Of Traitors and Truths – The Epiphenomenon of Obesity VI

I was reading Dr. Eenfeldt interesting recent post on www.dietdoctor.com, about a clip of the great crusader Dr. Aseem Malhotra showed at the recent LCHF summit in Cape Town and was reminded of one of the great truths of our time.  You cannot be betrayed by those whom you do not trust.  While we often blame Big Food for obesity, we never really trusted them, so cannot really be betrayed.

But, we have been betrayed.  By whom?  The story is even worse then you suspect….

Big Food wants to make more money. That’s no secret.  They created an entirely new category of food, called “snack food,” and promoted it relentlessly. They advertised on TV, print, radio and Internet.Coke ADA

But there was an even more insidious form of advertising called sponsorship and research. Big Food sponsors large organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Coca Cola General Mills, Kellogg Company and Pepsi are found among its “Premier” sponsors. At its annual meeting, a sponsor could hold a “nutritional symposia.” In 2014, for example, the Coca Cola Company would teach dieticians about Coaching Your Clients Toward Lasting Weight Loss.” The $50,000 Gold Sponsorship allowed the company to spread the message that sugar is not harmful to children. Thanks, Coca Cola.

Michele Simon, in her scathing report “And Now a Word from our Sponsors” uncovers how corporate giants like Coca Cola and McDonalds ‘educates’ health professionals.

Froot LoopsAnd don’t forget the medical associations. In 1988, the American Heart Association decided that it would be a good idea to start accepting cash to put its Heart Check symbol on foods of otherwise dubious nutritional quality. The Center for Science in the Public Interest estimates that in 2002, the AHA received over $2 million from this program alone. Food companies paid $7,500 for one to nine products, but there was a volume discount for more than twenty-five products! Exclusive deals were, of course, more expensive. In 2009, such nutritional standouts as Cocoa Puffs and Frosted Mini-Wheats were still on the Heart Check list. The 2013 Dallas Heart Walk organized by the AHA featured Frito-Lay as a prominent sponsor. The Heart and Stroke Foundation in Canada was no better. As noted on Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s weightymatters blog , a bottle of grape juice proudly bearing the Health Check contained ten teaspoons of sugar. The fact that these food were pure sugar seemed not to bother anybody.

HeartCheckThe researchers and academic physicians were not to be ignored either. These were key opinion leaders in the medical community. In 2013, Dr. Allison wrote a prominent article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Myths, Presumptions and Facts about Obesity”. Among his list of ‘facts’ of obesity, he writes, “Diets (i.e., reduced energy intake) very effectively reduce weight, but trying to go on a diet or recommending that someone go on a diet generally does not work well in the long-term”. Funny. How can a diet be effective, but generally not work? Isn’t that the very definition of ineffective? Also, Dr. Allison is declaring plainly that doctors should not even recommend diets. Forget about eating a whole, unrefined natural foods diet. Forget about reducing added sugars and refined starches like white bread.

Instead, his recommended treatments for obesity included meal replacement bars/ shakes, drugs and surgery. That’s certainly odd. Obesity is a dietary disease and requires a dietary cure. Instead, he favors meal replacements? These are amongst the last things that I would ever consider recommending.

Consider the ingredient list of a popular meal replacement shake “Ensure Plus”. This is the sort of ‘food’ that Dr. Allison feels is highly beneficial to you. It also happens to be a highly profitable item. The first five ingredients are: Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Canola Oil. This nauseating blend of water, sugar and canola oil does not really meet my definition of healthy. Why would Dr. Allison strenuously recommend this garbage? Things become a little clearer when you read the financial disclosures. Dr. Allison reports receiving payment for:

Board membership from Kraft Foods; receiving consulting fees from Vivus, Ulmer and Berne, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, Garrison, Chandler Chicco, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, National Cattlemen’s Association, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Frontiers Foundation, Orexigen Therapeutics, and Jason Pharmaceuticals; receiving lecture fees from Porter Novelli and the Almond Board of California; receiving payment for manuscript preparation from Vivus; receiving travel reimbursement from International Life Sciences Institute of North America; receiving other support from the United Soybean Board and the Northarvest Bean Growers Association; receiving grant support through his institution from Wrigley, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Vivus, Jason Pharmaceuticals, Aetna Foundation, and McNeil Nutritionals; and receiving other funding through his institution from the Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Red Bull, World Sugar Research Organisation, Archer Daniels Midland, Mars, Eli Lilly and Company, and Merck.

He was clearly not going to bite the hand that fed him. That he should be allowed to write in such an influential journal is criminal. But this is far from an isolated case.

Dr. Sievenpiper, in a 2012 Annals of Internal Medicine paper wrote a spirited defense of fructose. He passionately argued that there was nothing wrong with fructose. The good name of fructose was unfairly being slandered. Reviewing all the available literature, he acknowledged that the vast majority of the data were poor. However, this did not stop him from boldly concluding that, “Fructose does not seem to cause weight gain when it is substituted for other carbohydrates in diets providing similar calories.”

This was odd. In nutrition science, virtually the only universally agreed-upon fact is that excessive fructose intake is very bad. Yet here was this doctor arguing the exact opposite. Things become much clearer after reading the financial disclosures.

Dr. Sievenpiper: Grant (money to institution): Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Calorie Control Council; Support for travel to meetings for the study or other purposes: The Coca-Cola Company; Consultancy: Abbott Laboratories, International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) North America, Archer Daniels Midland; Grants/grants pending (money to institution): The Coca-Cola Company; Travel/accommodations/meeting expenses unrelated to activities listed (money to institution): The Coca-Cola Company, Pulse Canada, Canadian Diabetes Association; Other: Director of BDSK Consulting.

Dr. Sievenpiper was receiving money from, among others, Coca Cola, Archer Daniels Midland (a huge corn grower) and the Calorie Control Council – a food industry association. The Coca Cola Company was funneling rivers of cash, not only to the doctor, but also to his greedy institution, St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto. The doctor, the hospital and the university were all on the take. Providing unbiased, helpful dietary advice is obviously not the top priority here. The common sense approach of reducing added sugars for weight loss needed to be discredited. The Coca Cola Company knew just the doctors to do it.

Funding sources have enormous implications on study results. In a ­­­ study that looked specifically at soft drinks, Dr. Ludwig found that accepting funds from companies increased the likelihood of a favorable result by approximately 700 percent! This finding is echoed in the work of Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University. In 2001, she had found it “difficult to find studies that did not come to conclusions favoring the sponsor’s commercial interest.”

The fox was now guarding the hen house. A shill for Big Food had been allowed to infiltrate the hallowed halls of medicine. Influential doctors had scientifically prostituted themselves to the highest bidder. Push fructose? No problem. Push obesity drugs? No problem. Push artificial meal replacement shakes? No problem. While doctors enjoyed their blood money, patients suffered the indignities of obesity and diabetes. Meanwhile, honest physicians read these highly circulated and respected journals. Trusting the “experts” within their pages, they would naively pass on these lies to their own patients.  While doctors, hospitals and

research institutions counted their cash, patients went on dialysis, went blind and had their feet chopped off from diabetes complications.scapegoat

But the obesity epidemic couldn’t very well be ignored, and a culprit had to be found. “Calories” was the perfect scapegoat. Eat fewer calories, they said. But eat more of everything else. There is no company that sells “calories.” There is no brand called “Calories.” There is no food called “Calories.” Nameless and faceless, it was the ideal stooge. “Calories” could now take all the blame. They say that 100 calories of cola is just as likely as 100 calories of broccoli to make you fat. A calorie is a calorie. Don’t you know? But show me a single person that grew fat by eating too much steamed broccoli. I know it. You know it.

I am not angry at Big Food.  Their job is to sell food.  I am not angry at Fast Food.  Their job is to sell food.  No, they cannot betray us because we never trusted them.  We knew their motives and made the appropriate adjustment.

Who betrayed us?  Who sold us down the river?  None other than our own medical associations, our own doctors.  We have seen the enemy, and it is ourselves.  We trusted these medical associations to have our best interests at heart.  They repaid us with the ultimate betrayal.  For shame.  For shame.

In the same way, Big Tobacco could never really betray us about the effects of smoking because we never trusted them.  But the doctors who supported Big Tobacco – they were the ultimate traitors to our profession.  We fight this battle again with the sugar pushers and the drug pushers.

See the lecture “Big Pharma’s Lies

38 Responses

  1. But, also, our government betrayed us with the
    false food pyramid and other false dietary guidelines.
    We are betrayed because we should be able to trust them.

    • That is the ultimate betrayal, in a sense much worse than what Big Food does, because we never trusted Big Food. We did, however, trust our governments and our doctors.

  2. We are so gullible and believe everything and everyone! Think about it. Thanks, Jason for exposing the killers of health!

  3. Neville Wellington

    This is why I believe we are in the dark age of medicine! Patients are losing trust in doctors, because of this very problem. Well done Jason. Keep highlighting this!

  4. One problem is that we are generally not a species known for moderation; we hear fats are bad we go extreme HCLF. We hear carbs are bad we go HPLC. And industry milks this weakness.

  5. So refreshing. Thank you for a well written post. Maybe it’s because I’m a believer, but I do think the truth is emerging and our ability to communicate quickly and broadly will help the crusade. Well done, Dr. Fung!

  6. […] een hele tijd verre van deze clubs. Waarom, omdat ik ze niet vertrouw.   ( Lees hier de post van Jason Fung waarom ) Helaas is mijn wantrouwen bewaarheid, wat had ik toch graag gezien dat ik mijn visie had […]

  7. Blaming the medical community for this overweight world is like blaming God for the high price of gas! People choose what goes in their mouths regardless of what I as a professional. Read the labels I say yet they continue to make bad choices. Where is the individuals responsibility and accountable in their own health?

    • People choose what goes into their mouths. But who are they listening to? The doctors who advise that eating dessert for dinner is OK? IF people know that sugar is extremely fattening and still choose to eat it, fine. I agree. I disagree with doctors lying that sugar is not any worse than broccoli “A calorie is a calorie” and then blaming patients for getting fat.

      Just as with smoking. If people understand that smoking is harmful and still choose to do so, fine. But if doctors, DOCTORS are telling people that smoking is fine, as they used to do, then that is not OK.

      • ‘Dessert for breakfast’ is depressingly common habit nowadays. All the tradition morning foods like eggs, butter, meat, have been villified so long that now people drink sugar-syrup coffee and eat pastries like pancakes with sugary topping instead. What an improvement! =p

      • Doctors telling that we NEED carbs to have a “balanced” meal (whatever that is), that we NEED 3 meals a day and snacks, and popular figures like Oprah saying that one can lose weight while eating bread….I used to fall for this kind of advice…now I try to breath and not getting angry…I am going to Nirvana. PS on my second day of fast and feeling great !!! yay!!!

    • As a society we are conditioned to believe our doctors and follow their advice. In some places, if you refuse to follow doctor’s advice, your health insurance won’t cover you anymore. Governments do influence what we eat through taxes, school programs and propaganda, so whatever it decides is good is what ends up on the store shelf and on our tables. Governments also subsidize the agriculture of their choice. Our choice as a consumer is but one variable in the overall picture.

    • gracielou

      You say to “read the labels.” The labels don’t tell the whole story. Even something labeled and certified USDA organic is not 100-percent organic. By law a product labeled that way can have up to five-percent non-organic ingredients. Another case is with cloned animal products. Corporations have convinced the USDA and the FDA against labeling cloned animal food products because labeling would “scare” consumers. And they have fought against labeling food products made with GMOs because they say such labeling will “confuse” consumers.

      And to Anna’s point about subsidies, the government should be subsidizing organic farmers and growers. I get it that the goal of corporations is to make money. But there are billions and billions to be made in growing and bringing healthy foods to market.

    • I keep telling people to stop super-glueing their lips to the rear-ends of the the medical establishment.

  8. another reason why type 1 diabetes will never have a cure…doctors even say so themselves bc if there was a cure the pharmaceutical companies would lose out on billions of dollars. Everything is corrupt. The entire system starting with food labels commercials advertisement & of course doctors. I say eat a natural unprocessed diet. Fruit vegetables nuts proteins. Everything pure.

  9. Great expose! These conflicts of interest piss me off. Would love to see you also do one on how BIG PHARMA is also “educating” doctors these days. I recall reading how many on the board which determines “acceptable cholesterol levels” had obvious financial ties to the makers of statin-drugs. So lowering the threshold by which one is diagnosed with “high cholesterol” is of course more profitable for all involved. Thank goodness there are still some intellectually honest doctors like yourself around.

  10. Gee, now I finally read what I have been suspecting for the last five years. After reading 35 books, cruising pub med endlessly, watching You Tube videos, watching documentary films, even a movie with Meryl Streep, reading essays on lipoproteins written by MD’s, nutritionists, and of course reading the sordid history from the likes of Taubes, Teicholoz, Minger, and even Phinney and a weight lifter/researcher by the name of Volek it finally comes down to the fact that the entire medical profession gave itself a frontal lobotomy about the middle of the 20th century, and the rest is history, so to speak.

    It is nice to see that at least a minority of the profession is beginning to recover. However, I suspect I will be dead before any of this changes, which ought to involve jail time, but it is never going to happen.

  11. Much like tobacco corporations deserve our contempt for using Joe Camel to hook kids, junk food companies deserve it for using Ronald McDonald and the Coca-Cola bear to tell kids fast food is lovin’ and soda is happiness. Don’t let the experts off the hook, but don’t let the corporations off the hook either.

  12. Bernard P.

    Dr. Fung, is this part of the “How to lose weight” series or an ad hoc post? I ask because I keep the texts of you posts grouped by general theme.

  13. Another excellent article! As a dietitian, I am appalled by the conflicts of interest and lack of critical thinking in the nutrition world. Thank you for highlighting this so well.

  14. This article speaks truth. Eat whole, nutrient rich foods that are minimally processed and your body will go to its natural (healthy) weight set point.

  15. It seems like a lot of us have taken matters into our own hands, whether the medical establishment likes it or not. The Internet has helped a lot in this regard, both in providing information and creating communities for mutual encouragement and support. Of course, not all the information is accurate (to say the least), and sometimes there are trolls in the communities who thrive on causing trouble. But on balance I think the Internet has helped people help themselves. It helped me lose weight and improve my health. My doctor is happy at the outcome, but he would readily admit that the improvements were not his doing. They were mine.

  16. […] today’s modern food environment we are encouraged by the food industry (and those sponsored by it) to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, pre-workout meals, post workout stacks, sports gels […]

  17. Are we betrayed by doctors and government? I think not, once you realize that bucks buy politicians, and corporations as a method of operation maximize profits. They will find scientists who are willing to put lipstick on a pig. We all know that tobacco has done it. Why not the food manufacturers? I call it “tobacco science”, and it is a result of corporate “tobacco ethics”. As Dr. Ben Goldacre writes: “Perverse systems produce perverse results.”

    Love the quality of your website and your youtube lectures.

    Are we betrayed by doctors and government? I think not, once you realize that bucks buy politicians, and corporations as a method of operation maximize profits. They will find scientists who are willing to put lipstick on a pig. We all know that tobacco has done it. Why not the food manufacturers? I call it tobacco science, and it is a result of corporate tobacco ethics. As Dr. Ben Goldacre writes: “Perverse systems produce perverse results.”
    Love the quality of your website and your youtube lectures.

    Dr. Fung, you will find this survey of research 2014 article on intermittent fasting of interest at http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/ENDO/2014/459119/459119.pdf

  18. Thank you for this information.

  19. Reading the labels on packaged food is such a chore, but is easily avoided if you eat unprocessed, unpackaged food that comes without labels. My thirteen year old nephew seemed alarmed on hearing how I’d had to lose a lot of weight to reverse my type 2 diabetes and he asked what he should do to avoid the risk of developing diabetes or cancer. I made a flippant reply which I subsequently realised contained a grain of truth. I just said “Don’t eat anything that’s advertised.”

  20. M Corazón

    Where can I read/learn more about fasting? What do you recommend? Do you have a book out? I listened to your 28 min presentation on YouTube, and I felt like for the first time someone has both addressed the real probkemand understands my frustrations. I would really like to do the right thing to be healthy. Where can I learn more. I need it now !

    • There is an excellent book by Brad Pilon called “Eat, Stop, Eat” that covers fasting. The upcoming series of post, of which this is the intro, will cover it as well.

  21. […] are still many doctors who argue that eating sugar is not bad for type 2 diabetics. Kind of makes you wonder how they got into medical school at all. Since it is quite obvious that […]

  22. […] speak to other doctors. They send them on fancy trips all over the world. Unfortunately, they have corrupted the academic doctors who write national guidelines. This leads doctors to tell The Biggest Lie. The lie is that T2D is […]

  23. […] speak to other doctors. They send them on fancy trips all over the world. Unfortunately, they have corrupted the academic doctors who write national guidelines. This leads doctors to tell The Biggest Lie. The lie is that T2D is […]

  24. […] are still many doctors who argue that eating sugar isn’t bad for type 2 diabetics. Kind of makes you wonder how they got into medical school at all. Since it is quite obvious that […]

  25. […] are still many doctors who argue that eating sugar isn’t bad for type 2 diabetics. Kind of makes you wonder how they got into medical school at all. Since it is quite obvious that […]

  26. When we stop trying to blame someone, it becomes apparent that the entire problem is that we as a people have become prosperous and have become addicted to pleasure. We are suffering from prosperity or luxury. And a remedy: fasting. Fasting is not the entire answer, but it is a big step in the right direction.

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