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Mark Hyman: The Problems with Nutrition Science

Edited to remove book plugs.

The Problems with Nutrition Science

I know you might feel a bit hopeless after the last blog where I explored why we are all so confused about what to eat.

The bottom line: we are confused because we hear conflicting scientific reports, our government funds bad food and gives us corrupt advice, and the food industry benefits from keeping us confused.

I know this seems super depressing and we can be left feeling like what’s the point—I give up and I am just going to eat whatever I want because no one can agree on anything.

But don’t give in to that. That is EXACTLY what the food industry wants you to feel.

The good news is that the truth about nutrition, the basic guiding principles of how and what to eat to promote health, weight loss and longevity—AND to prevent, treat, and reverse most chronic disease is pretty simple.

I have read thousands of papers on nutrition and tried and recommended various ways of eating with tens of thousands of patients over 20 years. And I’ve seen the effects of food on weight, health, diabetes, gut issues, autoimmune disease, and lots more.

I have read between the lines, not just the headlines in the media, which are wrong about half the time, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

There is one more thing I want to cover about why we are so confused: the study of nutrition.

Nutrition science is a very tough field to study. The best study would be to take 10,000 people, randomize them, put them in a controlled environment, provide the food, feed them different diets, and follow them for 10 to 30 years.

That ain’t happening so we have to rely on basic science, smaller, shorter term studies, or population studies, which can’t prove cause and effect.

For example, when you look at meat studies, they seem to show that people who eat meat are sicker and at a greater risk of heart attacks and cancer. But those studies are done by asking people to fill out a food frequency questionnaire every year—what they ate yesterday or last week. Good luck if you can remember. I cover all of this in my book Food, What the Heck Should I Eat?

There’s another problem that makes it hard to interpret the population studies—it’s called the healthy user effect.

During the time of the studies on meat, the prevailing wisdom was that meat was bad for your health. The people who didn’t eat meat were typically more health conscious—they exercised, didn’t smoke, ate lots of fruits and veggies, and stayed away from sugar and processed food.

And people who ate meat didn’t really care much about their health, smoked more, ate 800 calories more a day, weighed more, ate less fruits and veggies, more processed food, and didn’t exercise.

Is it any surprise that they were sicker than the non-meat eaters? Not really!

In my book, I give you the take home, take it to the bank (or take it to the fridge) lessons I have learned the hard way. I wrote the book to help you to become empowered and intelligent about food.

To finally be able to answer the question, what the heck should I eat?

If our government policies, the food industry, the challenges of nutrition science, and the media make us confused and misinformed, how do we get to the truth about food and how do we answer the question nagging all of us:

What should I eat?

Is there a way of eating that will help us feel better, lose weight, have more energy, prevent and treat and even reverse most chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, autoimmune disease, and more?

This is a high stakes question—it’s not like picking out your bathroom tile. I have come to the conclusion that the answer is pretty simple.

It is based on a few key principles that almost everyone can agree on. I jokingly call it the Pegan Diet—poking fun at the extremes of Paleo and Vegan.

Both camps claim that if you eat what they recommend you will be healthy, thin, and live forever. And if you eat what the opposing camp recommends you will get fat, sick, and die early.

Clearly, they can’t both be right.

Surprisingly, there is a lot in common between the two extreme ways of eating. If we focus on what’s in common, then we can at least set some ground rules and agree on basic principles.

But before we get into WHAT to eat and the controversies about food, I want to ask you a simple question.

What is food?

Check out this label. Can you guess what it is?

Ingredients: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, Red 40.

It’s a Twinkie.

Is it food? No. It is a food-like substance with 37 different ingredients, most of which are not food, like calcium sulfate, which is plaster.

What about an avocado?

It’s just an avocado. It doesn’t come in a box, package, or can, and it doesn’t have an ingredient list or a nutrition facts label. It is just an avocado. The avocado is not a man-made processed, colored, extrusion of refined oils, sugars flours, and a host of chemicals.

These are distinctions even a five-year-old can make. Why is so hard for us to figure out? The sad thing is we feed our kids things we would NEVER feed our dog. French fries and soda for your puppy anyone?

Why Food Quality Matters More Than Quantity

We have ALSO been taught that all calories are the same. It’s what our government tells us, what nutritionists and doctors tell us. It’s what the food industry tells us.

All calories are the same—it’s all about moderation.


The science shows that food is not just energy or calories but information that regulates almost every function of our body.

In a lab, all calories are the same when you burn them. But not when you EAT them. Your body is a complicated biochemical, hormonal soup controlled mostly by what you eat.

Our gene expression, our hormones, our immune system, our gut flora, our brain chemistry, our muscle mass, our metabolism, and more are all changed with EVERY single bite of food.

Food is the code that programs your biology. You can literally upgrade or downgrade your biological software with every single bite.

It turns out the QUALITY of our food matters more the QUANTITY of the food we eat. And it’s a lot easier to control WHAT we eat than HOW MUCH we eat.

The QUALITY of the proteins, fats, and carbs is super important.

Sure, you are getting protein, fat, and carbs if you eat factory-farmed feedlot hamburger full of hormones, antibiotics, along with fries and a soda. But is that the same as eating grass-fed beef, olive oil, and broccoli? Those are also protein, fat and carbs.

Of course not!

If you live on soda and donuts, it will send a very different set of instructions to your body than if you eat real, whole foods and lots of fruits and veggies.

Another simple principle is to ask yourself the question: is this man-made or nature-made? It doesn’t take a nutrition PhD to figure that out.

Is a pop tart nature-made or man-made?

Here’s my rule: If nature made it, eat it, if man made it, leave it.

Before you stick something in your mouth ask yourself:

Is this food? Or is this a food-like substance?

You should NOT eat foods containing ingredients you wouldn’t find in your cupboard.

Anyone have Polysorbate 60, or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate or Yellow dye 5 and Red dye 40 hanging around in your house? How about butylated hydroxytoluene? Yum!

Didn’t think so.

Every day we find out more about the toxicity of these additives, yet they stay in our food.

There are 3000 food additives on the market. The average American eats 5 pounds of additives a year.

It Matters How Our Food is Grown and Raised

Whether you are vegan, paleo, or just believe in eating healthy, we can all agree we should be eating whole foods, that we should avoid processed foods, sugars, refined oils, food additives or foods laden with antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides.

We can also agree that we should be eating foods that don’t destroy the environment by depleting the soil, draining our aquifers and water reserves, or poisoning our waterways with fertilizers and pesticides.

And that we shouldn’t be eating factory farmed animals because it is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In fact, our current food system is the number one contributor to climate change.

Not to mention the horrors of animal abuse and the overuse of antibiotics that leads to the development of superbugs killing humans because no antibiotics work.

We also need to ask ourselves—Do our food choices pass the sniff test? In other words, do our food choices make common sense?

Should we really be eating 5 pounds of food additives a year?

Or 133 pounds of refined flour and 152 pounds of sugar a year per person? These are pharmacologic doses of proven addictive substances we never ate 200 years ago.

Should we consume 10 percent of our calories from refined GMO soybean oil—something that didn’t even exist 150 years ago?

Should we really be feeding our kids sugary cereal full of dyes that turns the milk funny colors?

You don’t need an advanced science degree to understand that our bodies did not evolve on this stuff.

Or know that the scourge of chronic disease, which now affects one out of every two Americans could be related to the radical change in our diet in the last 100 years from whole real unprocessed food to our current toxic diet.

And the products of our industrial food system don’t just make us fat and sick. It also damages our brains and robs us of our ability to live full and happy lives.

Kids who go to school with chips and soda for breakfast can’t focus, concentrate, or learn. This creates an achievement gap, which is one of the reasons why the US is 38th in math and 24th in reading in the world.

Those kids end up not going to college and having lower paying jobs and struggling their whole lives.

So, what am I saying?

By eating the right food, we can not only get healthy, lose weight, and live longer but we can reverse climate change, save our scarcest resource—water, and end desertification.

We can reduce poverty and violence, make kids smarter and more successful, and even save our government and economy by reversing the economic burden of chronic disease.

That’s right—it is because food is the nexus where everything comes together.

So then what ARE the basic principles of eating well?

We should not eat processed industrial food and we should eat real whole food that doesn’t harm us, the planet, or the economy.

Anyone switching from the typical American diet where 56% of our calories come from processed foods, where the average American consumes 44 gallons of soda a year to a diet of real food—whether it is vegan or Paleo or anything in between—WILL get healthier.

But that begs the question, “What is the best diet for us humans?”

Keep in mind that we are all genetically unique and need to find a way of eating that matches our needs.

But at the end of the day, your body is the smartest doctor in the room—it will tell you what works and what doesn’t—by what happens to your weight and how you feel.

Now even though we’re all unique, there are still some basic guidelines we can follow to achieve our best health.

In my book out February 27, 2018, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? you will learn exactly what to eat, how to shop and cook, and have all the tools you need to live a long and healthy life.

I uncover the truth about the food we actually eat—what is healthy and not in each group of foods we eat—meat, poultry and eggs, dairy, beans, grains, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, beverages, and more and guide to you to a science-based, sensible way of eating for life that keeps you, our planet, and our society healthy. I also address the environmental and social impact of the food we eat.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Mark Hyman, MD

47 Replies

Hi Mel,

I'm going to save this one to read on the weekend, it looks like a long one, and I want to 'digest' it. :-)

Zest :-)



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All sounds very sensible. Apples and broccoli don't need labels on them to tell you what their ingredients are, you know they're healthy. Whereas any packet of "food" that has a huge number of unpronounceable chemical/additives on its list of ingredients is one to steer clear of.

And yes, you can almost guarantee that if a study is published saying a particular food is good for you, not long afterwards another study is publicised telling you the exact opposite, to make sure the consumer is confused. Confused consumers are easier to manipulate.

I also find it maddening to listen to nutritionists advising people who want to go gluten free or lactose free and who report that it has helped them feel better and have more energy, be told that they should try to reintroduce dairy and gluten back into their diet if at all possible......as was the case when I was watching a BBC program the other day. Aren't nutritionists meant to help people? What's going on there?


Some people find they can reintroduce foods they thought caused issues, though it’s up to individuals whether they do so.

I spent several years avoiding dairy & gluten, with no apparent benefit, & weight gain when I ate a vegan diet from eating too much soy instead. I do feel better for reintroducing better quality versions as I’m fine with kefir, organic dairy, & sourdough.


Ok good point. But when your body clearly does react badly to something and someone in a position of dietary authority encourages you to try it again, what are the motivations? Isn't it undermining the individual and cowtowing to the mega manufacturers? I don't know if I'm being paranoid or whether it's just healthy scepticism about seemingly "good" nutrition advice. This seems to be in the same spirit as when the public are repeatedly advised to eat healthy whole grains. 🤔


Doctors are poorly trained in nutrition, & a lot of other things! Nutritionists seem very biased towards one dietary model. I've not long had a conversation regarding people not asking questions of their GPs & doctors, as so many people are brainwashed into believing these people are supposed to be knowledgeable. We're all genetically different & have lifestyle choices to consider, so best to think outside the box, & do what's best for us individually!

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I have friends who are doctors who have told me the nutrition part of their education filled a whole afternoon, or thereabouts. To be fair to them, their job entails knowing an awful lot about firefighting acute health problems and being responsible for how we eat isn't really their responsibility. "Nutritionists"... well... I recently became a qualified nutritionist, just to prove a point about how meaningless the term is, for an article I am writing. It cost me £60 and took 2 days. I can now call myself a qualified nutritionist and Joe Public will not be able to tell the difference (or generally care as long as I tell them what they want to hear) between me and someone who is a registered dietician who studied for several years at university.


Wow I didn't realise it was quite that bad.


I have a colleague who likes to point out that he's a qualified nutritionist.

He's apple-shaped, with a massive beer gut :)

As BadHare said, though, even dieticians are typically just repeating the party line, which contains a lot of hearsay, long-disproven myths and pure made-up nonsense. There are very good practical reasons why dietary research is hard, and most of the research is therefore of very poor quality.

Nina Teicholz and Gary Taubes both did a very good job exposing the unholy alliance between the food industry, governments, and the high priests of nutrition lore. Those groups have managed to spread an awful lot of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt among the general public, with the disastrous consequences we see today.

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My biomedicine & pathophysiology lecturer's main field was nutrition. He was also an enormous competitive weight lifter. Fortunately for us, he was extremely well qualified & extremely interesting!

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I wondered when Gary Taubes would come into this.

I have the same reaction to citing Taubes as you do to the mention of thermodynamics.

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LOL sorry .. I'll try not to trigger you ;)

May I ask why?

Among my many day jobs, I'm a farmer. I have a bit of first-hand experience of the way the food industry works (or doesn't work, depending on your point of view) from what you might call the bottom end of the food chain.

The fundamental problem is that people will always want to eat. The food industry, much like the World's Oldest Profession, is extremely secure and extremely lucrative. Those involved in it therefore have more leeway to abuse their position, and they do this in fairly subtle (and admittedly very clever) ways. Taubes, whatever else you might think of him, did describe this state of affairs quite accurately.


Principally that he does not apply the same critical criteria to his own theses that he does to every other theory. He insists that the evidence in support of his (best selling book) claims is overwhelming even though it has not been clinically tested. Also his nonsensical obfuscation: when confronted by the awkward fact that billions of Chinese do quite fine on a diet based on rice, that is becaue they eat no sugar (which is, y'know, not actually true). He constantly brings up Occam's razor to justify his theories (sorry, facts), and notably, his children are not brought up on the diet he insists is the only one for healthy living.


Bear in mind that Taubes is actually a scientist (physicist) and he's been obsessive about bad science for the whole of his career. It's a long video, but he does a very good job of explaining his views, the research he did, and the difference between bad science and good science:

The too-long, didn't-listen soundbite is this:

"If I'm wrong [in the major arguments], and I might be wrong ... I need a new line of work, because I can't trust my judgement; and everything I do as an investigative journalist is dependent on me being able to trust my judgement. And if I'm wrong about this - like, if I'm wrong about energy balance - then I gotta go sell shoes".

He remarks that a lot of people in science careers have been poorly trained in the scientific method, and he's right. Science is highly counterintuitive: it depends not on looking for evidence, but on looking for disproof. I raised this issue in the NHS thread (from which I've now been banned - I was upsetting their group hug). Your hypothesis might be based initially on some evidence that you've collected, but given adequate reproducible evidence that you're wrong, then you're wrong. The basic (human) problem in science is that people don't like being wrong. It takes a strong character to accept that your theory is wrong, drop it, and move on to reformulating a new theory.

So here's the point: Taubes has offered up a falsifiable hypothesis (that is, one that can technically be disproved by experiment), and nobody has yet managed to falsify it. It has further points in its favour:

- It delivers predictions that turn out to work in practice; not just in terms of reliable weight loss, but more esoteric ones (such as the experiment I mentioned elsewhere about analysis of fatty acid composition in obese subjects).

- It is supported by well-known physiological and physical principles.

It therefore meets all the criteria for a viable theory. Can you offer a study that demonstrates a definitive disproof? I would be genuinely interested to read it, because it would necessarily disprove a lot of accepted metabolic biochemistry that's routinely taught in medical schools. It would be earth-shattering stuff.

By comparison, the calories-in, calories-out theory doesn't even make physical sense, but it has also been tested by experiment, many times, and it doesn't work. It is therefore wrong (which was obvious from first principles anyway). It doesn't matter how much cherry-picked evidence can be mustered to support it: if it reliably fails to deliver the predicted results, it's wrong.

Of course, in the limit, if you consume so little food that your body can't support its baseline functions, you'll lose weight; if you force-feed yourself far beyond your needs, even on low-carb, you'll gain weight (although not, interestingly enough, on a protein-only diet; you'll just die). In those regions, the 'thermodynamics' assertions are correct. But nobody eats like that unless they're in a North Korean gulag or have genetically-faulty satiety sensors. In between those two limit stops - and there is a very wide gap between them - your bodyfat distribution is under homeostatic control.

So let's talk about China. I live in the Far East and I travel widely. If you want to see the truth of what Taubes is banging on about, you should come here and see it for yourself. For one thing, the Chinese do not have a diet of rice. They eat meat, vegetables, eggs, and dofu (not much dairy; widespread lactose intolerance). A typical meal would have five such dishes between three people, from which you can pick and choose what you like. Fatty meat is preferred. A meal does include a bowl of rice with the typical portion being 150-200ml (I just checked with one of mine). That's about 40g net carbs, 150kCal. Two of those would be eaten each day. Convenience foods do exist, but mostly people prefer to cook their own meals from fresh ingredients bought at the market.

By the Western definition, the Chinese (and the Japanese, who eat about the same) are doing LCHF. Apart from breakfast, I eat the same food everyone else does here. I normally skip the rice. Skinny girls do that too - it's common knowledge here that carbs makes you fat unless you're working in the fields, and Chinese people are quite surprised that Westerners don't know this; with typical Chinese lack of tact, they'll often tell foreigners that they're fat and should stop eating so much bread.

There ARE fat Chinese people. It's an increasing problem; diabetes has skyrocketed in the past decade. The overweight tend to be rich businessmen (who are much more likely to enjoy cakes, desserts, fizzy drinks, and pointlessly large meals) or poor people who, like their Western counterparts, subsist on pot noodles. There is a definite increase in the number of sweet drinks (mostly sweet tea) being consumed in China; this was unusual up to about 10 years ago. There is no tradition of "dessert" in China. The older generation don't like chocolate or candy. A typical 點心 (the word conveys the meanings 'dessert', 'treat' or 'snack') might be a tiny portion of jelly or red beans in a slightly-sweetened soup.

Now let's hop over to the Philippines. They eat very little meat (because it's expensive), virtually no vegetables, and (according to gov't statistics) nearly 350g per day of (uncooked) rice - 270g net carbs, or about 3x the Chinese amount. Watching a Filipino eat rice is fascinating. They heap up a vast mountain of the stuff on a standard Western plate, and shovel it down more-or-less unadorned, with every sign of enjoyment. They are endlessly snacking on cakes, bread, biscuits, and Coke. They add sugar to everything - even spaghetti sauce. Supermarket shelves are stacked with starch-and-soy packaged crap and "low fat!", "low cholesterol!", "heart healthy!" products, side-by-side. Virtually everyone over 20 is overweight or obese. Even those who aren't have a "rice belly" - a weird 3-inch spare tyre that extends around the abdomen and halfway across the back. Diabetes is officially 1 in 12 (I'd guess metabolic syndrome is 1 in 3). Their diet is classic, government-standard, low-fat, high-carb. And they're all fat.

So I dunno about lack of evidence. I'm looking at roughly 1.5 billion experimental subjects who just need documenting.

Having said all that, I'll quote Taubes again: "I'm not a fan of debates in science, because I don't think they settle things. I'm a fan of people getting together and saying, look, you believe this and I believe that, what experiment can we do to find out who's right?". I've done the experiment on myself. I did high-carb low-fat for years and stayed fat; and I've done low-carb high-fat for years and I'm slim and fit. Millions of others have the same experience, so that's no longer anecdote, it's data. Whichever theory is correct needs to explain that experimental observation.


Hi TheAwfulToad, now you said:

'I raised this issue in the NHS thread (from which I've now been banned - I was upsetting their group hug). '

I think that you make some interesting points so would much rather you stayed a member and benefited from being a member so please keep your fight off here. And I'm sorry if you feel that you've had a rough time.

And we're all on or this forum for a reason, an interest in healthy eating, so lets encourage one another.

Thank you,

Jerry 😊

HU guidelines: Community Atmosphere,

Your participation on HealthUnlocked should be with respect, honesty, and in the spirit of supporting and learning from your fellow users.


Perfectly said, Jerry! Thank you for posting this one.


I really don't want to re-hash the issue, but I made that comment for three reasons. Firstly, I've had the experience many times over: people just don't want to hear about it. I find this absolutely fascinating. It's relevant to the response because Taubes says exactly the same thing ("they just object to my existence"). Secondly, I was curious if anyone was prepared to comment (constructively) on that kind of experience. Finally, I was testing the waters: will I get the same reaction here?

I've participated in diet discussions with many different nationalities. This one (mostly British, I assume) is the only one where I've been simply shut down when I've prompted a poster to look at his question from a different viewpoint ... as opposed to simply feeding him some untruthful pabulum so that he - and the respondent - can feel temporarily good about themselves. It is, in fact, the first time I've been banned from anywhere. I didn't have a "rough time" - I was just left scratching my head.

Having said that, I made a big mistake in not checking who the posters were (which I did after the event). They're all women. You married men are probably painfully aware that, when your wife comes home complaining about some problem at work, what she does NOT want is a solution: she just wants you to sit and listen while she sounds off and then she'll go and figure it out by herself. When your best mate does the same thing down the pub, he's asking you to throw some ideas around. I should have picked up on the group dynamics.

Anyway, I'd like to have an open debate here. Let's open a new thread for it, if you wish. I've had some wonderful lively debates with, say, Americans. Disagreeing, even dogmatically, is not disrespectful. It's being honest. I'd prefer someone swearing at me to someone pulling a sour face and turning their back. You mentioned the word "honesty": fundamentally I'd be dishonest if I agreed to tell people "you just keep doing what you're doing and it'll be fine". Because I know they won't be fine. I've seen too many people not being fine to tell lies for the sake of harmony.

All I'm saying is, I hope some of you will push back and we can have an interesting discussion about low-carb vs. ultra-high-carb (my view of the establishment diet). Rignold seems to have something to say for himself. It's your board, but a Community of yes-men quickly turns into a Soviet, and nobody learns anything from anyone.

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Hi there, I think some of your comments here are unfortunate and sexist. I like Rignold he does have some interesting ideas and is popular on the Weight Loss site he is also a single dad and so was I, so I admire him for that because I know how hard it is being a single working dad.

I object to your comment about yes men and the Soviet Union and this to me shows why it was not what you said but how you said it that got your banned. You also say you don't want to re-hash the issue but you then say but I want an open discussion, so please make your mind up.

We had members press the report button to your replies and instead of filling in a report from asking HU to remove you I chose to reply to sound you out.

We are all members because we want a healthy diet for 'our' needs, me I'm a coeliac and have to avoid many foods and alcohol. Yet I don't want HE to be for coeliac and wheat free's I want paleo's, vegans, vegetarians, diabetics, coeliac, slimmers etc. to all interact in a way that is constructive to each other.

I will fight for any members rights and I want to promote healthy eating for all regardless of their needs and impartially.

Its your call as no-one has banned you from here.



>> You also say you don't want to re-hash the issue but you then say but I want an open discussion

Well, I meant I didn't want to discuss the circumstances of that event; I was interested in comments from people who have encountered a similar reaction, perhaps IRL.

>> We had members press the report button to your replies and instead of filling in a report from asking HU to remove you I chose to reply to sound you out.

You're ALWAYS going to get a few people pressing the report button, just because. I've been an admin myself: some people are just like that. I recognise that it's very hard to draw the line in the right place, but my own guidance was only to block people if they were actively harassing and insulting other posters, spamming, or using obscenities; differences of opinion that stay on-topic generally blow themselves out. If you blocked everyone who got a "report", you'd soon have an empty BBS.

I've met several overweight people with debilitating self-esteem problems and a victim mentality (IMO because of the failure of the establishment to give them proper advice). They WILL inevitably lash out against ideas that invalidate every diet decision they've ever made. That's human nature. It doesn't mean it's a good idea to let their opinion override everyone else's; if you try to please everyone you'll end up pleasing nobody, or at best only those who have nothing substantial to say.

>> I object to your comment about yes men and the Soviet Union and this to me shows why it was not what you said but how you said it that got your banned.

Do you object to it because it's untrue, or because it makes you feel uncomfortable? Likewise with the comment about the way women and men (on the average) ask for advice; if you don't know about that one, I imagine you find yourself in a lot of inexplicable male-female arguments IRL. As I said, I prefer to tell the truth as I see it, and others are welcome to show me the error of my ways. I have zero patience for the modern mode of discussion, which puts certain words, phrases, ideas, or topics out-of-bounds on the basis that they might be upsetting to a sensitive minority.

You seem a nice bunch here, but I don't want to be walking on eggshells just on the offchance someone finds my remarks "sexist", "judgemental", etc. and throws a wobbly.

My original intent was to start my own blog around the topic of the failure of the NHS advice and the evidence against it, but I figured it would be sensible to start here first. I was probably wrong about that, so I'll bid you good day. So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Hi The Awful Toad, saying that a group of women just want some one to listen and not solutions is insulting in my opinion. And you are just using that as an excuse for being banned.

You have every right to make a post and are responsible for the content the fact that you were admin is irrelevant to me, the fact that you're angry about the past causes concern as some people hang on to anger and hatred as if its a prize possession.

I see someone who is frustrated and feels let down by the NHS and having a pop on a site with links to the NHS you must expect it to be taken as challenging.

The past is the past and thats where it belongs...


That doesn't make sense, & is two completely different issues, which confirms what I thought & what TheAwfulToad wrote. Its a commonly known fact that women & men react differently to issues & problem solving both personally & professionally:




With so many obese people, with so many dietary related diseases, perhaps the NHS needs to buck its ideas up & change the guidelines as the current ones don't seem to be working. The challenge is finding better advice, then following it.


I find your statement that "it's a commonly know fact that men & women react differently..." to be extraordinary, and doesn't reflect the open mindedness you seem to be able to bring to health issues.

An article in a popular publication like psychology today doesn't make something a fact.

If you are interested in exploring a different view on gender differences I'd recommend one of the books by Cordelia Fine.

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Her books look interesting, benwl.

Perhaps I should have written that it's my experience. The links I posted were the first I found on a websearch.

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I'd recommend "delusions of gender" which is the first of her books that I read as a good starting point.

One thing I'd suggest is you reflect on how much your experience is determined by cultural and social norms and expectations. The UK is a patriarchal society where women have routinely been paid less than man, been denied access to education (and the vote!), and been exposed to a whole weight of cultural stereotyping (think boys will be boys, blonde bimbos, mother in law jokes etc), when genders interact they are doing so in a environment conditioned by all of that.

One final thought, and I'm hesitant about saying it but I mean it in a genuinely thought provoking way so I hope you won't be offended - if it was racial rather than gender differences that were being discussed would you have been so quick to post the results of a google search on the topic.

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You're right, & it's impossible to unexperience something, however, mansplaining is a thing I've seen & been on the receiving end of, as well as being told what to do when I was merely discussing an issue.

I most certainly wouldn't post anything racially biased, but I see your point. Just because we don't want things to happen, it doesn't mean they won't.



I'm sure I've done my share of mansplaining in the past, but I try now to be alert to the possibility so as to avoid it going forward

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Lots of things do need explaining, though never stop being helpful, that's always a good thing! :)


benwl, bear in mind that gender differences are on a bell curve like anything else, and those curves overlap; you need to view these things in statistical terms. In other words, men and women are more alike than they are different, but that doesn't mean there ARE no differences.

Whether this is "cultural" or not is beside the point: in this culture, at this point in history, it's real, and ignoring it won't make it go away, it'll just result in arguments. I would say exactly the same thing about racial differences - we can probably all agree that such differences are cultural rather than "genetic", but that doesn't mean they're not there. An obvious example would be the existence of low-trust and high-trust societies: if you're a traveller, you ignore such things at your peril.

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Sorry to lose anyone who references “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.


Fantastic job and thank you for saying this, Jerry! No one should be made to feel afraid they can’t say what they feel has to be said to a point in staying in the HU policies.

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I'm in complete agreeance with you, & have been banned from this forum, as well as accused of bullying for stating facts. Yes-men, indeed! I especially like your insights into male & female dynamics, as some men never realise this, even when you tell them! Changing people's mindset regarding appropriate nutritional intake can be as difficult as trying to get someone to change religion. Sometimes interactions with folks with unhealthy dietary issues is awkward when nutritional facts are ignored or changes are too difficult, especially with regard to lifestyle choice. With that in mind, we can't change our genes or all of our preferences, though I really wish I could change junk food advertising & people's obsession with unhealthy television food porn! I appreciate a low carb diet doesn't suit everyone as I've friends, who healthily run off an inverse proportion to my intake, or that other people feel healthier eating paleo or vegan. Some choices are personally healthy but environmentally selfish, other choices are socially & environmentally ethical. One of the most robust people I know is a vegan with two allotments, who grows about 90% of his food. This is quite radical in terms of both nutritional intake & lifestyle. Our government, unfortunately, seems too much in the thrall to the food processing & food retail industry to make too many positive food directives beyond wishy washy, but that's straying into free market economics rather than healthy eating. Belgium's recent food directives are more on point.


>> Changing people's mindset regarding appropriate nutritional intake can be as difficult as trying to get someone to change religion.

True, and that inevitably means some ... robust replies. I'm OK with that, as long as I get SOME sort of reply, instead of just "f- off, we don't need your sort around here".

@Jerry : I do appreciate you keeping this in the thread rather than just taking the conversation private, so kudos to you for that.

>> I appreciate a low carb diet doesn't suit everyone as I've friends, who healthily run off an inverse proportion to my intake, or that other people feel healthier eating paleo or vegan

Actually my main point throughout has not been to promote LCHF as the One True Way (although all the research suggests it works for nearly everyone) but to point out that the NHS diet (ie., calorie counting) is the one method that DOES NOT WORK. There is abundant evidence against it and I've been careful to back up my posts. Those people who enjoy paleo or vegan food - well, more power to them if it works and they can stick to it. The critical issue here is that any diet must be sustainable; if you can't keep it going, you're wasting your time.

I think my biggest objection to the NHS plan is the implicit idea that fat people are BAD PEOPLE and should be PUNISHED. The punishment is severe: a miserable diet with too-small portions and nothing that tastes nice, plus a whole bunch of number-crunching ritual, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. I think the official figure for the people sticking to this long-term is 3%.

>> Some choices are personally healthy but environmentally selfish, other choices are socially & environmentally ethical.

If you're interested in seasonal eating, there are certain times of the year when people are more likely to eat a lot of carbs (because that's what's available) and others when it's more expedient to eat meat, fat and green vegetables. Exactly what's available depends on where you are. The experts would describe this as "yo-yo dieting", but I can see no logical reason why seasonal weight gain and loss should be harmful. It happens to every other animal in nature.

>> I see someone who is frustrated and feels let down by the NHS and having a pop on a site with links to the NHS you must expect it to be taken as challenging.

"Frustrated" doesn't even begin to cover it. I'm absolutely appalled that anybody should think it's right to draw a paycheck for spreading misinformation that kills people. I actually emailed the NHS for a copy of their evidence, and they sent me back a think-tank document which references some cherry-picked papers (as described in my post above, the proper thing would be to seek conflicting evidence and attempt to pick holes in it). Incredibly, some of the report actually contradicts their online advice. How is it possible that one-third of tax revenue goes to an organisation that can't even afford to hire proper scientists?



If you want to discuss LCHF Diets, you can always join the LCHF Diabetes group on HU. Go and click on the search box and enter the group name. You can click on the follow button for the group after the group’s page opens. I hope you find this to be very helpful for you.

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I did join that group, but it seems a bit empty. Anyway, as per my post above, I was really interested in discussing the NHS diet in the context of research that throws a lot of doubt on its validity, not LCHF per se. LCHF simply represents the evidence that falsifies the calories-in, calories-out hypothesis.

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We ( HU and the groups in general) do not allow research/surveys without permission first from the Administrators in charge of the group(s) the person wants to do the research/survey in. This is a policy of the entire HU site.

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Fair enough, but I'm not asking anyone to participate in research.

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You used the word “research” in the comment. Please explain what you mean by research.


Please read the rest of the sentence. Don't just scan for keywords.


I read the comment with you saying research dealing with the NHS Weight Loss group (or the actual NHS).


Research in the public domain relating to the energy-balance theory (ie., the theory on which the NHS diet is based). Not my research. I'm not fishing for participants in a new study.

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What’s your research exactly? Not the NHS diet.


Then, why did you want to do the research?


Sorry, I'm just really confused here. I'm trying to keep this polite, but I get the impression you're winding me up. I've explained myself to the best of my ability. Let's just drop the matter and get back to the topic of the thread, ie., the Problems With Nutrition Science.

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No one is trying to wind you up. I just don’t know why you wanted to do the research. Sorry if I got you a little confused. Didn’t want to do that.

It’s 11:48 pm here, so I will get some sleep.

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Hi TheAwfulToad, if I may double-check your point that philipinos follow a largely low-fat diet, I just looked at psa.gov.ph/sites/default/fi... which is the philipines statistics authority report up to 2016.

Picking one line from the table on page 7 it states the average per capita per annum consumption of pork is 169 grams of calories in 2011 rising to over 176 in 2015. Besides that, on average the same philipino will consume another possibly 300 grams of calories via other meat and fish each and every day. Thus totalling possibly up to nearly 500 grams daily.

Is that what you call low fat?

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Interesting document. I do enjoy reading these. They're generally good for a laugh.

I'm not sure what "grams of calories" is supposed to mean; the Philippine government isn't known for either its collective intellect or truthfulness. I'll assume it just means 'grams'.

The 176g value for pork is sort-of plausible (Filipinos do like their pork). Pork is the cheapest meat on the market at ~P230/kg, so that means spending P1200/month/person on pork. However the average (official) family income is P23000; if we consider an urban family, P10000-15000 will be rent or mortgage payments, P2000 bills, and P2000 other fixed costs, leaving maybe P7000 a month for food. With at least two children, the implication would be P4000+/month for pork. That leaves P3000 for a sack of rice; 60 eggs (P7 each); some tomatoes, beans, pumpkin and eggplant; a couple of kilos of sugar; plus an assortment of condiments, sauces, and processed crap in tins.

IMO P23000 is an overestimate; it's the salary for a degree-qualified urban professional in his mid-20s. A checkout girl or a waiter earns P350 a day if they're lucky (so P18000/month for a two-earner family). Most rural families (80% of the population) earn 250-300 a day from a single unskilled earner: they will usually have no rent or other major costs, but work is intermittent and they have bigger families (including a bunch of unemployed adult layabouts). My guess is P5000-6000 for food, shared between perhaps 6 people. That would be mostly rice, with a bit of pork, and the occasional chicken or dog from the garden (I'm not kidding about the dog).

Here's the offical numbers:

"In 2015, about 41.9 percent of the total annual family expenditures was spent on food. For families in the bottom 30 percent income group, the percentage was much higher at 59.7percent, while for families in the upper 70 percent income group, it was 38.8 percent (Table 5). "

That would be P9600 and P4000 for the urban family and the rural family, respectively.

So: 500g meat daily? P4000-5000 per person-month? No. Not going to happen, at least not for anyone except the well-heeled. Where did you get that number from? Even Americans eat "only" about 250g a day.

Anyway, the document does explicitly state roughly 27g of fat per day, of which 15g from animal products. If you calculate out the fat content of 176g of pork for the typical cuts that people eat, you get the same number. So, from casual observation, I'd say that's about right, although missing from the total (IMO) is 10-15g of palm oil per person per day. According to google:

"A typical 2,000-calorie diet that is low in fat contains between 44 and 66 grams of fat."

The AHA says you should eat <13g of saturated fats per day. I'm hoping that the AHA understands that there is no such thing as a 'saturated fat', and that pork fat is about 40% saturated fatty acids by mass; tropical oils (and chicken fat) somewhat less. So if we say 11g of pork + 4g eggs + 10g palm oil + 3.5g coconut, that's roughly 10g SFAs per day.

So yes, I'd say they do meet the definition of low-fat. According to the experts, they should be in rude health. Virtually immortal, because that's what lots of carbs and no fats does for you. Sadly, they're all desperately ill, so something's clearly amiss with that theory.


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