Dr. McDougall's Health & Medical Center
March 2016    
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Dr. McDougall Was Fired from Speaking at the Obesity Medicine Conference


The Obesity Medicine Conference will be held on April 6 to 10, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. On the morning of April 7 a discussion of various treatments of obesity by three experts with three very different viewpoints on diet was scheduled: the low-fat, high carbohydrate, starch-based diet (John McDougall, MD), the Mediterranean Diet (Michael Ozner, MD), and the low-carb Atkins Diet (Eric Westman, MD). The so-called "Mediterranean Diet" is a multibillion-dollar global brand and in the distant past was healthier than the usual Western diet, because it was once abundant in starches, vegetables, and fruits. The diet was healthy in spite of the olive oil and nuts that are now promoted as the miracle components of the diet. Currently, children and adults living around the Mediterranean Sea are among the most obese in the world. Low-carb diets are based on meat, poultry, cheese, eggs, fish, and vegetable oils, foods that are the polar opposite to my beliefs for achieving good health.



BTW, I invited both, Michael Ozner, MD and Eric Westman, MD, to speak at the next McDougall Advanced Study Weekend, September 16 to 18, 2016, in Santa Rosa, California. Dr. Ozner has already accepted, but Dr. Westman's response is still pending. I also plan to show the slide presentation I built for the Obesity Medicine Conference at this September's Advanced Study Weekend – don't miss it.


Unfortunately, the conference organizers and I had different agendas. They requested that each of us present scientific research to support our positions. This meant my two published observational studies and one unpublished randomized trial would have been pitted against hundreds of multimillion-dollar, industry-funded studies designed to demonize the low-fat diet. My guess is the audience would have been overwhelmed by the fact that my opponents' extensive research, published in the "big five medical journals," was far more convincing. (Although my friendly personality may have won them over—joke.)



Classic Examples of Industry's Influence on the Science of Diet:


The Mediterranean Diet: In 2013 The New England Journal of Medicine published the article, "Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet," funded by two olive oil and two nut companies. It compared diets that were 39% fat and 37% fat (the low-fat diet*). This publication has led to 179 more publications to date (Search PREDIMED at www.pubmed.gov).


Low-carb Diet: In 2004 The Annuals of Internal Medicine published the article, "Low-carb: A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial," funded by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation. The "low-fat diet" was really not low in fat (29% of the calories were from fat). The Atkins Foundation has funded, in full or part, with $29 million, 42 research programs, eight university endowed chairs and 13 projects and awards related to its mission.


*A low-fat diet, as Pritikin, Ornish, Barnard, Esselstyn, Novick, and I have recommended for decades, is made up of about 10% of calories from fat. This diet has never been honestly compared to either the Mediterranean or low-carb diets, or any other currently popular diets. The reason is that there is no profit to be made by scientifically demonstrating that a truly low-fat diet, created from inexpensive corn, potatoes, and rice, would best them in every measure of fat-loss, and more importantly, health.



My Presentation Was Intended to Confront the Obesity Problem Seriously

Since the low-carb diet is the antithesis of my beliefs, I decided to address the undeniable fundamental troubles with promotions of this approach to the public:


1) The published research is really advertisements for various industries.
2) Low-carb speakers and their research fail to address the deadly side effects.
3) The low-carb (livestock)-based approach is causing destruction of planet Earth.
4) The foods recommended require killing billions of animals (BTW, rendered cruelly).
5) Basic science published before 1980, before industry took control, condemns low-carb.
6) Diet gurus condemning high-carbohydrate diets usually appear overweight.
7) The low-carb teachings contradict human history; people have been starch-eaters.


A big agenda to accomplish in one hour! I put together an impressive slide presentation, which was reviewed by the conference organizers a month before the conference date. They demanded major changes. (I do understand why my style was unacceptable to them. In order to avoid disruption of the conference I offered to instead give an oral presentation without slides that included my famous glass bottle stomach demonstration backed by scientific references for my claims. I also offered to not criticize the other speakers viewpoints, as they had requested. (Unfortunately, I believe they needed slides.)


My Two Politically Incorrect Videos Were Unacceptable


The main stumbling block we have (had) is that I wanted to show two classic videos I produced (along with Jeff Nelson of VegSource) that provide undeniable contrasts between my approach and the low-carb (bacon, butter, and Brie) approach. I need to be unhesitant and bold in this battle because high-carbohydrate diets (starch-based diets) have been universally vilified, especially over the past 20 years. The full forces of the food industries, including the Atkins group, has been behind this. Ask any of your friends whether or not pasta, potatoes, and / or rice are fattening. If they say yes, clearly they have been brainwashed. The real life consequences to failing to spread the truth are, at least, sickness for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Reversing this misinformation is, in my opinion, worth offending a few people.


A candid look at those gurus promoting low-carbohydrate diets shows that most of them are overweight and often they appear to be ill. Is this observation meaningful? Should your teachers practice what they preach? Assuming they do, as the saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Watch unacceptable video #1.



Yes, this is "fat shaming." But, because these are not everyday people I am pointing a guilty finger at, I feel it is okay; they are experts offering you life and death advice about what to eat. My guess is that nearly 70% of the speakers invited to The Obesity Medicine Conference are overweight (based on the fact that this is the national statistic for Americans and others from Western countries). Alleged experts worthy of the podium should look the part in order to lead us out of darkness. Allowing visibly unqualified speakers to offer nutritional advice based on the obvious fact that they cannot save themselves, makes as much sense as speakers for a Lung Cancer Medicine Conference puffing cigarettes while on stage, or speakers for an Alcoholism Medicine Conference stumbling drunk while delivering their solutions for sobriety.


My second video is a powerful attempt to fulfill the title of Nathan Pritikin's 1976 brilliant scientific paper, "High Carbohydrate Diets: Maligned and Misunderstood." Lying about traditional starch-based diets, those followed by billions of people for all of recordable history, must be countered forcefully. As said so well in the 1977 McGovern Report on the Dietary Goals of the United States, "We cannot afford to temporize. We have an obligation to inform the public of the current state of knowledge and to assist the public in making the correct food choices. To do less is to avoid our responsibility."


Thus, in this video I took the biggest rock I could find and threw it at the biggest picture window in town: A direct attack on the two top national-bestselling diet books of the past decade, Wheat Belly and Grain Brain," both knockoffs of the ketosis-producing diets made famous by Robert Atkins in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Watch unacceptable video #2.


Doesn't this universal truth that you have witnessed over the past two minutes settle it for all time about the contrarians' viewpoints? Starches (beans, barley, corn, potatoes, rice, and wheat) have provided the bulk of calories for all large civilizations for thousands of years, and longer (scientific documentation of plant-eating humanoids goes back to 2.6 million years ago). How can otherwise intelligent people, educated in world history and geography, believe otherwise? There are many reasons, but I cannot go into them now; however, understanding that people are starch-eaters, sets you free: free from hunger, obesity, and sickness, and the risk of bankruptcy resulting from a diet that causes catastrophic illnesses, like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and common cancers (breast, colon, and prostate).


A Disclaimer for Low-carbohydrate Diet Presentations Should be Law


In my opinion, a disclaimer should precede all conference presentations or research papers that encourage the use of low-carb diets; a disclaimer stating: "these diets increase your risk of death and disease." Over the past five years there have been four large published reviews about the dangers of low-carbohydrate diets (in major medical journals). Note that there are no similar scientific reviews condemning high-carbohydrate diets. This is because the diet I recommend is the natural way humans should eat, and thus, prevents diseases caused by "food poisoning" from eating animal foods and vegetable oils. Most importantly, once these unhealthy foods are stopped, the body heals.



Four Reviews: Low-Carb Diets Sicken and Kill People
(Read the entire papers by clicking the links.)

1) The 2010 Annals of Internal Medicine published the article, "Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality." Their conclusion: The animal low-carbohydrate score was associated with higher all-cause mortality.

2) The 2012 British Medical Journal carried a review article, "Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein Diet and Incidence of Cardiovascular Diseases in Swedish Women: Prospective Cohort Study," warning, Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets used on a regular basis… are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


3) The highly respected PLOS One journal published the article, "Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies," and reported in 2013, Low-carbohydrate diets were associated with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality…


4) In 2014 the Journal of the American Heart Association published the article, "Low Carbohydrate Diet From Plant or Animal Sources and Mortality Among Myocardial Infarction (MI) Survivors," and found, Greater adherence to an LCD (low-carbohydrate diet) high in animal sources of fat and protein was associated with higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality post-MI.




I Dare to Speak the Unspeakable: Animal Cruelty and Environmental Catastrophe


I recently witnessed a debate between a proponent of the low-carbohydrate diet, Nina Teicholz, the author of The Big Fat Surprise, and John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Markets and a promoter of vegan diets. I was told that one of the rules for the debate was that issues of factory farming and environmental damage caused by eating low-carb diets were not to be discussed. Is that fair? Regardless, in my presentation that was to be given to an audience for the Obesity Medicine Conference on April 7, 2016, I included both subjects. Even the most hard-core carnivore must be moved by videos recording the miserable lives of food-animals.

Extensive science has come to the conclusion that more than half of greenhouse gas production is caused by eating animals and their byproducts. A glaring oversight is that this subject, that might save us from extinction in the very near future, receives too little attention at Global Warming Conferences held worldwide or in your local newspaper stories.  However, as a result of pressure from environmentalists, several countries, most recently the Netherlands, have requested their citizens dramatically reduce their intake of meat, and even fish. Unfortunately, the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines remain loyal to agribusiness, not its people.


This month, March 2016, an article in the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that the transition toward a plant-based diet could reduce global mortality by as much as 10%, food-related greenhouse gas production by as much as 70%, and result in economic benefits reaching as high as $31 trillion US dollars by 2050. My grandchildren will be in their thirties and forties by then. We must make the difference now at all costs.


Should I Have Acted More Politically Correct?


In retrospect, I have considered that I should have gone along with the "rules of the game" at the Obesity Medicine Conference. However, I believe that in the end, my refusal to be nice will cause more minds to be changed than I could have accomplished by attending this conference. I was raised as a "street-fighter" in the suburbs of Detroit, at nearly 70 years old I still cannot alter my brash behavior.


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