It should come as no surprise to anyone that the media in general dislike low-carb diets. They use a number of tricks to denigrate carbohydrate-restricted diets at every opportunity. I’m going to start a series of posts showing the different methods used by our friends in the press to downplay the efficacy of the diets that millions of people have found so effective.
One of the most common methods the media uses to disparage low-carb diets is to give any study that makes these diets look bad, no matter how suspect such a study might be, full coverage. We saw this in the mega coverage a few weeks ago of a poster presentation (not even an article in a peer-reviewed journal) allegedly showing that the Atkins diet causes vascular damage. I dissected this ‘study’ and the media coverage of it in a previous post. This method isn’t particularly subtle, so we’ll leave it because I want to deal with the sort of crafty, underhanded ways that the media work to bring about their ends.
Another way the media disses low-carb diets is to simply downplay them. Or even fail to mention them at all. In June 2001 Woman’s World did a cover story about Kathleen Hays the (at that time) CNBC financial commentator who is also a friend of mine. She worked out at Fred Hahn’s facility in New York and did Slow Burn strength training. She also followed the Protein Power diet. When approached by Woman’s World to do the story she told them that she had been following a low-carb diet along with her strength training. They told her they weren’t interested in her diet – they wanted to do an article on her method of exercise. And so they did. You can read the story by clicking the Woman’s World picture on Fred’s website. Not a mention of a low-carb diet. Anywhere. The implication is that she lost her 28 pounds by simply doing strength training.
Sometimes the media slips in the fact that a low-carb diet was part of an overall weight-loss plan, but then totally focuses on some other aspect of the regimen.
A reader this blog sent me a classic example of this method. He sent a link to a CNN story about a man who had ‘walked off’ a huge amount of weight, or at least that’s what the article wanted readers to believe. The headline in big bold print stated
WEIGHING NEARLY 400 POUNDS, MAN WALKS OFF HALF HIS WEIGHT
The article then goes on to describe the epiphany that Mr. Novak (the subject of this article) experienced. He was at a football game and went for refreshments. Upon returning to his seat, Mr. Novak
started getting winded. “I didn’t feel right, I started sweating. I didn’t think I would make it back up. My heart [was] beating a million times a minute; I thought I was having a heart attack.”
Novak stood against a cold wall for 20 minutes to catch his breath. Fortunately, he wasn’t having a heart attack but he was so frightened that thoughts of his family began to race through his mind.
“A lot of things went through my head, about saying goodbye to my kids,” says Novak choking back his tears. “I told my friend, ‘This is it, I’m not going to live like this no more.’ “
Like many people who undergo similar experiences, Mr. Novak decided to do something about his condition. He came up with his own game plan and got started.
He began simply by walking — one mile a day and eating a low-carbohydrate diet of 15-30 grams a day.
There it is. The only mention of a low-carb diet in the entire article. The rest of the piece discusses Mr. Novak’s walking regimen.
“I walked off my first 100 pounds,” he says. “Walked it off, an hour a day. I lost 100 pounds in seven months.”
Now, it is admirable that Mr. Novak was able to continue his regimen, but it’s a little disingenuous to imply that he ‘walked’ off a 100 pounds in seven months. In fact, it’s not only disingenuous, it’s impossible. If we simply do the math, we find that the number of calories expended in walking an hour times 30 days per month times seven months gives us (and this is generous) about 42,000 kcal. If we divide the 42,000 kcal by the 3,500 kcal it takes to lose a pound of fat, we get 12 pounds. So, at best, Mr. Kovak’s walking an hour a day got rid of 12 pounds. What happened to the other 88 pounds? Could it be that the low-carb diet was responsible for that? I would think so. But did the low-carb diet get any credit? Nope. None.
Before you blame Mr. Novak for telling porkies, remember the story above about Kathleen Hays. She tried to tell them that she attributed most of her weight loss to the Protein Power diet, but they didn’t want to hear that. We don’t know what Mr. Novak said versus what the press reported.
In the video that accompanies the print article, the low-carb diet is mentioned exactly once, and is mentioned quickly. All the video is about his exercise regimen. Every shot almost shows some sort of exercise device or a clip of Mr. Novak exercising. Again, the media is in charge of editing the video footage. We haven’t a clue what Mr. Novak really told them.
When the great unwashed masses read this article or watch the accompanying video, they will finish with the idea firmly implanted that if they go out and walk an hour a day, they will lose 100 pounds in seven months. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe if they incorporate a 15-30 gram per day low-carb diet along with their walking, but not just by walking alone.
This is but one way the media have of downplaying low-carb diets. In posts to come, I’ll show some even more subtle ways that the folks in the press flim flam their audience. Just beware of what’s going on and don’t be taken in.
If you find ways in which the press is playing fast and loose with the facts on low-carb dieting, send them my way. I can always use bad examples.
(Hat tip to John for this one.)
Shape magazine did the same to Sheila Pike-Pereyra of sugarfreesheila.com; they gave her weight loss story a low-fat slant, when she lost weight via Atkins.
Huh, I read the CNN article and got to the “low-carb diet” mention. I clicked on the linking word “diet” in the sentence (the only word so linked, not low-carb, too) and was taken to CNN’s Diet & Nutrition page, where the first thing anyone sees is a photo of a man’s huge belly looking as pregnant as any full-term woman’s and the bold face headline, “Obesity surgery seen as potential diabetes cure”.
Hey, even after clicking on “diet” in the article we discover we don’t need to diet after all… CNN said so!
One good thing about it is that prices of bacon and stuff are pretty reasonable, imagine what would happen to meats, fish and so on if suddenly a twist for LC would start all over the world. So we the LC believers are kinda protected in our reservations for freaks.
As someone who needs to lose 120 lbs. What book of Dr. Eades’s is recommended, and what if any advise from those who have used and succeeded with Dr Eades’s plan would you have to share?
I agree with you regarding walking and the general premise of your post. However, I am curious as to how you estimated he would burn only 42,000 calories while walking for an hour each day, seven months straight. That’s essentially 200 calories per day. At 400 pounds, he’d have to be walking less than 2 mph. I know there are some standard estimates for caloric expenditure indicating walking a mile burns approximately 100 calories but aren’t those standardized to a 150 pound man?
Based on walking 2.5 mph and at 400 pounds (assuming his weight doesn’t change – big mistake), he would burn a little more than 114,000 calories, which amounts to just under 33 pounds. At 5 mph, which he couldn’t sustain, he would burn more than 305,000 calories, which is 87 pounds. In either case, he’s below the 100 pound mark.
Just to reiterate, I’m curious as to your estimation of the 42,000 calories. I would agree that dietary changes played a significant role and contributed to well over 50 pounds of his weight loss, which was rather glossed over in the story.
I didn’t go to the trouble of filling in weights, walking speeds, etc. into a calorie counter. Instead I doubled the rule-of-thumb 100 kcal per hour of walking for a normal man to 200 kcal. I could be off somewhat, but whatever figure you put it, you fall far short of the 100 pounds in seven months. And, remember, this is a guy who got winded simply walking back to his seat at a football game, so it’s hard to imagine that he walked very briskly (or very far) when he started out.
Hi Dr Mike,
I must say that one of the scariest statements I have ever heard came from a twenty-something who said ” It must be true, I saw it on tv!” Add to this the disinformation in the print media and we are in big trouble.
This isn’t exactly a slam on the low carb diet, but the charge that raising livestock is bad for the environment is sort of an indirect attack, IMO. It would be hard to be on a LC diet without animal products.
As a big time meat eater, I have to admit that this really gets to me.
I’ve noticed that too, and I just don’t get it. Is it the editors? I, as a member of the public would like to know the facts and I’ll bet I’m not alone.
Jeanne: I’ve noticed that too, and I just don’t get it. Is it the editors? I, as a member of the public would like to know the facts and I’ll bet I’m not alone.
Gary Taubes had an idea about why in his recent interview with Seth Roberts. (Full interview linked the bottom.)
TAUBES: Beginning in the 1960s, when newspapers institutionalized this idea of having diet and health/nutrition writers on newspapers, and it’s still the case, for the most part, today, the people who got those jobs weren’t the shining intellects on the newspaper, and the shining intellects didn’t want to be diet and health writers. If you’re a whip-smart young guy or girl who wants to go into journalism, you want to be an investigative reporter, a political reporter, or a war correspondent; you don’t want to write about diet and health. Or at least you didn’t.
So I think that was one of the problems. You got not-very-smart people; truly mediocre reporters, doing jobs that turned out to have remarkable significance and influence.
I do think that Jane Brody is as responsible as anyone alive for the obesity epidemic. She just bought into this idea of the low-fat diet as a healthy diet, and her sources in New York told her that Atkins was a quack, and that fat was bad, and she never questioned any of it. I don’t know if she had the intellectual wherewithal to do it.
In any other field of reporting, as far as I know, reporters are supposed to be as skeptical of their sources as scientists are supposed to be skeptical of their data. Certainly, if George Bush tells a political reporter something, that political reporter doesn’t treat it like it’s true. He might faithfully report what George Bush said, but you’re supposed to be skeptical of what government institutions tell you.
So now it’s 1977, the McGovern Committee and the USDA make these proclamations about what constitutes a healthy diet, and there’s simply no skepticism. (With the possible exception of Bill Broad writing in Science Magazine, which no one outside the field of science was reading.) So the government tells us that we should eat low-fat diets — and not even learned authorities in the government, but Congressman and USDA bureaucrats channeling 30-year-old congressional staffers — and lo and behold, all these health reporters decide it must be true. That’s the failure.
In my fantasy life, I get a call from the managing editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and they say they’ve read my book and they want to know how they can improve their health and diet reporting. Because they can see, whether or not I’m 100% right, or 80%, or only 50%, surely their reporters did something wrong.
Now there’s a fantasy for you.
Perfect! Thanks for the Taubes’ quote.
I couldn’t have said it better.
Oops, forgot to give the link to the whole (excellent) interview:
I have always thought the meat packing industry and the cattle raising industry had very powerful political ties. I am surprised that they don’t use some of that to get better press.
Thanks for answering and I see your point. I assumed that’s where you were going but wasn’t sure. Even accurate estimates of caloric expenditure will only get someone in this condition around 30 pounds lighter. So your original point regarding the dietary changes and remaining weight loss is well taken, and, unfortunately, glossed over.
How much influence (if any) do you think the USDA has in something like this? They write the guidelines and the pyramid and are hell-bent on grains and dairy while minimizing the importance of protein. Have you experienced any issues with them similar to your problems with Dr. Blackburn.
They’re much the same. But that’s governmental idiocy, which is to be expected. Blackburn’s comes from a distinguished Harvard professor who should know better.
I just have to say, on the Phill Novak story, that after I read that I did a LOT of searching to find out further information (my husband needs to lose a great deal of weight and is more than a little skeptical about low carb, and thus I have been trying HARD to find stories that included actual menu plans plus large weight loss, because he is beyond skeptical when I feed him eggs etc. for breakfast).
Anyway, nothing. Zip. Nil. Nada. Try to find any mainstream press that really discusses what someone like this in detail; it’s just absolutely impossible. I finally quit out of sheer annoyance, and I’m usually the queen of Google; I can find nearly anything.
Okay, I ONLY read it because my neighbor passes it on to me, but US Weekly continually has stories on how celebrities lose weight, and almost always it says in print they used a low carb plan. I just saw one with about five different female stars featured and every single one was clearly very low carb when it detailed what they were eating.
We know all the celebrities are low carb, you’d think that would entice Americans to follow.
Months ago, I made a suggestion regarding the problem of readers not being able to tell where a poster’s comments end and yours (Dr. Eades) begin. I think maybe you now have it so that your comments show up in italics. That’s better, except when you get a quote from a poster that is in italics. Like the Taubes quote above. Can’t tell where your follow-up comment begins.
Here’s another solution — begin your comment with three colon symbols. I do this all the time in my emails. Like this.
The three colons (or any symbol) breaks it up into two sections and kind of looks official or something, haha.
I believe there is a simple principle at work here, one that is the basis of most, if not all, successful marketing and propaganda programs (read: marketing). Perception is reality. The truth is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what people believe. And successful marketing programs can make people believe almost anything.
Marketers know that once an idea is firmly imprinted into the minds of the public it will override any other information. Such is the case with low fat. Low fat automatically means ‘high carb’. But this is not consciously perceived. Same thing with exercise and weight loss. There is no impetus that would drive most to even question this concept. In their paradigm the value of low fat and exercise in weight loss is an unassailable truth.
The current dissing of low carb reminds me of my experience back in the late 70s and early 80s when I was working as a consultant for some of Canada’s best (and most successful) ski racers. At that time I was working on a technology that would permit the human balance processes to work more efficiently in a skiing environment. In effect the technology simply removed a large percentage of the impediments to balance. One skier who showed great promise had a catastrophic knee injury in the summer prior to the new ski season which starts in late November. Since a minimum of 9 months rehabilitation was the standard recuperation period at that time before any form of skiing could resume the math made the coming competitive season a write off.
We decided to test the technology in the 11th hour mere days before the first race was scheduled. Things went so well including very low stress on the injured knee that a decision was made to cautiously ski the first race. This racer came third. By the third race he won handily.
Now we had a problem. A racer had done something clearly impossible. Concerned about possible spying and prying when asked by the press what the explanation was for this dark hourse coming out of nowhere and dominating the competition he simply told them what every coach believed. His success was the result of “superior training and conditioning”. That he had almost zero training was never raised by a single person. More unbelievable was that not only this was explanation never questioned but it drove the other teams to train even more intensively.
Reminds me of a line in Raymond Chandler’s great novel The Big Sleep:
I’m sorry this isn’t exactly about this story, but have you seen this?
HOUSE BILL NO. 282
An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state department of health; to direct the department to prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese and to provide those materials to the food establishments; to direct the department to monitor the food establishments for compliance with the provisions of this act; and for related purposes.
The man who submitted this bill is a Retired Pharmaceutical Sales (DuPont-Merck)
The rest of the house
I don’t think they’ll be having many more business lunches….
Hi Dr Eades, I’ve really been enjoying your blog – and catching up on your old posts. Sometimes there can be this media ‘cover-up’ of low-carb diets even when they are actually promoting them. A couple of weeks ago the Sunday Times newspaper re-ran a feature in its glossy magazine about India Knight’s ‘idiot-proof diet’ (they had the same feature last year). She’s written a diet book (Neris and India’s idiot proof diet by herself and Neris Thomas) and now there is a recipe book too (by the two of them plus a lady called Bee Rawlinson who wrote most of the recipes I gather). It’s basically a low-carb diet but if you read the article about it, this is mentioned, in a very off-hand way, just once. So I think it’s great they’re promoting this diet, but they keep it very, very quiet that it’s actually a low-carb diet!! I really think this is because they’re trying to avoid an ‘outcry’ from ‘experts’.
To follow up to Tom’s comment, re: the dim bulbishness of health writers at even the most prominent of newspapers, here’s Jane B. herself dismissing all of Tabue’s book in one fell swoop. It’s breathtaking in it’s stupidity. You can see she hasn’t even bothered to keep herself informed on this subject.
And since so many queries and comments concerned Gary Taubes, I think a final word is needed. While it is true that the saturated fat/cholesterol hypothesis about heart disease has never been put to an incontrovertible clinical trial, there is at least decades-long experience with it that has found absolutely no hazardous effect and strong indications of benefit.
The idea that carbs (and I don’t mean the refined and sweet ones, at least) are the real cause of obesity and heart disease is thus far just an idea. Although in short-term tests — about a year — the high-fat, low-carb diet has improved measurements of cholesterol and diabetes control, it has never been followed for decades in any population group except the Eskimos and some Greenlanders, whose main source of fat is not from red meat and dairy but from creatures from the sea. So, to my mind, the jury is very much still out on the long-term safety of a diet that gorges on red meat, high-fat cheeses and other sources of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
Today’s Melbourne Age newspaper has an article disparaging low carb beer, quoting dietitians who say that kilojoules are more important than carbs and “… all beers are low-carb anyway.” Oh really?
The author then quotes a spokesman from the national consumers organisation (called Choice) who says “Low-carb is a nebulous term among alcoholic beverages and there is no way for the consumer to compare how low-carb something is.” The carb content is printed on every bottle of LC beer in Oz.
I agree that the media rarely misses an opportunity to kick LC diets. The journalist should have applied some scrutiny to the dietitians claims, rather than blindly pushing them.
A good news story (increase in LC beer sales) has been twisted into a bad news story – dumb consumers duped into buying beer that has negligible benefit.
The article is at http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/lowcarb-beer-claims-high-on-spin/2008/02/02/1201801098890.html
By the way, they slipped up and had a link to this article in the maze of links originating at the article that you cite.
Do they know what they what they really believe?
I can hardly believe my eyes, but here’s an article about healthy foods on MSNBC that actually rates the foods on the basis of how much carbohydrates they contain, and their criticism actually make sense!
I’ll have to give them credit for this one.
Thanks for sending.
I don’t have any example of this at my fingertips right now, but lately I have been noticing in the January “get fit – lose weight – get healthy” media mania, that curbing excess “high calorie” foods like bagels and sugary cereals mentioned instead of fat content. But it’s always the “high calories” of these foods that are responsible for weight gain or loss, not the carbs or the carb-driven insulin hormone response. Jeeze.
There’s big, big money invested in the low-fat, diet/heart/cholesterol hypothesis. How does the media get paid? Advertising revenue.
End of mystery. All you have to do is follow the money.
Some years ago, when I was editor of a local women’s magazine, I was unable to get the publisher to agree to my idea of an in-depth profile of the weight loss journey of a local woman who had lost a large amount of weight on low-carb diets. I had a couple of 100+ loss people in mind as candidates for the story. I figured, we’ll find one and feature her, and also mention some other local people who had lost moderate to large amounts, also, to show this wasn’t just an anomaly. This was just when low-carb was (or appeared to be) gaining traction in the public mind.
My pitch at the story meeting was along these lines: We all know you’re supposed to eat less fat and take in fewer calories, but that’s not what these people did. They ate steak and full-fat salad dressing, and they lost a hundred pounds. That makes it a better story than the typical “she ate low-fat yogurt and walked the treadmill.” Who cares? You know, like the old saw about what makes a news story — Dog bites man, that’s not a story. Man bites dog, that’s a story. And, I said, the timing is perfect, because low-carb is on the rise in the media.
I got a roomful of blank looks. I got comments like, “That’s just confusing, because people don’t expect anyone’s going to lose weight that way.”
“Right, that’s what makes it a story worth telling,” I answered. “It’s not what you expect, but there it is!”
Then someone else spoke up and said, “Hey! You know what would be a great idea? Find a woman who lost a lot of weight doing exactly what you’re supposed to do: lowering fat, reducing calories, exercising.” Everyone else said, “Yeah! That sounds great!” and “Now THAT would be helpful to our readers.”
Shortly after, I quit. Not because of that specific episode, but it helped.
A few issues later, a multi-part feature began which tracked the progress of a woman who underwent bariatric surgery, and then followed completely conventional advice thereafter to lose a large amount of weight.
Tee wrote, “As someone who needs to lose 120 lbs. What book of Dr. Eades’s is recommended, and what if any advise from those who have used and succeeded with Dr Eades’s plan would you have to share?”
I have been low carbing for four years. I lost 70 pounds very gradually and have maintained that loss for over a year. The most important things to remember are (1) it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change and (2) it’s not a race to lose weight, but a journey to good health. Get one of the Eades’ books, or even one of Dr. Atkins’ books, read it carefully and follow it carefully. For daily encouragment and answers to questions, join one of the many support groups available. There is a bulletin board here http://www.mreades.wpengine.com/forum/ but others like Low Carb Friends and Active Low Carber are also good. Best wishes as you get started.
I haven’t seen the Woman’s World issue that you mentioned, but in checking out another copy, I counted about 12 ads for low fat products and weight loss systems. And most of the featured recipes were for sugary desserts. I suspect the bias is at least partly a matter of economics: selling ads and selling magazines. Besides, if they actually told people how to lose weight, no one would need to buy a magazine every month to read about the latest new “miracle diet.”
The reality shows about weight loss on television are also guilty of sins of omission with all the emphasis on extreme exercise and seldom a mention of food. No wonder it is so hard to convince the public that what they “know” about diet and exercise is wrong.
Maybe it is unrealistic to expect more from commercial TV and light-weight magazines, but serious journalists should have higher standards.
A few days ago there was this report on ABC about low carb diets and epilepsy. they found you had fewer attacks < but in the next sentence they down played that by saying something about the diet being hard to follow because of limited choices .Excuse me ,if it meant having fewer attacks I would follow any diet.
Low carb causes depression. Read this article if you’re looking for frustration.
An article similar to this was in Australia’s The Age newspaper today. Made me angry. It actually promotes excluding protein from the diet. So many untruths to cut and paste them all. But here’s one –
“The Atkins diet has become hugely popular despite concerns over its effect on health.
Some experts are concerned about whether it might trigger diabetes … ”
Being a type 1 diabetic and knowing what carbs do to sugar levels and insulin requirements, this statement almost made me choke on my coffee.
The only thing that I find depressing is that similar articles appear in major newspapers almost every day.
A sad state of affairs indeed.
In cased you missed it, could you please comment on Marco’s question from one of your previous blog posts about vitamin D…
“Mike, have you read this?
I am completely befuddled now about what to do with respect to vitamin D, since the recommendations are competely at odds with one another, from very low to very high levels of supplementation. Thanks for any insight you can give us.
(Sorry for posting this here – didn’t want it to be missed.)
And here’s a reference to a page full of links to vitamin D info, making the case against supplementation:
Tom, thanks for the link. Great interview.
The media thrives on problems, not solutions. If the problem of obesity was solved they would be out of business. No more fat people to report on, no more stories about the hard-fought struggles with weight. No more reports with officials’ fears of the “epidemic of obesity.”
Every January the whole weight loss advertising machine starts again. Healthy Choice rolls out its new low fat meals. Weight Watchers gives new options for snack foods with 1 point.
If everyone got thin with low carb eating there would be no more “programs” to promote. No more Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, blah, blah, blah.
Bottom line, the media and advertising machine WANTS us to be fat. Without fat people, there is no story or products to sell…the money machine spits out its last buck.
Re Peter Bourke:
I missed that article, but it has a hilarious line:
‘Dietitians Association of Australia spokesman Alan Barclay said: “It’s pretty misleading because all beers are low-carb anyway.[“] ‘
By that token, sugar is also low carb. As an enthusiastic consumer of Hahn Super Dry (less than 3 g of carb per stubbie), a beer that also, unlike its low carb rivals, has completely natural top quality ingredients like Munich malt and Sasz hops, I’ve got to laugh! Long live low carb! And I tend to lose more weight with this product than with my beloved Koonunga Shiraz.
Meanwhile, on topic:
compare these two reports of the same paper:
Dr Briffa’s report (very good):
and the Sydney Morning Herald’s (not good at all):
which has the following interpolation, as if it’s part of the original paper:
“The dietary guidelines’ fat-cutting advice had science behind it; saturated fat, like that found in meat and dairy, is known to raise cholesterol, and studies have shown that diets low in saturated fat can lower the risk of heart attack. Population studies from different countries have also found a correlation between high amounts of dietary fat and excess pounds.
“However, there was insufficient evidence that the national recommendations to slash fat would be beneficial, according to the Einstein researchers….”
The SMH report is, I think, 3rd or 4th generation, and like the generations of analogue recordings, with each generation more pro low-fat noise is added. Dr Briffa is second generation and he wouldn’t add that sort of noise anyway (and declares his pro low carb bias at the beginning).
Mr Google does not give me the original paper, which is a pity.
All the Best,
As far as I can tell there is no such paper. It’s not published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. I can’t find it on PubMed under the author’s name. Maybe it hasn’t actually been published yet.
You probably don’t want this one posted.
Just an opinion from an innocent bystander:
Time for harassment charges against this Colpo psycho.
I agree with Merrylinks. For a quick start I always recommend The 30 Day Low Carb Solution, but for more info, explaination, any of Dr Eades’ or Dr Akins’ books are excellent….and add Dr Bernstein’s for diabetics.
RE: MSN article….look who it’s written by! Cassandra Forsythe, M.S. and Adam Campbell are both low carb advocates.
RE: WW points…have you seen the soup ads saying they’re 0 points? Now can you see people eating 2, 3 servings and wondering why they don’t lose or even gain weight?!?!
RE: Colpo….what’s he up to now?
Well, Jordan and Shery beat me to the punch with their comments, both of which I was going to post. Here is a link to a print version of the story Shery mentioned.
The story does have the apparently obligatory low carb slam “The diet’s side effects, such as increases in cholesterol or triglycerides, were mild (…)”
I have always wondered why if the ketogenic diet works so well for children with epilepsy its not used for adults? Perhaps it is purely a compliance issue.
Regarding the Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler article: After living in cattle country most of my life I can say that what is said about the feed lots and the treatment of cattle are true and are big problems but I don’t think there are ready solutions. Dismantling the entire grain, meat, energy system would seriously damage the economy. It will have to be a slow process of returning to grass fed meat and people becoming accustom to the different flavor of the meat. No easy feat.
But the article also brought up another issue I’ve speculated about (not to sound like a conspiracy nut), how much of the “everyone must eat whole grains” is part of an effort by the WHO and other world organizations to guarantee the world a sustainable food supply, not matter how poor the quality? And also to “guilt” Americans into feeling like we are wasting too much of the worlds food resources. I remember these same issues being discussed in the ’70s just before the new food pyramid was introduced. Now people like Castro and Chavez are also saying that grain production should be going to feed people not making biofuels.
The ketogenic diet is used for seizure control in adults as well as in children. It has been around and used as such for many, many years. It predates Atkins by several decades.
People are in business to make money. They try to drive consumers to their products with marketing and advertising, but in the end, it is the consumer who chooses. If consumers want meat from grass-fed animals and are willing to pay for it, it will be made available. As the demand grows, more producers will step into the arena. More producers competing, means lower prices. All we’ve got to do as consumers is supply the demand, so to speak. And I don’t worry about ‘wasting’ too much of the world’s food resource. Seems to me what we need is more education and less hand wringing.
Again, Dr. Eades – ignore Colpo. He is just using you, and when you respond to him, you drag yourself down. It is either a scam to use your reputation for his own gain, or he is genuinely crazy.
You are too good and too smart to let an Aussie a***ole with an ebook depreciate what you have built.
My dad was a heart surgeon, and like a lot of MDs, he had a heartbreaking naivete that the truth would win out. He was wrong. (You are not as foolish as my dad, but I do see echoes of his behavior in you. Please stop.)
Thanks, Dr Mike for this look at how low-carb diets are dismissed or downright ignored. Every Monday the LA Times publishes a separate health section and has done for some years now. I have always found their dietary advice articles to be shallow, and just sound like re-warmed Brody. I nearly fainted when they did a decent interview with Taubes–I thought they weren’t capable. But every story before or since is still about high carb/low fat. You’d think that as “journalists” most of them would have sat down to read Taubes work to understand the real deal on human dietary needs. I guess that would just be too much work!
I am new to this whole discussion of proper nutrition as well as blogging for that matter.
I apologize if this is not the appropriate place to post this, but I noticed a post further up that referenced that there is a simple principle going on here about marketing and other comments about big money/media suppressing the truth about good nutrition.
I have recently become very interested in proper nutrition after suffering some devastating side effects from statin use which caused muscle degeneration among a vast array other debilitating effects.
Before I was one of those “happy” go lucky 20 lb excess weight guys that basically ate what tasted good, made me feel good and figured that I would probably get hit & killed by a bus before anything I was eating would kill me. I could spell diet but that was about the extent of my interest in the process. I have genetic longevity in my ancestry, all existing on typical southern diets of all the big no-no’s (red meat, chicken & pork [most meals having several meats], fat [everything fried, lard and real butter of course], wild game, fresh water fish (fried), plenty of fresh vegetables (but cooked with salt pork, bacon or ham hock), salt and pepper on everything, ice cream, cakes, pies or pastries usually once a week, beer, whiskey and tobacco of one form or another.
Then I got hit by a proverbial bus called statins (to correct triglycerides of 287, although total cholesterol 149 & glucose 89) only it didn’t kill me it just ran over me and mangled my body and brain.
Now, due to the desire to rebuild my body and the wake up call of what a little innocent looking peach colored pill that everyone seemed to endorse as the latest miracle could do to me, I have set out to educate myself on the stuff that goes into my body. I must say that this has become one of the most difficult mazes that I have ever attempted to navigate, given all of the controversy, self serving interests, incomplete data (usually intentional), etc., etc. etc.
This brings me to the focus of my post. In all of my reading of hundreds of blogs, comments, commentaries and editorials on the why’s of the truth of proper nutrition being quashed, I have concluded that the major consensus comprises:
Big Pharma – BIG BUCKS
Media – ad money mainly from big “pharma”& news by controversy.
Doctors/Hospitals– incentives, no time to research, and bias in medical teaching (back to big pharma)
Science – difficulty in bucking trends (grants usually from big pharma and ego of existing community)
Government – just plain lazy, lack of controls, politics (big pharma again) and bureaucratic inefficiency
Food companies – big bucks
I see a lot of frustration by the minority (those that truly want to establish a trustworthy standard for proper nutrition and responsible medical application) in the hopelessness of succeeding in bucking up against such big guns.
As an analyst and designer who constantly deals with equalizing opposing forces, it becomes apparent to me that one fights big guns with big guns. The object would be to find such an entity that would selfishly benefit from what you are trying to accomplish. One of the biggest guns of all that would surely be self served in big bucks from the cause of making people healthier is obviously missing from the above list.
-THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY-
Dr. Eades, you made a reply comment earlier that if a demand is created a supply will follow; well the insurance industry has one of the biggest sticks in making demands in the market place, especially health care.
I normally detest insurance companies, but I truly believe that this is one situation where they could really do some good while filling their greedy pockets. If one truly looks at it we the consumer only carry a minority burden of the costs (through premiums, deductibles and co-pays) placed on health care by the unhealthy state of our nation and reckless medicating. The insurance companies carry the majority of it and if they could be convinced that something could increase their profits by reducing those costs you can bet they will jump on it.
So, if there is going to be a change in the way things are done in the medical, scientific, collegiate and nutritional (and even media) arenas then those that want the change will have to inundate the insurance companies with the true facts and furthermore push them to seek valid research. Don’t write your congressman; write your insurance company.
Welcome to the blog. You can see how easily you could have lowered your triglycerides by reading today’s post (2/4/08). I’m sorry you had the disastrous experience you had with the statin.
I’ve thought about the money issue myself and have considered the insurance industry as a pressure point for change. But as it stands now, insurance companies are much like builders who build on a cost-plus basis. These builders never try to talk you out of higher-priced choices for door hardware, appliances, wall coverings, windows, etc. because they simply make their 15 percent on a higher base number when you make these choices. The insurance industry works the same way. They simply figure what their costs are going to be then add their profit percentage, divide by the number of insureds, and set their premiums. Your premiums go up because everyone goes on statins, and the insurance companies profits go up as well because they’re setting them on a higher base number. If somehow insurance premiums were fixed, you can bet that many things would change in a hurry.
“In fact, it’s not only disingenuous, it’s impossible. If we simply do the math, we find that the number of calories expended in walking an hour times 30 days per month times seven months gives us (and this is generous) about 42,000 kcal. If we divide the 42,000 kcal by the 3,500 kcal it takes to lose a pound of fat, we get 12 pounds.”
Actually Mike, the calories burned would be even less (roughly half) since you have to subtract the amount of calories Mr. Novak would have burned in the same hour doing something else! So it’s more like 24,000 EXTRA calories only!
Good point, Fred. I was doing as so many do and taking the total calories burned per hour.
Well, Dr. Mike, I’ve been hitting this theme about the bias in the media about low-carb diets for nearly three years. It’s totally disgusting which is why I often highlight low-carb weight loss success stories at “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb”.
Incidentally, I called Phill Novak from that CNN story today and will be conducting a podcast interview with him that will air on Thursday in Episode 110. His wife Norma was extremely excited to talk about their low-carb weight loss routine (no specific plan like Atkins or Protein Power, but general low-carb eating) and she said Phill looked forward to speaking with me about it. One way or another, we’ll get the message out there.
THANKS for all you’re doing to champion this cause, Dr. Mike! By the way, will you and MD be at the Nutrition and Metabolism scientific seminar on saturated fat coming to Phoenix, AZ on April 12-13? Gary Taubes is expected to be one of the speakers and my wife Christine and I will be there covering the event for my blog and podcast show. Would LOVE to do an audio podcast interview with you if you are. SEE YA!
Yep, we plan on being there. Will be happy to do the podcast.
yeah…the media can say alot of things that arent true…they are very biased..
Hello Dr, my first post/comment on your bog. Fantastic site by the way!
Coincidentally, as I was reading this post I had the TV on in the background showing a programme called ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’ (It’s a channel 4 show, here in the UK), where somebody who is incredibly skinny and eats very little swaps diets with someone who is the complete opposite.
The overriding message you’d get from the programme is that the superskinny girl is killing herself because she won’t eat pasta/rice/potatoes etc. She only eats fish/meat and vegetables. So far her decision to not eat pasta/rice has been described as her “making disastrous choices in the food she eats” and “killing herself slowly”.
She clearly has a problem because she seems to eat so little (the amount of protein she consumes in each meal is very small) and she does an insane amount of cardio – which incidentally is being held up as proof of how ‘fit’ she is. And to add real authenticity to the claims of how damaging a diet low in carbs is, they have a doctor who keeps popping up periodically to tell the girl why she MUST start eating nutritious carbs such as the aforementioned pasta/rice/potatoes in order to stop her body from consuming itself.
Sounds like a dreadful show.
“I have always thought the meat packing industry and the cattle raising industry had very powerful political ties.”
The packing industry and livestock-promotion organizations like the Beef Council are very small potatoes (pardon the pun) compared to the huge corporations that process, package, and market grain and sugar. There’s also far more profit in the latter; which means more that can be spent buying politicians, associations like the ADA, and favorable media coverage.
I believe the reason for the continuing media bunk is rooted in human psychology. We are an amiable species and, on the whole, prefer not to alienate associates and abandon commonly held views, even in the face of raw evidence and repeatable scientific method. Skepticism is not in our nature. This point is made on the first page of the first chapter of Protein Power. Despite contrary evidence, yellow fever’s cause wass not, as thought two hundred years ago, related to the effects of putrified animal and vegetable matter. It took one skeptical, scientifically-oriented mind to start the revolution on that matter. Find a doctor today who believes yellow fever is not vectored by the mosquito and I’ll give you a nickel. But it took decades for that to change. Today’s media positions wont matter in fifty years. I fully expect it will take that long for the tide to turn.
Whether or not we get mad at the folly of it all or give up on our collective and individual psychology, the evolutionary imperative will win out. “Protein Power” offered scientific reasons for its readers to understand why a restricted carb diet works and why low fat, high carb diets don’t…reasons Dr. Atkins did not explain in his book. Facts matter in the long run.
Dave (190 and on the way to 155)
I think that, for many people, low-fat has become a religious belief, tied together with their assumptions about progress and their faith in authority. Print out some of the proofs about low-carb and the fat/cholesterol lies and start handing it out to your friends, and you’ll get the same look they give when they see someone coming to the door with a religious pamphlet. They don’t want to hear it; it’s too much of a violation of their beliefs. If they were taught wrong about that, how many other things they believe are wrong? It’s scary.
I agree with Dave; it could easily take 50 years. I just hope to live long enough to see the pioneers get the credit they deserve.
Hey Dr. Mike,
As I promised, here’s my podcast interview with that guy from the CNN story Phill Novak who told me all about his low-carb diet. He was obviously upset they ignored that aspect of his weight loss. Although, after hearing about how many hours a day he exercises, I can only imagine how well he would do from implementing some “slow burn” techniques into his schedule. Listen to the enthusiasm this guy has about low-carb living in my interview:
Thanks for the link, Jimmy.
I posted on your podcast today (2/11/08). Great job in tracking Phill down and bagging the interview. I wish I had thought of it. And I wish I had a podcast.
It was VERY easy for me, Dr. Mike–Phill’s a BIG FAN of my blog and GLADLY accepted my invitation. You DO need a podcast and I’d be happy to tell you about my producer if you are genuinely interested in doing one. Maybe you can be a guest on my show sometime soon. 😀
I’ll be happy to be a guest anytime. I thought we were planning on doing it at the Nutrition& Metabolism meeting. And I would love to get any information you have. Thanks.
WHEN YOU POD LOOK ME UP ILL BE GLAD TO ALSO BE ON