The Role of the Toxic Food Environment in the Obesity Epidemic

The Role of the Toxic Food Environment in the Obesity Epidemic
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Implausible explanations for the obesity epidemic, such as sedentary lifestyles or lack of self-discipline, serve the needs of the manufacturers and marketers more than the public’s health and the interest in truth.

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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.

When it comes to uncovering the root causes of the obesity epidemic, there appears to be a sort of manufactured confusion. Major studies assert the causes are “extremely complex,” “fiendishly hard to untangle.” Having just reviewed the literature, it doesn’t seem like much of a mystery to me.

It’s the food.

Attempts at obfuscation—rolling out hosts of implausible explanations, like sedentary lifestyles or lack of self-discipline—serve the needs of the manufacturers and marketers more than the public’s health and the interest of truth. When asked about the role of restaurants in the obesity epidemic, the president of the National Restaurant Association replied: “Just because we have electricity doesn’t mean you have to electrocute yourself.” Yes, but they’re effectively attaching electrodes to shock and awe the reward centers in our brain to undermine our self-control.

It is hard to eat healthfully against the headwind of such strong evolutionary forces. No matter what our level of nutrition knowledge, in the face of pepperoni pizza, the ancestral heritage baked into our genes is screaming, ‘‘Eat it now!’’ Anyone who doubts the power of basic biological drives should see how long they can go without blinking or breathing. Any conscious decision to hold your breath is soon overcome by the compulsion to breathe. In medicine, shortness of breath is sometimes even referred to as “air hunger.” The battle of the bulge is a battle against biology. So, obesity is not some moral failing. It’s not gluttony or sloth. It’s a natural, normal response to the abnormal, unnatural ubiquity of calorie-dense, sugary, and fatty foods.

The sea of excess calories we are now floating in (and some of us are drowning in) has been referred to as a “toxic food environment.” This helps direct focus away from the individual towards the societal forces at work, such as the fact that the average child is blasted with 10,000 food commercials a year. Or maybe I should say pseudo-food commercials, as 95 percent of the ads are for candy, fast food, liquid candy, and breakfast candy.

Wait a second, though. If weight gain is just a natural reaction to the easy availability of mountains of cheap yummy calories, then why isn’t everyone fat? Well, in a certain sense most everyone is. It’s been estimated that more than 90 percent of American adults are “overfat,” defined as having excess body fat sufficient to impair health. This can occur even in normal-weight individuals (often due to excess abdominal fat). But even if you just look at the numbers on the scale, being overweight is the norm. If you look at the bell curve, and stick in the latest data, more than 70 percent of us are overweight, with a little less than a third on one side normal weight, and, more than a third on the other so overweight that they’re obese.

But, if the food really is to blame, why doesn’t everyone get fat? That’s like asking if cigarettes are really to blame, why don’t all smokers get lung cancer. This is where genetic dispositions and other exposures can weigh in to tip the scales. Different people are born with a different susceptibility to cancer, but that doesn’t mean smoking doesn’t play a critical role in exploding whatever inherent risk you have––and the same with obesity and our toxic food environment. It’s like the firearm analogy—genes may load the gun, but diet pulls the trigger. And we can try to switch the safety back on with smoking cessation and a healthier diet.

If you lock up two dozen folks, and feed each the exact same number of excess calories, they all gain weight, but some gain more than others. Overfeeding the same 1,000 calories a day, six days a week for 100 days caused weight gains ranging from about nine pounds to 29 pounds. The same 84,000 extra calories caused different amounts of weight gain. Some people are just more genetically susceptible. The reason we suspect it’s genetics is that the 24 people in the study were 12 sets of identical twins, and the variation in weight gain between each of them was about a third less. A similar study with weight loss from exercise found a similar result. So, yes, genetics plays a role, but that just means some people have to work harder than others. Ideally, inheriting a predisposition for extra weight gain shouldn’t give reason for resignation, but rather motivation to put in the extra effort to unseal your fate.

Advances in processing and packaging, combined with government policies and handouts that fostered cheap inputs for the “food industrial complex” led to a glut of ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat, ready-to-drink, hyperpalatable, hyperprofitable products. To help assuage impatient investors, marketing became ever more pervasive and persuasive. All these factors conspired to create unfettered access to copious, convenient, low-cost, high-calorie foods often willfully engineered with chemical additives to be make them hyperstimulatingly sweet or savory––yet only weakly satiating.

As we all sink deeper into a quicksand of calories, more and more mental energy is required to swim upstream against the constant bombardment of advertising, and 24/7 panopticons of arms-length tempting treats. There’s so much food flooding the market now that much of it ends up in the trash. Food waste has progressively increased by about 50 percent since the 1970s. Perhaps better in the landfills, though, then filling up our stomachs. Too many of these cheap, fattening foods prioritize shelf life over human life.

But dead people don’t eat. Don’t food companies have a vested interest in keeping their consumers healthy? Such naiveté reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the system. A public company’s primary responsibility is to reap returns for investors. Consider the fact that the tobacco industry produces products that kill one in two of their most loyal customers! It’s not about customer satisfaction, but shareholder satisfaction. The customer always comes second.

Just as weight gain may be a perfectly natural reaction to an obesogenic food environment, governments and businesses are just responding normally to the political and economic realities of our system. Can you think of a single major industry that would benefit from people eating healthier? “[C]ertainly not the agriculture, food product, grocery, restaurant, diet, or drug industries,” wrote emeritus professor Marion Nestle in a Science editorial when she was chair of nutrition at NYU. “All flourish when people eat more [junk], and all employ armies of lobbyists to discourage governments from doing anything” about it.

If part of the problem is cheap tasty convenience, is the solution hard-to-find food that’s gross and expensive? Or, might there be a way to get the best of all worlds—easy, healthy, delicious, satisfying meals that help you lose weight? That’s the central question of my latest book, How Not to Diet. Check it out for free at your local library.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

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.

When it comes to uncovering the root causes of the obesity epidemic, there appears to be a sort of manufactured confusion. Major studies assert the causes are “extremely complex,” “fiendishly hard to untangle.” Having just reviewed the literature, it doesn’t seem like much of a mystery to me.

It’s the food.

Attempts at obfuscation—rolling out hosts of implausible explanations, like sedentary lifestyles or lack of self-discipline—serve the needs of the manufacturers and marketers more than the public’s health and the interest of truth. When asked about the role of restaurants in the obesity epidemic, the president of the National Restaurant Association replied: “Just because we have electricity doesn’t mean you have to electrocute yourself.” Yes, but they’re effectively attaching electrodes to shock and awe the reward centers in our brain to undermine our self-control.

It is hard to eat healthfully against the headwind of such strong evolutionary forces. No matter what our level of nutrition knowledge, in the face of pepperoni pizza, the ancestral heritage baked into our genes is screaming, ‘‘Eat it now!’’ Anyone who doubts the power of basic biological drives should see how long they can go without blinking or breathing. Any conscious decision to hold your breath is soon overcome by the compulsion to breathe. In medicine, shortness of breath is sometimes even referred to as “air hunger.” The battle of the bulge is a battle against biology. So, obesity is not some moral failing. It’s not gluttony or sloth. It’s a natural, normal response to the abnormal, unnatural ubiquity of calorie-dense, sugary, and fatty foods.

The sea of excess calories we are now floating in (and some of us are drowning in) has been referred to as a “toxic food environment.” This helps direct focus away from the individual towards the societal forces at work, such as the fact that the average child is blasted with 10,000 food commercials a year. Or maybe I should say pseudo-food commercials, as 95 percent of the ads are for candy, fast food, liquid candy, and breakfast candy.

Wait a second, though. If weight gain is just a natural reaction to the easy availability of mountains of cheap yummy calories, then why isn’t everyone fat? Well, in a certain sense most everyone is. It’s been estimated that more than 90 percent of American adults are “overfat,” defined as having excess body fat sufficient to impair health. This can occur even in normal-weight individuals (often due to excess abdominal fat). But even if you just look at the numbers on the scale, being overweight is the norm. If you look at the bell curve, and stick in the latest data, more than 70 percent of us are overweight, with a little less than a third on one side normal weight, and, more than a third on the other so overweight that they’re obese.

But, if the food really is to blame, why doesn’t everyone get fat? That’s like asking if cigarettes are really to blame, why don’t all smokers get lung cancer. This is where genetic dispositions and other exposures can weigh in to tip the scales. Different people are born with a different susceptibility to cancer, but that doesn’t mean smoking doesn’t play a critical role in exploding whatever inherent risk you have––and the same with obesity and our toxic food environment. It’s like the firearm analogy—genes may load the gun, but diet pulls the trigger. And we can try to switch the safety back on with smoking cessation and a healthier diet.

If you lock up two dozen folks, and feed each the exact same number of excess calories, they all gain weight, but some gain more than others. Overfeeding the same 1,000 calories a day, six days a week for 100 days caused weight gains ranging from about nine pounds to 29 pounds. The same 84,000 extra calories caused different amounts of weight gain. Some people are just more genetically susceptible. The reason we suspect it’s genetics is that the 24 people in the study were 12 sets of identical twins, and the variation in weight gain between each of them was about a third less. A similar study with weight loss from exercise found a similar result. So, yes, genetics plays a role, but that just means some people have to work harder than others. Ideally, inheriting a predisposition for extra weight gain shouldn’t give reason for resignation, but rather motivation to put in the extra effort to unseal your fate.

Advances in processing and packaging, combined with government policies and handouts that fostered cheap inputs for the “food industrial complex” led to a glut of ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat, ready-to-drink, hyperpalatable, hyperprofitable products. To help assuage impatient investors, marketing became ever more pervasive and persuasive. All these factors conspired to create unfettered access to copious, convenient, low-cost, high-calorie foods often willfully engineered with chemical additives to be make them hyperstimulatingly sweet or savory––yet only weakly satiating.

As we all sink deeper into a quicksand of calories, more and more mental energy is required to swim upstream against the constant bombardment of advertising, and 24/7 panopticons of arms-length tempting treats. There’s so much food flooding the market now that much of it ends up in the trash. Food waste has progressively increased by about 50 percent since the 1970s. Perhaps better in the landfills, though, then filling up our stomachs. Too many of these cheap, fattening foods prioritize shelf life over human life.

But dead people don’t eat. Don’t food companies have a vested interest in keeping their consumers healthy? Such naiveté reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the system. A public company’s primary responsibility is to reap returns for investors. Consider the fact that the tobacco industry produces products that kill one in two of their most loyal customers! It’s not about customer satisfaction, but shareholder satisfaction. The customer always comes second.

Just as weight gain may be a perfectly natural reaction to an obesogenic food environment, governments and businesses are just responding normally to the political and economic realities of our system. Can you think of a single major industry that would benefit from people eating healthier? “[C]ertainly not the agriculture, food product, grocery, restaurant, diet, or drug industries,” wrote emeritus professor Marion Nestle in a Science editorial when she was chair of nutrition at NYU. “All flourish when people eat more [junk], and all employ armies of lobbyists to discourage governments from doing anything” about it.

If part of the problem is cheap tasty convenience, is the solution hard-to-find food that’s gross and expensive? Or, might there be a way to get the best of all worlds—easy, healthy, delicious, satisfying meals that help you lose weight? That’s the central question of my latest book, How Not to Diet. Check it out for free at your local library.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

This is it – the final video in this series. If you’ve missed any, here they all are:

I actually have one more video on the role of epigenetics, but I want to get back to some other topics first before revisiting. Now that you have most of this background, though, what do you actually do for weight loss? My newest book, How Not to Diet, is all about weight loss. Here’s the Trailer for How Not to Diet: Dr. Greger’s Guide to Weight Loss.  

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

105 responses to “The Role of the Toxic Food Environment in the Obesity Epidemic

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  1. “Any conscious decision to hold your breath is soon overcome by the compulsion to breathe.”
    – – – – – –

    Not necessarily true, Dr. G. Not for everybody. The mind is very powerful and is indeed able to control itself. Y’gotta get to know it better; your mind can be your buddy, y’know.

    After decades of daily yoga practices I’ve found I’m able to take no more than two breaths in the space of one minute. When at the doc’s office and am asked to “take a deep breath,” they always tell me to take another breath when I’m still on the last breath. I always want to shout “I can’t breath so damn often!”

    Those foods in the pic look familiar. I remember eating them. My mind thought they were delicious at one time.

    1. I’m currently reading the audio version of “How Not To Diet.” The recent string of videos on obesity sounds very much like the book, if not exactly. Am I correct?
      This is not a problem with me since I know that Dr. Greger’s mission is to get the information out there and that he’s donating everything to charity. I’m just curious.

    2. Controlling breathing is not controlling the brain, it is controlling the diaphragm. One can only hold their diaphragm still until they go unconscious, then the brain actually will take over and autonomic breathing happens.

        1. From that link:

          “It happens naturally in deep meditation, when the mind is very calm and the body still — it doesn’t happen by simply holding the breath!”

    3. if we are on a plant based diet do we need to take any supplements and are synthetic supplements bad for us and over loading our system

      1. Paul,

        Dr Greger recommends B-12 and he has a webinar coming with his new logic based on new studies.

        He has stayed with Cyano B12 because it works.

        Being B-12 deficient has so many health risks and there have not been the same studies showing risks of B12, except for one study but the was B12 levels and the study people were more overweight than the control group and I believe they were meat eaters.

        People worried because cyano has cyanide, but so does everything else and the body clears it easily unless you take a lot in.

        Flaxseed has something like 5000 times more cyanide than Cyano B-12. Dr Greger has a video if you want to see how much flaxseed you would have to eat to get toxicity from flaxseed.

        Also, there is an antidote to cyanide poisoning in the form of Hydroxo B-12.

        Some people push Methyl but it isn’t as shelf-stable and there is at least one researcher who believes it isn’t complete without adenosyl B-12

        At least one researcher thinks you should take either cyano or more than one of the other types.

        It gets complicated because if the Vegan Society is right, you can test high for B12 and not be if you are eating certain foods.

        I am waiting for Dr Greger’s webinar.

        But his recommendations are on the website.

        His recommendation for Vitamin is pretty complex depending on where you live and how much time you spend in the sunshine.

        He also recommends Omega 3 and flaxseed and an ounce of nuts for brain health. People argue that if you don’t est nuts or seeds and if you est a lot of greens that you might be okay with Omega 3.

        There was an MRI study where taking DHA preserved brain structure, but many of the other studies didn’t show as much benefit to taking Omegs 3. Dr Fuhrman disagrees and says that there already was a Plant-Based movement decades ago and he watched them get Parkinson’s and tested them and they were low in DHA. Other people point to an old study of his and don’t trust him.

        His logic for nuts is based on the Adventist Studies and the Global Burden of Disease and another study which had mistakes in it’s statistics (which is common because 90% of doctors don’t understand statistics). The study was redacted. Then corrected and re-submitted and still showed a benefit and Dr Greger agrees with Dr Fuhrman.

        Dr Esselstyn thinks nuts are okay if you don’t have heart disease but he doesn’t recommend it for people who have heart disease but he said that it isn’t that he knows it would harm them. He said he is afraid they would overeat them.

  2. Yeah, I don’t see it either. Streets here are lined with fast food restaurants.. pizza, chicken, burgers, ice cream, donuts. But they just blend into the landscape to me – I just don’t take notice of them. When I was younger, I felt that if I was 5 or 10 lbs overweight, i would have to justify my reasoning in walking in to those places. I couldn’t, so I never went.

    As a person on low income, I also think these places offer very poor value compared to what you can buy in real food , even with all the coupons that arrive in the mail.

    1. Exactly my situation– my modest food budget must be cost-effective. We of the whole food, plant-based persuasion are the happy few who understand not only how to eat well, but why– and still enjoy our meals (and health).

      When I go out to eat with friends, they understand when I choose the veggie dish (after I make sure it is really plant-based, and with no MSG, butter or salt added for “taste”). On reflection, it is hard not to gag at the tons of junk food sold at premium prices to people who should know better.

  3. I was wondering if you could talk about the USDA dietary guidelines as compared to a WFPB diet. If the evidence against meat is so compelling, then why does the USDA continue to recommend modest portions of lean meat?

    1. Simply because they know much more people are succeptible to go low meat than no meat at all so in the long term; this strategy have more chance to win, they already said it.

      1. Julot,
        there is an old interview between Dr McDougall and Nathan Pritikin on youtube where they say exactly the same thing thing. Dr McDougall was surprised (and seemed critical) of Nathan Pritikin to include small amounts of animal products like dairy, fish, lean meat in his program. And yes, this is the same program that helped Dr Greger’s grandma. Nathan Pritikin said that including these foods would mean greater acceptance to more people overall. Dr Ornish did the same thing.

    2. Glen Hein,

      The USDA serves two masters: agriculture, and food safety and public health. Who do you think has the bigger lobbying power? Any time the USDA timidly puts out any namby-pamby suggestions to eat less meat or animal products in general, they get walloped by the animal products industry. It’s ok for them to encourage eating more plant foods, because 1) they’re not recommending WHOLE plant foods; and 2) whose gonna eat those, anyway?

      So actually, the USDA serves the interests of the huge meat and dairy and egg industries. The produce, grain and bean growers can go pound sand — except if they are growing animal feed crops, which is the vast majority of our food crops grown.

      We now have a huge scare and news focus on a “meat shortage.” But I hear very little hue and cry over a possible produce shortage, do you? Despite the articles showing farmers plowing their produce back into the fields, because they don’t have the labor to harvest it. Or possibly even to transport it to buyers, etc. Produce is not of major concern to most everybody in this country. Our priorities are wrong.

      1. J,
        Produce processing does not involve people standing shoulder to shoulder like slaughterhouse jobs. The closest people get to each other in produce production is picking it outdoors. They are saying outdoors the virus is harder to transmit which is perhaps why no huge spikes in migrant farm worker cases.

        The plowed under produce you saw was because the food service industry is shut down. FROM NYT: The quarantines have shown just how many more vegetables Americans eat when meals are prepared for them in restaurants than when they have to cook for themselves. “People don’t make onion rings at home,” said Shay Myers, a third-generation onion farmer whose fields straddle the border of Oregon and Idaho.

        1. Reality bites,

          You wrote that “ The quarantines have shown just how many more vegetables Americans eat when meals are prepared for them in restaurants than when they have to cook for themselves.” I find it’s just the opposite situation for me: when I eat out, I eat far fewer veggies — and practically no fruit — than I do at home. It’s frustrating. Well, that, and the fact that restaurants tend to drench their food in added oil and salt, and some dishes with lots of added sugar. We eat out infrequently, more for the break and variety than for the nutrition.

          Though it’s true, I don’t make onion rings at home. I don’t even eat them. I tend to chop onions up, and add them to beans, soups, stews, and other dishes. Along with other veggies.

    3. Follow the money…lobbyists and corporate interests set the agenda and that does not include “Big Broccoli”…

    4. A WFPB diet is plant based and does not necessary exclusively consist of plants That would be a WFP diet rather than a WFPB diet

      1. To most people a whole food plant based diet is a diet completely centered around whole food plant based food. ‘Based’ is not taken as an excuse to include non whole food plant based foods. Everything in most of our kitchens comes from plants with one exception, salt.

        1. I see it as a matter of simple English. A diet of plants isn’t the same thing as a diet based on plants. Same thing with a diet centred on plants. The centre of anything isn’t the entire thing – it’s just the centre. The base of something in’t the entire thing – it’s just the base.

          This was abundantly clear with the old food pyramid where the base of the pyramid was plants. But the base of a pyramid isn’t the entire pyramid. To repeat, a diet with a base of plants isn’t the same thing as a diet solely consisting of plants.

          Most people here are happy to accept that the traditional Okinawan diet, traditional rural African diets and the traditional Chinese diet described in The China Study were WFPB diets but nobody would try to claim that they were completely vegetarian.

          1. Mr Fumblefingers,

            I say that I eat whole plant foods, or am a whole plant foods eater. So my abbreviation would be WPF. Somewhat confusing.

            I often add the clarification that I try to avoid processed and prepared foods, as well as animal products. If need be, I add, I avoid meat, dairy, and eggs.

            My small beef is that “sea food” appears to refer exclusively to sea animals, whereas I eat sea weed — which is also a seafood.

            1. Dr J

              Your term WPF is perfectly clear – a diet of whole plant foods,

              ‘Plant based’ can mean different things to different people it seems. Dunno why

    5. The USDA promotes cattle ranchers. They promote moderate amounts of meat to look innocent but at the same time, to keep people addicted to it. If you eat a little, you’ll crave a lot. The only way to break food addictions is not to eat any of the bad stuff.

  4. Thank you so much for bringing to light how corporations are essentially killing us and with the diseases related to obesity. Our healthcare costs would be minimal if we didn’t have all of these diseases. Every time I see fast food I think of the addiction so it helps me to stay away.

  5. Infuriating! BTW, you wrote “exploding” when I think you meant “exploiting,” though I can see how the two can run together.

  6. Can you think of a single major industry that would benefit from people eating healthier? “[C]ertainly not the agriculture, food product, grocery, restaurant, diet, or drug industries,”

    They left out medicine – particularly the specialists, advertising, and the media which is constantly looking for exciting new things to talk about with food and health. Your topic above will be one of their topics, but it will be spoken softly, and “Butter is Back” will be the front cover of the magazine.

    How long has the culture waited for even one Plant-Based Food Network or Cooking Channel show? When Penn lost his 100+ pounds, he did a show where they did what charity his money would go and they said, “I know that you are into that vegan thing.” That was long before I had ever heard of WFPB or any of the doctors and, honestly, they presented it in a cold, clinical, political way and I didn’t have the sense of him being into a diet. I thought he was political about animals. And, I am saying that from someone who genuinely would want there to not be an animal products industry, but the other charities were these heart strings charities and his was “that vegan thing” and that is the only reason I remember it. The other people had survived some disease or lost some relative or grew up in an orphanage or other story after story and Penn was into that vegan thing.

    1. The ones most culpable of obfuscation are the doctors and health care providers who put their own financial interests ahead of the interests of their patients despite having taken a Hippocratic oath.

    2. The life and health insurance industries would benefit. There would be far fewer claims and people would be paying premiums for considerably longer.

      1. Life insurance yes, for profit health insurance no. At least not American health insurers. More claims justifies increasing premiums to maintain the same profit margins and that increases the total dollars for shareholders.

        For the full story, read An American Sickness by Elizabeth Rosenthal.

      2. Tom,
        It seems there would be an economic interest in preserving the health and well being of of things in general. But this would take policy and planning, something that may be harder than get-while-the-getting-is-good. Concerning nutritional health, it’s available, even simple, for those privileged for access to it and who want it. Bad health for too many affects everyone though.

        1. Yes. It would be good for government too – far less medicare and social,security expenditure for one thing. It would also mean far more people were paying tax for longer instead of claiming sickness or other benefits. Recruitment for the armed services would be easier too – many people are currently ineligible for health reasons.

          As long as wealthy individuals, industry and its front organisations, and other interest groups are allowed to fund political campaigns including election campaigns, however, it’s unlikely that the public interest will ever completely prevail over vested interests.

  7. I can also add scientific journals. Brenda Davis talked about scientists re-writing studies to come to different, almost opposite, conclusions after they couldn’t get their papers published because the information was boring.

  8. Dr. Michael Greger in a recent interview mentioned that the ‘reverse trendelenberg’ stimulated cardiovascular benefits. Something as simple as raising the foot of your bed a few inches overnight brought fluid to the lungs which stimulated this cardiovascular benefit. Can you point me to the article he was referring to?
    Thank you.

      1. Thank you for the article you sent. I enjoyed reading it. I’ll try to find again the interview where Dr. Greger was speaking about this.

        Gratefully yours,

        Ed

  9. It might be the food, but, before that, it was the rhetoric.

    They used persuasion to effectively cause people to have belief systems in the directions they wanted.

    Milk is a natural. Milk, it does the body good. Milk, a glass a day for a slimmer waistline. Milk, it is good for your bones, good for your teeth.

    An egg a day keeps the doctor away. The incredible edible egg. Nature’s Intention. Making healthy lifestyles possible.

    Watching T. Colin Campbell, until the China Study he believed eating animal products would be healthier. He was genuinely shocked by the results of his study. His university was more than shocked. When he tried to switch belief systems, the university came against his career.

    We brainwashed people before we were able to cause brain addiction in them.

    1. I posted this the other day, but it is because we start systematically brain-washing children starting in pre-school. It is video after video and show after show and ad after ad – on top of the actual brain stimulation of the food itself. Before this, they brainwashed the parents to let the kids eat this way.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzXi5HpgYGc

  10. I think my point is that people don’t “naturally” know what to eat or how to live.

    They are taught something and after a certain age it is so hard to change your belief systems and it is getting harder.

    The radio announcers today were talking about how they didn’t know even “one” of the people who were listed as “top influencers” and I had that experience watching them on television the other day.

    Kids will get mentally fed information based on what they click on and kids brains have already been damaged to where they can’t spend 5 minutes without the stimulation of their cell phones and their cell phones are feeding them based on what “the influencers” say and it is the “silent influencers” who name the influencers in the first place.

    1. I never will understand people into ‘social media influencers’. Already Fakebook is nothing but narcissists lying about how great they want other people to think their lives are, why on Earth would anyone ever want to judge their own lives against an ‘influencer’ who in reality is just as human and flawed as the rest of society? All of the influencers are after one thing and one thing only, cash. They are no better than that nut job that runs Goop promoting whatever nonsense gets attention no matter how disproved the ideas.

      1. Reality bites,

        I have always felt like you do about it.

        I hate the whole over-valuing of technology and over-valuing of online versus real people in real relationships in real communities.

        But the pandemic just made it worse.

        They were talking on the radio that this might be the death knell for things like movie theaters and things like the post office and places like Bed Bath & Beyond.

        People can make a lot of money selling fake UVC lights right now and it happened the minute the pandemic hit.

        Now, immediately, there are more fake ones than real ones, but once the stores are gone it is going to be worse.

        We can still find real things online so far but fake people paying Google more money erases the trail to the good stuff.

        Twe young people are being forced to be online even more than they used to be as preparation for their careers.

        Watching the youngest people around me, their whole futures seem to depend on how well they learn the internet skills.

        They did pandemic numbers in the Mission district and 95% of the affected people were people who couldn’t work online and what I will tell you is that every industry is scrambling to hire young influencers.

        There are insurance companies who lay people off twice per year like clockwork because all they want are the new ideas.

        Someone valued that concept more than they valued expertise from experience.

        But I am from a culture that will disappear and to succeed in life the kids have to figure out a totally different society.

        Even the post office might not make it. We just heard that our Walgreens is going out of business.

        Even before this pandemic, I interacted with parents whose kids wanted to just do their grade school online and now they are.

        One parent I talked to back then didn’t see it as a deficit to not have her 9 year old at a physical school building because people with more online abilities are more marketable.

        1. There is already a generation who only lives their lives online,

          And a poor children generation who can’t afford to go online at all.

    1. I think that we think that kids are growing up playing outside and eating around a dinner table and having books read to them and being told to eat their vegetables.

      1. Deb, agree, the culture has changed. We don’t look at tv. Too many better things to do. Extra benefit is not being exposed to commercials. Although, even when we did have tv, can’t remember paying attention to them. At least teach the kids to mute them.
        Worst habit is eating in front of the tv, makes for mindless snacking.

        1. Hi Marilyn,

          Yeah, I agree about not paying attention to tv, but I do know that parents are terrified to let their children play outside and most kids in the USA are placed in front of televisions and computers or are handed cell phones.

          The children who haven’t been raised that way will have an advantage for their whole lives. I don’t know that they will ever understand that the majority of children were raised to be passive and to not think too much and to be addicted to food, entertainment, technology, and eventually a lot of them turn to other drugs and alcohol.

          I have sat between the two cultures for my whole life and the healthier culture looks in disdain at the unhealthy culture maybe because they know they genuinely are better. Smarter without the brain cells being destroyed. More disciplined. Less passive. Fewer mental health issues. More understanding of how to be healthy.

          I have to admit that I have watched a whole lot of PBS so I guess I am one of them. To some extent. Mostly though, I like learning about culture is obvious, maybe because it helps me to understand the news and it helps me to know how to help the people around me.

          I learned long ago that if you don’t genuinely love people, you can’t be very helpful.

  11. This is what we tell them when they grow up.

    这是个人责任的问题

    And they say, “huh?” I don’t even understand what that means.

      1. Barb,

        I am not someone who will argue for my limitations, but I do have a true sense of real injustice in food and materialism and pollution and health care and money and power and education and up-bringing.

        There are people who can’t read or write or use a computer who spent 10 years in prison and they can’t get a job and someone else feeds them every single meal.

        I know that you think of it as a list of excuses, but I follow so many cultures and so many of them have impossible situations.

        Yes, I am a Christian and I pray and I also help financially and with food given to people and food pantries, but I could take any category and argue from there.

        More and more children don’t know the alphabet until they are closer to 7. I know one of those kids. She is a little bit older and she is being taught multiplication in a system where they don’t teach multiplication. They have them draw dots and her understanding is closer to that she is making an art project. I knew a person going into high school who had never learned phonics and he didn’t know what 7 times 0 was in math. I taught him the summer before high school and he learned his multiplication up through long division and learned phonics enough to read Goosebumps books, but two weeks after he started to get a hang on long division, he started school and the teacher in 9th grade told me straight out that she wouldn’t let them read and they used charts for things like multiplication and division and they forced him to stop multiplying in his head. He is an adult now and he never learned nutrition or science or how to use technology.

        I am not arguing for myself. I am arguing that there are so many people children and adults who seriously can not do it and we don’t have compassion even for how hard it is for highly intelligent people who were taught properly all of their lives.

        You were taught over and over and over and over again and learned skills all of your life and they haven’t even learned the ABC’s of any of it and couldn’t afford Wifi or cell phones or a computer even if they knew how to use it.

        1. And, Barb, I am sorry, I worded it as if you had an advantage over people and I do not know that, but I hear you talk about having a parent who wouldn’t feed you junk food and I hear about the education you received in things like nutrition and you are doing so well at life and I am seeing the statistics of food addiction and food abuse and homelessness and disease and I see these corporations the way Dr. Greger is presenting them and I know that the two options are:

          Let the companies just sell whatever they want because they are giving people what they want.

          And that would be the personal responsibility end.

          But these corporations spend so much money on obfuscation.

          I saw a study today where almost 25% of people have tried to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian foods during this lockdown and that was followed by more talk about how vegan and vegetarian diets cause people to have more mental illness and be more suicidal and that is half of the studies presented from that direction and half were the opposite and even the doctors aren’t intelligent enough to figure out the logic.

          But Dr. Barnard gave a study from cholesterol which also has that situation, but it used to be that 7% of the studies were from the industries and now 92% of the studies were from the industries with them denying that they have a goal of proving cholesterol as not bad.

          I will admit it that I had no idea what cholesterol even was until I got here and perhaps because I didn’t know what it was all I had heard was the chiropractors before I got here giving the studies where people with low cholesterol died earlier and a minute of a doctor on PBS who said, “It turns out that cholesterol isn’t a problem at all.” or something like that.

          Those one-liners were all I really heard about nutrition.

          I was drinking closer to a gallon of milk a day.

          I didn’t have my own ABC’s set and honestly wasn’t all that interested and just saw people on television arguing and saying confusing things.

          I saw nutrition as butter is bad for you. Butter is back.

          I had a sense of science as if it was one person in a lab and the news people were saying, “Science says….” and that person was really double-minded and couldn’t make up his mind at all.

          1. You have touched on many topics in your posts the past few days Deb. I agree with you on so much of what you have expressed, but let me just clarify a bit. Yes, please do not assume things! I claim no successes,.. none.. but I did make a couple of choices early on in life. First, before I got out of elementary school I had decided I did not want to put on weight. Second, that it might not be easy since I had a very addictive nature, but it might be possible if I learned more. I did (and still do ) go to the library. And thirdly, being very very broke, I could eat better if I ate recognizable food ie food as grown. I read all through the 70′, 80’s 90’s Pritikin, Ornish, studied all the fad diets, WW, you name it, just out of interest.

            I listen intently to Dr Greger explain about our food environment and, yes, it makes me angry! I help at the food bank, but won’t accept the food. I read the labels and am disgusted that north american companies could manufacture these things for sale and still sleep at night. So, at the end of the day, I just focus on what is currently within my power to do. It starts with good self care in shopping and eating the best I can, being willing to learn more, and being willing to share if asked.

  12. Speaking of ‘toxic food environment’, why not head on over to anything promoted by Guy Fieri? What can possible go wrong with taking food advice from someone who is looking more and more like a member of the porcine family?

  13. just a question: in a your recent topic you spoke about “glucose tolerance” during the day, exposing that such rolerance is decreasing from the morning to night. A friend -biologist- told me that i could limit this problem drinking hot water, simultaneously at the eating sugar food (like the way of oriental dining). May have your opinion ?
    Thanks in advance
    Daniel

    1. Daniele, you might want to read up on melatonin, a natural brain hormone. It increases at night and has been found to impair glucose tolerance. This is why the news about night shift workers having more diabetes.

      When your blood sugar levels are running high, your body will try to flush excess sugar out of your blood through the urine. As a result, your body will need more fluids to rehydrate itself. Drinking water can help the body with flushing out some of the glucose in the blood. Temperature has little effect on this process.

    1. YR, Things like this just keep cropping up all over the place

      Like you said the other day, sure sounds like “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

      1. Darwin, there are plenty of other more interesting links I could post, but this is obviously not the place to do it. :-(

        1. Yes, I know what you mean … not the right place to post. I visit a few other “non-mainstream” news sites where the commenters post a lot of links to similar articles.

          I don’t believe a word from the mainstream “news” anymore! They’re paid to shape the thinking of the sheeple in all areas of our lives. Sort of like Dr Greger has exposed in regards to the establishment government-industry food conglomerate ;-) The days of real journalism are long gone :-(

          1. “I don’t believe a word from the mainstream “news” anymore! They’re paid to shape the thinking of the sheeple in all areas of our lives.”
            – – – – –

            You mean the “lamestream media”? SOOOO true! As I posted here before, I leave my TV channel on the Music Choice channel: Easy Listening — where the good vibes flow through the air waves rather than fake news and fearmongering garbage.

  14. A lot of talk on Covid-19 on this site—understandably. I just watched a video that has already been taken down before it was put back up so it might get taken down again, but I think it’s really important to see if not for any other reason than to get the full picture of what’s going—the full spectrum of discussion if you will: https://youtu.be/5wHzrYtV5lw

    Felt compelled to share as I personally am glad I watched.

    1. I’ll watch it, S. It looks very similar to others I’ve seen recently. Little by little people are starting to think for themselves.

      And YouTube is so very fast. Gotta wonder why. Who or what “controls” YT?

        1. I think there’s a good reason Trump brought Dr. F. and that female “back to the briefings” (as of today?) despite knowing about their backgrounds. There’s a method to his madness, as they say.

        2. That son-of-a-bee YouTube has indeed removed the video (again?) for some BS reason. I hoped to forward the link to a friend.

          That criminal outfit should be hung upside down by its toenails. And without wearing a mask! :-(

      1. ok YR, Darwin, S, may I ask you if you all wear a mask grocery shopping? Will you get a vaccine if one becomes available? (now I am beginning to understand why the frantic race between countries/universities to develop one) And finally, are you getting outside to run around every day? Just wondering.

        1. Barb, yes I’m playing the game. I wear some sort of mask when I go out of my apartment (complex for those 62 and older), on the buses and in the supermarkets. In fact there are signs on the doors to their entrances saying we MUST wear a mask or scarf. And to bring a yard stick so we can measure six feet “social distancing.” (Kidding about the yard stick. :-)

          I definitely get outside every morning….go stir crazy if I don’t. There are places where I can do “isolated” walking in my area….where I can thankfully take off the hard-to-breathe-in mask. I’m all by myself and nobody can really see me. Always find someplace to go — the three bus lines (others not running temporary) will take me to important stores. And they are not charging passengers throughout this duration. At least one good “perk” from all this.

          As for the vaccine, right now all I can say is NO. Can’t remember the last time I’ve had one, actually. As I’ve said before, I haven’t had a/the flu since the winter of 2000. Or was that just a bad cold? Don’t want to push my luck by getting another (possibly tampered with) one. I’d like to see Bill Gates/Fauci/etc. take it before I’d even consider the idea — on video. Of course how would we know it’s actually a vaccine, it could be plain sugar water.

          What about you?

          1. Thanks very much YR for your comments. I am doing the same as you except I just started to wear a mask grocery shopping. They don’t demand it here but many do wear them, and gloves. Most other stores are closed, except pet shops, banks, liquor stores and a few large store chains. Buses are free here too, yay! I get outside every day more than a few times, but like you I seek the trails where I can breathe and few people are around. I leave windows open at home, am clean but not obcessing. I would like not to get the vaccine, and I would prefer to get antibody tested if possible. I would even pay. I am darn sure I had it already.

            I find the politics surrounding all of this very disturbing.

                1. YR, Thanks for the link to the full documentary. I’ll grab a bowl of healthy popcorn and watch it at home tonight :-)

  15. The PBS special on ground water is so terrifying.

    Businesses being all about money at any cost to humanity has to stop.

  16. I am sorry to say, but it is too difficult watching these videos since Dr. Greger put himself in them. It is so distracting with him gesturing all over the place that I cannot concentrate on the message. I have always looked forward to my daily nutrition facts video but now I have real difficulty watching them. I wish they could go back to the way they use to be with just the graphics which are always fun and informative. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion. Respectfully…

  17. Doesn’t this situation just make you mad?

    Apparently, it does

    ‘Older adults who consumed small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, such as berries, apples and tea, were two to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias over 20 years compared with people whose intake was higher, according to a new study led by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University.’

    https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa079/5823790
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200505121701.htm

    1. Fumbles, The sad part of the situation is the number of people who believe and follow studies like this. Government funding and published by a big name University sways a lot of people.

      So glad that more and more people are discovering Dr Greger and the other Plant Food doctors and shifting to a WFPB way of eating.

      Thanks for posting the study and helping raise awareness.

    2. Mr. Fumblefingers,

      I’m surprised that the sentence you quoted didn’t state the positive first: Older adults who consumed HIGHER amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, such as berries, apples and tea, were 25%-50% LESS LIKELY to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias over 20 years compared with people whose intake was LOWER. I think that the title of the publication did. I wonder which way is easier to understand? More memorable? More persuasive?

      1. These things are usually written by university media/PR departments staffed by would-be journalists. Perhaps everybody who does a journalism or PR degree is taught that bad news sells more papers and generates more headlines than good news does?

        1. At a typical mega-university, its school of medicine publishes on two levels– the popular media, and the peer-reviewed media. PR staff often work closely with researchers to make sure their story gets attention on the evening news. In sharp contrast, peer-reviewed publication stays with the researchers, themselves, since they must bear responsibility for conclusions/claims. with

          In my J studies (thousands of years ago), the phrase of TV journalism was, “If it bleeds, it leads…” But advertiser-driven TV quickly became the enemy of reality-based journalism, powered by different forces than when Murrow ran the show at CBS. In fact, most of my own study was spent in news-editorial, so we studied the varieties of argument / rhetoric as well as pesky grammar and syntax “rules’, and the now almost-forgotten foundations of a good news article.

      2. Dr J.,

        I had the same thought. They wrote it in a more convoluted way where people might not read the whole sentence and end up with the opposite conclusions.

        Tom may be right about the bad news selling more.

        When Brenda Davis talked about a study where they wouldn’t publish it because it wasn’t interesting enough, they re-wrote it where it came up with almost the completely opposite conclusions and the press only ran with that version.

        If I remember right it was “Saturated fat is good for you.” when the study the way it was originally written showed it wasn’t good for you, but that wasn’t “newsworthy” so the journal wouldn’t publish it.

        I laughed at the concept that the journals would not post “boring” journal articles because I was reading PubMed every single day and my mind said, “I think you missed a few boring articles.”

        But what I realize is that they want articles that would sell and that would be newsworthy.

      3. Dr J and Fumbles,

        I totally misinterpreted the Fumbles quote. It appeared that the quote was saying that those who ate the berries had a higher risk of dementia, hence my above comment. I must admit, I didn’t read the article itself!

    3. Just scanning the first intro and results, I read that approximately 1 in 10 (a little less) will end up with AD or related dementias by the time they are 80. That is scary. And that of those eating fruit etc, the top 40% (above 60th percentile, is that correct? ) were protected vs the bottom 15%.
      Amazing results for such simple accessible foods!

    4. Tom, that is a good study.

      I was just listening to Happy Healthy Vegan discussing the vegan and vegetarian depression study and the people funding the meta-analysis have the stated goal of stimulating the buying and selling of beef and of keeping beef “top of the mind” with consumers.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZW-4rtoxIo

      Going back to what Dr. Barnard said about cholesterol studies. They used to be funded by the food industry 7% of the time, now 92% of the studies are from the food industry and 92% of the time the public is hearing that cholesterol isn’t bad on the news and the journals may not even accept journal papers saying cholesterol is bad because it is too boring.

      Those “one-liners” that the masses are hearing are positive about cholesterol 92% of the time and all the public is learning is “Turns out cholesterol isn’t bad. Turns out beef isn’t bad. Turns out butter isn’t bad. Turns out vegans are more likely to be mentally ill” etc.

      And it is all using science as a marketing vehicle.

      The conclusion in the study didn’t even just include beef. It added in juice and sugar and cholesterol as things to not tell people not to eat.

      Corporations are the ones who are responsible for this disinformation and when we have reached the point that 92% of the information is disinformation, it is hard to think that it is the individual’s fault at all.

      1. So….. why is the beef industry wanting to make sure people don’t believe people telling them to not drink juice or eat sugar or eat cholesterol?

        What are they trying to accomplish by adding those in?

        1. Deb

          I read that beef-industry funded study. The conclusion didn’t say anything about cholesterol, juice or sugar.

          It was all about implying that giving up meat leads to mental health problems.

          https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2020.1741505

          The key problem was of course that it skated over the issue of which came first, the adoption of a vegetarian diet or the onset of mental health issues. We know from many posts here that people often adopt vegetarianism in response to health concerns. There is only one study to my knowledge that looked at the timing of symptom onset compared to the date of adoption of a vegetarian diet. It found

          ‘The analysis of the respective ages at adoption of a vegetarian diet and onset of a mental disorder showed that the adoption of the vegetarian diet tends to follow the onset of mental disorders.’
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466124/

          This suggests to me that the association of vegetarianism and mental health disorders is due to people adopting a vegetarian diet in an attempt to treat disorders acquired while eating diets that included meat. Little wonder then that meat industry funded studies consistently shy away from this type of analysis.

    1. Back to the concept of Personal responsibility.

      If 92% of the studies start saying cholesterol is good and most of the masses don’t understand the science or the medical information and the doctors don’t understand the studies or the statistics and the press just wants to present the most interesting versions of things, and the corporations just want to make money, and the government also mostly wants to make money and wants the corporations to make money….

      Who is not taking responsibility?

      1. And if not one of the wealthy, highly educated in charge people are going to take any responsibility, have we all come into agreement to just blame the confused people, the poor people, the addicted people, the gullible people?

        Global personal responsibility as Darwin’s fantasy method of ensuring the survival of the fittest ?

        1. Deb, Regarding your statement: “Global personal responsibility as Darwin’s fantasy method of ensuring the survival of the fittest ?

          I don’t know which Darwin you’re talking about here; the real ancient Darwin or me!

          As for what I’ve said previously on this forum, I do advocate for personal responsibility, but in the context of a person having the knowledge of what’s healthy for them, and then ignoring it and doing the opposite. And I do realize that some people can’t help themselves, but the big question is: Where does one draw the line? I do believe some know better but just don’t care.

          As for corporations falsifying scientific studies and knowingly telling the public falsehoods, that I agree, is disgusting. But I would call that “lying”. I wouldn’t call it being irresponsible.

        2. Darwin didn’t advocate any method of ensuring the survival of the fittest.

          He merely observed that those best fitted to survive in any given set of circumstances were determined by natural selection and sexual selection.

  18. , it can cause cancer cells to commit suicide—apoptosis (programmed cell death)—while leaving normal cells alone.

    Can I use above quote putting in “green tea” in place of “it”

  19. I was thinking about individual responsibility.

    It changes sometimes every 5 minutes in a high tech world.

    I have friends who talk about taking collagen and bone broth and MCT as part of their taking responsibility.

    Ten minutes from now the responsibility could switch entirely and it might switch back.

    1. Deb, regarding your statement “I have friends who talk about taking collagen and bone broth and MCT as part of their taking responsibility.”

      Again, I wouldn’t classify that as taking personal responsibility. I would call that being misinformed.

      They would seem to be “trying to do the right thing, according to their knowledge base”, but personal responsibility also involves continually examining our own personal knowledge base, and correcting it when we find new information based on science from trustworthy people, like Dr Greger. Do your friends friends blindly accept advertising as being “truth”? Or do they listen to you when you refer them to the NutritionFacts.org website? If they ignore your referral, then they are not showing personal responsibility. :-)

  20. Diet soda
    1% milk
    smart butter
    Plant butter
    lean cuisine

    Were all ways people took responsibility based on the level of understanding they had.

  21. We can’t possibly follow all of the bouncing balls of how to take responsibility unless we happened to be born within one of the systems that work.

  22. I have watched people switch from Coke to Tab to Diet Coke to caffeine free Diet Coke from sugar to Splenda to equal to honey to trivia to stevia and mink fruit

    The masses haven’t studied the corporations it is the corporations who studied the food science and the people’s brains.

  23. “It’s the food,” says a lot to me. This statement implys that eating smarter will make a difference. If I were asked to narrow the message to one letter, I would drop the “F” bomb, fiber that is.

  24. Wonderful series on obesiy.

    I highly recommend that Dr Greger requests that his publisher makes his books available on Hoopla. Hoopla is used by many library systems to provide digital books.

  25. If a 20 year old male (75kg, 18%bf) consumed two litres of milk, in one go, once a day, everyday for a year, and grew to 135kg 30%bf.

    Would there be any permanent damage which would prevent returning to the initial weight or close to it? Basically would the body now think its a cow and always want to be that size.

  26. gtx,

    If there’s something you learn as a physician, the body is amazingly adaptive. You can change and no your body is not thinking it’s a cow.
    There will be some transition challenges with a difference in your blood sugar, in a good fashion, less bloating, etc……ie. substitution of the milk for another fluid ? Perhaps forming a a new habit will be in order, say substituting some tea or flavored water or ?

    Also, you may find it interesting to read Dr. G’s new book on “How not to Diet” in terms of taking one’s time to enjoy your food and it’s effect on your metabolism.

    Good luck on the change as you’re going to note some amazing benefits….

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger <a href

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