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Jan 18, 2012

Who owns the new Australian dietary guidelines?

For those who missed the announcement, Australia's 24,000 GPs and 3500 dietitians will soon have a new weapon in their battle against big bellies and hard arteries, writes Geoff Russell.

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For those who missed the announcement, Australia’s 24,000 GPs and 3500 dietitians will soon have a new weapon in their battle against big bellies and hard arteries. Junk food can be fast and greasy from multinationals with multimillion dollar advertising budgets or wanky and ever so slow and creamy from obese chefs with inexplicable TV pulling powers. Either way, the consequent early onset of ill-health is miserable and expensive.

The current weapon of choice against premature ill-health is nought but a post-hoc response. We have a vast and miraculous hospital system with a silo of subsidised medication so that older Australians can continue to greet the day with a zipper in their chest and bacon and eggs on their plate.

The new weapon is 300 pages of paper … yes, it’s our new draft Australian dietary guidelines!

It’s backed up by almost 2000 more pages of paper in the form of computer modelling and carefully selected readings on the state of nutritional science.

This is important stuff. Healthy eating really can make medical costs plunge and quality of life soar. Consider Cuba, which now has a First World life expectancy that has passed that of the US and is closing on Australia’s. Cuba’s cancer incidence (new cases per capita per year) is less than two thirds of Australia’s but the mortality rate is 20%. Uh? How does that work? Cuba is a poor country, it does a great job at preventing cancer but doesn’t have our expensive treatment regimes. Our approach to cancer is exemplified by the army of public-minded local community groups using barbecues to raise money for the Cancer Council’s courageous battles against the cancer those barbecues cause. The Cubans just have less barbecues and less cancer. It’s kind of obvious.

During any five-year period only 783 of every 100,000 Cubans will battle cancer compared to 1835 Australians. Diet isn’t the whole story, but the Cubans eat double the fruit, far more veggies, almost twice as many cereals, a quarter the milk and a quarter the meat. It’s carbs, carbs and more carbs and their overweight and obesity rate is about half of ours. All that and not a single low-carb high hype protein bar in sight.

So healthy eating can be a really big thing. While many senior Australians live out their twilight years managing a little bowls and a daily pill sequence memory test, the Cubans are still doing the salsa.

But how much difference can a really big report make? More importantly, how much difference will this particular report make?

The report begins with a lie.

Last week’s Sunday Mail (Body and Soul liftout, January 16) repeats and emphasises it:

“In a world first, the focus of the guidelines is on food rather than nutrients to make it easier for health professionals and the public to understand.”

So what is guideline 2?

“Limit intake of foods containing saturated and trans fats, added salt and sugars and alcohol”.

Last I checked, saturated and trans fats were nutrients. According to a 2007 CSIRO survey of children’s food intake, about 80% of children are eating 50% too much saturated fat. Why? Where is it coming from? What foods should children avoid?

What the guideline authors should have said was that they focus on foods unless they are bad foods coming Meat and Livestock Australia or Dairy Australia — in which case the guidelines revert to the inscrutable language of nutrients.

New York’s whistleblowing professor of nutrition, Marion Nestle, got it right in her 2002 expose of the meat industry’s control of nutritional advice in the US — “Food Politics”. Describing her appointment to a committee rather similar to the dietary guidelines committee she recounts:

“My first day on the job, I was given the rules: No matter what the research indicated, the report could not recommend ‘eat less meat’ as a way to reduce saturated fat …”

Some things haven’t changed.

If you need any further indication of who was pulling the strings on these guidelines, all you need to do is check the references to “vegetarian” or “vegan”.

The word “vegetarian” is used 29 times in the report, but, apart from a technical definition, it never appears without some kind of warning. The guidelines make it sound like you need to be a bloody genius to balance your nutrient intake on a vegetarian diet. In UK and US, studies of many thousands of people, vegetarians have lower rates than the general population of almost all major diseases. So why all the warnings? What is it about normal diets that sees so many people bugger them up? Clearly there aren’t enough warnings or the warnings are singularly obscure like “Eat less saturated fat”. My favourite piece of warning idiocy is about protein combinations.

“Those following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources throughout the day to get an adequate mix of amino acids (p.31)” … and “For lacto-ovo vegetarian diets, the Modelling System used a ratio of a 5:1:1 ‘legume:egg:nuts/seeds’ ratio [as] these foods would provide an adequate amino acid balance”

Gosh! I’ve been a vegan for three decades and regularly cycle 100-plus kilometres in the Adelaide Hills. How the hell did I manage without knowing this ratio?

I know this report is just a draft, but surely somebody did a little preliminary checking? You don’t expect this kind of bullshit in an expert document.

But it is an expert document, so it’s best I go into a little detail. Proteins are made of amino acids, some of which are essential. If you don’t get the essential ones in adequate amount, you could end up in hospital with an amino acid deficiency. I checked a decade of data on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website and couldn’t find a single case of any deficiency that looked like an amino acid imbalance or deficiency. I asked a dietitian friend. She’d never heard of one. Somehow the almost 900,000 vegetarians or vegans manage that balancing of 22 amino acids … to a person.

Now consider the other 21 million or so Australians. During the past decade almost half a million have had major heart surgery, generally because of too much saturated fat … either from meat and dairy foods directly or from the excess fat removed from carcases or milk and used to make other foods dangerous. So most Australians only have to follow one simple rule but regularly bugger it up.

Are veggos really that smart? I decided to check. So I wrote a computer program to compare the amino acids in foods against the latest amino acid requirements. I confirmed in excruciating detail exactly what my dietitian friend had told me in general terms … it takes a really bizarre food intake pattern to flunk the essential amino acid requirements. Suppose, for example, you ate nothing but bananas all day? Would you get enough of the essential amino acids? Yes. Bread? yes. Potatoes? yes. Zuccini? yes. Broccoli? yes. Any mixture of these? Yes … obviously. You don’t actually need to eat any “protein foods” or any tricky mix to get enough of the essential amino acids (although you may want to eat them for other nutritional reasons). All you need to do is to eat enough food to maintain your body weight. Vegan athlete Harley Johnstone regularly eats 30 bananas a day, when he can afford them(!), and wins bicycle and running races. Harley’s diet is unusual for sure, but how weird do you have to be to get an amino acid deficiency? One hundred per cent chips and Coke should do it. Or trying to live entirely on corn flakes … without soy milk of course.

So as far as I can tell, of the million or so vegetarians in Australia during the past decade, not a single one has ever been so bloody silly and we aren’t all bloody geniuses. The “protein combining” myth was started in the 1970s, with the best of intentions, by one Frances Moore Lappe. But it was bullshit then and it’s still bullshit.

For comparison, do the new guidelines contain warnings about the risks of rabbit starvation (which can kill you) for people wacko enough to try living on lean meat? Of course not. So why did the guideline authors deliberately target for blanket warnings a diet which is demonstrably, on average, healthier than the Australian norm?

Australia needs a powerful weapon against the forces making our children fat and sick. Those forces control the mass media with huge budgets and tiny consciences, but I reckon it will take rather more than 300 pages of paper to defeat them … even assuming they get the obvious meat and dairy industry biases removed before the draft goes live.

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36 thoughts on “Who owns the new Australian dietary guidelines?

  1. Geoff Russell

    Thanks Kerry (no relation … that I know of).

    The history of the protein myth is fascinating and told well by Prof. Kenneth Carpenter,
    Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Berkeley:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3528432

    The problem is that the advertising industry keeps repeating the same protein lies and
    the history is forgotten and has to be relearned. In the world of medical intervention in developing
    countries, the protein myth is old news. Consider this study of malnutrition in
    developing countries (published in 2000), there is not a single mention of protein in
    the whole 100+ page study. It’s simply not relevant. People are malnourished if they
    don’t get enough food or are fighting infections because of dirty water.

    http://www.ifpri.org/publication/explaining-child-malnutrition-developing-countries-0

    The weapon of choice to bring children back from the brink of death isn’t steak, but fortified peanut butter … plant protein. In the early stages, a LOW protein formulation is used, later as the child’s
    organs start to function better, a slightly higher level is used.

  2. drsmithy

    I’d agree it was more difficult to achieve good diet if there was ANY evidence that vegetarians lived shorter sicker lives. They don’t. So either 1) veggos are smarter, 2) leaving out meat makes a good diet easier to achieve for some weird reason or 3) some or all meat is bad for you.

    Sorry, that doesn’t follow. I’ll also point out that you are conflating two extremely different conclusions in your #3 option.

    Vegetarianism – and especially veganism – is an explicit and active dietary choice. It rarely occurs naturally without an external constraint on dietary options. Someone making an explicit choice about their diet is typically going to do so in a positive manner – ie: they’re going to make an effort to “eat the right foods”. Anecdotally, I’ve never known a single vegetarian who simply stopped eating meat – they all explicitly went out and investigated what they needed to do to _healthily_ replace meat in their diet. A decade or more later – for the few who remained vegetarian – most of them have forgotten they ever went through the process and now make the necessary nutritional substitutions automatically.

    Or, to put it another way, the issue is not so much the conceited “veggos are smarter”, it’s that “veggos have made an explicit choice to change their diet, and like most other individuals who do that, they have tried to make it healthier”.

    Thus, a valid comparison is not “vegetarians and everyone else”, it’s “vegetarians and people who actively manage their diet”. How does the health and lifespan of vegetarian or vegan and omnivorous elite sportsmen and women compare ? Any significant differences ?

    Dietary Guidelines doesn’t have most of the red and white meat found in supermarkets in ANY of its food groups. It only has LEAN meat in its food groups and most supermarket meat, by volume sold, isn’t lean.

    Yet the evidence – including from several links already posted – suggest that if you are going to eat meat (and other animal products), lean meat is actually a worse choice.

    Let’s also not forget the “French Paradox” in this discussion. “Vegetarianism will solve your ills” is a ridiculously simplistic answer to an extremely complex and barely understood system.

  3. drsmithy

    In April 2002, the “apostle of protein gluttony,” Dr Atkins, was hospitalized after he went into cardiac arrest, which he said in a statement was “in no way related to diet.” On his death in 2003, the poor fellow weighed 258 pounds.

    The truth is apparently much more boring:

    http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/atkinsdiet/a/dratkinsdeath.htm

    On principle, why should one indulge themselves in the hormone/pesticide/insecticide/antibiotic induced lumps of rotting flesh that they claim is fit for human consumption?:

    On principle, why should one indulge themselves in the pesticide/insecticide induced lumps of rotting plants that you claim is fit for human consumption?

  4. Flower

    Thank you for the link to the Medical Examiner’s report on Dr Atkins which stated that he had a history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, and hypertension. And it’s rather implausible to believe that Dr Atkins was allowed to gain 63 pounds in weight “from fluid retention” over a mere nine days when medical intervention could have prevented this from occurring.

    And since the Atkin’s diet hit consumers, people have grown more obese but it’s pretty seductive when a doctor advises that you can eat as much steak, bacon, dioxins in accompanying fats and cheescake as you can imagine. There is nothing like the promotion of evil under the guise of good to appease the culinary delights of consumers and I don’t imagine the litigious actions of his victims (dead and alive) that have ensued, would have impacted greatly on the Atkins empire.

    In the face of land and water degradation, pollution and irreversible contamination, deforestation, food wars, global droughts, new and re-emerging zoonoses, starvation or obesity, caused from the growing of livestock, one should ask: “Who was pulling Dr Atkin’s strings?”

    1) 70% of the world’s agricultural lands are used for livestock (UNFAO, 2006b)

    2) In the US, livestock feeds on most of the crops irrigated by groundwater. They provide 40 percent of the feed to beef cattle in the United States. The aquifers are depleting as groundwater is accessed by boreholes which are irrigating increasing amounts of grazing land which provides for increasing livestock production.

    3) In Australia almost half of all domestic sales of wheat are used to feed livestock, namely cattle, chickens and pigs.

    4) The major users of feed grain in Australia are dairy, beef, chicken meat, pork and eggs.

    5) Australia ranks among the top three countries in feed grain exports.

    As a result, the motley smorgasbord of livestock growers (including the Sultan of Brunei who has cattle interests in over 10,000 sq. kms in the NT) are a major user of water in a nation whose fragile groundwater and aquifers are being abused and depleted in the driest occupied nation on the planet with 10 deserts.

    History will not be kind to the duplicitous Dr Atkins. Go figure.

  5. Flower

    @ Dr Smithy: “Even if you weren’t an extremist, your willingness to deceptively present information is more than enough reason for me to assume everything you write as implicitly dishonest.”

    Oops – big mistake Smithy for you to hide behind witless allegations in your selective criticisms which you cannot or will not substantiate.

    I now suggest you provide evidence to back up your nonsense about my “deception and implicit dishonesty.” Permit me to expose your obfuscations:

    1) The Atkins diet books have sold more than 45 million copies over 40 years (up to 2004). (Source: Astrup A, Meinert Larsen T, Harper A.Department of Human Nutrition, Centre of Advanced Food Research, RVA University, Copenhagen, Denmark)

    2) In 1950 in the US, each person consumed an average of 152 pounds of meat per/year. In 2007, each person ate a staggering average of 220 pounds of meat per year (100 kgs.). In view of the obesity and health epidemics (including Diabetes type 2) since Dr Atkins commenced flogging his wares in the 70s, one should say: “Thanks for nothing Dr Atkins”:

    3) Two-thirds of all adults and about a third of all children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese according to a report released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)……Since the 1970s, the rate of obesity has tripled or quadrupled in children.
    http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/07/obesity-is-getting-bigger-in-the-united-states/

    4) A new study shows the prevalence of gout in the U.S. has risen over the last twenty years and now affects 8.3 million Americans. Prevalence of increased uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) also rose, affecting 43.3 million (21%) adults in the U.S.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110728082551.htm
    Gout Diet Recommendations:

    Limit meat, poultry and fish. Animal proteins are high in purine. Avoid or severely limit high-purine foods, such as organ meats, herring, anchovies and mackerel. Red meat (beef, pork and lamb), fatty fish and seafood (tuna, shrimp, lobster and scallops) are associated with increased risk of gout.

    Eat more plant-based proteins. You can increase your protein by including more plant-based sources, such as beans and legumes. This switch will also help you cut down on saturated fats, which may indirectly contribute to obesity and gout.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gout-diet/MY01137

    5) WASHINGTON — Farmers and the food industry are trying to kill a proposed safety standard for dioxins, chemicals that can cause cancer and are widely found in meat, seafood and dairy products………….Dioxins get into humans primarily because the chemicals accumulate in the fat of livestock and fish that people eat.

    http://www.agweb.com/article/epa_fighting_farmers_food_industry_over_dioxin_limit_LN/

    6) It has been estimated that more than 90% of current human exposure to dioxins among the general population occurs via food consumption, primarily from foods containing animal fats
    (USEPA, 2000).

    7) “You are what you eat.” A scary picture of Dr Atkins “in the prime of health.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2957623.stm

  6. Geoff Russell

    Puff: “Answer this question, for over 40 years recommended diets ask people to cut out fat, while allowing the unlimited consumption of sugar, corn syrup and starch. This forms the basis of USA and Australian diet. Now which way have the weight, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and size of plane seat charts gone in that time?”

    It’s not one question. Heart disease mortality has declined enormously over the past 50 years. Separating disease incidence from better heart bypass surgery isn’t easy but here what AIHW
    reckon … (
    http://www.nphp.gov.au/catitrg/cvdbgpaper.pdf)

    “Advances in treatment, increased use of medical services and more intensive and coronary
    care units have contributed to a significant decline in cardiovascular disease mortality in
    Australia over the past thirty years (ABS 2002). However, the decrease is largely the result of
    lifestyle changes such as a reduction in smoking (particularly among middle-aged men), and
    the consumption of less animal fats as well as increased fitness levels.”

    At least some of the decline in animal fats is due to Sam Kekovich and the spectacular fall
    in the consumption of sheep meat to just a third of its quantity during the 1960s!

    The US case is very different. The Calories in the US food supply has risen inexorably and pretty well explains the abysmal state of ill-health in the US all by itself. The diabetes rise in Australia is curious given the fall in animal fat consumption and sugar consumption over the past 40 years. I’m betting on the decline in exercise as the main culprit rather than anything in the food supply but don’t know that anybody really understands what is happening. It’s multifactorial.

    The total fat (Animal fats+ veg oils) in the Australian food supply has risen for the past 40 years
    despite low fat advice … but total Calories has stayed fairly constant … so the number of
    “empty calories” in our food supply has increased. You can’t say that advice doesn’t work when people aren’t following it !!

  7. drsmithy

    I now suggest you provide evidence to back up your nonsense about my “deception and implicit dishonesty.”

    That would have been the part where you implied Atkin’s history of problems was long-term and diet related, rather than only for the last few years of his life and (probably) due to a viral infection. It would also be the part where you call fluid retention “implausible”, with nothing to support that statement, even though it is common in coma patients. While the implication that there is a direct causal link between increased obesity levels on a worldwide scale and the publishing of the Atkins diet is merely dishonest, your statement that “a doctor advises that you can eat as much steak, bacon, dioxins in accompanying fats and cheescake as you can imagine” is simply a flat-out lie.

    The attempt to draw a direct connection between the Atkins diet and “land and water degradation, pollution and irreversible contamination, deforestation, food wars, global droughts, new and re-emerging zoonoses, starvation or obesity, caused from the growing of livestock” doesn’t even pass the laugh test of believability.

    Of course, unsurprisingly, you continue in the same vein:

    In 1950 in the US, each person consumed an average of 152 pounds of meat per/year. In 2007, each person ate a staggering average of 220 pounds of meat per year (100 kgs.). In view of the obesity and health epidemics (including Diabetes type 2) since Dr Atkins commenced flogging his wares in the 70s, one should say: “Thanks for nothing Dr Atkins”:

    Here, you conveniently ignore all the other factors at play in increasing levels of obesity – massive increase in sugar levels in food (thanks to the “low fat” craze kicked off by people you probably idolise, and the immense influence of the farming – especially corn – lobby in the US), increasingly sedentary lifestyles, increasing prices for healthy food, increasing portion sizes and the proliferation of incredibly calorie-heavy fast foods – to mention just a few.

    Further, if we look at a breakdown of that “staggering” statistic (http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April06/Findings/Chicken.htm), we can see that beef and pork consumption has been basically static for around 20 years, with beef peaking in the late ’70s. The “staggering” increase has come from increasing consumption of chicken – hardly an animal requiring an environment catastrophe to support.

    Another interesting thing to look at, is what other countries share this “staggering” level of meat consumption.
    http://chartsbin.com/view/bhy

    In fact, top of the list is Denmark, with 145kg of meat consumed per person each year. New Zealand is close behind at 140kg. Undoubtedly two of the first countries that come to mind when the words environmental disaster are mentioned. Other notable countries with roughly the same levels as the US are Spain, France and Canada.

    Lets compare obesity rates (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity)

    The US tops out list at 31%. New Zealand is next at 21%, followed by Canada (14%), Spain (13%), Denmark (10%) and France (9%).

    So far it doesn’t look good for a causal link. The US and France have basically the same levels of meat consumption, Denmark even higher, but both have less than 1/3 the obesity rate.

    Turning to heart disease rates (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_hea_dis_dea-health-heart-disease-deaths) (all numbers per 100,000, absolute top is Slovakia with 216)

    NZ: 127, Australia: 110, US: 107, Denmark: 105, Canada: 95, France: 40.

    So even from a cursory examination, your premise is on shaky ground.

    7) “You are what you eat.” A scary picture of Dr Atkins “in the prime of health.”

    I’m not quite sure what that was supposed to prove, but one of the closing paragraphs certainly leaps out:

    “This year [2003], his approach was vindicated in part by some half-dozen studies showing that people on the Atkins diet lost weight without compromising their health.”

    Amazing how a diet “some half dozen studies” have shown is successful at helping people lose and maintain weight is responsible for “increased obesity levels worldwide”.

    Your whole “argument” (to use the term loosely) boils down to logical fallacies (post hoc ergo propter hoc, ad hominem) and the observance that people following unhealthy diets and lifestyles, are unhealthy and die sooner.

  8. Flower

    It has already been established that Robert Atkins fell from an upright position sustaining a blunt impact injury to his head.

    However where her late husband is concerned, Mrs Atkins sticks to a fiercely loyal script. Mrs Atkins, however, did not request a post mortem after Dr Atkins’ death.

    Dr Atkin’s diet included cheese cake – cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and the artificial sweetener Splenda, a toxic chemical according to a study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

    The embarrassing truth is that the Atkins foundation abandoned Dr Atkins’ diets after he died in 2003. The new diet encourages eating more high-fibre vegetables, accommodates vegetarian and vegan needs, and addresses health problems that may arise when initially starting a low-carb diet. “The research shows it’s a healthy lifestyle and many more foods are a part of it,” said co-author Eric Westman, who acknowledged that he has vested interests in promoting his own research.

    Odd that the Atkins Foundation has abandoned all of Dr Atkins’ diets while his ill-informed devotees continue to promote them.

    Alas, nothing changes the fact that Atkins’ medical record showed he had atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, had suffered from a previous heart attack, and had high blood pressure.

    “The guy was fat – big guy – but heavy. And the food was inedible.” ( New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, describing dinner at the home of diet doctor Robert Atkins.)

  9. Flower

    Dr Smithy – My reference to “meat” did include Dr Atkins’ deep-fried, fat-filled, chemically induced chicken. Further, antimicrobial resistance of zoonotic bacteria in chickens (and cattle and pigs) is now an international health disaster as is the food poisoning and the environmental impacts of animal faeces (>2 trillion pounds/yr in the US) , heavy metals, GHGs and chemical pollution that abounds around the planet and the 2 million gallons of water per day used in a typical chicken slaughterhouse in the US.

    Of course this ‘trivia’ would be of no consequence to eco-illiterates like the ignorant Robert Atkins or yourself, both complicit in the bullcrap of the livestock behemoth who would label this peer-reviewed data as nonsense.

    Further, there is no obligation for me to substantiate anything when using the term “implausible,” the definition being: “difficult to believe” which is neither a hypothesis or a theory but mere speculation.

    I daresay I have never witnessed such a deliberate and flagrant attempt to dupe readers like the creative accounting with which you have bombarded us. The statistics on Slovakia ranking No 1 for heart disease is at least 14 years old (1995-1998.) What an insult to Crikey readers when statistics for the 21st century are readily available.

    Highest Ranking:
    1. Mortality: Hypertensive heart disease: US
    2. Hypertensive H/D and Renal Disease: US
    3. Complicated and ill-defined description of heart disease: US
    4. Chronic Ischaemic heart disease: US
    5. Mortality – Obesity: US

    Highest Rankings:
    1. Highest consumption of meat: Luxembourg, US, Australia
    2. Highest protein intake: Greece, US
    3. Highest daily fat intake: US, Australia
    4. Highest ecological footprint of consumption: US, Australia

    The statistics I have provided are from your links – not mine!

    Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, London and advisor to the World Health Organisation, claimed in December that meat consumption was “out of control”. He suggested consumers should go back to ancient traditions whereby meat was considered a treat and eaten only on feast days, such as Christmas. “Eating too much meat causes obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” he said. Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England, said cutting consumption of meat by 30 per cent would prevent 18,000 premature deaths a year.

    I imagine there’s nothing worse for the gullible than going the whole hog and consuming the eocidal Robert Atkins’ recommendation of 20 – 21 meat meals each week, just so they can “eat their heart out” and trash the environment beyond repair.

    The Atkins group’s prime motive is to restore its crumbling million dollar empire. Lift ya game Smithy. Your obfuscations are pathetic.

  10. drsmithy

    Dr Smithy – My reference to “meat” did include Dr Atkins’ deep-fried, fat-filled, chemically induced chicken. Further, antimicrobial resistance of zoonotic bacteria in chickens (and cattle and pigs) is now an international health disaster as is the food poisoning and the environmental impacts of animal faeces (>2 trillion pounds/yr in the US) , heavy metals, GHGs and chemical pollution that abounds around the planet and the 2 million gallons of water per day used in a typical chicken slaughterhouse in the US.

    What was that word you used ? Oh, yes. “Implausible”.

    I daresay I have never witnessed such a deliberate and flagrant attempt to dupe readers like the creative accounting with which you have bombarded us. The statistics on Slovakia ranking No 1 for heart disease is at least 14 years old (1995-1998.) What an insult to Crikey readers when statistics for the 21st century are readily available.

    If by “creative accounting” you mean “grabbed the first few reasonable looking results off Google”, then yes, I plead guilty. Unlike you, I’m not a zealot, and thus am not prepared to spend hours digging up just the right statistics to support an extremist argument while ignoring everything else.

    The simple fact is there are countries with incidences of meat and fat intake similar (if not higher) than the US, but without anything close to the health problems. This largely eliminates the possibility of a single factor causal link you want so desperately to exist.

    The statistics I have provided are from your links – not mine!

    That would be because you haven’t really provided any.

    Once again, you haven’t demonstrated anything to support your argument, merely that unhealthy eating and lifestyle lead to unhealthy results.

    I’ll add appeal to authority and non-sequitur to your list of logical fallacies.

  11. drsmithy

    This is a politically correct way of warning against animal products without upsetting the meat and dairy lobby.

    Amazing how, despite the immense influence of the farming industry in Australia and the US, it’s only the “meat and dairy lobby” we have to worry about trying to manipulate things for their own evil ends. Those pure and noble plant farmers would never try to game the system to their benefit.

    Equations predict disease outcomes pretty well based on cholesterol levels and a variety of other variables.

    Awesome. So therefore any and all countries with similarly high consumption levels of animal products should have similarly high levels of those “predictable disease outcomes”, right ?

    Conversely, in countries where consumption of animal products is relatively low, these “predictable diseases” should be nearly unheard of.

    Right ? I mean, if “equations” can genuinely “predict disease outcomes” then if you look at any statistically meaningful collection of subjects and their outcomes must match up with the predictions. That’s how “science” works, after all.

    Unless, of course, there’s a problem somewhere in the model.

    Drsmithy may call it argument from authority, but it’s just a shorthand for trotting out all the evidence on which all the major official bodies have said that high saturated fat diets are dangerous. ergo Atkins is a killer diet.

    Yet strangely, studies have apparently shown that people following the Atkins (and similar high protein diets) but eating healthily and exercising regularly, aren’t dying young of heart disease in statistically significant numbers, like you insist they must be.

    Quite a quandary, it is.

    But not everybody who smokes gets cancer […]

    Can you point to any rigorous scientific studies on smoking that don’t show a significant proportion of smokers having higher incidences of lung, bladder, and other associated cancers ?

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