Big Food Using the Tobacco Industry Playbook

Big Food Using the Tobacco Industry Playbook
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The processed food industries now use tactics similar to those used by cigarette companies to undermine public health interventions.

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In 1954, the tobacco industry paid to publish the “Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” in hundreds of U.S. newspapers. It stated that the public’s health was the industry’s concern above all else and promised a variety of good faith changes. The “Frank Statement” was a charade, the first step in a concerted, half-century-long campaign to mislead Americans about the catastrophic effects of smoking, and to avoid public policy that might damage sales. What followed were decades of deceit and actions that cost millions of lives. In the hope that the food industry history will be written differently, these researchers highlight important lessons that can be learned from the tobacco experience.

The processed food industries use tactics similar to those used by tobacco companies to undermine public health interventions. They do this by distorting research findings, co-opting policy makers and health professionals, and lobbying politicians and public officials. In his book about his fight with the tobacco industry, former FDA commissioner David Kessler recounted similar strong-arm tactics used by the meat industry to try to squash nutrition regulations.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political ads during election campaigns could make things even worse, by working against candidates who support public health positions.

Another similarity between tobacco and food companies is the introduction and heavy marketing of “safer” or “healthier” products. When cigarette sales dropped due to health concerns, the industry introduced “safer” filtered cigarettes that gave health-conscious smokers an alternative to quitting, and sales shot back up. Ironically, the filters originally had asbestos in them.

Less nicotine, less tar, and now with Reduced Carcinogens! And, how could anything be bad for you if it is 100% organic?

Today, leaner pork or eggs with less cholesterol may be the food industry’s low-tar cigarettes. A KFC ad campaign depicted an African American family in which the father was told by the mother that “KFC has 0 grams of trans fat now.” The father, in the presence of children, shouts, “Yeah baby! Whoooo!!” and then begins eating the fried chicken by the bucketful.

Or cereal companies touting all the whole grains in their cocoa puffs brownie crunch. Fruit Loops now provides fiber.

A U.S. district judge overseeing a tobacco industry case put it well: “All too often in the choice between the physical health of consumers and the financial well-being of business, concealment is chosen over disclosure, sales over safety, and money over morality. Who are these persons who knowingly and secretly decide to put the buying public at risk solely for the purpose of making profits, and who believe that illness and death of consumers is an apparent cost of their own prosperity?” Above all, the experience of tobacco shows how powerful profits can be as a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

In 1954, the tobacco industry paid to publish the “Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” in hundreds of U.S. newspapers. It stated that the public’s health was the industry’s concern above all else and promised a variety of good faith changes. The “Frank Statement” was a charade, the first step in a concerted, half-century-long campaign to mislead Americans about the catastrophic effects of smoking, and to avoid public policy that might damage sales. What followed were decades of deceit and actions that cost millions of lives. In the hope that the food industry history will be written differently, these researchers highlight important lessons that can be learned from the tobacco experience.

The processed food industries use tactics similar to those used by tobacco companies to undermine public health interventions. They do this by distorting research findings, co-opting policy makers and health professionals, and lobbying politicians and public officials. In his book about his fight with the tobacco industry, former FDA commissioner David Kessler recounted similar strong-arm tactics used by the meat industry to try to squash nutrition regulations.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political ads during election campaigns could make things even worse, by working against candidates who support public health positions.

Another similarity between tobacco and food companies is the introduction and heavy marketing of “safer” or “healthier” products. When cigarette sales dropped due to health concerns, the industry introduced “safer” filtered cigarettes that gave health-conscious smokers an alternative to quitting, and sales shot back up. Ironically, the filters originally had asbestos in them.

Less nicotine, less tar, and now with Reduced Carcinogens! And, how could anything be bad for you if it is 100% organic?

Today, leaner pork or eggs with less cholesterol may be the food industry’s low-tar cigarettes. A KFC ad campaign depicted an African American family in which the father was told by the mother that “KFC has 0 grams of trans fat now.” The father, in the presence of children, shouts, “Yeah baby! Whoooo!!” and then begins eating the fried chicken by the bucketful.

Or cereal companies touting all the whole grains in their cocoa puffs brownie crunch. Fruit Loops now provides fiber.

A U.S. district judge overseeing a tobacco industry case put it well: “All too often in the choice between the physical health of consumers and the financial well-being of business, concealment is chosen over disclosure, sales over safety, and money over morality. Who are these persons who knowingly and secretly decide to put the buying public at risk solely for the purpose of making profits, and who believe that illness and death of consumers is an apparent cost of their own prosperity?” Above all, the experience of tobacco shows how powerful profits can be as a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

I know some people don’t like my “political” videos and wish I’d just stick to the science, but it’s impossible to understand the disconnect between the balance of evidence and dietary recommendations without understanding the impact of commercial influence. See, for example:

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

90 responses to “Big Food Using the Tobacco Industry Playbook

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  1. Welcome everyone to day #5 of Julieanna Week! Joseph is taking a week to do offline work for us, and so Julieanna Hever, R.D. is stepping in to be NutritionFacts.org’s resident dietician. This is everyone’s opportunity to take advantage of her vast knowledge of how to take all the science and translate it into day-to-day healthier living for your family. We’re just so honored to have her on board this week!




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    1. What a brilliant video, Dr. Greger! This connection between these two unfathomably powerful industries (cigarette and the animal product/processed food) is spot on and provides a great summary of your Food as Medicine year-in-review! For those of you who may not know me, I am known as the Plant-Based Dietitian and I am an author, speaker, and tv host. I also work with clients around the world using whole food, plant-based nutrition to help improve their health and performance. I am honored to be here for my week as a Guest Moderator and happy to answer any questions about this compelling video and all things nutrition, health, fitness, or herbivorous children raising…




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      1. Hii Julieanna, Hi Doc.

        I my self is a big fans of Doc Michael G, my wife n i are scientific plant based diet, I live in the world that there is certainly rare to find a children that have been raised based on plant based diet.I would need some guidance or study review or any recommendation of the best way to raising plant based children since baby,like how is the menu to ensure the balance of the nutrition and how to make them in love with the veggies.

        Kindly help thanks.




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        1. Hi, I’m not a medical professional, but I just purchased my copy of the new “Becoming Vegan express edition” book by famous registered dietiton Brenda Davis. It’s a great read has a chapter on raising vegan children “From Pregnancy On: Nourishing Strong Children.” Brenda Davis is a mom also.

          Years ago, in the nineteen seventies, the Farm Commune was started by Steven Gaskin, and the people raised about 500 children vegan. The scientific community got interested and studied them from the beginning to age 17, finding them to be as healthy as any population of American children ( we were healthier then than now!) We’ve learned ao much more now from expensive research, there is no doubt that healthy children can be raised vegan. I personally know a family with 5 boys vegan from before conception, all healthy smart tall and beautiful, some are now adults and so far ahead of the game. I so admire such a dedicated and intelligent family, such as yourselves. But please, do supplement with vitamin B12, and with vitamin D in the appropriated dosages.




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        2. Hi Christo!
          The single greatest challenge of my life is translating all the information and passion I have for nutrition into my ability to inspire my children to eat the way I want them to. It is no easy feat. All the research shows that role modeling is number one with respect to effectively teaching your children in the long run. I’ve also seen personally and with clients over the years that having both parents on the same page makes life extraordinarily easier! I struggled for years with my husband loving sugary and processed foods and the kids loving those same foods (and him as their fave parent) because of it! When he changed his diet this past year and got 100% on board with me, it became a completely different world!

          It also helps to only have healthful foods in the home (hence why my last point is so important). Always have beautiful fruits and veggies and other excellent quick-grab foods such as hummus, whole grain crackers, trail mix, etc. easily visible and accessible so it’s the first thing they see when they’re hungry.

          Finally, repetition, repetition, repetition. Let those veggies and other healthy items pop up everywhere in different ways, shapes, and forms. Try broccoli raw in a salad, blended in a smoothie, cooked and thrown into pasta, puréed and hidden in a marinara sauce, etc. And keep trying as their tastebuds and preferences change as they develop.

          In terms of what a meal plan ideally looks like, it should look like yours but perhaps less overall. Make sure they’re getting their B12 and perhaps vitamin D and plant-based DHA and EPA and monitor them via their energy and growth. If they are eating about 2-3 servings of fruit, 3-5 servings of veggies, whole grains, and legumes, with some nuts, seeds, and avocado for healthy fats, they should be golden!

          Most importantly, perhaps, is to remain patient with the process!




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        3. Hello,. . I’d like to share a quick story about kids and vegetables. I was in the grocery store produce aisle when I heard, “Mom! Can we get some brussels sprouts?” coming from a 6 year old boy. Pleasantly shocked I turned and just HAD to ask Mom how she managed to raise a young boy requesting vegetables. Her reply? “I just started him out that way and we never had any junk food in the house. It’s all he’s ever known” It was just that simple – she was the parent and she set the standard, not the other way around.

          I would also like to share with the readers this very interesting website:

          http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2

          I have selected broccoli for this particular link. But you can enter any food and this site give you the breakdown for many interesting and important nutritional facts about whatever food you are interested in: Protein, carbs, fats, calories, vitamins, minerals, glycemic load, pairing(if interested) and much more. So this link shows that broccoli is 20% protein, has a nutritional completeness score of 92(out of 100), glycemic load of 3(very low), etc.
          So if you’re trying to raise kids and want to know what you’re feeding them nutritionally, this may help you get the information you are looking for.
          Have a great day.




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          1. That is fantastic! That is the ideal situation for raising kids healthy…starting from the get go. Especially because once you hit school and sports, etc., the junk food opportunities are incessant! I love that my kids have never been into a fast food restaurant and that they understand why we eat the way we do despite their friends’ different perspectives. It is not a healthy society out there and everything in our surroundings fortify the standard American diet ideal.

            Here are some great articles about feeding vegan children through the lifespan from Vegetarian Resource Group and PCRM.




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            1. Dear Julieanna,
              Thank you for being a mom! Congratulations on doing the hardest job in the world. I have a question if you please. Dessicated thyroid, which is not Vegan, it is made from the pork thyroid, is very good for the heart. It can reduce your risk of heart attack by more than 90 percent. However, getting people to take Dessicated thyroid is not easy because almost everyone has taster’s choice to Iodine, ie, we know we can only take Iodine when we are ready. What are the heart health benefits of taking seaweed? For instance, three sheets of Nori a day? Dessicated thyroid is just T3 and T4, which is stabilized Iodine. Is Iodine from plant sources like seaweed good for the heart? Can vegans get a similar benefit from plant based Iodine? Can three sheets of Nori a day reduce your risk of heart attack by 90 percent as well? Thank you very much in advance. Superior advice about diet is always appreciated, and the investment in the Whole Foods Plant Based diet is a superior one. I love oatmeal, peanut butter, vegetable soap, and rice protein powder. Without the IGF-1 from meat I found I don’t get as hungry as much. Thank you.




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              1. Thank you, Matthew, for your kind words. I have to say that this is the first time I have ever heard of consuming desiccated thyroid. Please feel free to share the research that suggests a 90% reduced risk of heart attack from consuming it because I have never seen anything to substantiate that. To my knowledge, the only way of eating that has been shown to have significant and extensive cardiovascular disease benefit is a whole food, plant-based diet, as you can see in this in-depth video as well as in the research of Drs. Nathan Pritikin, Dean Ornish, and Caldwell Esselstyn. With respect to iodine, we need a proper amount (not too much and not too little) for healthy thyroid metabolism, as delineated in these videos However, I have not seen a direct link between iodine consumption and cardiovascular disease risk. Sources of plant-based iodine, such as sea vegetables, are excellent sources of several minerals. I would imagine that consuming direct sources of thyroid hormones would downregulate your body’s own production of thyroid hormones, but I am not an endocrinologist. Fantastic that you are feeling the benefits of eliminating meat, and I can recommend swapping the desiccated thyroid out and allowing your body to do what it is designed to do! If you have a thyroid condition, of course, I advise speaking to your physician about it, but a healthy thyroid will thrive by eating plants!




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                1. Dessicated porcine thyroid tissue, Armour brand, is sold as a ‘natural’ source of thyroid HORMONES, not iodine. Mr. Smith, you might want to look into what exactly the T3 and T4 are. The synthetic hormone, generic name levothyroxine, has more accurate hormone content, where with Armour’s product the amount varies. Utilization by the body depends on what else was ingested with the dried thyroid tissue.




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                  1. Thank you for answering my question. Armour brand thyroid is a balanced source of T3 and T4. The main chemical backbone of T3 and T4 is bound Iodine, or two Iodine molecules. Synthetic thyroid hormones also have Iodine. Iodine is important for the thyroid. The thyroid regulates the heartbeat. On Iodine, my heart doesn’t have to beat as loudly to shake all that Iodine clean, I imagine. I feel in my opinion alone that Iodine gets damaged or magnetized in the body and the heart has to shake it clean with a louder and louder heart beat. Iodine, in my opinion, is very good for the heart.




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                2. Thank you. A link to the research that desiccated thyroid, which could be bought from a vitamin store or a butcher, is at

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXbmhDymPVo

                  “94% fewer heart attacks w/ desiccated thyroid Mark Starr MD”

                  Iodine has had a strong impact on my hear health.

                  Desiccated thyroid has been advertised as an alternative treatment to schizophrenia which is why I am interested in taking it. Iodine has had a profound benefit to my mental health. I must have been quite deficient. I always thought salt was too salty, and after a while I think it was because I was developing a dependency on Iodine. Now I love eating foods that contain Iodine (seaweed). I didn’t like edamame either, until I realized that I maybe had a nickel deficiency. Now I love it!




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                  1. Thyroid disease is a risk factor for heart disease and impairs cardiac function. It also has negative effects on mental health. Desiccated thyroid can be used to treat hypothyroidism. The video from Dr. Starr that you referenced concerned patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Consumption of desiccated thyroid is not cardioprotective and certainly is not a treatment for schizophrenia in the absence of thyroid disease.




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                    1. I think Dr. Greger would agree mental health problems are nutritional. The vegan diet can improve mood and improve productivity. Does that mean mental illness is related to nutrition? Once food allergies are eliminated, and proper sources of nutrition are added, including adequate sources of B vitamins, Iodine, Iron, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur, most mental illnesses can improve. The Nitrogen metabolism pathway which processes tryptophan, Niacin, and Serotonin is dealing with the problem that there is too little nitrogen in the body that is unbound or ready to be used. This creates a lot of extra work for the mind. Foods rich in Nitrogen include Rooibos tea, Beans, and peanuts. They are known to improve health and may be involved in an emotionally healthy lifestyle.




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          2. That’s a really encouraging story you shared about the little boy requesting brussels sprouts. I witnessed a similar incident at our local food co-op last week when a little girl of about that same age, standing in front of the organic apples display, asked her mom if she could have an apple. Right behind her was the candy display, which she and her mother both completely ignored. :-)




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          3. When my kids were little, I didn’t provide them with candy and provided them with plenty of vegetables. Consequently, when a doctor was testing my son for the use of his arm following an accident, she held out a big lollipop and said he could have it if he took it with the affected arm. I explained that he was not excited about the lollipop because he did not know what it was; I said I was not “that kind” of mother. She replied that well, she was “that kind” of doctor…. (Sigh!)




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        4. Christo,
          As so well stated by Julieanna Hever the main key is to “remain patient with the process!” This statement rings very true and and I would like to add something as well. It is key to remember we never Own our children we are only guides. No matter what their choices, we should be leading by example and hopefully they will begin to do what is in their best interest which is eat and be healthy.

          I’ll give you my experience. My kids were changed to plant based over 4 years ago and now my two boys are 15 and 17 years old. About a year and a half ago when my son started to drive he began to eat with his friends and started eating a lot of fast food. He then got a job at In & Out Burger where they give you a free Double (bypass) Double meal with every shift they work. I have implored him to be careful and to not eat their food because of the very high risk it places him for having a heart attack or stroke or who knows cancer? I have explained to him countless times, “You don’t want to be like John McDougall, MD, and have a stroke at 18 years old do you?” But I would always say this with kindness and not condescension.
          Finally last week he came home and told me he is going to stop eating there. I asked why? He said that he really doesn’t want to have a stroke or heart attack and is now eating more Mexican food, bean burritos with rice, and pizza with light cheese. I was pleasantly surprised.

          Interestingly he knows and understands all the research regarding plant based nutrition and gets in many heated debates with his meat and dairy eating friends about eating Vegan. He tells them, “You eat meat because you like it not because it is good for you!” And they always ask things like, ‘Eating Vegan you will become protein deficient.”, “You will die because it is low in B12.” , “You need calcium from milk.” etc. He stands his ground though, explaining the truth about their misconceptions and educating them about NutritionFacts.org and Dr. McDougall so they can research the information themselves.

          He even states that he eats meat, but he knows its not healthy. He eats it because, as he said to me one day, “Dad, I think they put crack in their food at In & Out because I just crave it so much!”

          The food industry is cunning and powerful and uses many flavor enhancers, spices and fat that dump a ton of the pleasure enhancing neurotransmitter Dopamine into our blood which makes us feel so good that we crave those toxic foods. A great example of this in action is the Documentary “SuperSize Me”. This is where a Vegan guy goes on a 30 day fast food diet and at one point he is explaining that the only time he feels good is when he is eating the fast food. If he was not eating the fast food he would feel depressed. That is powerful food! It really made me understand the addiction that can happen from eating that lifestyle. This is what the research also supports, and that is eating the fast-food way results in a reward type system for the body so when you eat those foods you will feel better but when you don’t you feel down. That is nearly as powerful as any opiate on the market. The problem is, however, it is a never ending cycle. And one that clearly has dire consequences.

          If it helps I have had many whole food, Plant Based/Vegan families in my practice of medicine and they have raised healthier children than any meat/dairy eating child.
          The plant based families and children have less sicknesses, less overall medical problems, non-existent obesity and non-existent type two diabetes.

          Dr. McDougall has raised all his children plant/starch based and as well all of his grandchildren have been raised plant based and they are all very healthy. I know this first hand because I have been very blessed to work with Dr. McDougall and his family for over four years now.

          The time is right for change and you are doing the healthiest thing for you and your children. You should be encouraged that raising your children as plant based children is the second best thing you could ever do for your children!

          You ask what the first most important thing is that you can do for your children?
          Be patient and provide endless and unconditional love. One day you will hopefully be amazed at the miracle(s) you created.




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        5. What worked for my parents, so that I’ve always liked a long list of veggies? There were veggies for snacks and nothing else, there were multiple kinds all the time, and best of all, if I turned up my nose at anything at the table, their forks would instantly spear things off my plate and my parents would happily chew those vegs while saying ‘More for me!’ I didn’t like being robbed!




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  2. I remember my Grandmother telling me her doctor told her that smoking would help her control her weight and soothe her “nerves.” She was always chubby and always worried about everything. She died of emphysema. She always wanted to quit and after being hospitalized with pneumonia, she did have a couple of smoke-free years before her death. It was amazing how much better she looked and felt during that short time, but it was definitely smoking that took her life..




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    1. BB: What a sad story. I’m glad your grandmother had a bit of an upturn at the end. It is personal stories like these that bring home how devastating the tobacco industry has been. That our food suppliers follow the same path is horrifying.




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    2. I, too, lost my Mother to smoking lung disease. Even though she had quit smoking 50 years before her death she lived for decades with COPD lung disease. Once cancer was diagnosed the pharmaceutical industry got ahold of her as well. The decades of tortured living and gruesome death are nothing but slow murder by corrupted industries beholden ONLY to the profit motive. The meat and dairy industries participate fully in their own cover-up-by-confusion marketing ploys and spend billions of dollars enacting their despicable theater. Dr. Greger should never be ashamed or held back by taking on the political aspects of science-sabotage as it relates to food. Good for you Dr. Greger! You will never know how grateful I am that you stand for ethical truth-telling.




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    3. I am one who smoked for 35 or so years and was in the middle of the “controversy”. I now have quit and had COPD for the past 15 years. Young people today just don’t believe how we were lied to and tricked, and they say we just wanted to believe them. Unfortunately, they do not see the same thing happening to themselves with the food. Yes I was addicted to tobacco but I do believe they are just as addicted to cheese, meats and processed foods. But they don’t want to see the connection to disease.




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  3. After the smoking issues of the past, it is quite amazing we learned nothing from it, laws and policies did not change. We now have a repeat of it in the food industry, in the global warming circles.. when does the corruption end?




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    1. “.. when does the corruption end?”

      When individuals are personally held to account for the actions of the corporations they head. When CEOs start taking the “perp-walk” of shame and especially when they have to pay penalties out of their own pockets, then things will change. As long as they can hide behind a faceless corporate monolith, then nothing will ever happen.




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      1. The law that stopped Big Tobacco will hit Exxon between the eyes quite soon is the RICO Act; and it can and will be used to bring these companies down.




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          1. If you knowingly lie, or hire someone to lie about a product to deceive the public, it is a crime under the RICO Act. That is why New York’s Attorney General is looking at bringing charges against Exxon. That is also why Big Tobacco had to pay so much money into a fund to correct the misinformation they put out for years about their product when they knew better.




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            1. Seems like it would be a very easy case to win against the Dairy Council, among others. Getting anyone to care would be another question.




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              1. Unfortunately, what you said is true, we do have to get people to care, But as time passes the outrage will grow people will become informed. Also, since we have terrible over-site of these industries, there will be outbreaks of contamination that will make people question the safety of these foods.
                Just keeping eating WFPB foods and you’ll live long enough to watch society change, and the people you know will watch you stay healthy while they have problems as they age.




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            2. We don’t see any action happening on this though, for the environment all they need to do is delay delay delay until we are past the point of no return, and we might be past it already :(




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              1. We might be past the tipping point, but I have hope that we will change. If we were to all stop eating animal products tomorrow it would have a tremendous impact on global climate change.




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  4. Great video as always Dr. Greger! These industries have all the coins in their pocket; they can advertise on TV and say anything they want, they can influence our politicians and water down governmental regulation, and they can provide this junk on the cheap so poorer people live on it. Big Ag, big pharma, and even the medical establishment make money off their ignorance. I hope that as the insurance industry begins to see the profit in having a healthier population people can be informed by a source that they trust because they are being lied to by everyone else.

    I consider myself very lucky that I happened to hear Thom Hartmann speak about Dr. Greger 14 months ago. It changed my life.




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  5. Incorporation allows the Greed of Man to be fulfilled damn the costs.

    Regulation works to balance the Public interest with Business, but only in theory and rhetoric.

    Thanks to Dr. G and the others here who help us find the Truth underlying our Nutrition and Health.

    Every dollar spent is a vote cast. It is profits from those dollars that fuel the corruption and influence.




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      1. The future of independent, higher-quality products of every single type depends upon its current success. Too many allow the good things to fail because there was a “dollar” to be saved. Wisdom meets frugality at some point.




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  6. The big difference I hope people see with the food industry vs the tobacco industry is there is an alternative. While the alternative to smoking is simply stop smoking. The alternative to eating processed foods is to eat other foods, preferably plant foods. And what an alternative that is! Not only does it taste good, but it’s so much better for you.




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  7. The one thing that allows individuals to dictate to corporations is consumer demand. Remember to vote with your feet and by your example lead others to do so as well.




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  8. “Who are these persons who knowingly and secretly decide to put the buying public at risk solely for the purpose of making profits, and who believe that illness and death of consumers is an apparent cost of their own prosperity?” Above all, the experience of tobacco shows how powerful profits can be as a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering.”

    And not just today in the food industry, but in the medical industry. The food ministry sets them up, and then the medical industry takes them down, through a multitude of ineffective, harmful, but very, very profitable procedures.

    As just one example, in the case of statins, apparently even high risk patients have less than 5% chance of benefiting from a cardioprotective drug taken for 5 years; meaning 95+% of patients will take the drug for 5 years without benefit, but potentially suffering all of the side effects.

    According to Forbes ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2011/12/07/the-high-stakes-games-around-generic-lipitor/ ), by 2011 Lipitor alone, sold at an astounding 99.7% profit margin, had made Pfizer an astounding 130 billion dollars.




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    1. I did not know that there is a less than 5 percent chance of benefiting from a statin. I had read that they don’t work for 99 percent of the people who use them, but this is the second time I have heard this information about Statins. Did you know that Niacin, taken in the appropriate dosage of 2 or more grams a day, can reduce LDL, Triglycerides, raise HDL, and lower Lipoprotein(a) in many people? After awhile, out of whack blood work might go in the category of Niacin deficiency… People should be warned of the skin flushing or rash though. It starts in your temples and works its way down to your feet. Some people find it unpleasant but it is just the removal of excess histamine. What if out of whack blood work is a side effect of all the milling? Perhaps mitochondria are feed by Nitrogen, with energy they pass on to ribosomes to make Amino Acids, and milling introduces a Nitrogen deficiency which can only be feed by blood fats the body has available, creating heart problems, in my opinion. Thank you for your attention.




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      1. Some try to avoid the flushing but that is the only kind that works. I certainly would never recommend a gram until a person has gradually built up to that dose starting MUCH lower. You can feel like you are dying if you take that large a dose.




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      2. I endorse what Mr. Smith says about niacin. The flush turns me pink and as I look at my arms while they are all vasodilated, I see the little pale spots where the circulation is less robust. It has brought up my HDL so now my PCP is satisfied, even delighted with my lipids. I didn’t know about the 2 gm dose. If you decide to try it, avoid products that say ‘flush-free’ because the flush is the whole point. This is not about toilets flushing, btw, but about having a redder appearance. The effect lasts about 15 minutes or so, and some days I feel it more than others. I plan to always use it.




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    2. Again it is sadly so true. And the government agencies that should be protecting us, aid and abet the killers and scammers, while refusing to allow a cherry company to list true health information (just one example).




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    3. When I took statins I suffered liver damage. Then I tried niacin – also liver damage. It was this experience which prompted me to investigate nutrition and health so in a way I am very grateful to statins.

      However, I think that is important to look at the evidence on statins and not just anecdotal reports, the opinions of bloggers and the views of self appointed experts with websites. If we listened to them, we would all believe that saturated fat is a health food, high blood cholesterol is protective and it was the manufacturers of statins who “invented” findings that high blood cholesterol is a health risk.

      The UK’s National Health Service provides universal health care and heavily subsidises prescription drugs. It therefore has a strong vested interest in only approving drugs that are demonstrated to be clinically effective AND cost effective. They found that for some target groups the number of lives saved by statins is “clinically insignificant” but nonetheless concluded that the evidence demonstrates that statins are cost effective because they reduce adverse effects like stroke with relatively few adverse side effects. They issued a lengthy report on the evidence and established guidelines. The full report is lengthy, detailed and occasionally technical. However, it is well worth reading if people want a summary of the evidence about statins instead of the usual poor quality discussions that are too often found on internet websites.
      http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg181/evidence/cg181-lipid-modification-update-full-guideline3

      The Cochrane Collaboration is also a a highly reliable source of independent information on health issues. It is well worth considering relevant Cochrane reviews before coming to a view on these drugs (use the search term “statin”):
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/cochranelibrary/search
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004816.pub5/abstract

      Of course, diet and lifestyle changes are far better solutions to cholesterol problems but even Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish and John McDougall see a role for statins in certain specific circumstances.




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  9. It’s really no surprise that Big Food has adopted the successful strategies of the Tobacco Industry. Reynolds Tobacco began diversifying into foods and other non-tobacco businesses in the 1960s. They have a simple business model. They are pushers looking to create junkies who will become repeat buyers of their life destroying products.




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  10. Dr Greger, It’s the nature that the beast of taking on the food and health debacle is political. In fact, nearly the entire food/health debate is politics which has created the elephant in the china closet of Big Food today. Without crony capitalism we would have ten cent salads and one hundred dollar steaks.

    Personally, I realish your responsible well-documented assaults on food politics which are so empowering for the consumer. I think every article you write should include a political thread. The food industry deserves no mercy since they enjoy a totally captive market. People must eat. Playing David and Goliath can be fun. If you are single, you and Marion Nestle oughtt to get married.




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  11. Hello. I’ve noticed that the text of your posted items always starts with the
    word “The”. And that word is always on the first line and way over to the far
    right of that first line. It’s come to mind that this can be changed to cause
    the word “The” to move to the beginning of the next line by simply adding/typing
    three spaces before the word “The.” After the word “The” is move that way, what
    is now the second line will become the first line by leaving the original first
    line blank. Not being critical. Just sharing what I believe will improve the
    appearance of your product. Have a nice day.




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  12. Excellent video, though infuriating and chilling. Here’s another chilling video on a somewhat related point… I’m sure many here will see the striking parallels between these smoker-on-the-street responses in 1962 to the just-released Royal College of Physcians’ report on smoking & lung cancer, and the many similar (and usually more virulent) responses to the WHO’s recent report on red/processed meat and cancer (or pretty much any reports on the connections between consuming animal flesh and secretions with adverse health effects!)




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  13. from the doctor’s note: “I know some people don’t like my “political” videos,…”

    I love the political/history videos! I personally find them fun. But more than that, I think they are important. I agree that this type of information is vital to someone being able to understand why the rest of the information on NutritionFacts.org isn’t already common and accepted knowledge. People without a scientific background *and* hundreds and hundreds of hours into nutrition-specific research are rightfully confused. How many times have we seen people post links to some “Butter is Back” or “paleo” website and leave a heartfelt (and totally understandable) cry of “How do I know what to believe?” These types of “political” NutritionFacts videos are a part of the answer to that question.




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    1. Agree. This type of videos are important not so much to the regular visitors to Nutritionfacts.org but to those who stumble upon the site and to those who receives the videos from the regular visitors. (Unfortunately, few, if any, who get NF from me watch them. They used to acknowledge. Now they don’t even do that. Oh well, ignorance is bliss, they say.)




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    2. Not only are they important they are mission-critical pieces of evidence to show how low they must stoop to keep you buying their toxins! Truth be damned! Profits rule!
      This attitude with be the demise of the planet and all human kind.

      Educate, educate, educate! That is the only way!




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  14. Getting away is what makes things normal. The plasticity of the human mind allows all kinds of behaviour to be passed as normal as long as people get away. The fox watching over the hens is acceptable because the fox brings money to the hens. But out of sight (out of mind), the fox steals the hens. Corporations buying regulations are the fox watching over public health. It is deeper. To begin to understand the plasticity of the human mind one has to see it in the contrast of history. While not related to diet, I would recommend this book to learn how to see things with different eyes and start seeing the mess we live in:

    http://www.amazon.com/A-Peoples-History-United-States/dp/0060838655




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  15. I agree the industry is out to fool, but at the same time I can’t help but feel people want to be fooled. Some of the onus is on the individual too.
    When people hear good news about their bad habits (KFC now has 0g trans fats) they will happily use this to validate their actions. And this is what the big food company’s play into massively.




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  16. I highly recommend the book Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway to anyone who wishes to understand the strategy used by industries and others to prevent action being taken on important issues. They fool people into thinking that there is still an active debate on issues when the science is actually pretty much settled. It was successful in delaying action against the tobacco companies for decades, and the same strategy is being used to delay action concerning climate change.




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    1. Excellent questions! I know the website can seem daunting but we have awesome search engines. Just look for “turmeric” and watch all of the amazing videos Dr. G worked hours on end to create! Let me know if you cannot find the answers and I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction :-)




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  17. Meat, eggs & dairy industry = cigarette industry. There is no difference…

    Both are out to deceive and do not care at all about our health. I view animal products like I do “radiation exposure”. The less the better… Keep up the good fight Dr G! Your message is so vitally important to humanity.




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  18. Sounds like what has happened in the vaccine industry, exactly!! US vaccine policy, Hiding VAERS data on frequency and severity of vaccine injury, so the public assumes the lie of “safe and effective”. Omitting any liability of vaccine manufactures (1986), and thus, taking away any incentive to make safe vaccines. 1 in 6 children are now neurologically damaged$$$$$$$$$ 2015 and getting worse.




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  19. My friend has recently started using electronic smoking devices, and is claiming they are no more harmful than a cup of coffee. Obviously it is dependent on how much you consume, and given he is going to it every 10 minutes, versus a coffee once a day, I’m skeptical. I understood nicotine is one of the hardest addictive substances to “quit”? Any advice or research you can point me to?




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    1. PaulK: Here’s what webmd has to say:
      http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/electronic-cigarettes

      Here’s a quote I think is relevant:
      “The nicotine inside the cartridges is addictive. When you stop using it, you can get withdrawal symptoms including feeling irritable, depressed, restless and anxious. It can be dangerous for people with heart problems. It may also harm your arteries over time.

      So far, evidence suggests that e-cigarettes may be safer than regular cigarettes. The biggest danger from tobacco is the smoke, and e-cigarettes don’t burn. Tests show the levels of dangerous chemicals they give off are a fraction of what you’d get from a real cigarette. But what’s in them can vary.”

      There is more to the article that I think is worth reading. Also, I have heard that there is some concern about the chemicals used in those products. And we don’t even know necessarily what all those chemicals are. Does anyone really believe that the manufacturers are being transparent? If so, I have a bridge to sell you…

      My 2 Cents Are: If e-cigarettes are used by someone as a transition device to quit smoking, then e-cigs are great. But your friend does not appear to be using the device that way. A ‘less bad’ device is still a bad device.

      The situation reminds me of the people who pig out on ‘low fat’ processed foods like say cookies. Low fat may be less bad, but they are still cookies, filled with empty calories and often replacing the fat with other things that are almost as bad or even worse on human health.




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  20. Greger prefaces by noting: “I know some people don’t like my “political” videos, just wishing I’d stick to the science”.

    Calling this kind of video solely “political”, if someone did that, is a one-sided way of putting it, and is intended to be discrediting. The video has political elements but it is mainly about morality. Morality is one of the first considerations for doing science. If it wasn’t, what would be wrong with involuntary human experimentation? Most people aren’t okay with just ‘sticking to science’ and experimenting on humans, because it would be immoral. Many of these issues are not this black and white. If scientists are not supposed to think about these issues at all and are just supposed to do whatever someone else decides and tells them is moral, who are the people making these decisions? Why can’t scientists be involved?

    Saying scientists aren’t allowed to consider morality was long ago ruled illegal. In fact scientists are legally required to consider morality. The famous phrase for doing not doing so is “just following orders”. That is not an adequate legal defense, and people were executed for it. So whoever is telling Dr. Greger not to make videos that focus on politics / morality should be dismissed as a fringe kook, or at best just an ignorant person, and ignored by the Doctor.




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