated that they consumed an astonishing 20 liters of fermented mare’s milk, and between 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9kg) of meat per day.1 2 Lack of systematically documented dietary data however suggests that these findings could have been slightly overestimated, as evidently has been the case for early researcher’s estimates of the Masai’s intake of milk, meat, cholesterol and total energy.3Nevertheless, these nomadic plainsmen consumed enormous quantities of organic pasture raised animals foods, perhaps among the largest ever documented.

Kuczynski noted that these nomads, evidently largely as a result of their diet experienced a high incidence of obesity, premature extensive atherosclerosis, contracted kidney, apoplexy, arcus senilis, and gout.4 5 In specific, Kuczynski asserted that:2

They get arteriosclerosis in an intense degree and often at an early age as shown by cardiac symptoms, nervous disordes, typical changes of the peripheral vessels, nephrosclerosis and, finally, apoplectic attacks. Even in men thirty-two years old I frequently observed arcus senilis.
The Nomadic Kirghiz Plainsmen

Kuczynski compared the diet and health of these nomadic plainsmen with Russian peasants, who had an apparent low incidence of these conditions while consuming a vastly different diet. Their diet was based on soup, bread, pickles, potatoes, with very little meat, but consumed large amounts of alcohol.5 In comparison to the nomadic plainsmen, Kuczynski asserted in regards to these Russian peasants that:2

Repeatedly I found at the age of about seventy years no signs of arteriosclerosis, no arcus senilis, etc.; they were men of youthful appearance, with no grey in their still abundant growth of hair, and with their sexual functions still intact.

For more information regarding the health of nomadic populations, Don Matesz has previously posted aninformative review addressing the high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer among the modern, still largely nomadic Mongols consuming diets rich in organic pasture raised animal foods.

The Native Indonesians

In 1916, Cornelis D. de Langen observed that the native Javanese, the indigenous people of the Indonesian island of Java who consumed a diet which was ‘mainly vegetarian with rice as the staple, that is very poor in cholesterol and other lipids’, had very low levels of serum cholesterol and incidence of coronary heart disease.6Conversely, de Langen observed that their Javanese counterparts who worked as stewards on Dutch passenger ships and consumed traditional cholesterol laden Dutch food had much higher levels of serum cholesterol and incidence of coronary heart disease.7 Blackburn noted in regards to de Langen’s classical findings from Indonesian hospitals that:6

Pursuing this clinical impression, he reviewed 10 years of admissions charts and found only 5 cases of acute gallbladder disease among many thousands of patients passing through the medical wards and only 1 case on the surgery service among 70,000 admissions surveyed.

Following these observations, de Langen stated in regards to the rarity of vascular disease among the Javanese that:6

thrombosis and emboli, so serious in Europe, are most exceptional here. This is not only true of internal medicine, but also on surgery, where the surgeon needs take no thought of these dreaded possibilities among his native patients. Out of 160 major laparotomies and 5,578 deliveries in the wards, not a single case of thrombosis or embolism was seen.

These findings closely resemble observations from over 15,000 operations carried out in Norway during the period around World War II, where the changes in incidence of post-operative thrombosis was consistent with changes in the availability of cholesterol laden foods [reviewed previously]. Blackburn also noted in regards to de Langen’s 1922 experiment, which is regarded as apparently the first ever systematic feeding experiment of diet in relation to serum cholesterol levels, that:6

…he found an average 40 mg/dl increase in cholesterol in 5 Javanese natives who were shifted from a rice-based vegetarian cuisine to a 6-week regimen high in meat, butter, and egg fats.

These findings were reproduced decades later in hundreds of tightly controlled feeding experiments, firmly establishing that dietary cholesterol and isocaloric replacement of complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fat by saturated fat raises LDL and total cholesterol in humans.8

In 1908, Williams noted in regards to the findings of early doctors who practiced in Indonesia and the rarity of cancer among the Javanese that:9

…a single example of a malignant tumour in a native being esteemed a great rarity.

The Okinawans

In 1949, a government survey found that in Okinawa, known to have the highest concentration of centenarians in the world, the population consumed about 85% of their total energy intake from carbohydrates, with the staple at the time being the sweet potato. The dietary survey also showed that the Okinawans derived about 9% of their energy intake from protein and less than 4% of energy from all sources of animal foods combined (Table 1).10 These findings were largely consistent with previous dietary surveys dating back to 1879 and 1919.11


In 1946, Steiner examined autopsies of 150 Okinawans, of which 40 were between the age of 50 and 95. Steiner noted only seven cases of slight aortic atherosclerosis, all of which were found in those over the age of 66, and only one case of calcification in the coronary arteries. In 1946 Benjamin reported similar findings from a study of 200 autopsies on Okinawans.12

Even in 1995 the observed rates of coronary heart disease and dietary related cancers, including that of the colon, prostate, breast and ovarian in Okinawa were not only many fold lower than that of the United States, but even significantly lower than that of mainland Japan.10 This may be explained by the likelihood that these diseases are slowly progressive diseases and therefore the more traditional Okinawan diet consumed several decades prior would still have played a major role in the development and manifestation of these diseases.13 14 15

The Papua New Guineans

The Papua New Guineans traditionally subsisted on a plant based diet, of which a number of varieties of sweet potatoes typically supplied over 90% of dietary intake. They also grew a number of other crops including corn, as well as sugar cane which was consumed as a delicacy. Pig feasts are organised a few times a year, but at which pork is not consumed in excess of 50 grams. A dietary survey on the Papua New Guineans highlanders estimated that carbohydrate accounted for 94.6% of total energy intake, among the highest recorded in the world. Total energy intake was adequate, however only 3% of energy intake was derived from protein (25g for men and 20g for women), yet there was no evidence of dietary induced protein deficiency or anemia. Furthermore, this surveyed population was described as being muscular and mostly very lean, physically fit and in good nutritional state.16 17 They also drank ‘soft’ water which is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It was estimated that tobacco was smoked by 73% of males and 20% females. Also, the highlanders spend up to twelve hours a day inside a smoke-filled house due to centrally placed open wood fires with little ventilation and no chimneys in their homes, resulting in a very high exposure to hazardous smoke in this population.16

Despite cardiac risk factors including high exposure to smoke and soft drinking water, a number of authors observed a great rarity of incidence of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and stroke among the traditional Papua New Guineans, but also noted an increase in incidence paralleling the Westernization of the nation. In 1958, Blackhouse reported on autopsies of 724 individuals between 1923 and 1934 and found no evidence of heart attack incidence and only one case of slight narrowing of the coronary arteries. However, it has been suggested that this study was selective as only a small portion of the autopsies were performed on females or the elderly. In 1969, Magarey et al. published a report on the autopsy results of 217 aortas and found a great rarity of atherosclerosis. The authors noted that the prevalence and severity of atherosclerosis was less than had been reported in any previously investigated population.18 In 1973, Sinnett and Whyte published findings from a survey of 779 highlanders using electrocardiograms among other methods, and found little probable evidence of coronary heart disease, and no clinical evidence of diabetes, gout, Parkinson’s disease, or any previous incidence of stroke.16

For a population that consumed virtually the highest intake of carbohydrates out of any population to also have virtually the lowest incidence of atherosclerosis and diabetes ever recorded highlights the vital importance of the health properties of specific carbohydrate rich foods. These findings further question certain ‘carbohydrate-induced dyslipidemia’ hypotheses, emphasized by certain researchers, who perhaps intentionally do not always take the quality of carbohydrate rich foods into careful consideration.19

In 1900, Sir William MacGregor reported in the Lancet in regards to the observed rarity of cancer among the native Papua New Guineans, asserting that:20

For nine and a half years I never saw a case in British New Guinea ; but at the end of that time there occurred an example of sarcoma of the tibia in a Papuan, who had for seven or eight years lived practically a European life, eating tinned Australian meat daily.

In 1974, Clezy brought to attention the rarity of mortality from colorectal cancer among the Papua New Guineans, for which the observed annual rate per 100,000 was 0.6 for men and 0.2 for women. These rates were 100 fold lower than that of many developed nations during the same time period, although this could have been in part explained by underdiagnosis.17

Even in more recent statistics after modest changes towards a western diet, the Papua New Guineans still had among the lowest rates of hip fractures in the world, which Frassetto et al. observed was more than 50 fold lower than that of the Scandinavian nations.21 Although these researchers ascribed the worldwide differences in rates of hip fractures to the ratio of vegetable to animal protein, evidence from prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials, as well as experimental animal models suggests that saturated fat may be at least as great, if not an even greater contributor to poor bone health.22 23 24 2526

The Tokelauans and Pukupukans

In the video below, Plant Positive reviews the diet and health of the Tokelauans and Pupukans whose diet is rich in coconuts, as well as the diet and health of other South Pacific island populations.

The Tokelauns, and more on the Masai

A 1908 Review on the Causation of Cancer

In 1908, William Roger Williams published an extensive review of the medical literature and documentations from a large number of populations around the world before the widespread use of intensive farming practices. Williams observed that compared to the nations with carnivorous dietary patterns there was a significantly lower incidence of cancer among the nations subsisting predominantly on a plant-based diet. He also noted that groups within nations with carnivorous dietary patterns that largely abstained from animal foods, such as nuns, monks, slaves and prison inmates had a similar low incidence of cancer.9

Williams reported on the cancer rates of the area inhabited by the Gaucho of the Argentina Pampas, another nomadic population that subsisted predominantly on organic pasture raised animal foods, noting that:9

Cancer is commoner in Argentina which comprises the pampas region inhabited by the Gauchos, who for months subsist entirely on beef, and never touch salt than in other parts of South America. On the other hand, among the natives of Egypt, who are of vegetarian habits, and consume immense quantities of salt, cancer is almost unknown.


The Nomadic Argentinean Gaucho

These findings are largely consistent with modern reviews from prominent health authorities, including the report from the expert panel of the World Cancer Research Fund that produced convincing evidence that red meat is a major risk factor for cancer and that dietary fiber provides significant protection [reviewed previously]. However, these findings raise questions as to whether the Egyptians plant-based diet that is centered on wheat provides significant protection against salt sensitive cancers. In regards to the cancer incidence among the different ethnic groups of Egypt, Williams quoted from a 1902 publication in the British Medical Journal authored by Dr. F. C. Madden of Cairo that:9

The consensus of opinion among medical men in Egypt is, that cancer is never found either in male or female, among the black races of that country. These include the Berberines and the Sudanese, who are all Mussulmans, and live almost entirely upon vegetarian diet. Cancer is fairly common, however, among the Arabs and Copts, who live and eat somewhat after the manner of Europeans.

Williams also observed that the increases in incidence of cancer within populations coincided with increases in animal food intake. For example, in regards to the observed marked increase cancer incidence among the Native American’s after gaining easier means to hunt buffaloes, Williams asserted:9

In this connexion it should be borne in mind, that in their primitive condition these savages had no horses and no firearms ; consequently it was no easy matter for them to kill the fleet buffaloes, on which they mainly depended for subsistence ; hence, in their primitive condition, they were generally less well nourished than when, after contact with whites, they had, by the acquirement of horses and firearms, become assured of a constant supply of their favourite food [coinciding with an increase in cancer incidence].

Historical Overview of the Reversal of Chronic Diseases

In 1903, John Harvey Kellogg, the founder of the Kellogg Company asserted:

Dr John Bell, who was, about a hundred years ago [now two hundred years ago], professor in a leading college in London, wrote that a careful adherence to a vegetarian dietary tended to prevent cancer. He also stated that in some cases persons who had already acquired cancer had been cured by adherence to a non-flesh dietary. When I first read this book, I did not agree with the author; I thought he was mistaken; but I have gradually come to believe that what he says on this subject is true.

These findings are consistent with Dr. Dean Ornish’s on-going Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial which has already produced strong suggestive evidence of reversal of prostate cancer growth.27 These findings are also consistent with experiments showing that dietary restriction of methionine, typically found in higher quantity and bioavailability in protein rich animal foods compared to unprocessed plant foods can inhibit and even reverse human tumor growth in animal models and in culture [reviewed previously].

Publications producing evidence of regression of atherosclerosis in humans dates back to the periods following both the World Wars in Scandinavia and the low countries of Europe, where a number of researchers found a trend between changes in intake of cholesterol laden foods throughout periods of food scarcity in the war and changes in the severity of atherosclerosis at autopsy [reviewed previously]. Several decades later during the 1960’s and 70’s experiments involving modest dietary and lifestyle changes or drugs produced the first angiographic evidence of modest regression of atherosclerosis.28

In experimental animal models, the first suggestive evidence of regression of atherosclerosis came from rabbit models produced by Anichkov and colleagues during the 1920’s. Beginning from 1957 much more substantial evidence of regression was produced in rabbits and then later replicated in a number of other species, including non-human primates.29 30

In 1970, Armstrong et al. published the first study producing substantial evidence of regression of atherosclerosis in non-human primates. Armstrong et al. induced severe autopsy proven atherosclerosis in Rhesus monkeys resembling that of human atherosclerosis by feeding a diet with 40% of energy from egg yolks for 17 months. The egg yolks were then removed from the diet of the remaining monkey’s and replaced by either linoleic acid rich chow or sugar rich low fat chow for three years reducing serum cholesterol to 140 mg/dl and resulting in a marked regression of atherosclerosis.28 31 These results were later reproduced in well over a dozen experiments in various primate species in which severe atherosclerosis was induced typically by feeding diets rich in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat and then reversed the process either by removing these atherogenic components, or by other means which significantly reduce serum cholesterol.30

During the late 1980’s, Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn began reversing atherosclerosis, and more importantly greatly decreased the number of reoccurring cardiac events in participants who adhered to a plant-based diet and often other lifestyle modifications.32 33 34 35 More recently Dr. Esselstyn has replicated his initial findings in around 200 participants over the period of a decade, with publication pending results showing a phenomenal success rate of a 99.5% reduction in reoccurring cardiovascular events [reviewed previously].

Caldwell Esselstyn on making heart attacks history

2013 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center
P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402


McDougall Breaking News

NEJM Study Promotes Olive Oil and Dismisses Low-fat Diet

Your friends are reading today (February 26, 2013) The New England Journal of Medicine article about how adding olive oil and nuts to their usual diet will reduce their risk of heart attacks by 30 percent. This article has also told them that a low-fat diet fails to help (again). Stroke was the only problem where the tested Mediterranean diet made a real difference. The diet had no effect on heart attacks or death rates overall. The popularity of this message proves once again that “people love to hear good news about their bad habits.” They are reassured that simply by adding more olive oil and nuts you will improve your health…cutting out the brie and beef stroganoff are secondary thoughts.

The article begins by saying, “The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals.” Of course, this diet is an improvement over the usual fare consumed in the US and Europe, and that is why benefits were seen. The study lasted five years and involved about 7,447 people, ages 55 to 80, in Spain.

There was no reason to say the low-fat diet is a failure based on this research, because participants in the “low-fat” group made no real change in their diets. In the “low-fat” group, total fat consumption decreased insignificantly from 39 to 37 percent. Why was so little effort placed on teaching and then testing a really healthy low-fat diet like mine (the McDougall Diet is 7 percent fat), and then comparing it with the Mediterranean diet? There was no financial interest in pursuing this end. The vested interest was in selling olive oil and nuts. Two companies supplied the olive oil (Hojiblanca and Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero), and the nuts came from a nut producer in Spain (La Morella Nuts) and the California Walnut Commission. Plus many of the authors have extensive financial ties to food, wine, and other industry groups.

One major disadvantage of replacing saturated fats (meats and dairy) with olive oil and nuts is that there is no weight loss from exchanging one type of fat for another: “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.” When this same group of researchers published their earlier findings in 2006 they found that their “olive oil” group lost less weight than did the “low-fat” group (0.19 Kg) and the “nut” group lost about the same (0.26 Kg) as the “low-fat” group in 3 months.1 (Remember they were not really following a low fat diet.) With the McDougall diet we have found an average weight loss of five times as much, 1.6 Kg (3.5 pounds), in a week and participants are encouraged to eat as much as they want, buffet style.

The obesity-causing effects of all that olive oil are also seen in the countries in southern Europe. When 54 obese women in a Mediterranean country were studied, they were found to be following a diet low in carbohydrates (35% of the calories) and high in fats (43% of the calories)…and 55% of the total of these fats came from olive oil.2 Overweight and obesity lay the foundation for type-2 diabetes and degenerative arthritis of the lower extremities, as well as cancer, heart disease, and strokes.

Does Olive Oil and Eating Nuts Really Prevent Heart Disease?
Common knowledge is using olive oil (monounsaturated fat) and eating nuts (polyunsaturated fats) are protective against heart disease, but there is evidence that questions the real life benefits:

* Serial angiograms of people’s heart arteries show that all three types of fat—saturated (animal) fat, monounsaturated (olive oil), and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and -6 oils)—were associated with significant increases in new atherosclerotic lesions over one year of study.3 Only by decreasing the entire fat intake, including poly- and monounsaturated-oils, did the lesions stop growing.

* Dietary polyunsaturated oils, both the omega-3 and omega-6 types, are incorporated into human atherosclerotic plaques; thereby promoting damage to the arteries and the progression of atherosclerosis.4

* A study in African green monkeys found when saturated fat was replaced with monounsaturated fat (olive oil), the olive oil provided no protection from atherosclerosis.5

* One of the most important clotting factors predicting the risk of a heart attack is an elevated factor VII. All five fats tested—rapeseed oil (canola), olive oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, and butter—showed similar increases in triglycerides and clotting factor VII.6

Most likely, the heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet are due to it being a nearly vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet is a good diet in spite of the olive oil and added nuts.7

I believe the reason this New England Journal of Medicine study shows benefits is because the people in the Mediterranean diet group reduced their intake of meat and dairy foods and increased their intake of starches (cereals and legumes), vegetables, and fruits. The inclusion of olive oil and nuts was not a “magic pill” that spared their ailing arteries from forkfuls of bacon and eggs. However, the reader should consider these findings of this study important because they do show that people can change their diets when instructed to do so and that removing animal foods from the diet is beneficial. But recommending more olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish is not the message people deserve to hear. They need to know that a truly healthy diet provides the bulk of the calories from traditional starches, like rice, corn, and potatoes. Commercialism needs to be eliminated when life and death issues for you and your family are at stake.

1) Estruch R, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Corella D, Salas-Salvado J, Ruiz-Gutierrez V, Covas MI, Fiol M, Gomez-Gracia E, Lopez-Sabater MC, Vinyoles E, Aros F, Conde M, Lahoz C, Lapetra J, Saez G, Ros E.Effects of a Mediterranean-Style Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Jul 4;145(1):1-11.

2) Calle-Pascual AL, Saavedra A, Benedi A, Martin-Alvarez PJ, Garcia-Honduvilla J, Calle JR, Marañes JP. Changes in nutritional pattern, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance during weight loss in obese patients from a Mediterranean area. Horm Metab Res. 1995 Nov;27(11):499-502.

3) Blankenhorn DH, Johnson RL, Mack WJ, el Zein HA, Vailas LI. The influence of diet on the appearance of new lesions in human coronary arteries. JAMA. 1990 Mar 23-30;263(12):1646-52.

4) Felton CV, Crook D, Davies MJ, Oliver MF. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques. Lancet. 1994 Oct 29;344(8931):1195-6.

5) Rudel LL, Parks JS, Sawyer JK. Compared with dietary monounsaturated and saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat protects African green monkeys from coronary artery atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1995 Dec;15(12):2101-10.

6) Larsen LF, Bladbjerg EM, Jespersen J, Marckmann P. Effects of dietary fat quality and quantity on postprandial activation of blood coagulation factor VII. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1997 Nov;17(11):2904-9.

7) Keys A. Mediterranean diet and public health: personal reflections. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl):1321S-1323S.

©2013 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

Colin Campbell Phd

About T. Colin Campbell

For more than forty years, Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Project, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted.  Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. He has more than seventy grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding and authored more than 300 research papers and coauthor of the bestselling the book, The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.

Copyright: The Dairy Education Board Text Only

Sunday, July 25, 1999 

T. Colin Campbell
      Turn to the back cover of many of today’s best-selling books on alternative medicine, and chances are that you’ll find a quote from T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., professor of nutritional science at Cornell University.Dr. Campbell has been one of the great spokespersons for a plant-based diet and is best known for his landmark scientific study, the China- Oxford-Cornell Study. Campbell has linked heart disease and cancer to diet and his work is well respected and accepted throughout the world.


That study is the most comprehensive investigation of diet and disease in world history. Campbell was once a meat-eater, but the scientific evidence gathered from his work was convincing enough for him to adopt a plant-based diet. On May 8, 1990, Jane Brody of the New York Times wrote:

“Campbell’s China study is the grand prix of all epidemiological studies.”

It is interesting to note that Jane Brody is no advocate of a vegetarian lifestyle, yet, she accepts and praises Campbell’s science.


The major finding from Campbell’s study was that people who eat a typically American animal-based, protein-rich diet have seventeen times the death rate from heart disease as do people who satisfy their protein needs from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Data from his study indicated that women who derived their protein from meat and dairy products were five times as likely to die of breast cancer than those who ate a plant-based diet.


The China Project is a uniquely comprehensive study that is yielding scientifically solid, groundbreaing information that can directly impact your health now and for the rest of your life -information that you can use on:cancer
heart disease
osteoporosis and
many other topics of concern to you”..The ‘Grand Prix’…the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease… tantalizing findings: -The New York Times


I met T. Colin Campbell at the North American Vegetarian Conference in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Since that first meeting, we’ve spoken many times on the telephone. T. Colin Campbell is a brilliant lecturer, commanding the attention of his “students” with his sparkling brown eyes and piercing Irish wit.

We have discussed bovine proteins. Dr. Campbell calls casein “carcinogenic.” Casein represents eighty percent of the protein in milk.

We also discussed “politics.” Cornell University has historically been a great friend to the dairy industry. Cornell professors like Dale Bauman, David Barbano, and Culberto Garza have received many millions of dollars from dairy industry sources. The influence of these three men has shaped government policy and influenced dietary guidelines and food pyramids.


The subject of his talk at Johnstown was the confusion in newspapers and conflicting views concerning “information overload.” I took notes at his lecture, furiously scribbling down his words of wisdom. Campbell noted:

“I cannot imagine how the public at large can possibly understand all of the information and dis-information.”

Campbell brought his audience to laughter when he said:

“I can design a study to show that a carcinogen is actually an anti-carcinogen.”

This is exactly what the dairy industry does by promoting cheese and claiming that dairy foods prevent colon cancer.


Campbell challenged the audience. He asked, “How many nutrients are there?” One listener called out “Nine.” That’s what the dairy industry claims can be found in milk. Nine essential nutrients.

In answering his own question, Campbell pointed out that there were countless things in foods which give us benefit, and noted that there were 600-700 different types of beta-carotene, carotenoids found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Campbell taught me that the number of different variations of naturally occurring fiber could be measured in the tens of thousands.

Scientists speculate that an untold number of nutrients have yet to be discovered, but Campbell revealed that the number of known unique nutrients could be measured in the tens of thousands.


In science, we get caught up in dis-information. Campbell believes that we should re-think our concept of exatly what is a nutrient.


Campbell presented evidence that revealed the average American’s diet. The average intake of protein is 90-100 grams per day. The RDA for protein is 56 grams per day, while the minimum daily requirement is a mere 24 grams per person per day.