Remembering Kevin Moore

'China Study' Author T. Colin Campbell Says Low-Carb Health Claims Based On 'Belief' And Not Long-Term Science

Low-fat vegetarian “China Study” author Dr. T. Colin Campbell

We’ve all heard the famous saying “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” And while I attempt to be a friend to virtually everyone I meet regardless of my own personal differences of opinion on any number of issues, it’s almost impossible not to identify certain people whose world view is so opposite to your own that it is radically different in every way as somewhat of an enemy combatant. But in the case of the low-carb community, there is one man who certainly fits within the definition of that term: Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Just as people who are livin’ la vida low-carb often point to the September 2007 release of Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes as the very best book about healthy high-fat, low-carbohydrate nutrition that articulates the science behind the message we advocate, on the other end of the spectrum is Dr. Campbell’s January 2005 book entitled The China Study which promotes an ultra low-fat, plant-based diet for health. There could not be two more starkly different publications on the subject of healthy living out there than these two and both are considered the masterpiece, the magnum opus, the pièce de résistance so to speak of how people should be eating for the sake of controlling their weight and improving their health by their respective supporters. It’s a strange dichotomy how these two tee-totally opposite messages could simultaneously be given the same kind of dignity and disdain all at the same time.

The vegetarian/vegan community hypes The China Study as the be-all, end-all, there’s-no-sense-in-discussing-anything-further final say on all things related to diet, health, and nutrition. That truly is unfortunate because most low-carbers I know are at least open-minded and pragmatic enough to know that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet that is for everyone. This kind of monolithic thinking is displayed almost exclusively by those who herald Dr. Campbell as a hero to their cause. In my upcoming book entitled 21 Life Lessons From Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb, I discuss in Lesson #12 my encounters with the fringe element of the low-fat, vegetarian movement which is sadly much more common than people even realize. It’s such a shame they have to be so exclusionary of the healthy low-carb message.

The reason I’m bringing up Dr. Campbell is because he recently jumped in on the discussion thread I created at Amazon.com a few years back called “What Are Your Criticisms Of The Low-Carb Lifestyle? It’s amazing how that thread has taken on a life of its own over the past three years and it comes in spurts. From enthusiastic defenders of both low-carb and low-fat to a few crazies here and there, it has attracted them all. But imagine my surprise several weeks ago when none other than Dr. T. Colin Campbell himself made an appearance on the thread to articulate his viewpoints.

At first, he simply wrote that he agreed with much of the criticism that had been shared about low-carb diets, but then he began making his own comments about them and why a plant-based, genuine low-fat diet of about 10 percent fat was absolutely necessary for health. Dr. Campbell’s stated reason for getting involved in the discussion was because he “was interested in the beliefs of the bloggers on this site who seem to have overweight issues, some serious” and that he “wanted to learn.” However, he has not attempted to educate himself about why low-carb has been so successful for people as much as he has complained about it even to those of us who have experienced profoundly positive results to our weight and health.

Dr. Campbell has repeatedly said that much of what has been shared about low-carb on the Amazon thread is just based on mindless belief rather than any long-term science. Additionally, he says that the “true low-fat diet” has been unfairly maligned in order to “create bias.” Hmmmm, sounds like EXACTLY what they’ve done to low-carb, Dr. Campbell! When asked about his credentials for speaking on the subject of diet and health, here’s what he wrote:

“I have been an experimental researcher and lecturer in this business for more than 53 years, coming from a dairy farm background when I ate mostly your way–lots of meat, milk and eggs, all grass fed and reasonably organic as people say these days. I then did my doctoral dissertation research at Cornell University to find ways to improve on the production of animal-based protein, the more the better, so to speak. However, while coordinating a nationwide nutrition program in the Philippines feeding malnourished children–with an emphasis on their getting more protein–I stumbled onto an observation that seriously questioned the revered benefits of protein. Excess intake seemed to cause cancer. That led, in turn, to an NIH research grant, among others, that was to last for 27 years to see if this was true. The observation proved to be true in spades. Protein consumed in excess of what a plant based diet provides causes problems, many of which generate early mortality. From there (mostly at Virginia Tech), I was recruited back to Cornell as a tenured full professor in 1975, where I have remained. Along the way, I organized and directed the most comprehensive diet, lifestyle and disease mortality study ever done in the history of medicine, called the “Grand Prix” of all such studies by the NY Times in a cover story, a collaboration with my colleagues in China and at the University of Oxford in England. Also, along the way, I spent about 20 consecutive years as a member of various ‘expert’ panels that provided reports mostly dealing with the development of national and international policy. Eventually I wrote a 2005 book with my son, Tom, “The China Study” that has since become a national bestseller about 4 times over. I also have given about 300 invited lectures, mostly to professional medical schools and health venues and conferences. My work included hundreds of colleagues (dozens of graduate students, mostly PhD) whose contributions led to at least 350 publications, most peer-reviewed.”

WOW! So I guess anyone who holds a differing viewpoint to that of Dr. Campbell’s shouldn’t even bother saying anything since you can’t possibly live up to his lofty standards for speaking on this subject? Think again! While I will agree that his credentials are certainly vast and I have no doubt in my mind he sincerely embraces everything he preaches about people eating a very low-fat, vegetarian diet, Dr. Campbell is certainly not without his own personal biases against low-carb living and especially the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins.

Dr. Campbell doesn’t think too highly of Dr. Atkins and his diet

Describing our low-carb hero as a “would-be scientist who has no such training, no such peer review research, but lots of interest in making money off the public,” Dr. Campbell exclaimed that Dr. Atkins only “pretended to be a real doctor” and bragged about doing this to “get away with his nonsense–to the detriment of the public.”

“I’ve seen far too many scams in this business but, in my opinion, his is one of the most tragic,” he exclaimed.

Oh really? For someone who claims to be so objective-minded to the scientific evidence in forming his thoughts, this sure sounds a lot like predetermined dogma than anything I’ve ever seen. Dr. Campbell states he just wants to know why us low-carbers believe this way of eating is so healthy for us.

“How much is personal preferences and how much is based on truly reliable evidence?” he asks.

If you’d like to join this conversation and share your thoughts with Dr. Campbell, then simply CLICK HERE and hop in on the discussion. While there are quite a few low-carbers sharing their viewpoints such as Greg, A. Moore, Fit2Go, and others, it would be great to add a whole lot more from those of us who have seen how livin’ la vida low-carb changed our lives for the better. Feel free to share any scientific evidence along with your own personal stories about how this way of eating has improved your life dramatically.

In the midst of this discussion with Dr. Campbell, he shared in this post his concerns about the high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach that I promote, advocate, and practice running so counter to what he has seen in his study using a plant-based diet. He repeated the same kind of fear-mongering that Dr. Rod Jackson shared with me recently about how people eating low-carb are harming themselves on their way to an early grave.

Here’s what he wrote:

I do not question your personal sincerity in believing in your dietary practices. My problem is not that you actually obtain results that you believe are working for you but whether these experiences will yield long term health. There is overwhelming evidence showing that your long-term health will be seriously compromised. Short-term (a few months, perhaps even a few years) is not the same as a decades long practice that results in disease-free health well into your later years.

I also don’t understand how you are getting these results when virtually all carefully done studies show that virtually 100% of individuals, when consuming a TRUE whole foods plant based diet (10-12% total fat, 10-12% protein and 75-80% carbohydrate), will see their weight and serum levels drop, with the size of the decreases depending on baseline levels. Also, AFTER sufficient time is allowed for adjustment of taste preferences (perhaps 10 to 60 or so days), it is now clear that this whole foods diet can be readily sustained AND HONESTLY ENJOYED for its amazing tastes that are too often eliminated in high salt, high fat foods.

My question to you is: have you actually tried this–and I mean no cheating along the way? If you have and you do not see the benefits that I speak of, then you have a very different type of response worthy of more serious study.

One more point, for all bloggers on this site: please do not confuse your personal preferences with the scientific evidence. Too often people make assertive statements because of what they “believe”. I, for one, am not drawing my conclusions on the basis of what I personally would have wanted to “believe” but on the basis of actually doing the research and having it peer reviewed.

Along the way, I finally had to switch from my earlier diet when I was on the farm milking cows, collecting eggs, fishing in the stream, hunting for game and slaughtering our own animals. I also had to face up to my own earlier research (and my teaching) preferences favoring a diet rich in animal products-the evidence simply didn’t support my personal preferences. Now that I have spent so much time also in developing national food and health policy, lecturing to so many and varied audiences and actually seeing what happens to people-all people-when they try the whole foods, plant based diet, I am amazed that you make the claims that you do.

I don’t mind your saying that my views are wrong but please don’t accuse me of saying this simply because of my personal biases. Been there, done that…and I changed.

Of course, I couldn’t resist the urge to provide my response to Dr. Campbell:

THANKS again, Dr. Campbell. But my basis for making the claims I am regarding the prospects of my long-term health are not just based on some errant belief I just pulled out of thin air. There is a body of scientific evidence backing a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate nutritional approach. It’s true, the decades-long studies have not been released and I am in essence putting myself at risk by not having the hard proof that I won’t be harmed.

But let me tell you the difference between the 2009 Jimmy Moore and the one who was in very bad shape at the age of 32 in 2003. Weighing in at a morbidly obese 410 pounds, wearing size 62-inch waist pants, 5XL shirts, taking prescription medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and breathing problems, and just feeling embarrassed about myself for feeling so trapped inside of a body I was ashamed of, I thought I was destined for a life being this way forever.

Yes, I had tried a nearly zero-fat diet in 1999 the year my brother Kevin had a series of three heart attacks in the span of a week that nearly killed him. And, I must say, I was quite successful at losing weight, getting my cholesterol down, and looking (on the outside) like the epitome of health. But it was all a facade because I felt absolutely horrible eating like that with virtually no fat in my menus. I was hungry constantly, irritable, had brain fog all the time, and experienced other similar symptoms which were a normal part of my day on a low-fat diet and it was just not sustainable for me. Needless to say that despite losing 170 pounds in nine months eating that way, I rebelled against doing that for the rest of my life and gained it all back and then some shortly thereafter.

Flash forward to December 2003 when my mother-in-law bought me a copy of DR. ATKINS’ NEW DIET REVOLUTION and I read about this amazing cardiologist who basically was saying the opposite of everything I had ever heard about what healthy living was about. He said eating fat, especially saturated fat, was actually GOOD for you because it became your fuel in the absence of carbohydrate in your diet. He explained about the deleterious effects of consuming too many carbs on blood sugar and insulin which then led to a whole host of metabolic issues such as obesity, hypercholesterolemia, high triglycerides, low-HDL cholesterol, erratic blood sugar swings, and more. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of any of this stuff before, but it was an eye-opening experience for me when I was 410 pounds and looking for a way to eat that could be sustainable and healthy for the rest of my life.

Looking at the Atkins menus, I was thrilled to see many of my favorite foods listed there, including full-fat cuts of beef, fish, chicken, full-fat cheeses, nuts, cream, butter, and more that are the hallmark of a healthy low-carb lifestyle. And while I wasn’t a big fan of vegetables prior to beginning on Atkins, I quickly realized many of the non-starchy, green leafy ones are quite delicious. Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, squash, green beans, peppers, kale, and more soon became a regular staple of my low-carb diet and I have grown to love them immensely. Because most fruits are too high in sugar when you are attempting to control insulin levels in the body with a low-carb approach, they are off limits until you have properly learned your individual tolerance for the carbohydrates in them. My carb sensitivity is very strong, so I can’t have more than about 30-35g carbohydrate daily without seeing an impact on my blood sugar and weight. But I still enjoy consuming blueberries, strawberries, and melon from time to time.

Eating this way quite literally changed my life for the better, Dr. Campbell. I lost 30 pounds in the first month on it, 40 more pounds in the second month, a total of 100 pounds in 100 days and a grand total of 180 pounds in one year. In the years that have passed since this happened, I have discovered something even better than weight loss that has happened to me. I’m healthier NOW than I ever was at 410 pounds with my triglycerides consistently below 100, my HDL “good” cholesterol well above 50 for 5+ years, my LDL cholesterol consisting of mostly the large, fluffy, protective particles rather than the small, dense, and dangerous kind, my blood pressure controlled without the use of medications, breathing problems all cleared up, and a recent calcium heart scan score of a big fat ZERO. Oh, and I also had a little bit of fat loss shedding 20 inches off my waist while feeling so energetic that I regularly play competitive sports with people half my age.

None of this would have been possible had it not been for the foresight that the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins had in the early 1970s to begin promoting carbohydrate-restriction as a viable way of eating for health and weight control. You could say I’ve become a crusader for this way of eating and how could I not be after experiencing such a radical shift in my own life? While some may believe I only believe people should be eating low-carb, it’s not true. Anyone who has followed my writings at my blog, listened to my podcast show, or been exposed to any of my work online already knows that my basic philosophy for people is to find the proven plan that will work for them, follow it exactly as prescribed by the author of that plan, and then keep doing it for the rest of their life.

If someone chooses a vegetarian, low-fat diet like you discuss, Dr. Campbell, then who am I to stand in their way if that will grant them the health improvements they need? But at the same time, if an individual has evaluated the various plans and realizes that low-carb is the one they need to be doing to attain their weight and health objectives, then why would anyone stand in their way to accomplishing something so noble for themselves? One of the biggest concepts I have come to realize about diet over these past few years is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for 100% of the people who try it. If that were true, then there wouldn’t be any obesity, disease, or health complications at all in the world since we’d all be doing whatever that miracle panacea discovery was. The reality is we are all different, require a variety of ways to accomplish improved weight and health, and simply need to find what works for us. When you boil it all down, that’s what it comes to.

The bottom line is this: I highly encourage people to do their own research, read Dr. Campbell’s THE CHINA STUDY, read DR. ATKINS’ NEW DIET REVOLUTION, check out nutrition-focused blogs like mine and others who not only share from our personal experiences but also present the actual scientific evidence supporting the claims we make, and soak in all the education you can about what healthy living is all about. I think Dr. Campbell and I can certainly agree that if more people took a vested interest in their own health rather than relying on a doctor to prescribe them a pill for whatever their ailment, we’d be much better off than we are right now. I appreciate the stimulating conversation and certainly hope we have given the people reading all of this something constructive to think about in their own pursuit of optimal long-term health.

That was my take on it. Oh, and if you haven’t heard Dr. T. Colin Campbell speak before, just check out what he thinks about the incredible work of The Weston A. Price Foundation in this YouTube video featuring him during a question and answer session at one of his lectures:

Pompous, arrogant, condescending, and full of poppycock if you ask me! It’s one thing to disagree with a particular point of view because it differs from your own. But to think that you have the one and only pathway to truly healthy living simply because that’s all you’ve studied for the past few decades is turning a blind eye to all the plethora of science that has been coming out in favor of low-carb living in recent years much of which I share in my new book. It’s out there, Dr. Campbell! You just have to be willing to open your eyes to it. If you truly want to “learn” about why people are successful on high-fat, moderate-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets, then start listening to those of us who have seen improvements in our health and read the latest studies on this remarkable way of eating that is so beloved by me and tens of thousands more who are livin’ la vida low-carb!

What do you make of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his comments about what he considers the more preferred low-fat, plant-based diet, the questions he raises about Dr. Atkins’ credentials, and his insistence that low-carb diets have not stood the scrutiny of long-term scientific study? As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

  • Jake

    Dr Eades says that he debated Dr Campbell and he came away from the debate believing that Dr Campbell knows nothing about biochemistry. In fact, Dr Eades believes that Dr Campbell made up much of the data in his book.

    Any person who believes Dr Campbell is putting their health at risk.

    Jake, I couldn’t agree more. As much as Dr. Campbell bemoans low-carbers for their “belief” in this way of eating, it’s precisely what he has done with his low-fat, plant-based recommendations. Such a shame.


  • Tony

    He’s totally deluded by his absolute faith in vegetarianism, which makes him ultimately a tragic character, just like those who claimed that Copernicus and Galileo were heretics and out of their frigging minds.

    Nice analogy!


  • TheQuickBrownFox

    Fantastic post. One thing I would add though to you, Jimmy, and the commenters before me:

    Firstly, congratulations on engaging in a direct, civilised discussion with a low-fat “authority”. However, if you have any chance in hell of changing the minds of people who have publicly bought into a certain dogma for most of their lives you’ll need to be even MORE civilised and show a lot of kindness and respect at all times. Put yourself in Campbell’s position. Can you imagine the amount of pride he would have to swallow to even begin to accept your point of view as a valid hypothesis? Any personal criticism on your part will put him on the defensive and far less likely to do this. “Pompous, arrogant, condescending, and full of poppycock” is harsh criticism.

    Of course, your real motive could be to change the minds of spectators rather than Campbell himself, but emotive, divisive language like this will only leave you preaching to the choir rather than gaining new converts.

    Otherwise, you gave some pretty good responses and hopefully gave Campbell something to think about. He seems to be in disbelief of your improved health so maybe you should send him a copy of your before-and-after medical test results and meal plans!

    THANKS for your comment QBF! I have remained pretty civilized (for me!) in my direct conversations with Dr. Campbell, but I thought it was important to share my take on him here at my blog. I’m sure the man is very sincere in his beliefs (and that’s what they are no matter how much he attempts to say he’s looking at the science) about low-fat, vegetarian living. And to think I could possibly change his mind about anything regarding his nutritional philosophy would be folly.

    But I am showing others the hypocrisy of his dogged determination to stick with promoting low-fat diets as the optimal way for health while eschewing any alternative theory for getting there (i.e. livin’ la vida low-carb). I have always acknowledged that people should choose which plan is best for them and do it, even if that means going vegetarian.

    Unfortunately, people of the ilk of Dr. Campbell and his cohort in crime Dr. Dean Ornish refuse to even give slight credence to the low-carb lifestyle. This stubbornness is truly an unfortunate turn of events because it keeps people from finding what will work for them and they remain obese and unhealthy wondering what’s wrong with them.

    THANK GOD for the Atkins diet because it saved my life. Thank you again for your thoughts!


  • John

    Jimmy, the reason I make sure I check in with you everyday is because I know that you always present information honestly. The only way we can truly educate ourselves as to properly fueling our bodies is to be available to all the evidence. Most of the hi carbers are so doctrinaire and closed off, they are incapable of really growing. Personally, I want to read and be open to everything and draw my own conclusions as to what is best for my own body.

    I think that because a high carb diet is so hard to follow the adherents have to constantly buck themselves up with propaganda or they wouldn’t be able to follow it. Low carb is easy and as a result we are not threatened by contrary theories.

    One thing (of many!) that I’ve learned since I started livin’ la vida low-carb is to be willing to have what I believe is true challenged. For years, I thought eating fat would clog your arteries and give you a heart attack. Now after reading and researching on the latest scientific data I know believing that was just plain wrong.

    Although the high-fat/low-carb approach is still seen as bizarre and counterintuitive by those like Dr. Campbell advocating a low-fat, vegetarian diet, it doesn’t make it any less effective for improving the health of those of us who use it. I know I’d be constantly hungry and miserable on a low-fat diet (and WAS in 1999!), so no thank you to ever doing that again! Give me low-carb and I’ll live a long and health life.

    THANKS for your comments, John!


  • Melissa

    I previously followed a very strict vegan diet before adopting a lower carb way of life through primal/paleo nutrition. Even whilst being a vegan, I was still skeptical of some of the claims made in ‘The China Study’ as well as other ultra-low fat diets trumpeted by Drs. MacDougall and Ornish for supposed heart health and vitality. For one, there’s a blatant disregard of the body’s need for dietary fats, be it via plant or animal source, as well as Omega 3s. Even as a vegan I consumed healthy fats such as coconut milk, olive oil, nuts, and avocadoes in reasonable quantity. Even as a vegan I “got” that. (I didn’t get why my cholesterol was so high on such a “healthy” vegan diet, but that’s another story for another time.)

    It seems completely vapid to cite the Chinese diet as the epitome of healthy living, low in animal product, low in fat, etc. as the reality is not so clear cut and the dietary claims and studies cited in the book have been questioned as incomplete or inconclusive by reputable critics.

    Even conventional sources of health information are beginning to see the light regarding the necessity for dietary fat in one’s diet. I’m somewhat surprised that these ultra low-fat gurus still have any credibility left to their name.

    THANKS for sharing your story, Melissa! People like Dr. Campbell are propped up by the pro-vegetarian, anti-meat establishment and press as heroes of nutrition. One day soon we’ll see people like Dr. Atkins and Gary Taubes given the prominence and respect they so aptly deserve.


  • Dan (aka Renegadediabetic)

    Here is a critique of The China Study. There are some holes in the “study,” so I wouldn’t take it at absolute gospel. I confess I haven’t read the book, so I can’t provide my own critique.


    Anthony Colpo also critiqued The China Study, but you will have to get his “Best of Omnivore” E-book to read it. While I think Colpo has since gone off the deep end, his Omnivore web site had some good stuff on it and his E-book is worth getting.

  • Hey Dan! Here’s Anthony Colpo’s review of the book and be sure to check out what Chris Masterjohn had to write about Dr. Campbell’s work, too.

  • I enjoyed this post. I especially liked the video.

    It became very clear to me as I watched that video that T. Colin Campbell knows very little about the Weston A. Price Foundation. Either that or, and I hope this is not the case, he knows all about the WAPF and is choosing to mislead people.

    He stated that the WAPF is funded by farmers. Then he implied that the farmers funding the organization are “factory farmers”. This could not be further from the truth. The farmers who support the WAPF are small family farms who raise animals on pasture. These people do not raise their animals in cages or factories.

    If you spent even 1/2 an hour researching the WAPF and what they stand for, you would know this is NOT true — based on the simple fact that the WAPF preaches that we must eat meat, eggs & dairy from animals who are on pasture (grazing on grass in the sunshine) because they have a higher content of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.

    Oh! And I loved how he blasted Chris Masterjohn with that ad hominem attack. He’s 24 and has no training, therefore his argument is not valid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    I also did not get what he was talking about in regards to how the WAPF has distorted Dr. Weston Price’s teachings. He didn’t provide any evidence for that. I wonder if he read Dr. Price’s book.

    So what I gleaned from watching this video is that either (A) T. Colin Campbell is not very smart (because smart people study their rivals — as you said, know your enemy) or (B) he is so pompous and arrogant that he thinks he doesn’t need to learn from his contemporaries. In other words, so sure that he knows the truth that he’s become blind. Or, as I said above, (C) he is lying and purposefully misleading people.

    He doesn’t seem like a bad guy so I seriously doubt it’s C. If I had to guess, I’d say B.

    I think the comment above by QuickBrownFox was right on. Once you really put yourself out there and write a book and all that, it’s kind of hard to admit you’re wrong. It’s a lot easier not to look at the evidence that’s there that might prove that you are wrong. But by denying the truth, you’re living a lie. Completely inauthentic.

    It’s too bad really. Science is all about being inquisitive and asking better questions and trying on new theories and testing them. If TCC is so invested in what he believes, he cannot see the truth. Wouldn’t it be neat — I mean, wouldn’t you have incredible respect for someone if they just up and said, “You know what? I was wrong.” I know I would.

    Thanks for all you do, Jimmy. You are changing people’s lives. I appreciate you very much.

    (And PS: I’m LOVING your podcasts!)

    THANKS for sharing your thoughts, Ann Marie! And THANK YOU for your support. :)


  • Jeff

    Reading Dr. Campbell’s comments and watching this video was painful. He is so off-the-mark on so many things. As many of you know already, there is plenty of high-quality evidence demonstrating that a lower carb, medium protein, high fat diet is health promoting. This does not mean that it is the only diet for everyone. There is also some quality evidence that a lower-fat, mostly plant based diet can be health promoting.
    I think Dr. Campbell has too much invested in his line of thinking resulting in an unwillingness to really look at the evidence. He reminds me of a religious leader, not a scientist.

    It’s even cultish if you ask me, Jeff. One thing that sets apart most people in the low-carb community from people like Dr. Campbell is our willingness to being open to a variety of means for getting healthy tailored specifically to the individual’s metabolic make-up. If someone chooses to eat a plant-based low-fat diet like he prescribes and enjoy it while seeing the results they are looking for with their health, then who am I to stand in the way of their success? But that same kind of respect for healthy high-fat, low-carb living is never granted by the dogmatic low-fatties. Nothing is more glaring in the genuine bias that exists than this. THANKS for your comments, Jeff!


  • Matt R.

    The data of the actual China Study doesn’t back up any of Campbell’s claims one iota. The guy is a self-righteous vegan who has to stoop to making up outright lies about the WAPF and Dr. Atkins to prove his points. Sadly, I believed this guy for a short period until I realized how dishonest he truly is.

    Good thing you were able to find the truth, Matt.


  • MCOZ-09

    Jimmy, your post prompted me to look at the reviews of Campbell’s book on Amazon.com. Then I looked at reader’s comments here. Somethings wrong. Colpo said he and Masterjohn had reviews on Amazon. Maybe they do but they’re not in the 1 star category. Maybe I’m tired. . And yes. I did look for a posting by Colpo under the name he quotes was used. Maybe there reviews were there but they’re not there now?

    I find the negative (well one star since negative stars aren’t allowed) Amazon reviews reveal more, much more, than the glowing 5 star reviews by the already indoctrinated. The information about Campbell is rather damning scientifically and so blatantly one-sided. His story is another in the saga of phobic Conventionally Wise USDA officials, nutritionists, physicians and media experts. Great scientists are great skeptics. They know that there are few “truths” and they’re not scared of being wrong. Campbell, Ornish and McDougall believe with all the earnestness of their very beings in Veganism and 10% fat. For them, their views are so correct that they’re not aware of how extreme they are. They’re not skeptics. Unable to interpret science, according to the Amazon reviewers, Campbell misreports the scientific data of the China studies.

    I like the way Kaayla T. Daniel (author of the Whole Soy Story) sums up the unscience:
    “…. the many ways Campbell massages, misuses and misreports that data. Although he clearly thinks that it’s all for a good cause, this is a textbook case of “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.”

    What concerns me is that these vegans are living proof of how difficult it is for most human beings to back down from rigidly held beliefs. ‘Science speak’ is never definite. ‘Seems to be,’ ‘appears that’, ‘suggests that’ etc are common phrases used when scientists discuss experimental data. Campbell, McDougall, Ornish, the USDA, and the rest of the fat phobic crowd state that fat is the cause of cancer. It would never enter their heads to include other possibilities. I cannot imagine that it is possible for the USDA to back down on their low-fat mantra.

    Excellent analysis, Mary-Clare!


  • Sue

    Jimmy, do you know how old Campbell is?

    Dr. Campbell is around 75 years old now.


  • dld

    As Planck observed, science progresses one funeral at a time.

    As morbid as that sounds, it’s 100% correct.


  • rosemarie

    Jimmy, I am very confused and surprised by what you say in your first paragraph: “There is a body of scientific evidence backing a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate nutritional approach. It’s true, the decades-long studies have not been released and I am in essence putting myself at risk by not having the hard proof that I won’t be harmed.”

    So there are NO long-term study results??? I thought this was all scientifically proven. And the evidence was for all to see! Am I mis-reading this? Please explain.

    MELISSA, I followed the McDougall vegan way of eating for over a year and my cholesterol went from years of around 250 way down to 155. I have read posts from many others saying the same thing. I’m always surprised when I read comments like yours, because other McDougallers’ cholesterol always went way down as well – so I was not exceptional. I definitely found out that eating NO cholesterol lowers all cholesterol. It was the constant hunger and loss of weight that made me stop.

    Oh, there’s long-term evidence with the history of mankind, Rosemarie. But not the kind of long-term controlled diet studies that people like Dr. Campbell believe are necessary before embarking on such a plan. I was actually mocking him and others who believe as he does saying what I did in that opening paragraph, so there’s no need to be alarmed. :)


  • Sue

    Rosemary, Jimmy has been low carbing for a while and I’m sure if it was so bad he wouldn’t have gotten such an excellent heart scan result.

  • Karen

    I read with interest some of the exchange between Campbell and the people posting comments over at the Amazon thread. Campbell has nothing but scorn for the credentials of doctors and other professionals who favor the low carb diet. I wonder, therefore, why he bothers to duke it out with the commonfolk on a message board? Isn’t it beneath him to debate the issues with people who don’t have enough letters after their names? I wonder why he doen’t seem eager to debate a Taubes or Feinman?

    It’s also worth noting that Campbell is an advisory board member of PCRM, an affiliate organization of the extremist animal rights group PETA. When not denouncing the consumption of any meat or dairy, PCRM spends much of its time trying to prevent universities and teaching hospitals from conducting any clinical studies that involve animals.

  • Campbell needs to make his blood work public. What is his fasting insulin level? What is his understanding of what fasting insulin level should be? I’m sure he’ll say it’s quite high given an 80% carb diet, his pancreas must be working over time. The high insulin from his diet obviously gives him very bad body composition. He looks frail. Contrast that with my low-carb elder, Arthur De Vany, in the same age group as Campbell. I would like a head to head comparison between De Vany and Campbell of all of these blood, cholesterol markers, fasting insulin, Omega 3/Omega 6, and vitamin D thrown in for good measure.

    Lorette from our site is writing a huge piece (which she may end up publishing on a different site or making into a book) that challenges The China Study, especially considering that much of the data came from Chinese prisoners (that’s just a taste behind some of the horrors that are behind these data from The China Study).

    In short, I’m reminded of the recent Dr. Eades post in which he showed pictures of Ancel Keys (an ally of Dr. Campbell) and Jack Lalanne (~22 years older than De Vany). Keys at 100 years of age looks like what Campbell with his bad body composition has to look forward to. I’m not trying to be insulting here.

    I know with my low insulin levels (from low carb/paleo diet), higher growth hormone, and higher testosterone, with my infrequent high intensity work outs my body composition and metabolic health will be more like De Vany’s and not flabby, weak and frail looking like Campbell’s.

    You’re so right, Zach. The benefits of the added fat in a paleo-like diet are so superior to the low-fat, vegan diet that people like Dr. Campbell profess.


  • Challenge Campbell and Ornish to follow their respective diets for 2 weeks under supervision, ask Eades and De Vany to follow their respective diets under supervision.

    At the end of this 2 week period, have blood work done for omega 3/omega 6, fasting insulin levels, vitamin D, tri’s, LDL, HDL, tri ration, have it completely be transparent.

    Blood testing for pink slips. Eades looks chiseled, Ornish looks skinny fat. Campbell looks like a strong wind will blow him over. De Vany at 72 would run right through a wall.

  • Sue

    “Lorette from our site is writing a huge piece (which she may end up publishing on a different site or making into a book) that challenges The China Study”

    I’d be interested in reading this.

  • Lorette C. Luzajic

    Dr. Campbell’s main concern is not nutrition or health- he is driven by an animal rights’ agenda. Along with a handful of other doctors at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, PETA and animal liberation terrorist groups evangelize as ‘doctors’ all promoting vegan eating in their fields without mentioning their connections, funding and true intent. The PCRM believes no animals should be used for food- and not for research either, though Campbell uses rats in The China Study as a red herring or perhaps he personally doesn’t care about rats. Still, the committee of which he is a top advisory member wants to outlaw all research, and their members are linked to groups who bomb laboratories and so on. They don’t believe in seeing eye dogs. They have come under fire consistently for deliberately distorting or misreporting studies. They pose under various factions “concerned” with stopping cancer, ‘healthy’ school lunches (only vegetarian) and so on. Their goal is to spread their extremist agenda to people who don’t listen to PETA by scaring them about health.

    Soon my scathing 10 000 word report will be finished. Believe me, I love wildlife. But wildlife conservation groups and ‘animal rights’ groups seem to be two separate breeds. The Compassionate Mafia hates the human animal. I trust Dr. Campbell and his cronies never use anesthesia, insulin, painkillers, or anything else that may make them a hypocrite, considering all of these were given to us as gifts from our animal friends.

  • Dana

    Jimmy: most low-carbers I know are at least open-minded and pragmatic enough to know that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet that is for everyone.

    Well, I’m not one of them. Now, let me qualify this statement. I don’t mean to say that all human beings should eat the exact same foods. That wouldn’t be possible or sustainable; we all live in different areas of the world and it’s really best if we eat what’s locally available to us. Fuels get more and more expensive for shipping; wars happen and supply lines are blocked; animals and crops fare better in some climates than in others; so on and so forth. So, we’re always going to have different diets. That’s fine. What I’m talking about when I say human beings do not naturally possess radically differing dietary requirements is that we do not radically differ in our MACRONUTRIENT requirements.

    Veganism is not a species-appropriate diet for ANY human being; ovo-lacto vegetarianism may best be a response to poverty that does not allow its sufferers to afford any more protein and animal fat than may be found in dairy and eggs. There are no vegan indigenous groups. There are carnivorous ones, and several degrees of omnivorous. They had to figure out what worked for them early on in their development and stick with it if they wanted to be healthy and survive long enough to have kids. Poor nutrition equals infertility, early childhood death and poor physical development–so they couldn’t play around. They didn’t have vitamin pills. So maybe we had better start paying attention to what they were doing.

    It amuses the hell out of me that all these “experts” decide what’s best for us by observing what civilized cultures eat. Civilized cultures (by which I mean domesticated, as opposed to wild/tribal, human beings) are bound more by abstract concept than by empirical knowledge. It’s funny that civilization has mocked and pitied indigenous peoples for so long for being “superstitious,” but there’s a difference between making up stories to explain things you don’t understand, and re-arranging how you live and eat because some elitist in an ivory tower someplace was meditating and came up with a dumb idea that everyone followed so they could look as smart as they thought he was. This has been a problem for a long, long time–most of human history, in fact. It is not solely a problem of modern academia.

    Not that the “experts” who look at indigenous people always get the right answers. I am still a bit bemused at Cordain’s assertion, for example, that “paleo” people ate low-fat diets. North American Indians could tell you something about that one–get too much protein without accompanying fat, and you get rabbit starvation. Once again someone favored an elitist abstraction over the empirical evidence.

    Oh well. *Some* of us are starting to pay attention.

    A commenter: if you have any chance in hell of changing the minds of people who have publicly bought into a certain dogma for most of their lives you’ll need to be even MORE civilised and show a lot of kindness and respect at all times. Put yourself in Campbell’s position. Can you imagine the amount of pride he would have to swallow to even begin to accept your point of view as a valid hypothesis?

    If some yahoo values his pride more than he values other people’s health outcomes then personally, I don’t know about Jimmy, but I couldn’t care less whether I ever get through to him.

    At a certain point you have to accept you will not “convert” everyone. Some people will never listen, will never look at the evidence (cherry-picking constitutes not looking at the evidence), and will eat wrong and will die badly. You know, I’m all for getting the information out there and battling the vested interests opposing it… but I can’t hold someone’s hand and make them see reason.

    When my little girl was first getting acquainted with playground equipment, we “spotted” her to make sure she wouldn’t fall when she was going up ladders and such. If the equipment seemed tricky she would be hesitant. At first she would ask me for help. I told her, “Look, all I can do is spot you and make sure you don’t fall. I am right here and I’ll catch you. But I can’t move your legs for you and make you climb. You have to do that yourself.” A few times of that and it sank in and now she keeps up with kids twice her age. (She’s five.) I no longer have to spot her and she’s way more active and daring than I was at her age.

    The ones who don’t let it sink in will just fall on their heads, I guess. I hate to see that happen, but it’s not like the information isn’t there. Once the information’s there, it’s up to the folks who read it to act on it. And this is coming from a so-called “liberal” so make of it what you will.

  • Wow! Did he ever get WAPF wrong!
    Chris Masterjohn’s critique of The China Study was invaluable, as was Lierre Keith’s in the “Nutritional Vegetarians” chapter of The Vegetarian Myth.

    I’m yet another former vegetarian (macrobiotic, at that!) whose health deteriorated under that regime and was saved by discovering good fats, especially animal fats, which helped me to get off sugar. I don’t follow a strict low-carb plan but I avoid grains and am cutting way back on legumes, and eat plenty of green, red, yellow, purple plants, and animals of various colors. I eat as much butter as possible, and cook with a combo of coconut oil and ghee. My plan is WAPF, influenced by low carb/primal/paleo. I’m just N=1 but it works for me!

  • Jenn

    Dr. Campbell makes his point that he’s in it for the grant money when claiming that the WAPF doesn’t do peer reivewed research for money, like he does. Shockingly he then bashes where they do get their money, while getting it wrong.
    He flat out says that if you stop eating fat you will lose your preference but that you CANNOT stray AT ALL or you will quickly regain your taste for fat; his point seems to be that it is as quickly desireable as nicotine. As I’ve not seen evidence that fat has a neurochemical effect like nicotine, doesn’t that prove the point that fat taste is the norm and not truely changing? That you can “simply”, through extereme measures, convince yourself that is isn’t what you want at all?
    I thought he was against extreme measures.
    *Pseudo Personal Attack Follows*
    It also seems that he is developing quite bad arthritis in his hands,
    Guess his Vegetarian lifestyle isn’t saving him from some of lifes dangers.

  • Farley

    Looks like the good doctor’s got some wicked arthritis going on. hmm, wonder how he got that!