January 2003  

  Vol. 2   No. 1   

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The McDougall Diet Supported by the Most Ancient Clinical Trial – According to the New England Journal of Medicine

The truth is the truth, and you do not have to be a scientist, doctor, or dietitian to observe the truth.   Throughout human history people have written that the kings, queens, and aristocrats, who eat rich foods, become fat and sick.  Approximately 2600 years ago it was also reported that the McDougall diet cured people with these food-induced ailments, according to an article in this month’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.1

 “The first published report of a clinical trial has biblical origins. In the Book of Daniel, reference is made to the unwillingness of the Israelite Daniel to accept the diet offered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The king's official had put a steward in charge of Daniel and his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego):

Daniel said to the steward . . . “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's rich food be observed by you, and according to what you see deal with your servants." So he hearkened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh* than all the youths who ate the king's rich food. So the steward took away their rich food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.”2

* “Fatter in flesh” refers to better nourished, not being overweight.

So those people who have followed Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and the Zone should realize these approaches are based upon very weak foundations.  Unless you can find reference to any of these programs in ancient writings, I will have to assume they are all just passing fancies, briefly capturing the attention of the desperate masses; and not worthy of the efforts of a person serious about his health and personal appearance.


1)  Lewis J.  Ancient clinical trials.  New England J Med 2003; 348:83.

2)  Daniel 1:11-16. In: The Holy Bible. Revised standard version. New York: American Bible Society, 1995.


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