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Don’t Let Their Divide and Conquer Strategy Work

Dietary changes appear to be shifting universally toward a diet dominated by higher intakes of calorie-dense foods, including corn syrup, sugar, animal products, and oils. This is all thanks to global agricultural policies that have built in a long-term focus on creating things like cheap corn. “Consumption of foods high in saturated and industrially produced trans fats, salt, and sugar is the cause of at least 14 million deaths every year.”

“Few governments prioritize health over big business. As we learned from experience with the tobacco industry, a powerful corporation can sell the public just about anything,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “This is not a failure of individual will-power. This is a failure of political will to take on big business.”

This is difficult terrain for many public health scientists. As discussed in my video The Healthy Food Movement: Strength in Unity, “It took five decades after the initial studies linking tobacco and cancer for effective public health policies to be put in place, with enormous cost to human health. Must we wait another five decades to respond to the similar effects of Big Food?”

They do have money on their side. The chemical, tobacco, and food industries have the luxury to share similar tactics with the drug companies because they have the resources to do so. By contrast, powerful and inexpensive health-promoting activities, such as eating a healthy diet, are actually “too cheap and not patented.”

Preventing cardiovascular disease “is not an easy task because it means engaging in a battle against strong industrial sectors; but it is possible with sufficient political courage and citizen support.”

In fact, it’s not only possible—it’s been done before. The move back to breastfeeding is a great example of action in public health nutrition that is still succeeding. Breastmilk doesn’t make anyone any money, so companies like Nestle pushed infant formulas and millions of babies may have died as a result. A global movement rose up and resulted in the passage of a code regulating the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. As the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the time said, “Without their constant lobbying, reminding us of our duty as public health officers…WHO simply would not have had the courage to get on with it.”

“What has this got to do with nutrition and food policy [now]? Everything, if we want to improve public health. We must seek out the food and nutrition equivalents of Greenpeace…we should be prepared to stand up and be counted…Might this put our jobs and careers on the line? You had better believe that it will.”

To do this, the healthy food movement needs to stay united.

Tobacco industry giant Philip Morris is still fighting into the 21st century. Their latest campaign, dubbed ‘‘Project Sunrise,’’ was launched to lead to the ‘‘dawn of a new day.’’ Their own internal Public Policy Plan Draft calls Project Sunrise “an explicit divide-and-conquer strategy against the tobacco control movement.” Indeed, according to Philip Morris, the number-one vulnerability of the anti-smoking movement is that their success “may blind organizations to carefully orchestrated efforts by the tobacco industry and its allies to accelerate turf wars and exacerbate philosophical schisms.” So, their main objectives were to attack the credibility of the anti-smoking movement, create schisms, and force them to fight amongst themselves. Think of how much of that we already do in the healthy food movement, and it just distracts us from the bigger picture.

One of Philip Morris’ primary strategies was to drive a wedge between various anti-smoking groups. Another was to weaken the their credibility, in part by developing communication strategies to “demonstrate the extremism of the health prevention movement. First tobacco, then alcohol, then meet (sic), then other products.” Not only are the tobacco lawyers a bit spelling challenged, but public health groups are part of a health promotion movement. Health prevention is more the purview of Big Ag.


Not only do public health nutrition groups fight amongst themselves—they sometimes even bed down with Big Food. See my videos Collaboration with the New Vectors of Disease and American Medical Association Complicity with Big Tobacco.

The True Health Initiative, spearheaded by Dr. David Katz, is a great example of the strength in unity concept I’m trying to get across. Please consider joining.

For more on unbelievable tobacco tactics, see:

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:

Discuss

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.


40 responses to “Don’t Let Their Divide and Conquer Strategy Work

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  1. Compliance as a key to epidemiological efficacy of any process or behavior. And so we can all agree eating healthy is beneficial to longevity. But the analogy with smoking is misleading and changing the habits of the general population will take much more than a statement by the surgeon general or warning on a package.
    Why? Smoking is singular act. You light up, inhale & exhale. To stop smoking you simply stop lighting up. Not so easy if you’re addicted, but straightforward NTL. No one anymore, even crazies, would claim smoking is beneficial at any level.
    Diet is not singular. We’re talking about all sorts of foods and substances, many clearly beneficial and others patently harmful. Many substances and nutrients like salt are subject to J curves, meaning either too little or too much is harmful. Gezillion papers, studies, books and treatises on the subject, many of them advocating conflicting behaviors. We’re all aware of the diets and theories that come and go into fashion. Diet is a complex, complicated and often confusing behavior that has myriad aspects and facets, biological, microbial, medical, social and historical. Changing people’s behavior is a momentous task, one that will not be achieved merely by a government pronouncement that anything but non-poisonous plant-based whole foods are detrimental to health and associated with all sorts of diseases (not just primarily those of the lung and heart as is the case with smoking).
    A better objective is to try to get people to pay attention to what they are putting into their body and the potential consequences of dietary habits. Maybe one by one, by one small group and another. If we’re successful at all in getting people to eat healthier, it’s most likely to be a slow, deliberate and incremental process, not an epiphany.

    1. The belief in omnivorism is one main obstacle to healthy eating. The capacity of omnivority is not the same as omnivorism. Omnivority implies that one can eat many different things in survival conditions. One can survive with meat and processed, refined foods. But on the long run, it is detrimental to health.
      Omnivorism is the ideology that transforms an exceptional behavior, or a survival behavior, into a daily habit, as if it was a requirement to eat those animal based or processed foods every day in order to stay healthy.

  2. I confess, I am frustrated by yet another “food” group that has received endless “hooray, it’s no longer bad for you” press coverage very recently. Eggs. According to many of these studies, cholesterol is no longer a concern. As the operator of Egg-Truth.com, I am currently working on the “Nutrition” component of the site. I am aware of the egg related links here on your site and will be sharing some of that information when I publish. I will also be sharing information provided by Dr. J. David Spence of the Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western, London, Ontario – he is an avid critic of the egg industry and has railed against studies measuring fasting cholesterol vs. post-pandrial cholesterol to mislead consumers. It seems like it is an uphill battle and disseminating the truth is forever lost in the noise of industry designed and influenced studies let alone their formal PR exercises. Any additional information you have that I could use would be greatly appreciated.

    1. The worst offender is Consumer Reports. In addition to reminding consumers that meat and salt are A-OK in their diet, they continually advocate the consumption of eggs.

      The May 2017 issue states, at page 32, “Give Eggs a Go. Many people think that they should completely avoid eggs because they are high in cholesterol…[b]ut 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.”

      In the November (2017) edition, they go further, proclaiming eggs as “Healthy. They’re rich in nutrients that are good for your brain and eyes, and though they do contain dietary cholesterol, it doesn’t appear to have much of an effect on blood cholesterol levels. Even so, most doctors say you shouldn’t ear more than seven eggs per week.”

      The magazine has changed its look and editorial policies with a change in management over the past couple of years. As a long time subscriber, I have a year and a half left on my current subscription; when that ends, I’ll never renew. They’ve jumped the proverbial shark.

      Money buys everything and (almost) everybody in this world. I’m not overly cynical–I’ve just been around long enough, and paid sufficient attention, to come to that conclusion.

      You’ve got your work cut out for you, Mr. Osborne. Good luck.

      1. “The worst offender is Consumer Reports. In addition to reminding consumers that meat and salt are A-OK in their diet, they continually advocate the consumption of eggs.”

        Could it be that Big Egg offered them a lot more under-the-table $$ than did Big Health?

      2. This claim is based on a very somewhat one-eyed reading of the 2015-20 US dietary guidelines. They state

        “The Key Recommendation from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day is not included in the 2015 edition, but this change does not suggest that dietary cholesterol is no longer important to consider when building healthy eating patterns. As recommended by the IOM,[24] individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible………………”
        https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/

    2. Here, in an organic health foods magazine, it is butter that was recently being advertised as “coming back onto the consumers table”…

      And the new language is about “ultra-processed” foods being bad, as compared to processed foods being ok…

      Another way of distracting the public about whole plant foods.

  3. Yes! I appreciate that you are supporting both strategies – educating individuals about what is best to eat and why, as well as helping to keep our eyes open about what is happening with big business, the power of political lobby and how to influence public policy. Thank you.

  4. Animal protein quality dogma is like the CO2 global warming dogma.

    People wear “animal protein glasses” and “CO2 glasses” distorting their world view and preventing them to see that: 1) animal foods are bad for human health and 2) animal agriculture is bad for the environment and the first cause of global deforestation causing climate changes via geophysical effects, not greenhouse effects.

    Animal proteins are not superior proteins, and CO2 is not a pollutant, but the mainstream thinking is that animal proteins are superior proteins and CO2 is a pollutant.

    We have been walking on the head for too long now, and so much money has been put into those false ideas that it seems difficult to weigh into the debate.

      1. Do your own research, Brian. I might be wrong, but I notice what might be some irony in your comment.

        If you do believe, because climate priests tell you that, that the CO2 that you exhale is a pollutant… than just stop breathing… And if you do believe that animal proteins are superior and needed, then just look at experimental studies showing that they favor cancer development, from decades ago, even in the 1960’s.

        The same way that there is nothing in the scientific litterature showing that there is the need to consume animal proteins, there is nothing showing that fluctuation of trace gases are really able to warm the Earth’s surface.

        However there are studies showing major geophysical feedbacks from forests, so global deforestation can, but there are nothing about historical global deforestation into the IPCC’s reports.

        When governments and science go together, like it is the case for IPCC or nutritional recommendations, there is rarely the truth coming out, only fragmentary and reductionist paradigms fueled with big money.

        Human health and environmental health are one and unique issue. When one destroys nature with our economic development and dietary habits, we also destroy our health as a consequence.

    1. ab30,
      Great observation and I could not agree with you more!
      Climate change (which has been going on as long as the earth has been in existence), based upon CO2 has become a religion.

      1. Yes B’Healthy, the concept of “quality” of animal protein is as misleading as the concept of “absorption” for so-called greenhouse gases.

        On one hand, they say that animal proteins are of “higher quality”, though this concept of quality has no medical basis and experimental evidences show the contrary: that eating “lower quality” plant-based proteins are best for health.

        On the other hand, they say that greenhouse gases magically traps heat thanks to their spectral “absorption”, though they do not absorb anything, as in the context of black bodies, they just disperse the energy (radiation) in another direction, until extinction.

  5. Interested in information about diabetes mellitus and the effect of a high unrefined carbohydrate diet consisting of mainly fresh fruits and unrefined whole grains, legumes, and lot’s of greens, long term on the kidney and liver function.

    1. KIDNEYS; I had “declining kidney function” based on a blood test 18 mos. ago and was headed ultimately for dialysis. I went 100% WFPB (whole food plant based) and within 60 days my kidney function was back at normal and continues to be today. No question in my mind that changing it saved my health. I’m 75 and in excellent health (BP 110/60, cholesterol 153) with no meds except for enlarged prostate which I got after 73 years of S.A.D. (standard American diet).

      1. Great testimony Brian!

        Thanks for sharing!

        I have a relative with kidney failure and Diabetes. Trying to help him find the way. I think he did try it, but didn’t try it with his doctor and didn’t adjust his Diabetes meds and just had the scariest low sugar day of his life. I don’t think he believes it could get him off his meds entirely. It is so hard to get people to believe in what they deem to be “miraculous” results. My father keeps saying, “There is no such thing as magic.” Yes, I am a Christian and believe in miracles and I have an atheist father who does not believe in nutrition.

        1. Your father is right: nutrition can do very little for our health. What matters is “alimentation” or “food patterns” on the duration.

          A whole plant food pattern has benefits for our health whereas an “omnivorous” pattern with industrially transformed and refined foods hasn’t.

          But it is not a question of belief, like believing or not in God, it is a question of seeing and looking at facts without prejudices or distortion.

          To believe or not in God has very little importance, the same way as to believe or not in plant nutrition has very little importance.

          What matters for our health is to eat the correct food, not to believe or not in nutrition.

          And in matters of religion, what matters is whether there is freedom and right livelihood, not to believe or not in God.

          Both God and nutrition are ideas put together by thought. But the issue here is not with thought and ideas, it is with our daily actions, how we act with each other, or what we put into our stomach, nothing more fancy than that.

  6. Thank you Dr. Greger. I believe that as you may have hoped NutritionFacts.org has been a literal life-saver for thousands of people, and not just in America. I’ve learned so much from you and the studies you’ve posted here. I have probably watched over a hundred of your videos. Initially those relating to my personal health conditions. I suffered a mild heart attack over 21 years ago which led directly to a quadruple bypass surgery. Diet and exercise are the key to living a productive and much better quality life. I must emphasize DIET. And I’ll toss in the idea of occasional fasting too and recommend that folks look into fasting in conjunction with a high quality, high nutrient density, low calorie diet. Your videos are superb and are in my humble opinion saving lives! I think yours is one of the most important websites on the internet and I urge all of my friends to check it out!

  7. I am grateful that you are pointing out the strategies.

    I have been OCD trying to learn nutrition for a year and a half and it is like playing the Monopoly Game sometimes or Chutes and Ladders.

    I just had another friend write to me about Lectins last night and if you hadn’t shown the exact words from his book AND the exact words from the study, I would be spinning in circles trying to figure that one out.

    That man is so successful with all of those stupid videos and putting his own reputation as a surgeon out there. He chose money over character, but every person who has talked to me about him points to that position as proof he is right and I laugh, because my not trusting authority figures, because of coming from abuse, has been so useful, but I can point to what you and Dr. Ornish said and I am so happy, because I used to have to point to what Chiropractors said and now, I can point to Doctors and some are non-profit.

    You have helped me so much by being nonprofit and I would still have respected you if you just showed me the words of the studies on the screen while you said them, but your not making a fortune on arguing against “The Plant Paradox” and not having your own supplement line has helped me to have the edge on everyone in the argument and I can tell them, “You have to cook your beans” and accurate information by credible people helps more than anything.

    You guard yourself, because you are in that elite group that these people would want to discredit and we are counting on you to stay out of their traps.

    You come from the Jewish faith, though I am believing you are secular, but the story of Daniel with him not having anything people could accuse him of and eating all that plant food and thriving is the one I wish for you.

  8. As the French move towards these calorie dense foods, fast foods as well and away from their traditional diets they are getting fat – especially children. It has taken a long time but the slide towards obesity on a large scale is increasing quickly.

    1. This might soon happen with new commercial trades favoring the importation of a lot of cheap meats and processed foods from Canada and South America, but for now, according to French governmental data, obesity is remaining constant in France, and thinness is increasing in children.

      This is due to the so-called “balanced” omnivorous diet, based on caloric restriction which puts people into the dilemna of either eating too much and being overweight either eating too little and being underweight.

      Low-fat plant only diets do not require caloric restriction and give satiety in a more natural way, so there is less risk of getting either overweight or underweight.

  9. I am laughing, because I try to re-read my writing and I still have brain problems, but I am passionate about you and what you are doing.

  10. As part of not getting divided, I feel like I am getting slightly better at not getting divided from my Keto and Paleo and SAD friends and family members.

    The fact that turning the Titanic around takes a little time sometimes. (Yes, I moved from the cliche to the song lyric based on the cliche)

    Most of them are trying to get off processed food, including things like white flour and that is already something to celebrate.

    I think I used to trip up in not knowing how to defend myself against the gluten and soy police and anti-lectin and anti bread, starches and grain groups and pro-oil groups, but now, I am all the way over to the side of the field, happily doing my own process and I can pause and wait and applaud when they do something right and they are trying to eat more vegetables and that is already going to decrease the bad stuff, because of satiety.

    In the long run, it doesn’t matter if they eat every single nutritious food, I can get on board with them doing one or two good things this year and if they get in trouble down the road, I have already planted the seeds with the Christians, if they fast off of animal products even for Lent, they might have Cancer lose a blood vessel or might have a decrease in arthritis or neuropathy.

    That is already a cool concept, and they do things like Daniel fasts, so maybe some year, if they choose to do the Daniel Fast at Lent, just maybe it could become the training wheels to figure out how to reverse their diseases in the future.

    Some of them are smokers and the Okinawa people not getting Lung Cancer until they started eating animal products is an encouraging thing. We will see what happens. I am hoping they will try it for a few weeks now and then and eventually when life gets scary, they can just hop over to it.

  11. Dr. Greger, You are never going to get a food group united by drawing a comparison to Greenpeace the leftist hijacked environmental movement and the new bastion for anti capitalism aka communism. Unless, of course, this is the type of movement you want NutritionFacts.org to be. I find your comparison troubling.
    I’m not saying that the genius of your work is diminished by your suggested political philosophy. On the contrary, your work stands alone and its merits are obvious.
    However, as a big fan of your work and the NutritionFacts concept, I would not support a “Greenpeace” style movement of any kind.
    Perhaps you could suggest a better comparison?
    I’m confident a large portion of your supporters may agree.

    1. John I couldn’t disagree with you more. We are in a melt down around the globe because of “thinkers” like you. I’m sure, though, that Ayn Rand fans and those neo-liberal environmentalists such as Milton Friedman, would agree with your thoughtful comments.

      Anti-capitalism equals communism? How insightful!

      1. Steve, thanks for your reply. I’m sure your comrades such as Nicholas Maduro and Kim Jung On would applaud your tired global meltdown metaphor pointing to the evil free market economy as the culprit for the world’s ills. Big government is always the solution… right? How original and insightful! Quite frankly Steve, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching lefties like you running around with their hair on fire because of “thinkers like me”.
        Please give Anthony Weiner and Maxine Waters my regards.

    2. Greenpeace jumped blindly decades ago into the wagon of greenhouse global warming. They are disqualified in terms of comprehension of ecological issues.

  12. Laughing, yes, politics is so polarizing nowadays.

    But wanting to save lives is such a good thing to unite around.

    My friend found out that she has Congestive Heart Failure today. Gonna be buying her vegetables, if she lets me. She was homeless for a few years and, honestly, poor people choose dollar menu foods a lot of the time purely based on price and convenience. You only get 30 days in most shelters, then it is either out on the street or in a welfare motel, which doesn’t have kitchens. Devastated for her and her children.

  13. No disagreement or questions but where are the citations. Lots of quoatation marks, but citing specific sources has been one of Dr. Greger’s distinguishing hallmarks. Without this, his work becomes just another fringe opinion. Sadly, this isn’t the first time in the last week or two that Dr. Greger as published material without citations. And it comes on the heels of blog posts abput the evils of peer-reviewed publishing firms and an Grad student’s questionable attempts to circumvent fee based access to this literature.What’s up with that?

    1. rkokish, click on the video, citations are listed there when you click on the button below the video. It’s Always all there, you just have to know where to look.

    2. rkokish, the sources are hyper-linked within the sentences quoted with the words shown in blue-green color font. Click on those to see the source material. Sometimes a word will be linked to a related video and the sources are listed below that.

      1. I think he is saying, “This isn’t a study.”

        This is an opinion piece of what needs to happen to change the world.

        He is right about that.

        I don’t mind it, but I “get” that Dr. Greger has an agenda in these series and that the agenda is not inconsistent with what he is trying to accomplish, but if this was Jeopardy, he would be told that this needed to be in the form of a question.

        “What’s up with that” is a legitimate question.

        That being said, part of who Dr. Greger has been for a long, long, long time is a man who is a David fighting ten Goliaths all who have so much money and power and he is someone who knows how to use 5 smooth stones and he is exactly like David talking to the soldiers saying, “Who do Big Dairy and Big Meat and Big Chicken and Big Soda and Big Cancer Industry and Big Everything else think they are……” and I watched “What the Health” and this blog is more in line with Superman and we come here and read words from Clark Kent all the time and Lois Lane was too familiar and didn’t respect Clark Kent enough, but after posting his morning blog or video, he flies off to save the world and most of us are so fooled by the glasses that we can’t recognize what is happening properly.

        They have the way to heal diseases and all of these doctors are trying to figure out how to multiply themselves.

        1. Dr. Greger,

          You already know that each person who is healed of a disease or who loses weight, suddenly people get interested.

          This movement is expanding. I talked with a few of my friends today and one isn’t quite WFPB, she kept animals, but she got rid of processed foods and white flour and cut back on sugar and added in some vegetables. Added in vegetables is halfway there. Another also got rid of processed foods and sugars and she added in ridiculously big salad. And my father isn’t at all interested in the diet, BUT, he is interested in Turmeric, because of science about neurons in the brain.

          Progress. Progress. Progress.

          Honestly, I was getting mocked by everyone for months, but I didn’t get mad and I have lost twenty five pounds since I actually got off cheese and cut back on oil and suddenly people around me are asking the details.

        2. I made that comment comparing Dr. Greger to Clark Kent and David from the Torah / Bible, but what they have in common is that people underestimate some people for all sorts of silly reasons.

          If Lois Lane had stopped looking at the glasses of the man trying to humble himself, she would have “caught his vision.”

          I think the reality of people dying of all these diseases is one of the most noble visions I can think of right now.

          There are other causes, but I genuinely did catch the vision. This site is not only about my own health or my own understanding of scientific facts. There is such a noble vision.

          I pray that it can multiply.

          1. I do my part, by handing out the videos, when people ask the questions on-line. That happens every single day, so it is an easy peasy way to spread the word of WFPB.

    1. That whole seeds of confusion thing IS what they have been succeeding at for years, but what I am going to say is that all of my friends and family already went Paleo and Keto and are reading about Lectins….

      You know what that means?!?!?!

      Yes, there aren’t that many ways of eating left to try.

      WFPB is next and they will probably go like a pin ball through all the doctors, and will probably try just plain vegan first, but they are all searching for the answers and they haven’t stopped searching.

      Paleo already got them eating bright colored vegetables and fruits so they are almost there.

    2. Peter,

      I hate that Dr. Ornish was treated with such disrespect, by someone who is just trying to make money.

      I know that he is someone who is trying to keep a soft heart and walk in love and people lying about your work, makes it harder.

      I think, because these men are saving lives, it is emotional to me that people are injuring their reputations and their hearts.

      I still feel emotionally upset even that Plant Based London did a Dr. Greger was wrong, when Dr. Greger wasn’t wrong, and even if he had been, they are trying to get viewers by doing big letters and both of these things feel like violations.

      I get it that they have to have thick skin to do what they are doing in a public forum.

      Dr. Greger stay focused and stay kind-hearted and don’t listen to closely to what people say. That is a Torah verse. Yes, I know you are secular, but I am betting that you heard the Torah a time or two from that twinkling eyed grandmother of yours.

  14. Farmer’s Markets: What has happened? I remember going to the weekend Farmer’s Market and getting fresh picked organic produce while paying noticeably less than the same items would cost at my local natural grocery store. The prices have crept up so much over the years that the farmer’s market prices are now exactly double the price per pound found at the local store on everything from tomatoes, peppers and herbs to onions and potatoes. What gives?

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