This Is Why So Many Australians Have Diabetes

Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans (who visited the Fat Head farm in 2015) sent me a link to an article warning diabetics away from the paleo diet.  Let’s take a look:

People with type 2 diabetes should ditch the paleo diet until there’s substantial clinical evidence supporting its health benefits, warns the head of the Australian Diabetes Society.

It may be popular among celebrities but there’s little evidence to support the dozens of claims it can help manage the disease, says Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos.

Andrikopoulos isn’t exactly a common name, yet it sounded familiar.  So I searched the blog.  Sure enough, I wrote a post about the Aussie perfesser back in February after he produced a study purporting to demonstrate that a paleo diet will makes us fat and sick.  I say purporting because the (ahem) “study” was on mice … and the “paleo” diet tripled the furry little subjects’ sugar intake, provided all their protein in the form of casein (just like yer average paleo diet, eh?) and increased their normal fat intake by 2567 percent – with much of the fat coming from canola oil.  Yup, sounds exactly like my paleo diet.

After reading about that (ahem) “study,” I concluded that perfesser Andrikopoulos is an intelligent imbecile.  The article Pete Evans forwarded didn’t dissuade me from that conclusion:

“There have been only two trials worldwide of people with type 2 diabetes on what looks to be a paleo diet,” he [Andrikopoulos ] said.  “Both studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet, and at 12 weeks or less, neither study lasted long enough for us to draw solid conclusions about the impact on weight or glycemic control.”

And here I thought the fact that millions of people around the world lived on paleo diets for hundreds of centuries counted as a test.  I seem to recall that doctors who examined hunter-gatherer tribes in modern times found almost no evidence of obesity, cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

The controversial paleo diet, followed by many high profile people including celebrity chef Pete Evans, advocates a high consumption of meat and cuts out whole grains and dairy, which is problematic because it may forgo important sources of fibre and calcium, says Andrikopoulos.

That would explain why paleo humans had such weak bones and went extinct thousands of years ago.

“And high-fat, zero-carb diets promoted by some celebrities make this worse, as they can lead to rapid weight gain, as well as increase your risk of heart disease,” he said.

I see.  So the perfesser believes:

1) There have only been two trials testing a paleo-type diet
2) Those trials aren’t relevant because they had fewer than 20 participants and lasted 12 weeks
3) LCHF diets lead to rapid weight gain
4) LCHF diets increase your risk of heart disease

Gee, if only we lived in an age where people could easily find information on published studies.  Oh, wait – we do.  So let me spend … oh, I don’t know, maybe 90 seconds .. searching my database of studies and see what I can find.

This study compared the effects of a low-carb vs. low-fat diet for a full year.  (The perfesser may not know this, but a year is way longer than 12 weeks.  It’s like, uh, 52 weeks or something.)  Here are the results and conclusions:

Participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight, fat mass, ratio of total-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride level and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level than those on the low-fat diet.

The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

I’m no perfesser, but I’m pretty sure more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction is the exact opposite of rapid weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease.

This study of a low-carb vs. low-fat diet lasted 24 weeks, which, if my math skills haven’t slipped, is less than a year but still way more than 12 weeks.  Here are the results and conclusions:

LC achieved greater reductions in triglycerides and glucose variance indices. LC induced greater HbA1c reductions and HDL cholesterol increases in participants.

This suggests an LC diet with low saturated fat may be an effective dietary approach for T2DM management if effects are sustained beyond 24 weeks.

Lower triglycerides and lower A1c (average blood glucose) on low-carb.  Yes, I can see why the head of Diabetes Australia would be against such a wacky, untested diet.

Which leads us to wonder what the perfesser does believe.  Well, we know he’s a stickler for good, solid science because of this quote:

“Both studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet, and at 12 weeks or less, neither study lasted long enough for us to draw solid conclusions about the impact on weight or glycemic control.”

Okay, then.  We mustn’t draw conclusions from studies with fewer than 20 participants that only last 12 weeks.  Got it, perfesser.  Way to stand up for solid science.

Uh, but wait … let’s go back to that study of the “paleo” diet I wrote about back in February.  The subjects were mice – just 17 of them.  And the study lasted just eight weeks.  Not exactly up to the perfesser’s standards, at least when he wants to diss studies of paleo diets.  And yet, he touted his mouse (ahem) “study” as evidence that the paleo diet will make us fat and sick.  (Assuming, of course, that a paleo diet triples sugar intake, wildly increases fat intake, and limits protein to a dairy product.  And that the people consuming it are mice.)

Well, maybe we just caught the perfesser on a bad day.  Let’s see what other research he has out there.  Here are some quotes from another recent article titled How sugar with a burger could be healthier:

Forget just the fries with that— weight watchers may be better off sipping a sugary drink with their burger to protect against weight gain.

A shocking new finding in a Victorian study shows a burger and chips with coke appears to be better for us than opting for a water, juice or diet soft drink.

Better for us?  So they must have measured health outcomes over a long period, eh?  I’m sure perfesser Andrikopoulos would insist on such rigorous standards before reaching a conclusion.

In a trial, Austin Health fed participants burgers and different drinks combinations to see what effect it had on their health.

They found that those that had coke instead of a healthy drink with their meal were more likely to feel fuller for longer and perhaps stop them from over-eating later on.

The coke-drinkers reported feeling fuller, apparently after a test with exactly one meal … and from this, we make the leap to “perhaps stop them over-eating later on” … and then the leap to “chips with coke appears to be better for us.”  Well, heck yes, that makes perfect scientific sense.

Dr Sof Andrikopoulos, Associate Professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne at Austin Health, said they thought that feeding mice meals that were high fat and sugar would lead to weight gain.

“In actual fact what we found what was the opposite,” Dr Andrikopoulos said.

“If we had animals on the fructose diet they gained weight, if we had them on the high fat diet they also gained weight, but if we combined the two fructose and the high fat diet together, they were prevented from gaining weight.”

Dr Andrikopoulos said if you have a fatty meal, it is probably worth having a fructose drink to make you feel full longer afterwards.

Because that’s what the stickler-for-rigorous-science perfesser saw in a one-meal study of “fullness” on humans, plus a very short study with mice … which means humans should probably have a sugary drink when eating a fatty meal.  Great.  I mean, it’s not like fat mixed with sugar is the worst possible combination or anything.

So to sum up:

Perfesser Andrikopoulos believes a low-carb paleo diet will make people fat and sick.  He also believes that a sugary drink helps people feel fuller and might prevent them from overeating, thus leading to better health.

This is coming from the head of the Australian Diabetes Society.  I believe that helps explain an ongoing tragedy reported by ABC News in Australia:

In the past year alone we’ve seen another 100,000 Australians diagnosed with diabetes.

But gosh no, don’t listen to Pete Evans.  Listen to the (ahem) “experts.” They’ve done such a good job so far — and they’re such champions of solid, consistent science.


71 thoughts on “This Is Why So Many Australians Have Diabetes

  1. Gregg Mack

    Excellent article Tom. Maybe this professor should talk with his fellow countryman, Dr. Gary Fettke to get a clue about how a proper diet can help diabetics. Oh wait, I see now, he can’t do that as the Australian experts already silenced that source of sensible knowledge….

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We live in a bizarro world. If you tell people you can become healthier by avoiding the foods humans didn’t eat for most our time on earth, the “experts” want to silence you.

      Note to all “experts” in all fields: if you’re confident in your position, you don’t attempt to silence people who disagree wit you. You happily debate them and prove them wrong.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          The list of corporate “partners” for Diabetes Australia is also dominated by Big Pharma.

  2. richard morris

    Well put.

    I sent the good prof. 54 RCTs that contrasted Low Fat and Low Carb diets. 47 found that low carb diets were more effective, in 27 of those the data was significant. 5 found that a low fat diet was more effective and the number of those in which the results were significant was ZERO. So he has something to read for the weekend.

    As for his paleo mouse study, he fed mice predisposed to obesity an ad libitum diet of Cacao Butter, Milk Proteins and Sucrose. Wait a minute! That’s a diet of “All you can eat” white chocolate. and they gained weight … shocker.

    1. Tom Welsh

      I have never understood why “white chocolate” can be called that when, as far as I know, it contains no chocolate at all. One of the best things about American food law used to be that faking was harder than in Britain. When I first visited Wisconsin in the 1970s, I was delighted to learn that the proper legal term fro “ice cream” made with vegetable fat was “mellorite”. And it had to be labelled that, by law! At that time (and still today as far as I know) the leading British manufacturer (and I do mean “manufacturer”) Walls made its ice cream with vegetable fat and not a trace of dairy. I heard a journalist asking how they could justify that, and a company spokesman replied that “British people like their ice cream made that way”.

  3. JillOz

    “fat mixed with sugar is the worse possible combination or anything.”

    Should be “worst”.

    I just rang the ADS and told them about this article and that having Andrikopoulos going around talking like this ruins their credibility and indirectly/directly causes people to have diabetes and get their limbs amputated. They also cause massive reliance on and expense for the health system, which is overburdened. This is why!

    Greg Johnson, head of the Australian Diabetes Association tells people that sugar doesn’t lead to diabetes or heart disease.

    I also rang Andrikopoulos when the mouse study furore was going on and asked him a few questions – politely. He got all petulant and didn’t want to discuss it. So much of transparency!

    None of this kind of garbage would worry me at all if people were not getting seriously hurt by it. BUt they are.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Of course Andrikopoulos didn’t want to discuss it. When you produce crap science, discussions are a threat to your credibility.

  4. Lynda

    Common sense is not so common these days… sadly. When I saw your blog heading i thought you might be referring to Dr Gary Fettke from Tasmania – a highly qualified surgeon who has been silence by the AHPRA and is no longer allowed to give nutritional advice. It is really the world gone mad.

  5. Antony Carter

    It’s all about money/profits/Big Pharma/Major Corporations. Did you know that the Swiss imprisoned a man for telling the truth about Swiss Big Pharma?
    Also read Prof Tim Noakes and The Real Meal Revolution.
    “Illegitimis non carborundum”

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yup. If you would have predicted 10 years ago that we’d see government officials around the world trying to silence people for recommending a low-carb diet, I would have considered you paranoid. Now, as I like to say, if you’re not a little paranoid, it means you’re not paying attention.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          That’s why I view these ridiculous rear-guard actions by the Save The Grains Campaign as a positive sign. As I told Pete Evans in an email exchange, he’s a only a target because his message is effective. Big Food is scared.

  6. Faye Paull

    I get really angry when I read stuff from this guy. 15 months ago I went low carb, no grains and no added sugar after being warned against it by my diabetes educator. I was on 50 units of insulin a day when I started and it took 6 months to needing none. I am now working to cut out medication also. Why do the so-called experts not listen to those doing this. There is so much evidence on diabetes support group sites. He is an idiot.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Well, Diabetes Australia is largely funded by Big Pharma, so perhaps he considers people like you to be a threat to their funding.

    2. Stephen T

      Well done, Faye. There’s something of a rebellion in the UK amongst diabetics against the official advice. But the NHS is still carrying out 130 diabetes-related amputations a week, so there’s a long way to go.

  7. Justin

    Stuff like this is why I avoid nutrition-related confrontation from people. I typically respond with something like “look… if you’re not going to learn how to read studies and distinguish good ones from bad ones, this may as well be a debate about faith, and I’m not interested.”

      1. Walter Bushell

        But diabetes and Syndrome X are bad for the brain. Not to mention falling asleep at your desk is bad for the pocketbook.

  8. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Anyone interested in the human-based scientific studies of the paleo diet for diabetes can find it by searching my blog ( for the following names:

    O’Dea, Lindeberg, Jonsson, Frasetto, Ryberg, Mellberg, Boers, and Maharani.

    I found plenty of evidence to support the paleo approach to diabetes. I favor a low-carb version.


  9. Tom Welsh

    “People with type 2 diabetes should ditch the paleo diet until there’s substantial clinical evidence supporting its health benefits…”

    It’s a classic! Of course, there won’t be any “substantial clinical evidence supporting its health benefits” until enough people try the diet. Any fool can see that if they think for a moment, but the whole point of the “warning” is to prevent people from thinking.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      And he conveniently forgets that there was no substantial clinical evidence supporting the low-fat diet.

  10. Tom Welsh

    “That would explain why paleo humans had such weak bones and went extinct thousands of years ago”.

    As extensively documented (with nice photographs) by Dr Weston A. Price in his classic “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”. He proved conclusively that a paleo diet led to thinner, weaker bones, smaller less robust teeth, weaker jaw muscles… oh wait no, he showed exactly the opposite.

  11. Derrick Mitchell

    I cannot understand how he came to these conclusions. Thousands, if not millions of people who eat clean real food, Paleo, Keto/Low Carb have much better health profiles than they ever would under other ways of eating. All people need to do is n=1 for a month or more and they should see significant benefits. Keto works best for me, but I find adding green vegetables makes the variety of available choices increase significantly.

    I know the message is getting out there, but so many people think opposite to this even today.

    For the record, dogmatic pushers of diets/ways of eating do no favour to anyone. We need to test ourselves to see what works best.

    Thanks Tom for all of the information.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I think I can guess how he came to his conclusions. It went something like this:

      “Hmmm, if people switch to a paleo diet, they won’t buy products from our corporate sponsors in Big Food and Big Pharma. That means the paleo diet is bad.”

  12. Troy Wynn

    He’ll be an outcast in 5 years. My predictions: High Fructose Corn Syrup will be banned from the food supply. Sugar will be heavily taxed, with proceeds going to treat the metabolic diseases it creates. Food Manufactures will will take sugar out of most food products as a consequence of taxation.

    Healthcare costs will become less of a burden as a result. Universal health care will be cheap and make perfect sense as most metabolic issues (costs) are covered by the taxes raised from the sugar addicts.

    Some time in the future, people will look back on our times and laugh at the food products we ate and drank, like twinkies, dohnuts, gatoraid, etc.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We will, of course, disagree about that “cheap” universal healthcare. What we’ve seen so far is that Medicare costs 1,200% more per year than budgeted when it was created, and cost $720 million yet still didn’t work — for a site that people who build such sites said should have cost $40 million at the absolute most.

      I’ve never in my lifetime seen our government step into an industry and make it cheaper and more efficient. Nor as a history buff have I ever read about our government jumping and making an industry more efficient. I have seen and read about many, many examples of government stepping in and jacking up costs or killing what were thriving businesses.

      1. Troy Wynn

        Agreed. Not a fan of gov’t running anything. Hope is not a method, indeed, but I am hopeful that the reduction in metabolic disorders, which likely comprise most of the costs, leaving all the remaining sugar/carb addicts to fund the whole damn thing.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Returning to real food would certainly slash our medical costs. If diabetes rates continue to skyrocket, it won’t matter if we’re publicly funded, privately funded, whatever. Nobody will have enough money to cover the costs.

    2. Galina L.

      Actually, the defenders of HFCS are right in a way, it is not much different from a table sugar, probably Agave nectar is even worse. I hope people in a future would limit total sugar and stop thinking that it is impossible to live a life without a bread.

      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        Agreed. The difference is that HFCS works as something as a preservative, so it’s in way more of our foods than table sugar was.

        1. Bob Niland

          The main problem with HFCS (I’m speaking of HFCS-42 through HFCS-65) is that it’s cheap, and thus irresistible to add to thoughtless processed food-like substances. It’s otherwise not much more destructive than sucrose (often sold to the credulous as “organic evaporated cane syrup”).

          Anyone buying so-called Agave Nectar needs to wonder if it really is Extra High Fructose Agave Root Syrup. If they didn’t personally witness the entire process from field to bottle, what they actually bought may be mostly HFCS-90, perhaps with some “natural flavors”.

          And yes, fructose fools a blood glucose meter. It’s not glucose, after all. HFCS, or real Agave sugar, won’t fool a triglyceride test, say, 6 hours after consumption. It’s NAFLD fodder, obesogenic, etc.

          1. Dianne

            Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code, is worth the price for the chapter called “The Deadly Effects of Fructose” alone. He explains the very significant differences between glucose and fructose, and the mechanisms whereby fructose promotes fatty liver and insulin resistance.

            I shudder when I remember how, back in the eighties, we would buy granulated fructose at the health food store because we’d heard it didn’t raise blood sugar the way regular table sugar did. At 73 I seem to have lived long enough to have made every mistake in the book, and all with the best of intentions!

            Perhaps you’d do a blog post on fructose one of these days, Tom? Or maybe you already have.

            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              I reviewed Fung’s book awhile back. I haven’t done posts on fructose only, but frequently mention the effects of sugar within larger posts.

        2. Mike

          Table sugar is also a preservative.

          HFCS also keeps bread soft longer, which I don’t think sugar does.

          I find that people are generally surprised to learn that sugar has only a little less fructose than the most common variety of HFCS. HFCS is called that because it has more fructose than regular corn syrup. I point out that sugar, HFCS, honey, and orange juice have very similar fructose ratios, and Agave nectar has way more.

  13. Sky King

    Seeing that this guy is Greek…. he probably wrote his “scientific” paper in Greek and this is how the translators translated it into English. That’s the only rational explanation that I could come up with for such an asinine report! 😉

  14. Curtis

    Can we just bring back the town square stockades to ridicule and pelt these idiots that put personal profits ahead of peoples health? Oops, I think we’re going to need a bigger town square!

  15. Bonnie

    I don’t know what the problem is. If all of us eating low carb are going to get sicker & fatter, then all they have to do is wait. We’ll be too sick to fight them. But I guess that won’t work – I haven’t eaten grains or sugar for several years now, and very little dairy. Somehow my blood sugar is better, I’ve lost weight, I’m healthier & happier. Maybe they know the truth & that’s why they’re coming up with this silly stuff.

    The whole thing sounds like a bad movie – government scientists know the truth, but put up a smoke screen of lies so the poor schmucks who listen to them get wiped out when disaster overtakes them. But the brave hero & his band of faithful followers endure to the end and save humanity. Well, some of it.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s why they’re going to lose. In the internet age, it’s easy to go online and find that low-carb is working for millions of people. They can’t stop the Wisdom of Crowds effect from kicking in.

  16. Christina

    Having seen a pic on Sof Andrikopoulos’ Twitter account

    of him about to tuck into a large Noakes (as in Tim) breakfast after a deCastella 15K run (he was a participating runner) I would disagree with you about what Dr. Andrikopoulos believes:

    ” So the perfesser believes:

    1) There have only been two trials testing a paleo-type diet
    2) Those trials aren’t relevant because they had fewer than 20 participants and lasted 12 weeks
    3) LCHF diets lead to rapid weight gain
    4) LCHF diets increase your risk of heart disease”

    I would believe the perfesser believes gaming a diet on a study to produce results easily misinterpreted and widely published to the approval of food processing industry, not so much arguments #3 and #4 above. I would believe that Diabetes Associations and Heart Associations directors aren’t so much into reducing the numbers of the affllcted by cures and treatments as in increasing their donations and the lifespans of their organizations.

  17. Mike T

    I don’t know why anyone finds it so difficult to see why “health” authorities are acting the way they do. They are like dogs who travel around pissing on poles etc to mark out their territory, it’s just in this case you can replace the poles with public.

  18. Mike

    I just attended a convetion where I had to speak with an official to resolve a problem and she told me that she couldn’t think about my problem because she hadn’t had lunch yet. Meanwhile, I ate bacon, eggs, & sausage, at the hotel every morning and didn’t eat until evening.

      1. Walter Bushell

        Ah a 3 martini lunch perhaps, with lots of carbs and alcohol they may be able to think temporarily.

        See also Tom’s post on _Primal Body Primal Mind_.

    1. Galina L.

      After a high carb lunch she may start falling asleep, than became hungry again in two hours. I guess the best way to discuss a problem with such person is a meal itself.

  19. Linda

    This is slightly off the subject of this excellent post, but it’s kind of easy to see why diabetes is so rampant in this country. Medical professionals promote it at every opportunity!

    Last week, I had surgery and I woke in recovery to see a nurse by my bed stirring a packet of sugar into some orange juice. I asked what that was for and she said to bring up my blood sugar level. When I asked what that was, she said “Oh, we didn’t test your blood glucose- we just figure it’s low since you haven’t eaten since midnight.” Actually, I hadn’t eaten since about 2 PM the day before and still wasn’t that hungry. I refused the juice and asked for coffee with cream. Well, you might guess- I got coffee with low fat milk!! No cream to be had anywhere around! Then, I was brought graham crackers to eat with my coffee. UGH!!! I finally just said I would wait till I left and go get something to eat. If hospitals are like this, it’s no wonder diabetes and all these other metabolic diseases are rampant!! Thank God my surgery was the kind where I could go home the same day!!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That seems to be typical hospital food. I finished a 36-hour fast this morning, and I promise I didn’t have low blood sugar. I spent part of last night shooting baskets with the new hoop, about 24 hours after my last meal on Sunday. I felt just fine.

    2. JillOz

      Many hospitals actually do have non-dairy, non-wheat options but you have to be alert and allow for the one or two meal learning curve of the kitchen staff! 😉

    3. JillOz

      Forgot to mention that many hospitals also have cafes or canteens attached. You can often order or get real food from them.

      But all hospitals should be serving food that doesn’t make you sick or exacerbate your existing condition.

      Even getting certain vitamins to deal with vitamin/mineral depletion effects of medication can be problematic as the doctor must approve it.

      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        It’s what they serve to patients that worries me. Most people will, of course, assume that what the hospital serves must be good for health.

        1. bill

          As far as I can see when in reasonable shape the human body is a self regulating mechanism and ergo delivers glucose to the system as required. Only when it is compromised in some way will it not be. The notion that a human needs to eat every few hours is nonsense, except if you are diabetic or pre diabetic and are using the seesaw method of controlling the condition aided and abetted by stupid medical nutritional advice. This is borne out by the fact that people can go days without food when say stranded, but do need water more frequently- but not in the quantities touted by the hydration ‘experts’.


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