T. Colin Campbell, PhD

“Fed Up”. Part Two.

I read with interest the comments on my essay, Fed Up With Fed Up. I particularly welcome the challenges, especially those who thought that I understated the case against sugar. (I probably should add this commentary to that discussion but it may get lost so I am highlighting it here for more emphasis.)

Here are my statements from the article that I think are most relevant:

“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.” … I am referring to published evidence wherein “… the evidence showing sugar to be a major factor in obesity is relatively weak.” I still support these statements.

I don’t disagree that there are adverse effects of refined carbohydrates (i.e., sugar). I only question the emphasis given to these presumed effects as if they are the major dietary health problem of the day. I agree with Dr. Neal Barnard who suggested that this proposition is the current “whipping boy”, as if other more comprehensive dietary concerns are much less important.

I also wrote the article because the so-called experts in the film (journalists are experts?) are those who have previously made it clear that they strongly disagree with the whole food plant based diet. I am convinced that a major intent of “Fed Up”—especially given its vigorous PR—was to counter the unusually successful movie documentary “Forks Over Knives” and its main message.

In addition to the surprising weakness of the evidence against refined carbohydrates, I have since learned that in Dr. [...]

Fed Up With “Fed Up”

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 [...]

How Do You Like These Apples?

I am writing in response to George Johnson’s article in the New York Times An Apple a Day, and Other Myths dated 4/21/14. With this title, I am imagining that the New York Times is proposing to be our myth buster.
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    A Fallacious, Faulty and Foolish Discussion About Saturated Fat

A Fallacious, Faulty and Foolish Discussion About Saturated Fat

The New York Times has done it again, reporting on a summary of studies on the associations of various dietary and clinical risk factors with heart disease in a way that creates, in my opinion, more confusion than clarity.

The Mystique of Protein and Its Implications

There are three macronutrients in food: carbohydrates, fat and protein, ‘macro’ in the sense that they comprise almost all of the weight and calories of food. Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients.

Protein, ever since its discovery in 1839, has been considered by many people to be an exceptionally important nutrient, often assuming that the more we consume the better. Its name comes from the Greek word, proteios, meaning ‘of prime importance’—an auspicious and almost mystical beginning for the future of this nutrient! Add to this importance the long standing impression by most people that protein is exclusive to animal source foods.

We now know, however, that this importance is exaggerated, to mythical proportions. For a starter, protein is not exclusive to animal-based foods. In the late 1800s protein was also found to be present in plant foods. Yet the myth of its being tightly or even exclusively linked to animal-based foods still lingers. Simply ask a non-meat eating vegan how many times they are asked, “But where do I get my protein?”

This bias implying that meat is the sole source of protein was encouraged over these many decades by ‘science’. Research findings, for example, were showing that animal-based proteins are utilized by the body more efficiently. This efficiency of utilization referred to increased body growth rate among other effects, with greater efficiency being described as greater ‘biological value’ or higher quality. But it was only animal-based proteins that have high quality.

Because most people obviously like high quality, animal-based protein became the protein of choice. In effect, this history evolved through the prism of linguistics to give a profound self-perpetuating paradigm.

The problem with this proposition is that high quality does not necessarily mean better health. Increasing [...]

Obesity Debate – Something New

It seems that no other public health problem gets more attention than the topic of obesity. It’s a significant societal issue. Yet, in spite of all the proposals, commentaries and research efforts, we still seem to have no solution or even a consensus on how to find a solution.
T. Colin Campbell, MD

Dr. T. Colin Campbell is Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and President of the Board of Directors at the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies