Big Sugar Takes on the World Health Organization

Image Credit: Sally Plank

Big Sugar Flexes its Muscles

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends we reduce our consumption of salt, trans fats, saturated fats, and added sugars. Why? Because consumption of such foods is the cause of at least 14 million deaths every year from chronic diseases.

“Several decades ago, it was heresy to talk about an impending global pandemic of obesity.” Today, we’re seeing chronic disease rates skyrocket around the world. The Western diet has been exported to the far reaches of the planet, with white flour, sugar, fat, and animal-based foods replacing beans, peas, lentils, other vegetables, and whole grains.

In order to understand the reasons underlying this trend toward greater consumption of animal products, sugar, and oils, and reduced consumption of whole plant foods, we need to begin by understanding the purposeful economic manipulations that have occurred since World War II relating to agricultural policies around the world. For example, since early in the last century, the U.S. government “has supported food production through subsidies and other policies, resulting in large surpluses of food commodities, meat, and calories. In this artificial market, large food producers and corporations–Big Agriculture and Big Food–became very profitable.” Their profitability may be part of the problem.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, gave the opening address at the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion. One of the biggest challenges facing health promotion worldwide, she said, is that the efforts to prevent our top killers “go against the business interests of powerful economic operators.” It is not just Big Tobacco anymore. “Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol. All of these industries fear regulation and protect themselves by using the same tactics…front groups, lobbies, promises of self-regulation, lawsuits, and industry-funded research that confuses the evidence and keeps the public in doubt.”

And the World Health Organization should know. In 2003, the organization released a draft report that outlined a global strategy to address issues of diet. Although many of the WHO’s recommendations were rather tame, a remarkable series of events was spurred by six words in the report: “limit the intake of ‘free’ sugars” (added sugar). Within days, the sugar industry, through the Sugar Association, enlisted the support of officials high in the U.S. government and led a vigorous attack on both the report and the World Health Organization itself, culminating in a threat to get Congress to withdraw U.S. funding to the WHO. The WHO, the organization that “deals with AIDS, malnutrition, infectious disease, bioterrorism, and more, threatened because of its stance on sugar.” At the same time, the U.S. went to bat for American tobacco companies and led the charge against the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

As discussed in my video, Big Sugar Takes on the World Health Organization, the threat from the sugar industry was described by WHO insiders as worse than any pressure they ever got from the tobacco lobby. As revealed in an internal memo, the U.S. government apparently had a list of demands. These included deletion of all references to the science that WHO experts had compiled on the matter and the removal of all references to fat, oils, sugar, and salt.

The threats failed to make the WHO withdraw their report. Entitled “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Disease,” it “concluded that a diet low in saturated fat, sugar, and salt and high in fruit and vegetables was required to tackle the epidemic rise in chronic diseases worldwide.” They did end up watering it down, though. Gone was reference to the comprehensive scientific report, and gone was its call for its recommendations to be actually translated into national guidelines.

History has since repeated. At the last high-level United Nations meeting to address chronic diseases, representatives from some Western countries, including the United States, helped block a consensus on action after lobbying from the alcohol, food, tobacco, and drug industries. When asked why Michelle Obama’s successful childhood obesity programs in the U.S. should not be modeled around the world, a U.S. official responded that they might harm American exports.

If sugar is bad, then what about all the sugar in fruit? See If Fructose Is Bad, What About Fruit? and How Much Fruit Is Too Much?.

For more on the corrupting political and economic influences on nutrition, see videos such as:

And because of that, check out a couple of my introductory videos: Why You Should Care about Nutrition and Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Health

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

73 responses to “Big Sugar Flexes its Muscles

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  1. Dear Doctor Greger,

    Surely this observation and ultimate “message”, should be aimed at the
    Commercial Companies who “manufacture” Food Products for the masses that shop in Store’s, as their main objective in securing profits from their consumers, as they are certainly not producing Food Products for their consumers health and well being! Food Manufacturers should be forced to Publish in big letters on their Products, the % of the above “4 Apocalyptic” ingredients, that their potential consumers will be purchasing !

    Also, when people cook their meals from “scratch” in their Homes, do they think, “I think that I must add loads of salt, trans fats, saturated fats, and added sugars, to this delicious meal”; I would be amazed if they did!, as I would credit them with
    common sense, when creating an appetising meal.

    Kindest Regards……………………………………………….Adrian.

    1. Hej Adrian – you can be amazed, believe me… ;-)
      85 % of all people will follow any recipe in a cook book with out spending on single thought on how much fat, sugar or salt they use and is this amount healthy or not.
      The only thought is – will it be delicious or not?
      This happen if the people preparing a dish for the family on weekend or for friends.
      During the week it has to be quick – froozen pizza? Yeap! A completly meal from the Chinese – perfect. Hej kids – french fries are ready and don’t forgett to eat your sausages, not to much Ketchup please.
      My wife often goes together with colleagues for lunch and always wondering (despite 80 % of there colleagues are obesed) what they eat for lunch. Mostly bun with meat called “Leberkäsesemmel” in Germany or pizza or a healthy salad with a dressing made from oil, oil, oil and oil… ok, only a little bit cheese on top for the taste. ;-)

  2. Thank you as always- Dr. Lex Gordon Nuss, N.D., G.B., who has twice on credit had to go to Bumrungrad in Bangkok after a biking accident, that broke my knee cap and ended me up in jail for suspected drunkeness and meth (having rock salt as a fung shui cure in my wallet.) Good thing I have credit cards , while making America great again .I’ve done Buddhist Thailand twice for affordable health care. I will be 65 in a few weeks, pulling i n a whole $713 bucks a month on social security. No death camps yet! Shalom!

  3. In the 80s, Big Sugar fabricated the faked news about cholesterol and saturated fat and made people eat sugar and transfat (vegetable oil) instead. The result is an epidemic of diseases from it. Until today, the cholesterol and saturated fat false theories still stick but it is slowly disappearing and debunked. Visit any health food stores and you can see that people are buying fatty foods in drove, especially young people. But it will take a generation to prove that healthy fats are harmless if not beneficial if not over consumed, and sugar is the real culprit.

    1. To Jerry Lewis – Bob Harper, well known fitness and nutrition “expert” was/is well known for his role on the tv show The Biggest Loser as the trainer who told people how to reverse their obesity via exercise and diet. I watched him appear on numerous tv shows, very often the Rachel Ray show, telling people what to eat. Bob, a follower of the “paleo” genre also felt good fats were good: among them the fat in lean meats, eggs, butter. I’d watch him show the audience what he eats on a daily basis. Three whole eggs with vegg in the morning with 3 extra egg whites if he were particularly hungry that day. A rollup of some type of poultry with vegg in a tortilla wrap as a regular lunch option. A giant salad for dinner with a meat, fish, or poultry portion.Glass of vino. Bob was a proponent of high protein, very low/almost no carbs, what-he-called-good fats including animal fats. He was self-described as a very clean eater and he worked out for hours each day – after all that is his business.
      This past February Bob was in a New York City gym where he dropped dead of a heart attack. The left anterior descending – the widow maker – was blocked and it killed him. Instantly. Luckily for Bob there was a doctor (Neurologist) in the gym who was instantly there with paddles who shocked his heart. And at first it was to no avail. Bob’s heart was not re-starting. They administered CPR and continued shocking while an ambulance was called. Eventually they did get a sinus rhythm. Bob spent some time in a coma and about 8 days in the hospital before being released. He was prohibited from flying home to CA because of his still sketchy health.
      A few days ago I saw Bob on Rachel Ray Show discussing his heart attack and his continuing cardiac rehabilitation. He has no memory of the day of his heart attack and a few days afterward after coming out of his coma. He is now somewhat afraid and worried to return to working out and is strictly following his doctors recommendations. I was glued to the tv set to hear what Bob eats now. Although Bob states that he is still “a work in progress” and is working toward instituting these changes, he is now eating a “no animal products” completely vegetarian diet. He is currently eating a small amount of fish as a bridge to changing his dietary lifestyle but explains that this is just a bridge to his goal of completely vegetarian. Gone are his morning eggs and all animal products. No added oils or fats. Breakfast: raisin bran cereal, oranges, plant-milk; Lunch: grain burger on a whole grain bun and huge salad; Dinner: 3/4 plate in vegetable with small piece of fish. Not eating any animal fats is the goal. To quote Bob “A vegetarian Mediterranean diet with no animal fats”. To quote Bob: “I was eating a high protein high fat animal based diet and that is the opposite of what I should have been doing”.
      Bob was 51 when he had his heart attack.

      Bob’s story reinforces, for me, everything I read in Caldwell Esselstyne, M.D.’s book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”. I think I’ll be taking Dr. Greger’s advice. After all, all the chimpanzees, bonobo’s, and gorillas, who are our next of biological kin, can’t be wrong :-).

      1. For every meat and fat eater who “dropped dead”. I can show you millions who do not, such as Okinawans, Japanese and Koreans in general, Mediterraneans people, Icelandic people, Israeli people, etc. And I can show you a few vegans who dropped almost dead from a heart attack and left paralyzed. They are actually 2 of my relatives, very healthy, skinny like a stick, with very good cholesterol, vegans most of their lives.

        1. Okinawans, Japanese, and people who eat a real Mediterranean type diet typically do not eat a lot of meat and saturated fat, some, but not nearly as much as paleo people do. Their diet is far more plant based than that.
          For example, the old Okinawan diet contained about 1 ounce or less of meat or fish a day.

          1. Marilyn, you are correct. When we refer to the “Okinawan Diet” it is referring to the traditional Okinawan diet that consumed very little meat. Traditionally the Okinawans slaughtered a pig on New years. And that pig was preserved and consumed over time – they did not slaughter another pig until the next New year. 67% of the traditional Okinawan Diet is composed, interestingly, of sweet potato with other grains (like rice) and vegg as its basis. And, as you said, a skosh of meat or fish for flavoring as an accouterment for their meals, not the main event.
            Today, the Japanese (including the Okinawans, Koreans, and Asians as well as Mediterranean populations) have adopted the Western diet and their rates of heart disease, diabetes, and chronic disease are on the increase. Their disease states are following in the path of the SAD diet that is now being imported to these countries.

            Jerry Lewis is representative only of his namesake – a clown. He has no relevance.

            1. Have you been to Japan, especially in Okinawa? Do you know that the Okinawans and Japanese and Koreans and Icelandic and Greek eat fatty meat and saturated fat everyday, not in American size, but substantially.

              1. Jerry,
                I have been to Greece many times, as my husband is Greek and we travel there to see family. The traditional day-to-day diet, especially in the villages is predominantly vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts. They have beautiful village salads with cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, lemon and oregano. Their desserts are mostly based on nuts and honey. Historically, animal products were used sparingly and for celebrations.
                Over the past 10 years, though, we have seen a trend, especially in the cities, of more and more animal product consumption. The resulting health effects are not pretty and are quite visible in their waistlines and activity levels.

          2. So what you are saying is if we eat a little bit of meat and saturated fat like the Okinawans and Mediterraneans do then we can live as long as them?

              1. Asians in general eat a variety of foods including meat, seafood, saturated fat, vegetables. fruits, herbs, grains, etc. And they all have long and healthy life. It is a myth that it is just the old Okinawans but Korea and Japan and Iceland, France, Israel, etc. all live to 90 and above. Excluding at the youth who eat a SAD diet, but it is a myth that Asians and other populations who live long only eat plant foods.

                1. Wikipedia Blue Zones info: “…the majority of food consumed is derived from plants” and “The Okinawan diet consist of low-fat, low-salt foods, such as whole fruits and vegetables, legumes, tofu, and seaweed. Okinawans are known for their longevity. This particular island is a so-called Blue Zone, an area where the people live longer than most others elsewhere in the world.”


        2. I lived in Korea for many years. The older generations did not each much meat and their lifestyles included much physical labor/exercise. Now days, most Korea have an extremely poor diet – high in meat, sugary snacks and all manner of diary products and their body fast is skyrocketing. A sedentary lifestyle is also increasingly the norm. Korea will soon (if not already) be no one’s example for long and healthy living. Sad to say.

    2. Thanks for your comment Jerry.

      A diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, added sugar + low in fibre and whole food plants is what makes our eating habits so unhealthy. As you can see, it is not just one factor, but a number of factors. To this you can add sedentary lifestyle (low physical activity), smoking, alcohol consumption, stress etc and you get the full picture of the reasons behind the chronic disease prevalence we have. One wrong does not make the other right, it’s multifactorial – i.e. increased sugar intake is equality unhealthy to increased saturated fat or cholesterol intake.

      Hope this answer help.

  4. Efforts to improve our health at the policy and government level seem almost hopeless. And one needs no more of an example than the previous administration’s efforts. Despite the dramatic last sentence of this article, the very fact is politicians will continue to dress up their efforts at doing the right thing at the expense of our health. In what way were Michele Obama’s childhood obesity programs “successful?” Haven’t overall rates of childhood obesity continued to climb (unless we wish to cherry pick statistics)? How does emphasizing a reduction of “calories” on packaged food encourage people to eat less packaged foods (on the contrary, it may encourage them to eat more under the illusion that somehow they are “healthier”)? Isn’t congratulating fast food companies for offering some low fat milk and apples downright comical? And doesn’t “Let’s move!” dramatically shift the conversation that really needs to happen? Watering down messages is often the worst way to address an issue, nor does it successfully encourage people to do what you want them to do, as you have pointed out in several videos as I recall (sorta like telling people to eat 5 vegetables because we know they won’t eat 10 anyway; we know those efforts didn’t quite work out). Ultimately, consumers need to vote with their wallets. No easy feat, I know … hard to make big sugar and big food smaller when too many continue to buy products that feed their bigness. But that at least is one small step we can take rather than waiting for policy makers who will always succumb to big interests.

    1. Daniela Liscio – Your post is one reason one of my favorite sayings is, “When the people take the lead, the leaders will follow”. Which is generally how movements begin to grow and move culturally. Much easier to do now with the internet and one reason why this site is so successful and growing.

      As an example, a friend of mine belongs to an organization that meets for a long weekend once per year. My friend is WFPB and requested WFPB meals for his food choice. He was one of two. Five years later now the number of WFPB meal requests has grown by 400%.

      The desire and resolve of “The People” to improve their health is there and growing. And the beauty of it is that this growth and change can happen no matter who is in charge in government. All any of us have to do is vote with our dollars and choose WFPB at the grocery store. It’s the most powerful tool ultimately.

      1. R.J., thank you for your comments and great insight. And kudos to your friend for the example in how to lead. Aren’t we told that big change happens when we bring small changes together?

  5. I am simply amazed by how much self deception is in corporate America/World, and at the expense of millions of lives.

    On a positive note, I have been able to move my adult children to a plant based diet based on information from this site, the book “How to Not Die”; and a documentary that Dr Geger appeared in a titled “What the Health” currently playing on Netflix. It was also very helpful to convince my family that eating healthy was a necessity.

    We need more articles like this, more documentaries that continue to use influential media capabilities to help others gain good health.

    1. WTG John re your family successes! I have had similar success here though it was / is tough going with a few of them. My neice who was a dedicated carnivore has lodt 50 lbs and is sending me lentil and bean recipes noe LOL. You gotta love it. I think maybe witnessing my trials and tribulations along my health journey has influenced them somewhat, along with the compelling info Dr Greger presents daily.

      On a political note, I remember an MD from centeal america (ex pat from usa) saying one day that he was amazed that we elect a government that seems to conspire to do us all in ! It isnt about party politics either.. decade over decade decisions were/are being made that are not in alignment with the best outcome for us, the animals, or the planet. It’s unacceptable.

      1. Susan, thanks for your comment.

        I think there is a grass roots change in healthy eating starting to gain momentum. There is with my children and their spouses anyway.

        Making the switch to a plant based diet was very difficult for me, and I still miss the days of barbecued ribs etc.. I realize though, that eating healthy makes sense and that eating unhealthy does not on any level. I want the consequences of healthy choices.

        1. Hi John – I, too, had a difficult time giving up all those luscious, yummy, meat-based meals like ribs. I thought I was going to die before I got through my ham sandwich craving!! :-) But here’s something that I’ve learned over the 10 years now that I’ve been WFPB (and my health improved over a myriad of parameters!): meat – any meat – that you eat in its pure, raw, unadorned form is . . . .well, . . . actually, . . . tasteless. I kid you not. I did this experiment before I went WFPB trying to understand cooking. I prepared beef, chx, fish, eggs both raw and cooked with NO accouterments. No salt, pepper, spice, marinade, etc. And guess what I learned? Meat, poultry, fish, all were in actuality tasteless and horribly awful. It was bland and, frankly, unappealing. That’s when I finally GOT that all of the wonderful tastes that we love on meat we can also put on plant foods. For my meat-eating guests in my home I purchase Sweet Earth Chipotle (not hot) Seitan (Google it) and serve it on a toasted bun (just like you would at a regular picnic) with my favorite in-a-bottle- BBQ sauce, a slice of red onion and whatever vegg side dishes or potatoes or what-have-you. I’ve served this to MEN-MEN, . .. i.e., big ‘ol (fat), huntin-n-fishin men-men. MEN who would NOT EVER eat a vegan meal if their lives depended on it. And guess what? Here’s the quote: “Heeeyy, . . wow, that’s pretty darn good stuff!! Can I have another one?”
          What I’m trying to relay with this story is that what I’ve learned is that it isn’t the “meat” (whether beef, chx, fish, eggs, or what have you) that makes the flavor. The flavor is developed with onion and garlic powder, nutritional yeast, mushrooms, slow cooking (just like meat). . all the things that create the umami flavor that we all find so satisfying. Here’s what I cooked for my husband and me for dinner tonight: yellow-eye beans in water with whole onion, Tbs onion powder, Hickory smoke flavoring (ok’d by Greger), bay leaf, lots of rich pepper, salt, mushrooms and let cook until done. Serve with chopped green onion on top and a wedge of lemon for brightness. Vegan corn bread or whatever side dish you enjoy.Sprinkle nutritional yeast on bread for a ‘buttery’ taste. But the meal was hearty and satisfying.
          Use the same cooking tricks with vegan cooking that are used with meat: mustard, vinegar, BBQ sauce, spices, spices, spices, marinades, etc. What I’ve learned is that it takes a little bit of fiddling to learn how to make satisfying dishes. But when you do, it’s heaven because the food tastes great and you know, while you’re eating it, that it is good for your health and is not harming horribly abused CAFO animals. All good things.
          Stay the course, keep the faith, all the best to you.

          1. wow Guest, your dinner sounds wonderful, and I loveee vegan corn bread ! You are so right about how satisfying it is to take a little extra effort to make something outstanding for yourself and the family. The first vegan christmas here was a complete success.. we hoped for leftovers but the carnivors in the family were up for seconds in no time. I learned to cook with indian spices too which means I can make a satisfying pot of soup or lentils that will last a couple of days.
            I got into this for the animals and my health. but I’ve stayed happily in it because of the food.
            Thanks for sharing your ideas Guest – Im going to try some seitan soon !

          2. “That’s when I finally GOT that all of the wonderful tastes that we love on meat we can also put on plant foods.”

            Indeed! And you forgot to mention that those wonderful tastes – herbs & spices – come from plants. For centuries, people have been making their meat taste like plants and mostly to hide the natural taste of the meat, which was probably putrid as there was no refrigeration until the 1800s.

        2. John,

          “…barbequed ribs etc..”?

          I have long thought that the taste one has for meat is not for the meat itself, but for the condiments one puts on it. How about a substitute, such as barbequed tempeh? or jackfruit?
          (Yum!) After all, plain old ribs (no salt, pepper, or sauce,) might be much less appetizing. How about a plain boiled chicken? (Yuck!)

  6. For those readers who might either cite or be impressed by a citation from the pages of Consumer Reports, may I recommend the August, 2017, issue to you? In it, you will read that whole milk yogurt is healthier and more tasteful than the low fat variety. The author goes on to discuss the “science” under the headline, “Dairy Fat’s Nutritional Benefits.”

    If you think that it might have been an one issue error, let me suggest the May (2017) edition wherein, in an article entitled, “The Healing Power of a Heart-Healthy Diet,” they suggest to their readership, “Give Eggs a Go,” explaining:

    “Many people think they should completely avoid eggs because they are high in cholesterol, adding to the amount that your body produces on its own.

    But new research shows that the cholesterol in food has a smaller impact on your overall cholesterol levels than once thought. For foods that are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat—such as eggs, lobster, and shrimp—a serving each day is fine.”

    The new editorial management of CR has changed the look and feel of this old, favorite magazine of mine, while recommending dairy and eggs, and celebrating the proliferation of drones that will soon fill our skies, around the world.

    Not all change is for the better.

    1. In it, you will read that whole milk yogurt is healthier and more tasteful than the low fat variety. The author goes on to discuss the “science” under the headline, “Dairy Fat’s Nutritional Benefits.”

      Not taking issue, per se with that statement, but occasionally I do eat fat free yogurt, but only after adding back a healthy fat (IMO) like MCT oil and Walnut oil.

      But then, I am a believer that healthy fats are good for some of us, if not all of us.

      1. Exactly. Low fat milk is not only tasteless but it is downright harmful because of all the processing that destroys the enzymes and nutrients. Fat and raw milk on the other hand taste good and are beneficial. Google for the info.

        No wonder why people get sick because they drink the wrong milk just like people who eat processed foods and got sick and then blame it on meat eating.

        1. Yes! Drink raw milk! and along with your raw milk you can also consume the vector for Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Also Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, E. Coli, any of which can make you deathly ill or kill you. You can also consume Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) which is known to infect the entire US milk supply and has been strongly connected to breast cancer (yes, certain viruses can cause cancer. HPV can cause cervical and throat cancers, Hepatitis C and liver cancer, and others. BLV is proving to be a breast cancer link via cows milk and is not allowed in the European Union. It is, however, allowed in your milk here in the United States). So when you drink raw milk you can also consume all of the lovely bacteria and viruses above that can wreak havoc on your health.

          You can follow Jerry Lewis’ advice and drink raw milk – that’s up to you. But at the very least you should be made aware of everything else you’re potentially consuming when you take that first big glug. Bottoms up! :-)

        1. I think it just boils down to which guru you choose to follow. While I too follow some of the teachings of Dr. Greger, I also also consume and masticate other research that he may not agree with.

          Like most of us here, I monitor my vitals and take note of how I feel in relationship to what I consume. Sometimes I read something that I consider valid and change from something I’m doing… that as well as adding new things like my recent addition of grapefruit seed supplements, both in capsule form, liquid form to add to my tea, and continuing a regimen of eating grapefruit segments that I’ve been doing for more than a year now.

          I’ve also added N Acetyl D Glucosamine after reading some research a fellow poster here pointed to.

          For some, they are happy finding a regimen and sticking to it. For others, ultimate results are a moving target and require not being dogmatic.

    2. hi Steve, thanks for your comments. I agree totally that not all change is for the better and it is infortunate that the general public is fed bad information on a daily basis from well known media (I see it on the BBC frequently too)
      I did post the CR site a few times and will again today no doubt simply because they conducted the tests and analysis in 2012. In 2013, the FDA published its data on 656 processed rice containing products, and CR after re-testing came up with ‘rice rules about weekly servings’ .

      I post this link not because I am a fan of CR (Im not, never read it before) but because this is pertinent information that is not easy to obtain elsewhere . The table on that page is helpful, as is the discussion about other grains. We can take the good and leave the rest!

  7. “removal of all references to fat, oils, sugar, and salt” – Of course that’s what they wanted. After all, they’re the major food groups of the SAD.

    1. Not quite right. Vegetable oil, sugar, processed foods, french fries are major SAD foods. On the other hand, meat and dairy from clean sources, eggs, saturated fats, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts/seeds, unprocessed grain are all healthy foods.

      1. Not quite right exactly. Meat and dairy are NOT clean sources–nor are eggs and saturated fats. These are all foods to be avoided as has been suggested by nutritional studies.

  8. I somehow missed your ‘How Much Fruit is Too Much?” video; I was going to suggest a few videos that address so-called “fruitarians” and at what point do our livers cry foul, in the form of fatty-liver disease.

    Food for thought. :)

  9. In this artificial market, large food producers and corporations–Big Agriculture and Big Food–became very profitable.” Their profitability may be part of the problem.
    Yes, this is THE BIGGEST problem with all the “BIG” corporations mentioned: PROFIT. These BIG corporations could care less about health and wellness for consumers; their bottom line is lining their pockets. The same goes for the biotech/pharmaceutical industries. It’s a damn shame and one of the biggest reasons this country is in the sad state it’s in; with all the sickness and obesity.
    The best way to retaliate? Do not buy conventional food! Grow your own and/or only purchase from true organic and non-GMO companies who are transparent and employ sustainable farming.

    1. Why is ‘profit’ always a dirty word in these discussions? If it wasn’t profitable to produce food, how well fed do you think you’d be? Even organic, non-GMO food has to be profitable in order for farmers to produce it and bring it to market.

      In fact, every voluntary exchange is profitable; otherwise it wouldn’t take place. If I exchange a dollar for an apple, I value the apple more than the dollar; otherwise I wouldn’t surrender the dollar for the apple. In doing so, I profit; I gain more than I give up.

      The other party, the seller, also profits, because she values the dollar more than the apple, which is why she exchanges the apple for the dollar. Under voluntary trade, both parties profit. Both are better off after the transaction than before.

      If free trade were not profitable to both parties, it would never take place, and people would be that much poorer.

      Three cheers for profit: One for the buyer, one for the seller, and one for the system that makes it possible — free-market capitalism!

  10. Dr. Greger complains endlessly about Big Business, citing Big Tobacco, Big Food, Big Soda, Big Alcohol and now Big Sugar. What “Big” is he ignoring? What “Big” is conspicuously absent in all of this? What “Big” do we never hear mentioned alongside all the other Bigs?

    Why it’s the biggest “Big” of all: Big GOVERNMENT! which has a monopoly not over this or that commodity that people are free to buy or not to buy, but over the authorized use of physical force against legally disarmed citizens. Dr. Greger candidly admits that “since early in the last century, U.S. government ‘has supported food production through subsidies and other policies, resulting in large surpluses of food commodities, meat, and calories.” Yet, he is far more willing to blame Big Business than Big Government.

    Why is that? It’s because Dr. Greger favors Big Government as the solution to our dietary shortcomings. If Big Government would just pass enough laws prohibiting bad food, our problems would be solved. What seems to have escaped his understanding is that if you give the government the power to solve all of our health problems by outlawing freedom of choice in dietary practices, it can use that power, and regularly has used it, to subsidize the production of the very foods that Dr. Greger considers so detrimental people’s health.

    Far better to allow people to make their own choices and to influence those choices not by government mandates, but by education and persuasion.

    1. i would hardly characterize what Dr Gregor does as complain.
      and government has the responsibility to regulate the “free market”.
      how well that job is performed is grist for the mill.

      on the other hand, persuading anyone to the benefits of WFPB diet is sometimes a thankless task.
      not to mention futile.
      but do we, as vegans bear any responsibility to share our knowledge?
      is our knowledge true and accurate?

      all i know is that without this, i would already be dead.

      1. So your solution is to coerce others into following the diet that you think is healthy? Why do you hate freedom of choice so much? Don’t people have a right to their own bodies and to their own choices? Why do you want to tell everyone else how to live and to force them to follow your dictates? Whatever happened to individual rights — to the right to lead your life as you choose, so long as you respect the equal rights of others to do the same?!

        If you give ultimate power to the people with the guns — to those with authority to control you by physical force and to dictate how you live your life — don’t be surprised when they use it against you. You complain about the power of money, when the power of the gun is far more potent and far more powerful.

        If you had a government whose sole function was to protect you from crime — to protect your rights — then money would have little influence over it, because subsidies and special favors for business would be unconstitutional. But that’s not the kind of government that we have today, and it’s not the one that you favor. Are you happy with the results?

        1. If your choice only impacted you I would care less if you die in the streets as a result of your food addictions but the problem is that I sometimes have to use the medical system in the US and I pay for medical insurance along with federal and state income taxes.
          That means that a significant part of my wealth goes to supporting people too ignorant to care for themselves.
          I am not asking big government to mandate anything. I first want them to stop supporting the animal agriculture businesses. Second, I want them to motivate people to buy whole plant-based products by supporting those industries. Third, I want them to fund unbiased research in the nutrition science area so that those of us that care about our health can make wiser choices. Fourth, I want them to make large changes to the food stamp and school lunch programs. Do a little research on the top twenty items purchased with food stamps in the US. None of them should be paid for by tax payers except for a small amount of meat. Fifth, I want insurance companies to provide discount plans for people that care about their health and live accordingly.
          Certainly many readers could add to my short list but I think those five would be a good start by our government to improve the country and the planet.

          1. Richard said, “If your choice only impacted you I would care less if you die in the streets as a result of your food addictions but the problem is that I sometimes have to use the medical system in the US and I pay for medical insurance along with federal and state income taxes.
            That means that a significant part of my wealth goes to supporting people too ignorant to care for themselves.”

            The solution to that is to stop bailing out the ignorant and irresponsible people with money stolen from the responsible ones. The solution is not to continue to subsidize irresponsible behavior, which is what we’re doing now. The more of something you subsidize, the more of it you’ll get.

            Moreover, if you can prohibit people from doing what you think is irresponsible, because others have to bail them out when they run afoul of their own indiscretions, then you can outlaw every choice you think is sub-optimal, in which case, you have a veritable dictatorship.

            What gets lost in all of this micromanagement by the government is the concept of ‘freedom,’ which means freedom from physical force — from physical interference in your life. If the comments on this discussion list are any indication, that very concept is no longer recognized or understood as an important social and political value.

    2. We neither have free choices nor free flow of real information because large corporations control our government. Read the article. The politicians spend nearly all of their time raising money. Who are they going to get it from? Rich people and corporations, who have the most. Otherwise they lose the election to the other person who sucks up to the rich even harder.
      John S

      1. I agree that many things have to be improved, including the information coming out of the government but I do not agree on your premise that there is no free choice.
        I read very little information produced by government and I certainly do not depend on it to make my food choices.
        Your comment indicates you have access to Dr Greger’s site, I suggest you start using it to open your free choices and free flowing information. You should also investigate Drs. Ornish, Esselstyn, Fuhrman and McDoughall.

        1. If a person is unaware due to the barrage of information in advertisements or misinformation from the government due to lobbying, it is not their fault. They do not have free choice because they are unaware due to failings in their environment/society. What do you suggest to change that situation since it affects us all in some way?

            1. Lonie, consider survival of the fittest societies. If our society is not healthy, what sort of place if that in which to live? Not so great…. Is it not important to interact with healthy individuals? The doctor who operates on you? the dentist who cares for your teeth? the people who populate our restaurants and thereby what they offer, etc.? the environment in which we live? We’re all in this together, like it or not!

          1. Let’s understand what “freedom of choice” means. It doesn’t mean omniscience. It doesn’t mean knowledge of every possible option under the sun. It means freedom of action — the freedom to act according to your own judgment free from physical intervention or contravention by others. It means freedom from physical compulsion or coercion.

            Why are actions like robbery, rape and assault considered crimes? What is the common element? It is physical interference against your life or property. But observe that that is what the government does when it taxes you (takes your money or property against your will) or drafts you into military service (takes your life against your will). Theft and abduction are crimes when committed by private citizens, but not when committed by the government.

            Let’s not add to the government’s list of crimes by prohibiting consumers from choosing products that it views as unhealthy. We’ve already tried alcohol prohibition, which (like drug prohibition) drove the banned substance underground and into the hands of organized crime. The same could happen if the government were to ban trans fats or sugary foods. Aside from that, do we really want the state to control people’s private choices?

    3. BIG government IS a problem when it is solely guided by BIG business and no longer is by and for the people. It seems to me that that is the situation we are facing.

      1. Excuse me, Liisa, but you’ve got it exactly backwards. You should have said that Big business is the problem only when it is enforced by Big government.

        You see, Big business cannot force you to buy anything. In order to get your money, it has to appeal to your voluntary choice. Money is simply medium of voluntary exchange. Big government, on the other hand, doesn’t have to appeal to your voluntary choice in order to get your money. It can simply take it from you by force.

        The solution to lobbying by Big business is to limit the power of the government to violate people’s rights in exchange for money, as well as to prohibit unscrupulous businesses from offering it.

        1. I don’t think I have it backwards. Big business has entwined itself in the halls of academia and government, unduly influencing the outcome of studies because of its money. Big business buys politicians who then succumb to its will and who vote and legislate accordingly. Big business is the problem, no matter what size the government is. We need a government; what we also need is to get rid of big business’s effects on that government, whether the government is large OR small.

  11. Few entities are truly interested in the long term health of the consumer. The US government has been a failure till some very recent progress. Too many of the nutrition studies are funded by an entity with interest in the results instead of an unbiased government fund.
    Dr Greger’s book, “How Not To Die” is a wonder addition to the much needed field of nutrition science but because the science is lacking in that field the book does not answer every question.
    Many studies and articles have pointed at saturated fat as high risks yet many other studies have indicated the benefits of nuts and seeds, which contain some saturated fat.
    Dr Esselstyn recommends avoiding all added fats, including nuts, seeds and avocado to reverse heart disease but produces no evidence that heart disease can not be reversed while consuming a reasonable about of those fats. The fact that his program banned it and was successful in reversing heart disease does not convince me that is the only method.
    Dr Ornish even allows no-fat diary in his program but I am not interested in consuming any dairy.
    Where is the evidence that saturated fat in animals is any different than the saturated fat in nuts, seeds and avocado???

    1. Few entities are truly interested in the long term health of the consumer.

      While this is likely at least 90% true, that’s all right.

      That is, the so-called “bleeding heart” types may truly care but generally just want you to get in touch with your inner self to become whole… or whatever.

      The pragmatic researcher however doesn’t give a hoot, other than lip service to what you do with what they have uncovered. They probably just want the recognition for making the discovery. AND THAT’S JUST FINE!

      Reason is, they are giving us the facts as their research has determined… US being the entity (along with family members and friends) who does give a hoot about I.

      It falls on the individual to either take control of what we believe will heal or keep us healthy, or sign over that responsibility en todo to a physician.

      The first choice is the hard one… that’s why most people choose the second.

    2. Thanks for your comment Richard,

      The newly published Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association (see here) states that:

      “The Mensink4 meta-regression analysis determined the effects on blood lipids of replacing carbohydrates with the individual saturated fatty acids that are in common foods, including lauric, myristic, palmitic, and stearic acids. Lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids all had similar effects in increasing LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol and decreasing triglycerides when replacing carbo- hydrates (Figure 5, right).
      Stearic acid makes up ≈20% of the fat in beef, 30% of the fat in pure cocoa (chocolate), and 10% to 15% in lard (pork fat) and lamb fat (Table). In contrast to the other saturated fatty acids, stearic acid does not increase LDL cholesterol or HDL cholesterol or decrease triglycerides when replacing carbohydrates (Figure 5, right). How- ever, replacing stearic acid with unsaturated fat lowers LDL cholesterol.4
      In summary, the common individual saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol. Their replacement with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats lowers LDL cholesterol. Differences in the effects of the individual fatty acids are small and should not affect dietary recommendations to lower saturated fat intake.”

      It is possible that the higher content of unsaturated fat in nuts and seeds can “neutralize” (not sure if this is the correct word) the harmful of effects of saturated fat present in it, and in fact, higher consumption of nuts and seeds has been found to be protective for health (see here).

      Hope this answer helps.

        1. Hi Liisa,

          I am a volunteer moderator who helps Dr. Greger answer questions posted to Nutrition Facts. I am a plant based dietitian nutritional therapist located in Scottsdale, Arizona.

          Dr. Greger writes in his New York Times’ Best Seller Book “How Not to Die” on page 107: “On the other hand, oleate, the monounsaturated fat found mostly in nuts, olives and avocados, may actually protect against the detrimental effects of saturated fat….monounsaturated fats, however, are more likely to be detoxified by the body or safely stored away.”

          I hope this helps! Thanks for being part of our community!

          Lisa Schmidt, MS CN
          THE Mindful Nutritionist
          Scottsdale, Arizona

    3. To reverse heart disease, you have to get your LDL down to 70 mg/dL or below. That’s very difficult to do without severely limiting saturated fat. It is true that nuts and seeds can raise HDL cholesterol, which can help some, but will it be enough? It would be interesting to see how well Dr. Greger’s diet, which includes nuts and seeds, is able to reduce LDL to the desired level.

      1. For many switching to a Whole food plant based diet including nuts and seeds is enough to bring that LDL down if there is no added oil. For some, as you seem to be aware, getting that resistant LDL down may take reducing or even eliminating nuts and seeds. We can also look at Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s recommendations (Prevent and Reerse Heart Disease) to avoid nuts for his coronary artery patients for further exploration of how to lower cholesterol down particularly for those with special health concerns. It sounds like you are attempting to lower your LDL and will incorporate nuts and seeds. This may well work and I hope it will, but if not, you may need to cut back on the nuts. There are several other steps you can work on to lower that LDL which you can find on this site if necessary. Best of health and lowered cholesterol to you.

  12. If it weren’t for Big Government, we would not need to worry about Big Sugar, Big Meat, Big Dairy, Big Tobacco, Big Soda, Big Agriculture, or any other big industries. Without a powerful government, they would have no power over us. Without a powerful government, they would be entirely dependent on consumers voluntarily buying their products. Without government subsidies from Big Government, meat, dairy, and eggs would cost so much that most people would become vegetarian from economic necessity.

    1. Big Govt isn’t the problem…it is WHO CONTROLS the govt. Right now it’s pretty much a bunch of idiots..positioned by the 1%….with the help of the retrograde.

      When Obama was in office at least there was some effort to clean up Dumb George’s mess and clean up some corporate malfeasance…prepare for the future…now the current set of dummies is doubling down on stupid. It’s back to the ’50s.

      If we don’t end up in some major catastrophy before stupid leaves…it will be a simple wonder.

  13. “Michelle Obama’s successful childhood obesity programs” Really I see zero evidence to that assertion.
    Most I would say 99% of school lunch programs still serve garbage. More and more children are not playing/exercising outside.

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