Doctor's Note

This is my favorite video of the year so far. It gets at a fundamental issue that I raised previously in another of my favorites, The Tomato Effect. If the data is so strong and consistent that a plant-based diet can not only prevent and treat but cure our number one killer (not to mention play a role in helping with 14 of our other top 15 leading causes of death), why isn't it not only the treatment of choice but also incorporated into the official federal dietary guidelines (as is the case to a small but wildly successful degree in countries like Finland)? I have a 14 video series from 2011 starting with Nation’s Diet in Crisis and ending with Dietary Guidelines: Pushback From the Sugar, Salt, and Meat Industries that discusses the politics of the latest set of guidelines released that year, but the McGovern Report story really encapsulates why decades of science have yet to translate into public policy and is as relevant today as it was 35 years ago.

Be sure to check out my associated blog posts for additional context:  Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?Industry Influence on Dietary Guidelines, and Top 10 Most Popular Videos from 2013

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Brian Humphrey

    Thanks Dr. Greger! Love the video!

  • Devin Bousquet

    One of the reasons I started changing my diet 4 years ago was because of the knowledge I gained about the food industry/politics from reading Michael Pollan’s books. Not that I agree with his “grass fed beef is ok” mentality anymore but the history lesson was enraging. I felt so suckered by corporations. However, I realized we all have a choice of what’s on our forks. Of course Dr. Greger and Forks over Knives are the main reasons I’m vegan today. This is one of your best videos yet. Thank you.

  • Veggivet

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788-1860.

    • Plantstrongdoc

      The truth is out!
      (and has been for 35 years)

      Where the f… is the info to the general public….
      Michael, you are the best.

    • yr4me2shine

      How long is it supposed to take to get to stage three??

  • Frank Walker

    This video explains why our government fails to advocate proper nutrition for the country: special interests control our government.
    Dr. Greger, you have hit a home run!

    • Lisa Coleman

      Right! A friend of mine living in Japan complained that she can’t find flax seeds anywhere. I looked into it and found out that the Japanese government had banned the importation of flax seeds because they tested them and found them to be genetically modified (She can still get chia seeds). Japan and most European governments exercise the Precautionary Principle to gaurd the health of their people. Here in the US, our government uses the “prevarication principle” to gaurd the health of corporate profits. I’m wondering if it may not be time to move.

      • Karina

        I have been to Korea and Japan. Their food is healthy but not all of it is guarding the health of their people lol. Everything has MSG and many snacks have aspartame.

    • James Allister

      Unfortunatelly, the score is still Industry: 1000, Public: 0

  • tgraettinger

    I haven’t been able to locate an online, full-text version of the 1st edition report from 1977. Can anyone point me to it? Thanks!

  • Steve Billig

    Beautifully done!

  • Pete greider

    Thanks for an excellent history lesson.

  • Billy B

    This is a great example of how our governments are failing us. We work, we pay taxes, and (generally) we are getting sicker. We work, we pay taxes, and they lie to us (fails to tell the truth). We work, we pay taxes, and the government fails to protect us.

  • Charles Peden

    If McGovern had emphasized eating more meals composed of only fresh fruits and vegetables instead of demonizing other foods, he might have bypassed the whole debate. The other industries would have been forced to argue that we eat less fruits and vegetables.

  • WholeFoodChomper

    Fascinating and disturbing at the same time.Thank you for exposing the truth behind the politics.

  • A Lee

    Thank you for the excellent information!

  • Daniel

    for this article Dr. Greger. Its a good reminder of the USA’s
    degradation of governance. At some point, hopefully soon, according to Strauss
    and Howe of “The Fourth Turning”, this corrupt institution, which relies on
    financial support from major moneyed interests, will fail, and be replaced by a
    system that has an effective firewall against moneyed influence. I do wonder
    though, how that will come about…as it will likely be over the dead bodies of
    so many institutions and lobbyists who currently control our

  • cambria

    That was then, thank you. Who has risen to the challenge? To whom do we turn to lend our support in congress? Who to fight?

    We are the converted. Doesn’t this topic deserve a blog of its own?

    Become preachers: Some of us believe meat is murder, the science says it is suicide. Whatever your style, in-your-face or softly-softly, push the topic. force the issue. you may loose a “friend” or two..but together we must grass-roots this thing across the planet to grease political change…we can live with.

  • Merio

    Great video, once again the health of a nation was decided by industries that make their money without caring about the consequences of their actions.

    Goverments first aim is to think about the health of their people, not the health of some “biased” industries…

    Thanks Dr Greger!!

  • Thea

    I find this information fascinating. I also find it helpful in backing up something that I have been trying to explain to people – that the really big picture of what we know about healthy eating has not changed for decades. Some of the nuances have changed and will continue to change. But the over-all diet that equals healthy has been known for a long time.

    Compare that will all the confusing nutritional controversy you hear on the news all the time. American media anyway continues to do humans a huge disservice. I often wonder, if the American media did their job, would the government be able to get away with their misdeeds?

    Thanks again Dr. Greger for an awesome video. I’m looking forward to the new volume.

  • ARC

    This is one of your very best; reaches deep into the power relationships that determine whether we live longer and healthier or die sick and not yet old. Those interested should see Colin Campbell’s recollection of this moment in our government’s collusion with the livestock industry’s manipulation of truth, its abrogation of its regulatory function that is intended to keep us safe. See also David Servan Schreiber’s memoir for McGovern’s assessment of the disastrous effect that his Report and his refusal to repudiate it had on his political career. The agri industry is playing for very high stakes; we discount that fact at our peril.

  • Linda Berson

    Bravo Dr. Greger! Thank you for educating the public on how we have been bamboozled and sold out by our federal government and the food industry. It is a true Samson and Goliath fight but our grass roots movement has taken hold and we will Never Ever give up on sharing the truth about how the villainous foods; animal protein, dairy and oil guarantee a life filled with disease and ailments. Cheers to the healing powers of falling in love with delicious foods that love us back!!

  • Melanie

    The food politics is very similar in Canada, with a lobbyist registry. I don’t know that the registry has helped the animal rights movement, but it is at least a glimmer into the lobbying activity of various meat, milk, and egg industries in Canada. We as consumers, can play a much bigger role in publishing data from food inspectors, lobbying politicians, and so on. It may not tip the balance, but we may save a lot of lives by working together on specific ag issues.

  • dave

    While fruits and vegetable help promote health, why is Gerson therapy not working base on the study by NCI?

  • Frédéric Côté-Boudreau

    Great video. Just one thing I don’t understand: why does it say it’s the first U.S. dietary guidelines?

    The Wikipedia page shows there has been a few before 1977:

    • Mark Shields

      this was the first to be put out by the gov’t for the American people that suggested they change the way they traditionally ate that lead them to be way healthier than we are today.

  • Lore

    The tobacco industry was sued for knowingly selling a product that caused cancer…basically misleading their customers. Can a similar lawsuit be brought against the FDA?

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    A fantastic piece!!! I think this should be broadcast on the nightly news– Every week!

  • MindbodyMD

    Thank you Dr. Greger, for this excellent video! Great to understand the history and politics behind nutrition guidelines.

    I wonder what our heath costs would have looked like if we had been able to take a strong public health initiative to truly improve our diet, instead of the compromised watered down version we have to contend with. It would have been such a great investment!

    Getting the correct unbiased, evidence-based information out there is the next best thing, because more and more people are demanding healthier nutrition as they discover the benefits.

    Thanks for your contribution to this information….it is invaluable!

    • Mark Shields

      evidence-based and this website do not go together

      • Hollywood Resident

        Yap all you want, Mr. Corporate shill,,, you’re either that or a dumb sonovabitch that is so insecure you’d rather be ‘right’ than healthy. You ain’t right, nor do you have the brains to read a study… I still vote for ‘being paid by the evil tower of big business where you concoct lies to spew out.

  • Mark Shields

    You do realize this report was spear headed by a vegan, and the report is why so many American fear real animal fats from eggs and beef, which is absurd.

    • WholeFoodChomper

      This little video is interesting enough, I suppose. Still, it has done nothing to sway my opinions. Yup, public policy involves a lot of politicking. Nothing shocking or revelatory there.

  • Mark Shields

    Eggs and beef have never been the problem folks, and never will… don’t blame old foods for new disease… sugar, white flour, vegetable oils and many other processed foods yes, real foods like eggs/beef, c’mon get real

    • Tony Wonder-Austero

      Are you kidding? Have a look at the the swathes of research detailed on this site that say exactly that: yes, beef and eggs are a problem!

    • WholeFoodChomper

      In his “Trends in food availability” study, Dr. Barnard has pointed out:

      “Over the following century, annual per capita meat consumption soared from 123.9 pounds in 1909 to over 200 pounds in 2004. In the same interval, annual cheese intake rose from less than 4 pounds per person to well over 30 pounds. That extra 75 pounds or so of meat and 30 pounds of cheese—per person per year—have contributed a load of fat, cholesterol, and calories that are joined by more calories from sugar, the intake of which has surged as well .”

      Sure, sugar, processed grains, and oils are not healthy, but plenty of empirical research (in fact, the balance of the scientific research) bears out that beef and eggs are not health food and that plant-based diets are the way to eat for long-term health.

      Keep watching and reading this site to learn more about what current empirical peer-reviewed science has to say on the topic of nutrition and health.

    • Toxins

      I have posted this before and Ill post it again so we can view what the science says about eggs.

      Eggs are considered good sources of lutein and omega 3 as well as an excellent source of protein. For these reasons, they are considered health foods. Looking at these claims in detail, chickens have lutein due to the fact that they have a varietized feed, these nutrients are not inherent of eggs. Based on the nutrient data found on the USDA database, 10 grams of spinach has approximately 12 times more lutein then 10 grams of an egg. We cannot really consider eggs an appropriate source of this nutrient.

      Regarding Omega 3, current levels of omega 3 in eggs are highly inadequate and one must consume around 30 eggs to reach an acceptable level of omega 3 for the day. A male needs around 1.6 grams of omega 3 per day, a female needs around 1.1 grams a day. A large egg contains about .037 grams of omega 3. Omega 3 in the ALA form processes to EPA which is
      also processed to DHA. These fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 processes down to arachadonic acid which is highly inflammatory. According to the National Cancer Institute, eggs are the number 2 top contributor of arachidonic acid in the American Diet.

      Based on this as well as the low omega 3 content of eggs, the benefits received from omega 3 are masked by the high quantity of preformed Arachidonic Acid. High intake of arachadonic acid is linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, as well as a clear link with cancer development.

      Eggs have been associated with heart failure as noted here. “After 13.3 years of follow-up in this cohort of approximately 14,000 white and African-American men and women, greater intake of eggs and of high-fat dairy foods were both associated with greater risk of incident HF, whereas greater intake of whole-grain foods was associated with lower risk of incident HF. These associations were independent of demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, prevalent CVD, diabetes,
      hypertension, and other food groups.”

      As well as an association type 2 diabetes with egg consumption of 1 egg a day. “Overall, the observed increased risk of type 2 diabetes with daily consumption of eggs in the current study raises the possibility of undesirable health effects with high rates of egg consumption and may help explain previously reported increased risk of CHD that was restricted to individuals with type 2 diabetes in the Health Professional Follow-up Study”

      In the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, David Spence (director of the stroke prevention/atherosclerosis research center and one of the worlds leading stroke experts), David Jenkins (the inventor of the glycemic index) and Jean Davignon (director of atherosclerosis research group) posted a review on eggs claiming that the egg industry has been downplaying the health risks of eggs through misleading advertisements. As soon as you eat one egg, you expose your body to several hours worth of oxidative stress, inflammation of ones arteries, endothelieum
      impairment (what keeps you blood running smoothly) and increases the susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidize (beginning stages of heart disease). The authors go into great detail regarding dietary cholesterol and it is a very fascinating read indeed. The author’s final words “In our opinion, stopping egg consumption after a myocardial infarction or stroke would be like quitting smoking after lung cancer is diagnosed: a necessary act, but late.”

      The egg industry has claimed that cholesterol from eggs is not important and does not raise cholesterol levels. The fundamental flaw in the study the egg industry has used to make this claim is that they measured fasting lipid levels at night and not levels through out the day after egg consumption. “Diet is not all about fasting lipids; it is mainly about the three-quarters of the day that we are in the nonfasting state. Fasting lipids can be thought of as a baseline; they show what the
      endothelium was exposed to for the last few hours of the night.”

      A single egg yolk contains approximately 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol. A safe upper limit can be capped at 200 mg if one is looking to prevent heart disease as recommended by the CDC as one of their nutritional recommendations as seen on page 92. One egg far exceeds this daily upper limit.

      The balance of science is clearly against even moderate egg consumption as this food is a packaged deal. We do not get the nutrients found in eggs without getting the cholesterol and saturated fat. This similarity can be seen with chicken in terms of cholesterol and arachidonic acid

      as well as even the leanest beef containing an undesirable quantity of saturated fat as well as cholesterol

      “Tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are important, in part because they are used for estimating the percentage of the population at potential risk of adverse effects from excessive nutrient intake. The IOM did not set ULs for trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol because any intake level above 0% of energy increased LDL cholesterol concentration and these three food components are
      unavoidable in ordinary diets.”

      In terms of saturated fat, the link below displays the top food sources of cholesterol raising fat.

    • Kayley Scully

      I fully agree. We can’t blame ancient foods for modern day problems. Even since sugar and white flower have came into our diets, that’s when these problems started to occur.

  • gager

    This video leaves me with a big, “so what”.
    Attack the food suppliers and you get a defense. The diet your grandparents ate is best, not the vegan propaganda.

    • WholeFoodChomper

      Sure, our grandparents probably did eat better than we did, but much has changed since those times (including how our food is produced and eaten).

      “Propaganda”? Nope, just the facts, the peer-reviewed, empirical and reproducible scientific facts. Facts are facts, and they speak for themselves.

      The balance of evidence on the benefits of a plant-based diet are abundantly clear. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of it, as this site does a fantastic job of it as do the many educated and eloquent contributors to the commentary section (e.g. @DrDons, @Toxins, and @Thea).

      Really, please just open your mind and keep watching and reading this site.

      • Toxins

        I know how you enjoy good debates, if you could perhaps weigh in with me on this army of paleo dieters.

        • WholeFoodChomper

          Oh, dear! WOW! Seems futile doesn’t it? You have done such a fabulous job (far better than I could ever). However, let me sit and ponder it, I may actually throw myself into the fray.

          • Toxins

            Thanks for the compliment, and yes, futile indeed. All I can hope is that I made them stop and briefly rethink what they advocate. Its shocking really how many paleo dieters came to comment.

          • WholeFoodChomper

            You are most welcome. Yes, they are commenting more often than they used to, and probably will continue to do so in ever greater numbers. So, I have decided to pick my battles b/c frankly, at this point, I find these “debates” exhausting. It’s like arguing with folks who don’t think global warming is an issue or who think that the earth really was created in 7 days.

            But, that is part of the problem isn’t it? Thinking, that is. I love the internet and the availability of information on it. Sadly, I fear that most people accessing it do not know how to think critically, let alone discuss issues in an intelligent way. Hence, the intense exchanges, the internet trolls, all the conspiracy theories on all sorts of topics. To me it screams the need for better access to quality education and specifically to learning how “to know”, understand, and critique all sorts of information. A daunting task, indeed. However, I have faith that it is not an impossible task (OK, to be honest, sometimes I lose faith in this thought).

            It saddens and angers me that certain “experts” –some of them with prestigious titles and credentials — know this is the dynamic at play and choose to prey on these folks because it makes them richer. Meanwhile, public health suffers. (One of the reasons I admire Dr. G so, is that he does not make a profit off the work he does on behalf of public health.)

            Oy, I guess I went off on a bit a tangent. Really though, you handled yourself beautifully. You deserve a golden carrot.

          • Toxins

            Indeed, the standard for evidence is so low for these people and they have no interest in investigating what they are saying. One of the prominent posters literally told me that there were so many nutrients in grass fed butter that there was no room to list hem all. I promptly checked the nutritiondata database and found quite the opposite, it was empty calories, as all free fats are. Some vitamin A to maintain freshness but that’s about it.


            I am sure that this person read that grass fed butter was rich in nutrients and had no interest in finding out for themselves if this was really true. This mindset is exhibited by all of them and I am sure a prominent figure has given them this information. I agree with you, it is quite disturbing when someone like that purposefully misconstrues the data or shows misleading studies to promote their claims.

          • WholeFoodChomper

            Seems like these folks are simply cuckoo for coconut oil. So be it.

            I have reached the point if people want to guzzle gallons of coconut oil for so-called health benefits, let them. I will continue to eat in a way that makes sense nutritionally, environmentally, ethically, and, yes, scientifically, as best and as often as I can.

            Your efforts have been noble and tireless. (I read the butter exchange). Really, how do you find the energy and motivation to continue?

          • Toxins

            My motivation comes from the fact that people may read the posts and come to a health decision based on these posts. I want to make sure that everything is covered, so I continue the debate to the point where they have exhausted their supply of usually flawed or misconstrued arguments and data. At the point that they begin going in circles with me I usually stop the debate, and leave it to the hopefully neutral readers to decide who’s argument is more solid and what advice they should take from it.

            These debates also get me to look up information which furthers my own knowledge.

          • WholeFoodChomper

            Well, you have worked your magic on me. I probably am not a neutral reader anymore, but I was at one point. And, your arguments and style have won me over.

            Keep on keeping on!

    • BPCveg

      As you point out correctly, there is indeed a lot of vegan propaganda on the web. That being said, a credible argument can be made for shifting in the direction of eating more plant products over animal products.

      The argument goes that plant products have much higher density of essential nutrients and antioxidants than animal products. Plant products also have a far lower concentration of toxins than animal products. Common concerns on nutrient sufficiency of vegetarian diets are authoritatively answered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dieticians, who argue that properly planned vegan and vegetarian diets are healthful at all stages of the life cycle. Follow the link below for details:

      Keeping this argument in mind, Dr. Greger does provide some useful supplementary material for those interested in vegetarianism.

      Best of luck with your dietary experimentation!

  • Calvin Leman

    USDA and FDA advice is unreliable, according to William Harris

  • patti

    thanks so much this is changing my life and my families. I don’t know if its possible but would love to share and swap healthy recipes with your audience.

    • Thea

      patti: I agree, this information *is* life changing. You are not alone.

      Concerning healthy recipes: Some of us do share recipes from time to time on this site, especially in context of a video/topic. However, there isn’t (yet?) a specific place on this site for doing so in any sort of significant way.

      I know that there are several good, free blogs where people post healthy vegan recipe ideas. But they aren’t so much about swapping recipes as sharing ideas from a particular person. If you are most interested in getting some good ideas for healthy eating, I’ll share my favorites with you:

      1) The (free) on-line 21 Day Kickstart program – where you can get 21 day’s worth of meal plans, including recipes from a very well researched group that gets results.

      2) My favorite cookbooks:
      Let Them Eat Vegan
      Everyday Happy Herbivore

      Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
      Vegan On The Cheap

      Just straight microwave or saute with water instead of oil when called for in the recipe and you are golder.

      Best of luck to you.

  • BeetsBeansButts

    Thanks Dr. Greger.

    I was curious if you have done any videos on farm subsidies.

    There is a lot of articles on the internet that suggest that a lot of taxpayer money goes to producing feed for farm animals. But I don’t know anything about politics. I am curious if there is any truth to this?

  • William Dwyer

    The government should have no more role advising people on what to eat than advising them on what religion to practice. When you give that kind of power to the government, don’t be surprised when special interests determine the result, whether it’s what kind of food we must buy or what kind of health insurance we must purchase. The solution: get the state out of the health care business entirely. We need a separation of health and state for the same reason as a separation of church and state.

  • Gayle Delaney

    What a fantastic and informative video The comments below are also important to read. Thank you, Dr. Greger and Toxins and almost all for your contributions!

  • Hollywood Resident

    Elected representatives of the people, hahaha,,,, and big business donations, equal ‘let the people eat poison, it pays better’.

  • Patricia Robinett

    Great one!