Outstanding Critique of The China Study

(I’m probably the last blogger to arrive at this party, but just in case you’re not already aware of it …)

I frequently receive comments and emails from vegetarians who tell me that if I’d just read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, I’d see the error of my ways and start counseling everyone to live on a plant-based diet with as few animal foods as possible.  I usually reply that since Dr. Weston A. Price observed amazingly healthy people all over the globe —  most of whom lived on diets rich in seafood, animal fats, and animal protein — I don’t really care what The China Study says, especially since I’m not Chinese.

Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Neal Bernard also cite The China Study while exhorting their TV audiences to stop eating meats and animal fats.  Considering that I became leaner, stronger and more energetic after giving up grains and eating more animal fat (not to mention improving my blood-sugar and lipid profiles), once again, I don’t really care what The China Study says.  (And I’m increasingly convinced that Drs. Oz and Bernard are what Larry, Moe and Curly would describe as “intelligent imbeciles.”  They both, for example, seem to think hydrogenated trans fats and natural saturated fats are identical.)

I’ve read critiques of The China Study before, but a young blogger recently posted her own, and it’s a thing of beauty.  As I’ve mentioned in a few posts, my college physics professor told us, “Learn math.  Math is how you know when they’re lying to you.”  Denise Minger, who blogs about diet and nutrition from a raw-foods perspective, knows math — and that’s how she knows T. Colin Campbell is lying to us.

Okay, she’s actually too polite to call Campbell a liar.  And given her talent for number-crunching and logic, she doesn’t have to … instead, she takes the data from his own study and smacks him around with it.  She also drives home a point I frequently try to make on this blog:  associations are just that — associations.  They don’t necessarily tell us about cause and effect.

For example, Campbell cites statistics showing that people who eat green vegetables frequently have lower rates of heart disease.  His conclusion:  vegetables protect against heart disease.  Minger digs into the data and shows us that while eating vegetables frequently (especially year-round) is associated with a lower rate of heart disease, there’s no such association with simply eating a LOT of vegetables.  The difference, as she explains, is probably due to geography — the people who eat vegetables frequently live in the southern regions of China:

If green vegetables themselves were protective of heart disease, as Campbell seems to be implying, we would expect their anti-heart-disease effects to be present in both quantity of consumption and frequency of consumption. Yet the counties eating the most greens quantity-wise didn’t have any less cardiovascular disease than average. This tells us there’s probably another variable unique to the southern, humid regions in China that confers heart disease protection-but green veggies aren’t it.

Some of the hallmark variables of humid southern regions include high fish intake, low use of salt, high rice consumption (and low consumption of all other grains, especially wheat), higher meat consumption, and smaller body size (shorter height and lower weight). And as you’ll see in an upcoming post on heart disease, these southerly regions also had more intense sunlight exposure and thus more vitamin D-an important player in heart disease prevention.

Basically, Campbell’s implication that green vegetables are associated with less cardiovascular disease is misleading. More accurately, certain geographical regions have strong correlations with cardiovascular disease (or lack thereof), and year-round green vegetable consumption is simply an indicator of geography. Since only frequency and not actual quantity of greens seems protective of heart disease and stroke, it’s safe to say that greens probably aren’t the true protective factor.

That’s just one example.  She shreds several more of Campell’s leaps in logic, and uses his own data to show that some of healthiest people in China live in regions with the highest levels of meat consumption.  As other critics have pointed out, the only solid conclusion we can take away from The China Study is that rats who are fed a diet of nothing but casein (an isolated dairy protein) will become sick and die.  From this, Campbell indicts all animal products. 

I doubt the vegan true believers will read Minger’s critique, and I doubt their fat-deprived brains could comprehend it if they did.  No matter.  The next time you’re confronted by a vegan who tells you The China Study proves we should all be living on plant-based diets, send a link.  If nothing else, Minger’s logic may confuse the vegan into shutting up for awhile.

In the meantime, read Minger’s post for your own benefit.

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192 thoughts on “Outstanding Critique of The China Study

  1. andrew

    “If green vegetables themselves were protective of heart disease, as Campbell seems to be implying, we would expect their anti-heart-disease effects to be present in both quantity of consumption and frequency of consumption. Yet the counties eating the most greens quantity-wise didn’t have any less cardiovascular disease than average. This tells us there’s probably another variable unique to the southern, humid regions in China that confers heart disease protection-but green veggies aren’t it.”

    This is pure non-sense conclusion. The study concludes what it says on the tin: frequency of consumption. If the commentator above would care to intellectually ‘dig deeper’ surely she would find out that frequency is not equivalent to quantity on any biochemical term. Any idiot who cares about the subject enough can go through medical review pages of Great Depression only to find that people who ate LESS were MORE healthy….. and that is actually the point.

    Sorry you weren’t able to grasp the point. The point was that people who eat vegetables FREQUENTLY live in areas with more year-round sunshine, which means 1) vegetables are available for more of the year, so they can be eaten frequently, and 2) the missing variable may be extra vitamin D, thanks to the extra sunshine. In America, cancer rates rise as you go north.

    Any idiot who knows people ate less during the Great Depression should also grasp that those people were automatically consuming less sugar and white bread … so once again, you can’t pinpoint the variable. In lab studies on animals, simply giving them fewer refined refined carbohydrates and sugar produced the same benefits as calorie restriction.

    Reply
  2. andrew

    “Campbell used his experience to tease out the data he wanted to find. He ignored the data he didn’t like.”

    Sounds familiar……Dude, isn’t this what pharmaceuticals in clinical trials do? And isn’t the clinical and nutritional control merged into one institution in the US? 🙂 Did you by any chance happen to watch Jamie Oliver’s food revolution and the response to that by LA’s authorities?

    Point being: you go and believe in what you like, that’s the beauty of democracy. However I personally know two individuals who were saved by dropping meaty diets and survived whilst all other drug taking/dieting failed miserably (one of them being a regular in and out the hospital for 2 yrs straight with no improvement whatsoever). Hammering your point forcefully into audience’s head won’t solve a thing. Tested. Proven. Does_not_work. Let the audience make mistakes and learn from them. You will be surprised to learn a thing or two, too, along the way.

    N.B. at the same time I urge you to expand your horizons in exploring of wonders of placebo effect… for instance, have you ever posted a question to yourself (I know it is difficult whilst being an american technocrat): maybe its not diet nor nutrition at all, maybe it is belief in what you want to believe that makes all the damn difference?

    1) Was meat the only food your two individuals dropped from their diets? Ornish, McDougal, etc., all have their patients eliminate meat, sugar, white flour, processed vegetable oils, smoking, etc., while adding more vegetables. In other words, much like a paleo diet without the meat. Then they claim the better health outcomes prove meat is bad for us. Nonsense. They didn’t control the variables.

    2) Hey, thanks for explaining the placebo effect. Never heard of it before. Unfortunately, I believed my vegetarian diet was good for me and continued to believe it even as I became fatter and sicker. Then I put two and two together.

    3) The two individuals you know who were “saved” by meatless diets were probably just experiencing a placebo effect. (I’ve heard from some very intelligent people that the placebo effect can explain any benefits from a change in diet.)

    Reply
  3. andrew

    “If green vegetables themselves were protective of heart disease, as Campbell seems to be implying, we would expect their anti-heart-disease effects to be present in both quantity of consumption and frequency of consumption. Yet the counties eating the most greens quantity-wise didn’t have any less cardiovascular disease than average. This tells us there’s probably another variable unique to the southern, humid regions in China that confers heart disease protection-but green veggies aren’t it.”

    This is pure non-sense conclusion. The study concludes what it says on the tin: frequency of consumption. If the commentator above would care to intellectually ‘dig deeper’ surely she would find out that frequency is not equivalent to quantity on any biochemical term. Any idiot who cares about the subject enough can go through medical review pages of Great Depression only to find that people who ate LESS were MORE healthy….. and that is actually the point.

    Sorry you weren’t able to grasp the point. The point was that people who eat vegetables FREQUENTLY live in areas with more year-round sunshine, which means 1) vegetables are available for more of the year, so they can be eaten frequently, and 2) the missing variable may be extra vitamin D, thanks to the extra sunshine. In America, cancer rates rise as you go north.

    Any idiot who knows people ate less during the Great Depression should also grasp that those people were automatically consuming less sugar and white bread … so once again, you can’t pinpoint the variable. In lab studies on animals, simply giving them fewer refined refined carbohydrates and sugar produced the same benefits as calorie restriction.

    Reply
  4. andrew

    “Campbell used his experience to tease out the data he wanted to find. He ignored the data he didn’t like.”

    Sounds familiar……Dude, isn’t this what pharmaceuticals in clinical trials do? And isn’t the clinical and nutritional control merged into one institution in the US? 🙂 Did you by any chance happen to watch Jamie Oliver’s food revolution and the response to that by LA’s authorities?

    Point being: you go and believe in what you like, that’s the beauty of democracy. However I personally know two individuals who were saved by dropping meaty diets and survived whilst all other drug taking/dieting failed miserably (one of them being a regular in and out the hospital for 2 yrs straight with no improvement whatsoever). Hammering your point forcefully into audience’s head won’t solve a thing. Tested. Proven. Does_not_work. Let the audience make mistakes and learn from them. You will be surprised to learn a thing or two, too, along the way.

    N.B. at the same time I urge you to expand your horizons in exploring of wonders of placebo effect… for instance, have you ever posted a question to yourself (I know it is difficult whilst being an american technocrat): maybe its not diet nor nutrition at all, maybe it is belief in what you want to believe that makes all the damn difference?

    1) Was meat the only food your two individuals dropped from their diets? Ornish, McDougal, etc., all have their patients eliminate meat, sugar, white flour, processed vegetable oils, smoking, etc., while adding more vegetables. In other words, much like a paleo diet without the meat. Then they claim the better health outcomes prove meat is bad for us. Nonsense. They didn’t control the variables.

    2) Hey, thanks for explaining the placebo effect. Never heard of it before. Unfortunately, I believed my vegetarian diet was good for me and continued to believe it even as I became fatter and sicker. Then I put two and two together.

    3) The two individuals you know who were “saved” by meatless diets were probably just experiencing a placebo effect. (I’ve heard from some very intelligent people that the placebo effect can explain any benefits from a change in diet.)

    Reply
  5. Zach4500

    … Apologies for chiming-in late in the thread. I find the discussion and debate interesting.
    The plethora of data from research on health, disease, and nutrition is often muddled by the media and sorting through to enough substantiated fact to come to a well-informed conclusion can be daunting.
    In doing my own reading and research through varied sources, I’ve found a consistent, underlying subtext to be almost as interesting and informative as the data itself (or, rather, a percentage of the data): the battle to define the optimum diet for human beings, and the fight to validate high consumption of animal flesh and animal products.
    On this page, a mantra is that “appeal to authority” is a fallacy, therefore (to paraphrase), the expertise of Campbell and other professionals whose research aligns with his does not count/is not valid.

    The host of this page also seems to understand the parameters for the “appeal to authority” being a fallacy — there are certain circumstances in which it is a fallacy — it is not a fallacy in all cases, obviously:
    “Since this sort of reasoning is fallacious ____only when the person is not a legitimate authority in a particular context,___ it is necessary to provide some acceptable standards of assessment.”
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html

    While it’s good to not allow an authority do one’s thinking for one, the categorical invalidation of authority is the other extreme.

    Reply
  6. Zach4500

    … Apologies for chiming-in late in the thread. I find the discussion and debate interesting.
    The plethora of data from research on health, disease, and nutrition is often muddled by the media and sorting through to enough substantiated fact to come to a well-informed conclusion can be daunting.
    In doing my own reading and research through varied sources, I’ve found a consistent, underlying subtext to be almost as interesting and informative as the data itself (or, rather, a percentage of the data): the battle to define the optimum diet for human beings, and the fight to validate high consumption of animal flesh and animal products.
    On this page, a mantra is that “appeal to authority” is a fallacy, therefore (to paraphrase), the expertise of Campbell and other professionals whose research aligns with his does not count/is not valid.

    The host of this page also seems to understand the parameters for the “appeal to authority” being a fallacy — there are certain circumstances in which it is a fallacy — it is not a fallacy in all cases, obviously:
    “Since this sort of reasoning is fallacious ____only when the person is not a legitimate authority in a particular context,___ it is necessary to provide some acceptable standards of assessment.”
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html

    While it’s good to not allow an authority do one’s thinking for one, the categorical invalidation of authority is the other extreme.

    Reply
  7. John Weissman

    Interesting converse here. Im not ashamed to be confused… There are two issues, rarely if ever mentioned on forums, or by the gurus themselves. Actually, Ive never see one issue ever mentioned … That when “humans” or homonids or humunculi “went north”–that is, when they left the “Garden of Eden”, diet changed, forever. The original sin, if you will, is at the root of the “debate”. Many smart folks around here can engender material from what this “Original sin” implies–but I am not referring to bible stuff, just to FOOD. For there is no best diet. Diet is just the primary (not “primal”, mind you) adaptation to an environment, whether it’s the Garden of Eden McDougall lives in, Hawaii, or the brutal north, desert, etc … Staying alive is the prime directive. If your dairy animals can extract nutrients from depleted soil, that you coud only by growing food on HUNDREDS of acres of land, then you will surely get symbiotic with them, or die.

    The other issue is chronic disease. (I mite argue aging itself is a chronic disease). The over-academic debate is vacuous when it does not refer to WHAT WORKS to save peep from chronic disease of any kind, including, and especially, “deth sentences” . Each “diet” has it’s list of successes, and probably suppresses it’s list of failures … But, for me anyway, I am only interested in what will work to cure chronic and acute disease. My leaning now is toward Furhman, who is abit more reasonable, IMO, than McDougall …

    Reply
  8. John Weissman

    Interesting converse here. Im not ashamed to be confused… There are two issues, rarely if ever mentioned on forums, or by the gurus themselves. Actually, Ive never see one issue ever mentioned … That when “humans” or homonids or humunculi “went north”–that is, when they left the “Garden of Eden”, diet changed, forever. The original sin, if you will, is at the root of the “debate”. Many smart folks around here can engender material from what this “Original sin” implies–but I am not referring to bible stuff, just to FOOD. For there is no best diet. Diet is just the primary (not “primal”, mind you) adaptation to an environment, whether it’s the Garden of Eden McDougall lives in, Hawaii, or the brutal north, desert, etc … Staying alive is the prime directive. If your dairy animals can extract nutrients from depleted soil, that you coud only by growing food on HUNDREDS of acres of land, then you will surely get symbiotic with them, or die.

    The other issue is chronic disease. (I mite argue aging itself is a chronic disease). The over-academic debate is vacuous when it does not refer to WHAT WORKS to save peep from chronic disease of any kind, including, and especially, “deth sentences” . Each “diet” has it’s list of successes, and probably suppresses it’s list of failures … But, for me anyway, I am only interested in what will work to cure chronic and acute disease. My leaning now is toward Furhman, who is abit more reasonable, IMO, than McDougall …

    Reply
  9. Vanessa

    I read someone mention India here, thought I’ll add my 2 cents.

    Middle to higher class in India have access to all RICH food. Dairy -Butter,cheese, ghee, whole milk is very expensive in India. Most poor people cannot afford it, if they do they buy some diluted non-fat milk and use very little in their chai.
    Cooking Oil is VERY expensive too. Deep fried foods are exclusive to rich/ middle class people. Not the poor.
    Meats are expensive, out of question for poor in India. Some local fish (very often sundried versions) are the only cheap animal food they can afford.

    They live mostly on grains (Mostly Rice – it’s the cheapest), some lentil (dal) to go with the rice. Even dal is not cheap, they have to go easy on it. Vegetables are fairly cheap. (Inflation has been a crazy monster in India lately, we are talking comparative terms here.) Eggplant, Cabbage, Onion, Potato etc are cheaper then Okra, French beans etc.
    The only cheap fruits are Bananas and Sapotas.
    They do not get heart attacks and diabetes, they get diseases of poor sanitation. Malaria, dengue, plague and what not.

    Middle-Rich class Meat eaters still do not eat meat every day at every meal. But they eat way more Dairy. They also have access to McDonalds – Pizza Hut – KFC which are rich-people’s restaurants in India. They can consume cookies, chips, sweets more often. Most families eat chicken/ fish/ meats few times a week. Back in the 90s, the standard was once a week. This was before burgers and Pizzas arrived in India. Indian Muslims eat meat daily, not most Hindus.

    Middle class vegetarians consume a lot of dairy. Dairy, in India is considered highly nutritious and essential. There are NO vegans in India. In fact, the vegetarian Indians consume more dairy than anyone else.

    Sugar, Salt, Oils, Dairy (Most Indian desserts are dairy-based, they come with loads of sugar. A gulab-jamun in an Indian restaurant in America is less sweet than what you would find in India.)
    The middle class eats LESS vegetable than poor and when they do eat, it is doused in a lot of oil or cream or paneer.

    Now if these people start adding more meat to their diets, I wonder if it will make things worse. But as far as I know, problems in Indian middle class diet are Dairy, oils, sugar and salt. Not Meat. Yet.

    What makes you think poor Indians don’t get heart disease and diabetes?

    Reply
  10. Vanessa

    I read someone mention India here, thought I’ll add my 2 cents.

    Middle to higher class in India have access to all RICH food. Dairy -Butter,cheese, ghee, whole milk is very expensive in India. Most poor people cannot afford it, if they do they buy some diluted non-fat milk and use very little in their chai.
    Cooking Oil is VERY expensive too. Deep fried foods are exclusive to rich/ middle class people. Not the poor.
    Meats are expensive, out of question for poor in India. Some local fish (very often sundried versions) are the only cheap animal food they can afford.

    They live mostly on grains (Mostly Rice – it’s the cheapest), some lentil (dal) to go with the rice. Even dal is not cheap, they have to go easy on it. Vegetables are fairly cheap. (Inflation has been a crazy monster in India lately, we are talking comparative terms here.) Eggplant, Cabbage, Onion, Potato etc are cheaper then Okra, French beans etc.
    The only cheap fruits are Bananas and Sapotas.
    They do not get heart attacks and diabetes, they get diseases of poor sanitation. Malaria, dengue, plague and what not.

    Middle-Rich class Meat eaters still do not eat meat every day at every meal. But they eat way more Dairy. They also have access to McDonalds – Pizza Hut – KFC which are rich-people’s restaurants in India. They can consume cookies, chips, sweets more often. Most families eat chicken/ fish/ meats few times a week. Back in the 90s, the standard was once a week. This was before burgers and Pizzas arrived in India. Indian Muslims eat meat daily, not most Hindus.

    Middle class vegetarians consume a lot of dairy. Dairy, in India is considered highly nutritious and essential. There are NO vegans in India. In fact, the vegetarian Indians consume more dairy than anyone else.

    Sugar, Salt, Oils, Dairy (Most Indian desserts are dairy-based, they come with loads of sugar. A gulab-jamun in an Indian restaurant in America is less sweet than what you would find in India.)
    The middle class eats LESS vegetable than poor and when they do eat, it is doused in a lot of oil or cream or paneer.

    Now if these people start adding more meat to their diets, I wonder if it will make things worse. But as far as I know, problems in Indian middle class diet are Dairy, oils, sugar and salt. Not Meat. Yet.

    What makes you think poor Indians don’t get heart disease and diabetes?

    Reply
  11. Vanessa

    I am from India, lived there until 28 years of age. I have not seen/ heard of a poor person with diabetes. Tuberculosis? may be. But coronary heart disease and diabetes? Nope. Autoimmune disease is unheard of.

    I would expect diabetes rates to be higher among those who can afford to eat more sugar. As for heart disease, let’s go with scientific evidence instead of one person’s observation:

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/105302.php

    The relevant quote:

    “Xavier and colleagues found that 60% of the 20,468 patients who received a definite diagnosis had STEMI, compared to the rate in developed countries of less than 40% (including the European Heart Surveys). The average age of patients in Indian was 60 years, which is younger than the range in developed countries of 63 to 68 years. As approximately 75% of CREATE patients were categorized as being from lower middle class and poor backgrounds, it proved difficult for them to afford routine hospital treatments and secondary prevention.”

    Reply
  12. Vanessa

    I am from India, lived there until 28 years of age. I have not seen/ heard of a poor person with diabetes. Tuberculosis? may be. But coronary heart disease and diabetes? Nope. Autoimmune disease is unheard of.

    I would expect diabetes rates to be higher among those who can afford to eat more sugar. As for heart disease, let’s go with scientific evidence instead of one person’s observation:

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/105302.php

    The relevant quote:

    “Xavier and colleagues found that 60% of the 20,468 patients who received a definite diagnosis had STEMI, compared to the rate in developed countries of less than 40% (including the European Heart Surveys). The average age of patients in Indian was 60 years, which is younger than the range in developed countries of 63 to 68 years. As approximately 75% of CREATE patients were categorized as being from lower middle class and poor backgrounds, it proved difficult for them to afford routine hospital treatments and secondary prevention.”

    Reply
  13. Jason

    I stumbled upon this diatribe, then read the arrogant, pompous comments back to many of whom commented. Gee, a guy who loves to argue & attempt to disassemble people’s opinions or experiences because …. I guess he loves being haute writer of sorts. Well let’s set the book aside for a moment & talk about personal experiences for a moment.

    Before I launch into my brief experience, I have a quick question for Mr. Baloney Boy, have you tried this type of diet for any decent length of time?

    I followed the diet, went from 238 lbs to 202 lbs (I’m 6′ 4″), cholesterol went from 230 total to 150 & triglycerides under 90, my workout routine did not change & I reversed the plaque build-up in my heart – got the before & after thallium treadmill results to prove it. I had a noticeable increase in energy & greater clarity of thought.

    The only difference in my routine was the change of diet as per the book but, I guess this dopey China Study author was all wrong. Damn … it was probably all some silly dream ….

    I will never understand why it is so important for some to purposely tear down someone’s hard research just to do the easy job being the armchair quarterback on Monday morning.

    I guess some people want to pound the table to get their 15 minutes of fame regardless because after all, any attention is better than none at all.

    I can’t wait to see the blustery retort, I’m sure it’ll be a doozie!

    Yes, I did try a vegetarian diet for several years. I gained weight and developed asthma, arthritis, GERD, psoriasis and low energy — all of which disappeared when I adopted a more paleo diet that includes lots of meats and eggs. That’s my personal experience. It’s also been the personal experience of many, many readers of this blog. As I reported in a previous post, national surveys show that 75% of those who adopt a vegetarian diet eventually quit, and the #1 reason cited for quitting is health issues.

    I’m glad you feel better and improved your health on a vegetarian diet, but if you did, it’s highly unlikely you experienced those results simply because you stopped eating meat. Campbell and the other vegetarian dietary zealots don’t just tell their followers to give up meat; they tell them to give up sugar, processed vegetable oils and (usually) refined white carbohydrates — the same foods people drop when they go paleo. They also encourage the consumption of lots of green vegetables — which people usually add to their diets when they go paleo. Then when these changes produce positive health outcomes (as I expect they would), they claim they’ve proved meat is bad for us, which is utter hogwash. You can’t change multiple variables and then single out one variable as the one that made the difference. That’s lousy science.

    The reason it’s important to “purposely tear down someone’s hard research” is that the “hard research” was cherry-picked and biased, and therefore not scientific. Campbell chose the correlations that supported his preconceived beliefs and ignored correlations (many of them) that didn’t support his beliefs, all so he could claim he found evidence that animal foods cause cancer and other diseases. He completely excluded the health data for one group in China from his calculations because they were heavy meat-eaters but remarkably free of diseases … Campbell decided they must have been eating a lot of meat when he visited to show off. Naaaa, couldn’t possibly be that they were healthy meat-eaters, because that didn’t fit the results he wanted to find.

    I’m sure deciding which data to arbitrarily exclude was “hard research.” It’s also b.s. When we’re faced with b.s. science, we have an obligation to point out the b.s. — no matter how much effort was put into producing it.

    “Hmmmm, it appears that Campbell has engaged in cherry-picking here. Well, he probably worked really hard to do that, so I shouldn’t criticize him for it. Besides, pointing out what’s wrong with biased research produced by someone the vegetarian zealots worship like a God would make me arrogant and pompous.”

    What exactly is a “haute” writer, by the way? An elegant writer? A fashionable writer?

    Reply
  14. Jason

    I stumbled upon this diatribe, then read the arrogant, pompous comments back to many of whom commented. Gee, a guy who loves to argue & attempt to disassemble people’s opinions or experiences because …. I guess he loves being haute writer of sorts. Well let’s set the book aside for a moment & talk about personal experiences for a moment.

    Before I launch into my brief experience, I have a quick question for Mr. Baloney Boy, have you tried this type of diet for any decent length of time?

    I followed the diet, went from 238 lbs to 202 lbs (I’m 6′ 4″), cholesterol went from 230 total to 150 & triglycerides under 90, my workout routine did not change & I reversed the plaque build-up in my heart – got the before & after thallium treadmill results to prove it. I had a noticeable increase in energy & greater clarity of thought.

    The only difference in my routine was the change of diet as per the book but, I guess this dopey China Study author was all wrong. Damn … it was probably all some silly dream ….

    I will never understand why it is so important for some to purposely tear down someone’s hard research just to do the easy job being the armchair quarterback on Monday morning.

    I guess some people want to pound the table to get their 15 minutes of fame regardless because after all, any attention is better than none at all.

    I can’t wait to see the blustery retort, I’m sure it’ll be a doozie!

    Yes, I did try a vegetarian diet for several years. I gained weight and developed asthma, arthritis, GERD, psoriasis and low energy — all of which disappeared when I adopted a more paleo diet that includes lots of meats and eggs. That’s my personal experience. It’s also been the personal experience of many, many readers of this blog. As I reported in a previous post, national surveys show that 75% of those who adopt a vegetarian diet eventually quit, and the #1 reason cited for quitting is health issues.

    I’m glad you feel better and improved your health on a vegetarian diet, but if you did, it’s highly unlikely you experienced those results simply because you stopped eating meat. Campbell and the other vegetarian dietary zealots don’t just tell their followers to give up meat; they tell them to give up sugar, processed vegetable oils and (usually) refined white carbohydrates — the same foods people drop when they go paleo. They also encourage the consumption of lots of green vegetables — which people usually add to their diets when they go paleo. Then when these changes produce positive health outcomes (as I expect they would), they claim they’ve proved meat is bad for us, which is utter hogwash. You can’t change multiple variables and then single out one variable as the one that made the difference. That’s lousy science.

    The reason it’s important to “purposely tear down someone’s hard research” is that the “hard research” was cherry-picked and biased, and therefore not scientific. Campbell chose the correlations that supported his preconceived beliefs and ignored correlations (many of them) that didn’t support his beliefs, all so he could claim he found evidence that animal foods cause cancer and other diseases. He completely excluded the health data for one group in China from his calculations because they were heavy meat-eaters but remarkably free of diseases … Campbell decided they must have been eating a lot of meat when he visited to show off. Naaaa, couldn’t possibly be that they were healthy meat-eaters, because that didn’t fit the results he wanted to find.

    I’m sure deciding which data to arbitrarily exclude was “hard research.” It’s also b.s. When we’re faced with b.s. science, we have an obligation to point out the b.s. — no matter how much effort was put into producing it.

    “Hmmmm, it appears that Campbell has engaged in cherry-picking here. Well, he probably worked really hard to do that, so I shouldn’t criticize him for it. Besides, pointing out what’s wrong with biased research produced by someone the vegetarian zealots worship like a God would make me arrogant and pompous.”

    What exactly is a “haute” writer, by the way? An elegant writer? A fashionable writer?

    Reply
  15. Jason

    Funny how you do not allow a retort.

    You’re retorting, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Reply
  16. Jason - let's try again ...

    I had the unique opportunity to speak, one to one with Dr. Esselstyn the author of Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease on several occasions. He found – independently from Dr. Campbell (PhD), that the vegan produces excellent & overall positive health results & essentially proved heart disease is not hereditary but a function of diet.

    [I totally agree it’s a function of diet. Heart disease was nearly non-existent in human societies until people in those societies began consuming sugar and white flour. Many of those societies survived primarily by hunting for meat, but weren’t plagued by heart disease or cancer. If Campbell is correct, they would have dropping like flies from eating all that meat.]

    Further, I had a one on one discussion with the head researcher at the Jonas Salk Institute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_M._Evans) & the subject came up regarding diet which was one of the areas his team researches. It became clear that he echoed the 2 aforementioned with the same dietary ideology. So, I believe my choice was/is a good one.

    [If your diet excludes sugar, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, etc., and also includes lots of fresh produce, I agree, it’s a better choice than the junk-laden diets most people consume. Once again, meat isn’t the problem and never has been.]

    I find it amazing that you developed asthma, arthritis, GERD, psoriasis, low energy, uncontrollable flatulence, gout, hang nails, hair loss & gained weight AND you can actually attribute that to being vegetarian. Quite frankly that makes very little sense & probably hogwash to support your Paleo position & sell a film. I guess we all need one juicy rationalization to justify choices & sell movies.

    It would be interesting to see exactly what you were consuming, that would most likely reveal the source(s) of your ailment(s).

    [I believe there were two triggers for those ailments: grains and processed vegetable oils, both of which can provoke the ailments I mentioned. Campbell’s own data shows a strong association between wheat consumption and disease, but he chooses to ignore that one.]

    Touché, my bad – haughty was the correct word. However, you proved my point with your response to my mistake. You reveal much more than you think with your writing style, the true flavor comes out between the lines. Like most half way decent comedians, having a scripted response to a heckler is a way to turn the attention back on you however, with writing, it requires more finesse & forethought.

    [I didn’t script a response to “haute writer” because I didn’t think I’d ever need one. Never once before a standup show did I pace around the green room and think, “I’d better have a comeback ready in case someone in the audience calls me “haute.”]

    Your polarizing tone combined with the caustic writing style causes the reactions you receive. Then you seem to relish arrogantly painting people into a corner & accuse some of holding Campbell on high like a god. I find it quite amusing because it the exact inverse that you desire hence, haughty.

    [You adopted a confrontational tone in your very first comment. If you can’t take receiving the same in response, you are free to leave. And yes, some people who’ve shown up here do treat Campbell like a god. If I challenge their beliefs, they insist those beliefs must be true because the Almighty Campbell says so. ]

    The #1 reason that 75% of the people quit being a vegetarian is health related? I call bullsheit. I’ll be the real reasoning is it is a pain in the butt to keep up with & a very, very low percentage of the restaurants support that dietary choice. Combine that with social pressures of marginal acceptance of such a choice & voila, the rationalization.

    [Well, of course you’d deny the results of those surveys, Mr. True Believer. All the complaints those people listed — digestive issues, bone loss, fatigue — why, heck, those can’t possibly be real because (and here’s all the scientific proof we need!) you personally haven’t experienced them. No, by gosh, it must just be that those people are weak and can’t admit it when answering a survey.

    Now who’s being arrogant and pompous?]

    Lastly, a further source of amusement is your comment about “cherry picking”. What do you think you did regarding the China Study?

    [Hmmm, let me see if I’m following the logic … pointing out cherry-picking is a form of cherry-picking. Okay, got it.]

    You are too easy, best of luck hanging on to your 15 minutes ~

    [In your dreams.]

    Reply
  17. Jason

    Do you know Campbell’s background? He was a full on meat & dairy man up until his PhD. One of his primary points was addressing the great American diet. Question: did you read his book?

    [His background has no bearing on his cherry-picking.]

    Dr. Esselstyn would very much disagree with you regarding meat. But hey, what does he know? He probably needs to hold court with you in order to become enlightened…

    [Your mindless appeals to authority are tiresome. I don’t care who agrees or disagrees with you. I care about evidence. How does Dr. Esselstyn explain away the fact that the Inuits, the buffalo-hunting tribes, and countless other societies in which people lived primarily on meat were almost totally free of cancer and heart disease? Those are called “diseases of civilization” for a reason. Ask Dr. Esselstyn (who apparently is your substitute for the Almighty Campbell as someone whose word is gospel) to name which of the hundreds of hunting societies were plagued by cancer and heart disease. Then ask him to explain why, if meat causes cancer and heart disease, these famous vegetarians are all dead:

    Robin Gibb – died of liver and colon cancer at age 62
    Linda McCartney – died of breast cancer at age 56
    Davey Jones – died of heart disease at age 66
    Steve Jobs – died of pancreatic cancer at age 56
    Bob Marley – died of malignant melanoma at age 36]

    Do you understand what a supposition is? I did not deny the survey – some people make things up to overly punctuate a point & suspected you just threw it out since there was no reference. I did say “I’ll bet the real reasoning …” but no matter.

    [I linked to the survey in a previous post, along with an article from Psychology Today explaining that most people who try vegetarian diets eventually give them up.]

    You were never scripted as a comedian? Have no ready responses for those who tried to call you out? Please, spare me …. besides, that sophomoric, superficial & blustery response “I didn’t script a response to “haute writer” because I didn’t think I’d ever need one.” is priceless. Can you not see the lack of depth in your response? Work a little harder please.

    [Your reading and comprehension skills are severely lacking. I said I never scripted a comeback to being called a “haute writer.”]

    Cherry picking is the active form of cherry picked – seemed to fit better in my context but having to explain it is most telling … comedians are so.

    [I’ve read that sentence three times and still can’t figure out what you thought you were saying there.]

    “In your dreams.” You’re not so stupid to think you are smarter than everyone else are you?

    [Goodness, no. But it’s quite clear that I’m smarter than you are.]

    The pinnacle of ignorance is when a person does not realize that he/she doesn’t know what he/she doesn’t know.

    [Yes, you’ve provided several examples of that.]

    Yea, you are too easy … and such a bore. Again, put on your thinking cap & try harder or not at all ~

    [I don’t need my thinking cap when replying to you. In fact, I’m considering asking my nine-year-old daughter to take over the chore just to make it an even playing field for you.]

    Reply
  18. Jason

    Sorry I dropped out a portion:

    Some comedians are so shallow & believe a quick response is better than a thought one. Now that’s funny!

    Once again, I read your sentence and have no idea what you think you’re trying to say. This is like talking to a drunk teenager who thinks he’s sharing deep thoughts.

    Reply
  19. Jason

    Sorry, I type better than 140 wpm & speed read so I will miss some things. “thought out” finally I did it!

    “thought out” finally I did it …?

    I’m going to suggest your slow your typing to the speed at which you think. You’re not making any sense.

    Reply
  20. Jason - let's try again ...

    I had the unique opportunity to speak, one to one with Dr. Esselstyn the author of Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease on several occasions. He found – independently from Dr. Campbell (PhD), that the vegan produces excellent & overall positive health results & essentially proved heart disease is not hereditary but a function of diet.

    [I totally agree it’s a function of diet. Heart disease was nearly non-existent in human societies until people in those societies began consuming sugar and white flour. Many of those societies survived primarily by hunting for meat, but weren’t plagued by heart disease or cancer. If Campbell is correct, they would have dropping like flies from eating all that meat.]

    Further, I had a one on one discussion with the head researcher at the Jonas Salk Institute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_M._Evans) & the subject came up regarding diet which was one of the areas his team researches. It became clear that he echoed the 2 aforementioned with the same dietary ideology. So, I believe my choice was/is a good one.

    [If your diet excludes sugar, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, etc., and also includes lots of fresh produce, I agree, it’s a better choice than the junk-laden diets most people consume. Once again, meat isn’t the problem and never has been.]

    I find it amazing that you developed asthma, arthritis, GERD, psoriasis, low energy, uncontrollable flatulence, gout, hang nails, hair loss & gained weight AND you can actually attribute that to being vegetarian. Quite frankly that makes very little sense & probably hogwash to support your Paleo position & sell a film. I guess we all need one juicy rationalization to justify choices & sell movies.

    It would be interesting to see exactly what you were consuming, that would most likely reveal the source(s) of your ailment(s).

    [I believe there were two triggers for those ailments: grains and processed vegetable oils, both of which can provoke the ailments I mentioned. Campbell’s own data shows a strong association between wheat consumption and disease, but he chooses to ignore that one.]

    Touché, my bad – haughty was the correct word. However, you proved my point with your response to my mistake. You reveal much more than you think with your writing style, the true flavor comes out between the lines. Like most half way decent comedians, having a scripted response to a heckler is a way to turn the attention back on you however, with writing, it requires more finesse & forethought.

    [I didn’t script a response to “haute writer” because I didn’t think I’d ever need one. Never once before a standup show did I pace around the green room and think, “I’d better have a comeback ready in case someone in the audience calls me “haute.”]

    Your polarizing tone combined with the caustic writing style causes the reactions you receive. Then you seem to relish arrogantly painting people into a corner & accuse some of holding Campbell on high like a god. I find it quite amusing because it the exact inverse that you desire hence, haughty.

    [You adopted a confrontational tone in your very first comment. If you can’t take receiving the same in response, you are free to leave. And yes, some people who’ve shown up here do treat Campbell like a god. If I challenge their beliefs, they insist those beliefs must be true because the Almighty Campbell says so. ]

    The #1 reason that 75% of the people quit being a vegetarian is health related? I call bullsheit. I’ll be the real reasoning is it is a pain in the butt to keep up with & a very, very low percentage of the restaurants support that dietary choice. Combine that with social pressures of marginal acceptance of such a choice & voila, the rationalization.

    [Well, of course you’d deny the results of those surveys, Mr. True Believer. All the complaints those people listed — digestive issues, bone loss, fatigue — why, heck, those can’t possibly be real because (and here’s all the scientific proof we need!) you personally haven’t experienced them. No, by gosh, it must just be that those people are weak and can’t admit it when answering a survey.

    Now who’s being arrogant and pompous?]

    Lastly, a further source of amusement is your comment about “cherry picking”. What do you think you did regarding the China Study?

    [Hmmm, let me see if I’m following the logic … pointing out cherry-picking is a form of cherry-picking. Okay, got it.]

    You are too easy, best of luck hanging on to your 15 minutes ~

    [In your dreams.]

    Reply
  21. Jason

    Do you know Campbell’s background? He was a full on meat & dairy man up until his PhD. One of his primary points was addressing the great American diet. Question: did you read his book?

    [His background has no bearing on his cherry-picking.]

    Dr. Esselstyn would very much disagree with you regarding meat. But hey, what does he know? He probably needs to hold court with you in order to become enlightened…

    [Your mindless appeals to authority are tiresome. I don’t care who agrees or disagrees with you. I care about evidence. How does Dr. Esselstyn explain away the fact that the Inuits, the buffalo-hunting tribes, and countless other societies in which people lived primarily on meat were almost totally free of cancer and heart disease? Those are called “diseases of civilization” for a reason. Ask Dr. Esselstyn (who apparently is your substitute for the Almighty Campbell as someone whose word is gospel) to name which of the hundreds of hunting societies were plagued by cancer and heart disease. Then ask him to explain why, if meat causes cancer and heart disease, these famous vegetarians are all dead:

    Robin Gibb – died of liver and colon cancer at age 62
    Linda McCartney – died of breast cancer at age 56
    Davey Jones – died of heart disease at age 66
    Steve Jobs – died of pancreatic cancer at age 56
    Bob Marley – died of malignant melanoma at age 36]

    Do you understand what a supposition is? I did not deny the survey – some people make things up to overly punctuate a point & suspected you just threw it out since there was no reference. I did say “I’ll bet the real reasoning …” but no matter.

    [I linked to the survey in a previous post, along with an article from Psychology Today explaining that most people who try vegetarian diets eventually give them up.]

    You were never scripted as a comedian? Have no ready responses for those who tried to call you out? Please, spare me …. besides, that sophomoric, superficial & blustery response “I didn’t script a response to “haute writer” because I didn’t think I’d ever need one.” is priceless. Can you not see the lack of depth in your response? Work a little harder please.

    [Your reading and comprehension skills are severely lacking. I said I never scripted a comeback to being called a “haute writer.”]

    Cherry picking is the active form of cherry picked – seemed to fit better in my context but having to explain it is most telling … comedians are so.

    [I’ve read that sentence three times and still can’t figure out what you thought you were saying there.]

    “In your dreams.” You’re not so stupid to think you are smarter than everyone else are you?

    [Goodness, no. But it’s quite clear that I’m smarter than you are.]

    The pinnacle of ignorance is when a person does not realize that he/she doesn’t know what he/she doesn’t know.

    [Yes, you’ve provided several examples of that.]

    Yea, you are too easy … and such a bore. Again, put on your thinking cap & try harder or not at all ~

    [I don’t need my thinking cap when replying to you. In fact, I’m considering asking my nine-year-old daughter to take over the chore just to make it an even playing field for you.]

    Reply
  22. Jason

    Sorry I dropped out a portion:

    Some comedians are so shallow & believe a quick response is better than a thought one. Now that’s funny!

    Once again, I read your sentence and have no idea what you think you’re trying to say. This is like talking to a drunk teenager who thinks he’s sharing deep thoughts.

    Reply
  23. Jason

    Sorry, I type better than 140 wpm & speed read so I will miss some things. “thought out” finally I did it!

    “thought out” finally I did it …?

    I’m going to suggest your slow your typing to the speed at which you think. You’re not making any sense.

    Reply
  24. Daniel

    It seems that many of your replies to critics above involve lambasting them for “appeals to authority”, yet you consistently do the same. (A quick scroll up reveals more than a few times extolling Minger’s “qualifications”‘ and those of John Ioannidis for a start). You believe their conclusions because of the same prejudice you accuse Campbell of; having a preconceived belief prior to analyzing the data.

    The Internet is awash in people who think themselves qualified to analyze complex subjects without the necessary training. At times your tone reminds me of Evolution-deniers ( whichas the son of a Phd Geologist , I’ve been witness to the futility of tryingto debate their ‘facts’. They are so convinced of their intellectual rigor that nothing can penetrate. Yet those who have spent their lifetimes in science are forced to confront the intellectual flailings. 9-11 truthers suffer from the same problem; convinced of their facts and just schooled enough to sound reasonable and make glossy videos. )

    I’m not saying you’re right or Campbell is. But your approach, and your arguments, are nowhere near as rigorous as you think. I doubt you can see that.

    This might clarify: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

    I’m aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and after reading your comment, I’ve convinced you suffer from it.

    I don’t extoll Minger’s or Ioannidis’ “qualifications.” I extoll their careful analyses of the data. Minger has no official qualifications, as Campbell’s fans frequently point out — while making no effort to dispute her math. If you’re convinced of your superior intellectual rigor, I’ll ask you the same question I’ve asked others: show me exactly where Denise Minger got her math wrong.

    “Those who have spent their lifetimes in science are forced to confront the intellectual flailings.” Hey, that would be an appeal to authority, wouldn’t it? Campbell mustn’t be forced to defend his conclusions against mere bloggers because he’s spend his lifetime in science and is therefore above question, right?

    Funny you should compare me to evolution-deniers, since paleo nutrition is based on evolution. The evolution deniers are the vegetarians who can’t accept the simple fact that humans evolved largely because of eating meat and have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years.

    Reply
  25. Daniel

    It seems that many of your replies to critics above involve lambasting them for “appeals to authority”, yet you consistently do the same. (A quick scroll up reveals more than a few times extolling Minger’s “qualifications”‘ and those of John Ioannidis for a start). You believe their conclusions because of the same prejudice you accuse Campbell of; having a preconceived belief prior to analyzing the data.

    The Internet is awash in people who think themselves qualified to analyze complex subjects without the necessary training. At times your tone reminds me of Evolution-deniers ( whichas the son of a Phd Geologist , I’ve been witness to the futility of tryingto debate their ‘facts’. They are so convinced of their intellectual rigor that nothing can penetrate. Yet those who have spent their lifetimes in science are forced to confront the intellectual flailings. 9-11 truthers suffer from the same problem; convinced of their facts and just schooled enough to sound reasonable and make glossy videos. )

    I’m not saying you’re right or Campbell is. But your approach, and your arguments, are nowhere near as rigorous as you think. I doubt you can see that.

    This might clarify: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

    I’m aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and after reading your comment, I’ve convinced you suffer from it.

    I don’t extoll Minger’s or Ioannidis’ “qualifications.” I extoll their careful analyses of the data. Minger has no official qualifications, as Campbell’s fans frequently point out — while making no effort to dispute her math. If you’re convinced of your superior intellectual rigor, I’ll ask you the same question I’ve asked others: show me exactly where Denise Minger got her math wrong.

    “Those who have spent their lifetimes in science are forced to confront the intellectual flailings.” Hey, that would be an appeal to authority, wouldn’t it? Campbell mustn’t be forced to defend his conclusions against mere bloggers because he’s spend his lifetime in science and is therefore above question, right?

    Funny you should compare me to evolution-deniers, since paleo nutrition is based on evolution. The evolution deniers are the vegetarians who can’t accept the simple fact that humans evolved largely because of eating meat and have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years.

    Reply
  26. SimpleBrigand

    Tom,

    You’re awesome! Loved the documentary and have enjoyed your blog as well. Thanks for standing up to the “establishment”, sparking debate and contributing to “the crucible of adversarial testing” and scrutiny, that all: science, theory and suppositions should be held to/subjected to…

    P.S. Minger’s post was also quite enlightening…

    Reply
  27. SimpleBrigand

    Tom,

    You’re awesome! Loved the documentary and have enjoyed your blog as well. Thanks for standing up to the “establishment”, sparking debate and contributing to “the crucible of adversarial testing” and scrutiny, that all: science, theory and suppositions should be held to/subjected to…

    P.S. Minger’s post was also quite enlightening…

    Reply
  28. Deepak Khanchandani

    Hi Tom,

    Bt late to the party, but I was wondering, any comments on the fact that Denise Minger herself has apologised to high-carb low-fact advocates?

    Post linked as below:
    https://rawfoodsos.com/2015/10/06/in-defense-of-low-fat-a-call-for-some-evolution-of-thought-part-1/

    Warning: it’s a loooong post.
    But to summarise, in Minger’s own words:

    “- We can’t categorically blame low-fat, high-carb diets for heart disease and diabetes and obesity. We just can’t. NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT. This needs to go away.
    – We probably can’t even blame refined sugar for that stuff (at least not in isolation). Oh, the pain of shattering assumptions!
    – We can’t ascribe the effects of low-fat, plant-based diets to their lack of animal products. Quite a few of the uber-low-fat studies here still allowed a fairly high animal protein intake, and still managed to whip people into diseaseless shape. Sorry, vegans!”

    Please note that I’m not a vegan / animal rights activist / CSPI employee, and I do love me a steak or a good McDonalds meal. I’m just an ordinary, albeit overweight, guy trying to find out what I need to eat to be healthy. I thought your documentary was awesome and found Minger’s analysis of the China Study illuminating. Still with the studies she’s analysed in the above-linked post, it’s hard to continue to believe that sugars and starches are the culprit.

    Your comments would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I did read it. Peter at Hyperlipid wrote a long, thoughtful reply. He agrees with some parts, not with others. I don’t think we can blame low-fat diets for heart disease because they’re low in fat. I think we can blame low-fat diets because they encourage people to eat processed foods.

      Reply
  29. Deepak Khanchandani

    Hi Tom,

    Bt late to the party, but I was wondering, any comments on the fact that Denise Minger herself has apologised to high-carb low-fact advocates?

    Post linked as below:
    https://rawfoodsos.com/2015/10/06/in-defense-of-low-fat-a-call-for-some-evolution-of-thought-part-1/

    Warning: it’s a loooong post.
    But to summarise, in Minger’s own words:

    “- We can’t categorically blame low-fat, high-carb diets for heart disease and diabetes and obesity. We just can’t. NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT. This needs to go away.
    – We probably can’t even blame refined sugar for that stuff (at least not in isolation). Oh, the pain of shattering assumptions!
    – We can’t ascribe the effects of low-fat, plant-based diets to their lack of animal products. Quite a few of the uber-low-fat studies here still allowed a fairly high animal protein intake, and still managed to whip people into diseaseless shape. Sorry, vegans!”

    Please note that I’m not a vegan / animal rights activist / CSPI employee, and I do love me a steak or a good McDonalds meal. I’m just an ordinary, albeit overweight, guy trying to find out what I need to eat to be healthy. I thought your documentary was awesome and found Minger’s analysis of the China Study illuminating. Still with the studies she’s analysed in the above-linked post, it’s hard to continue to believe that sugars and starches are the culprit.

    Your comments would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I did read it. Peter at Hyperlipid wrote a long, thoughtful reply. He agrees with some parts, not with others. I don’t think we can blame low-fat diets for heart disease because they’re low in fat. I think we can blame low-fat diets because they encourage people to eat processed foods.

      Reply

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