The McGovern Report

The McGovern Report
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The story behind the first U.S. dietary recommendations report explains why, to this day, the decades of science supporting a more plant-based diet have yet to fully translate into public policy.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

George McGovern, who died last year, age 90, was best known for his 1972 Presidential defeat to Richard Nixon. But, he also chaired a committee that released the first Dietary Guidelines in the United States, in January 1977. “The simple fact is,” quoting from the press conference, “that our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years, with great and often very harmful effects on our health. These dietary changes represent as great a threat to public health as smoking…The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich–rich in meat, [and] other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, and in sugar…Most all of the health problems underlying the leading causes of death in the United States could be modified by improvements in diet…Ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension are the diseases that kill us. They are epidemic in our population. We cannot afford to temporize….The public wants some guidance, wants to know the truth, and hopefully today we can lay the cornerstone for the building of better health for all Americans, through better nutrition.”

As Dr. Hegsted later recounted in an interview (a founding member of Harvard’s Nutrition Department, that spoke at the press conference): “The meat, milk and egg producers were very upset.”  And, they weren’t the only ones.

The president and chair of the International Sugar Research Foundation called the report “unfortunate and ill-advised”—all part of the “emotional, anti-sucrose, anti-table sugar tidal wave” conspiracy, evidently. From the official record of the Committee hearings: “Simply stated, people like sweet things, and apparently the McGovern Committee believes that people should be deprived of what they like. There is a puritanical streak in certain Americans that leads them to become ‘do-gooders.’”

The president of the Salt Institute felt “that there is definitely no need for a dietary goal that calls for the reduction of salt consumption.” In fact, the assertion from the report that “improved nutrition may cut the Nation’s health bill by one third” was challenged.

See, what the Committee didn’t understand is that “healthcare expenditures increase if the lifespan is prolonged.” See, if people live longer, because they eat healthier, it could be more expensive. As some researcher pointed out, “…if tobacco were banned…the increase in the expected lifespan would simultaneously increase the cost of care of old people, which comes under the category of healthcare expenditures.” If people eat healthier, the Salt Institute warned, we might have more old people to take care of!

The National Dairy Council likewise recommended the dietary goals be withdrawn, and reformulated to have the endorsement of the food industry. You know, as soon as Häagen-Dazs says they’re okay, then go for it.

The two industries that went most ballistic, though, were the meat and egg producers, who demanded additional hearings were held. Egg Councils requested the distribution of the Dietary Goals be immediately stopped. “The frightening development as far as the egg industry [was] concerned is that the advocates of a modified, low-cholesterol diet now have the credibility and…prestige of the U.S. Senate…”

The president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association described why the meat industry “reacted rather violently,” complaining that “meat is never mentioned in a positive way” in the guidelines. “The only mention of meat are those associating meat consumption with various degenerative diseases. If these ‘Dietary Goals’ are moved forward and promoted in the present form…entire sectors of the food industry (meat, dairy, egg, sugar, and others) may be so severely damaged that when it is realized that the ‘Dietary Goals’ are ill-advised, as surely [they] will be, production recovery may be out of reach.”

“Thus guided by [my] conscience,” said the president of the National Live Stock and Meat Board, “I am certain that actions of the animal industries to [ensure] Americans are properly fed with abundant meat and other animal foods is an honorable and morally correct diet course.”

The meat industry recommended the Committee withdraw the dietary guidelines and “issue a corrected report.” They especially didn’t like guideline number two—to decrease meat consumption to lower saturated fat intake. Senator Dole (Kansas Senator Dole) offered to have that amended from “decrease meat consumption” to instead “increase consumption of lean meat.” “Would that taste better to you?” he asked the president of the Cattlemen’s Association, who replied, “Decrease is a bad word, Senator.”

So, what happened? By the end of the year, a revised version was released, indeed. The guideline two was changed from “decrease meat consumption” to “choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.”

That wasn’t enough for the meat industry, though. They wanted the whole Committee on Nutrition eliminated completely, and its functions turned over to the Agriculture Committee. The New York Times, noting that “[T]he Agriculture Committee looks after the producers of food,” editorialized that folding the Nutrition Committee into the Agriculture Committee would be like “sending the chickens off to live with the foxes.” And, that’s what happened.

The Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs got disbanded, and placed within the Senate committee on Agriculture. George McGovern fought until the bitter end, though. When an interviewer confronted him with the Serenity Prayer’s “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” McGovern rejected the notion, saying: “I keep trying to change them.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tilden76 via Wikimedia Commons

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

George McGovern, who died last year, age 90, was best known for his 1972 Presidential defeat to Richard Nixon. But, he also chaired a committee that released the first Dietary Guidelines in the United States, in January 1977. “The simple fact is,” quoting from the press conference, “that our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years, with great and often very harmful effects on our health. These dietary changes represent as great a threat to public health as smoking…The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich–rich in meat, [and] other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, and in sugar…Most all of the health problems underlying the leading causes of death in the United States could be modified by improvements in diet…Ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension are the diseases that kill us. They are epidemic in our population. We cannot afford to temporize….The public wants some guidance, wants to know the truth, and hopefully today we can lay the cornerstone for the building of better health for all Americans, through better nutrition.”

As Dr. Hegsted later recounted in an interview (a founding member of Harvard’s Nutrition Department, that spoke at the press conference): “The meat, milk and egg producers were very upset.”  And, they weren’t the only ones.

The president and chair of the International Sugar Research Foundation called the report “unfortunate and ill-advised”—all part of the “emotional, anti-sucrose, anti-table sugar tidal wave” conspiracy, evidently. From the official record of the Committee hearings: “Simply stated, people like sweet things, and apparently the McGovern Committee believes that people should be deprived of what they like. There is a puritanical streak in certain Americans that leads them to become ‘do-gooders.’”

The president of the Salt Institute felt “that there is definitely no need for a dietary goal that calls for the reduction of salt consumption.” In fact, the assertion from the report that “improved nutrition may cut the Nation’s health bill by one third” was challenged.

See, what the Committee didn’t understand is that “healthcare expenditures increase if the lifespan is prolonged.” See, if people live longer, because they eat healthier, it could be more expensive. As some researcher pointed out, “…if tobacco were banned…the increase in the expected lifespan would simultaneously increase the cost of care of old people, which comes under the category of healthcare expenditures.” If people eat healthier, the Salt Institute warned, we might have more old people to take care of!

The National Dairy Council likewise recommended the dietary goals be withdrawn, and reformulated to have the endorsement of the food industry. You know, as soon as Häagen-Dazs says they’re okay, then go for it.

The two industries that went most ballistic, though, were the meat and egg producers, who demanded additional hearings were held. Egg Councils requested the distribution of the Dietary Goals be immediately stopped. “The frightening development as far as the egg industry [was] concerned is that the advocates of a modified, low-cholesterol diet now have the credibility and…prestige of the U.S. Senate…”

The president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association described why the meat industry “reacted rather violently,” complaining that “meat is never mentioned in a positive way” in the guidelines. “The only mention of meat are those associating meat consumption with various degenerative diseases. If these ‘Dietary Goals’ are moved forward and promoted in the present form…entire sectors of the food industry (meat, dairy, egg, sugar, and others) may be so severely damaged that when it is realized that the ‘Dietary Goals’ are ill-advised, as surely [they] will be, production recovery may be out of reach.”

“Thus guided by [my] conscience,” said the president of the National Live Stock and Meat Board, “I am certain that actions of the animal industries to [ensure] Americans are properly fed with abundant meat and other animal foods is an honorable and morally correct diet course.”

The meat industry recommended the Committee withdraw the dietary guidelines and “issue a corrected report.” They especially didn’t like guideline number two—to decrease meat consumption to lower saturated fat intake. Senator Dole (Kansas Senator Dole) offered to have that amended from “decrease meat consumption” to instead “increase consumption of lean meat.” “Would that taste better to you?” he asked the president of the Cattlemen’s Association, who replied, “Decrease is a bad word, Senator.”

So, what happened? By the end of the year, a revised version was released, indeed. The guideline two was changed from “decrease meat consumption” to “choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.”

That wasn’t enough for the meat industry, though. They wanted the whole Committee on Nutrition eliminated completely, and its functions turned over to the Agriculture Committee. The New York Times, noting that “[T]he Agriculture Committee looks after the producers of food,” editorialized that folding the Nutrition Committee into the Agriculture Committee would be like “sending the chickens off to live with the foxes.” And, that’s what happened.

The Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs got disbanded, and placed within the Senate committee on Agriculture. George McGovern fought until the bitter end, though. When an interviewer confronted him with the Serenity Prayer’s “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” McGovern rejected the notion, saying: “I keep trying to change them.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tilden76 via Wikimedia Commons

Doctor's Note

This is my favorite video of the year so far. It gets at a fundamental issue that I raised previously in another of my favorites, The Tomato Effect. If the data is so strong and consistent that a plant-based diet can not only prevent and treat but cure our #1 killer (not to mention play a role in helping with 14 of our other top 15 leading causes of death; see Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death), why isn’t it not only the treatment of choice, but also incorporated into the official federal Dietary Guidelines (as is the case, to a small but wildly successful degree in countries like Finland; see Dietary Guidelines: From Dairies to Berries)? My 14-part video series from 2011, beginning with Nation’s Diet in Crisis, and ending with Dietary Guidelines: Pushback From the Sugar, Salt, and Meat Industries, that discusses the politics of the latest set of guidelines released that year. But, the McGovern Report story really encapsulates why decades of science have yet to translate into public policy, and it’s as relevant today as it was 35 years ago.

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

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

78 responses to “The McGovern Report

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

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

    Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788-1860.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. The medical industry is now advocating for eating less fruits and vegetables. I keep hearing from friends that they have been told to stop eating a huge list of fruits and veggies because of oxylates. And then there is the recommendations about eating less fruits/vegs because of blood blot meds. The list goes on and on…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks Dr Greger!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/SR25/nutrlist/sr25a338.pdf

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

      http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/fatty_acids/table4.html

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

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=20950616%5Buid%5D

      http://img2.tapuz.co.il/forums/1_156375095.pdf

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139128

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

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2650810/

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

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628696/?tool=pubmed

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

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989358/

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9001684

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

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989358/?tool=pubmed

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

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hp2000/hp2k01.pdf

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

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/703/2

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

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3820/2

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

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21521229

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

      http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/sat_fat/crf.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2244512/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357

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

      Best of luck with your dietary experimentation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
      Vegan On The Cheap

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

      Best of luck to you.

  19. Thanks Dr. Greger.

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

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

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

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

  22. Corporations have lobbyists with deep pockets. The American people have no lobbyists to protect their interests. It’s not fair.

  23. There are 3 goals in mind:
    1) moneyed interests protecting profits
    2) bought politicians protecting future political campaign contributions
    3) ideologues who exercise confirmation bias and refuse (I mean absolutely refuse) to objectively consider anything nutritional science says that challenges what they do. (Paleo diet advocates come to mind)

  24. This leaves out an important part of what happened, the role of the transfat (and hydrogenated oils) complex, which loved the McGovern report, It bashed unfairly bashed saturated fats and unfairly praised transfats, against the evidence. Mary Enig was a key one who saw and responded to this. See “The Oiling of America” on the McGovern Report. Giant corporate manufacturers of fake food won at the expense of farmers growing real food, nutrient dense food. http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/the-oiling-of-america/

    1. Brad: The Weston Price Foundation is not a valid source of information for science-based nutrition. You can learn a lot more about cholesterol denial-ism in general and Weston Price Foundation in particular on the Plant Positive website. Plant Positive has done an extensive scholarly work on the topic. I recommend starting at the beginning of the series. But if you are particularly interested in Weston Price, then you might start at this video and then go forward:
      http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/blog/2012/3/25/tpns-26-weston-price.html

      If you want to know fact-based details about the McGovern report, check out these videos:
      http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/display/Search?moduleId=19496100&searchQuery=McGovern
      (Probably best to start with the second link on the list that comes up.)

      There are also three videos that mention Mary Enig:
      http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/display/Search?moduleId=19496100&searchQuery=Enig

      Fascinating stuff.

      1. Thanks for the links to another point of view. What you’ve done, however, is to make an ad hominem attack on WAPF, (a logical fallacy,)” while ignoring any discussion of my point about the role of the transfat complex. You’ve also ignored the more than 60 references in the link I gave above, references that were not Weston Price. So you haven’t actually given any reasons here to buttress your view. (It’s common online to see people slinging lots of links back and forth, without actually defending them.) You’ve pointed me to a group that’s “plant positive,” which sounds like an ideology of vegetarianism/veganism. Sometimes that view is religion based, as in religions from India or the Seventh Day Adventists. The false transfat views of the transfat agribusiness complex, and then as they got government support, starting with the McGovern committee, have been widely hailed by these groups. In that case, Mary Enig was right. Transfats were not healthy and the transfat complex claims that had been widely adopted by the “pro-plant” community very slowly became known to be false, (as they were originally known to be false at the time of the McGovern Committee) The false view was all then supported by Frances Moore Lappe in best selling books like Diet for a Small Planet. Yes, there are groups on various sides of these questions arguing in various ways that their (long term or revised) perspectives are correct. Yes, a lot of evidence is presented. Yes there are ad hominum attacks. The consensus has changed, but only in part. My understanding is that cholesterol is part of a healing process. It shows up if you have inflamation, like a firetruck at a fire. Firetrucks correlate with fires, but that’s not quite the same as causing them. In addition to the nutritional questions, (nutrient deficiencies of plant based diets,) there are a lot more distortions of the facts that are common in pro-plant ideologies. For example, they look for ways to make livestock production look bad. Some widely used systems are very bad, and evidence from them is falsely used to bash all meat, for example. WAPF explains some of this here http://www.westonaprice.org/wp-content/uploads/VegetarianFlyer.pdf and here http://www.westonaprice.org/about-the-foundation/vegetarian-tour/ .

  25. Just discovered this site and Dr. Greger! Better late than never. Highly recommend the documentary “Fed Up” on Netflix. That’s what first tipped me off to the McGovern report. Even though I was living in the US then, I was totally unaware of this major happening. Sadly it took me about 30 years to catch up with this healthy nutritional choice!

    1. Stockholm: Welcome! You are in a great place to learn about true evidence-based nutrition.

      (And you are not alone on how long it has taken us to find this information. Most of us are in the same boat as you.)

  26. What can we do? This is outrageous, I usually stay out of politics, but it’s becoming abundantly clear that greed is dictating our dietary guidelines, allowing food that can be patented to be marketed in every home, fast food on every corner. It’s killing us and our government is standing behind it. How do we rally for a change in health care?

  27. Tragic that we are governed ‘by, for and of the corporations’. All about profits and not about the public’s health. I will keep educating whoever I can about living vegan and eating a whole foods plant based diet.

  28. …. no matter where the power lied after the McGovern report, the damage had already been done. Knowing now that maybe the meat, egg and dairy lobbies were correct (by accident) we see that old Georgie boy is now seen as the modern day father of Diabesity.

  29. Dr Greger,

    You are my idol and hero. I truly appreciate what you are doing for the world. Having factual information is key. Let us make our own decisions based on that information. Your work is changing lives!

  30. What a wonderful video! I am working on my MPH and would love to be able to utilize the source citations from this video in a policy brief I am working on. However, the East-West Journal link does not take me to a specific article, and there are other sources shown in the Video that are not shown on the Sources Cited section. Is it possible to have updated citations or at least full citations listed for this video so that I can fully and properly cite this powerfully valuable information? Thank you!

    1. Hi Anthony. Thank you for your support. It’s great to hear that you are finding our videos of value! Dr Greger uses sources cited in other videos found on the website. Please look at the Doctor’s note paragraph for the McGovern Report video; he provides links to other videos. There you can find the relevant sources under the Sources cited tab for each video. I hope that helps. Reach out if you have further questions.

  31. I remember voting for George McGovern for President; I was 29. It was 40 years later when I did learn the truth by watching “Forks Over Knives” and “Fed Up”, 40 years of wondering what was the cause of the appreciable increase in diseases which were so rare when I was in medical school. And there is no M.D. in my city who is on board with the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle even today. But the word about Plant-Based living is spreading, thanks to people like Dr. Greger.

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