I’d planned to write a post on expertise and experience, but we’ll wait on that one. Someone left a comment on the previous post that deserves a post of its own: The death of expertise was brought to us by experts.
The author of The Death of Expertise wasn’t writing about nutrition policy, and like I said, the essay makes some good points. I get as frustrated as anyone when people who obviously don’t know diddly about a topic nonetheless have loud opinions.
But when it comes to diet and health, the death of expertise was brought to us by experts is spot-on. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote in his essay The Intellectual Yet Idiot, the “experts” have been so spectacularly wrong, people are entitled to rely on their own ancestral instincts or listen to their grandmothers, who have a better track record than “these policy-making goons.”
Let’s start with our pals at the USDA. As Denise Minger wrote in her excellent book Death By Food Pyramid, the people who eventually created the Dietary Guidelines not only ignored science, they ignored guidelines drafted by their own science advisor, a woman named Luise Light. Her original guidelines actually made sense:
The guide kept sugar well below 10 percent of total calories and strictly limited refined carbohydrates, with white-flour products like crackers, bagels, and bread rolls shoved into the guide’s no-bueno zone alongside candy and junk food. And the kicker: grains were pruned down to a maximum of two to three servings per day, always in whole form.
As Minger recounts, when Light received the (ahem) edited version of her guidelines back from the USDA, they were a grain-promoting perversion of what she’d originally submitted. Horrified, Light explained that “no one needs that much bread and cereal in a day unless they are longshoremen or football players” and warned that the six-to-eleven servings of grain per day recommended by the USDA could spark epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
Epidemics of obesity and diabetes … hmmm. Like she had a crystal ball.
Many of us have experienced not just weight loss, but big improvements in health after ditching the grains the USDA told us should be the base of our diets. Why on earth would we ever bow before their “expertise” after that?
Moving on to our pals at the American Heart Association … these people still tell us not to eat foods like cheese and butter, despite all the evidence that they’re flat-out wrong. Here’s just one example of that evidence: a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in which researchers directly measured biomarkers of dairy fat consumption – no guessing by using food-recall surveys. The researchers knew who was consuming dairy fat and how much. Then they compared dairy-fat consumption to cardiovascular disease.
The result? We’ll quote from an article put out by the University of Texas:
The study … found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death or, more specifically, heart disease and stroke – two of the country’s biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported.
That study was reported in quite a few media outlets. There have been other studies like it, with similar results. It doesn’t take a degree in biochemistry to understand them. So how did the American Heart Association respond? Did they tell us they got it wrong and we can go back to eating butter now? Of course not. Their web site still instructs us to switch to “healthy” fats like … wait for it … CORN OIL!
Corn oil has been tested in clinical studies, for @#$% sake! Here’s a quote from a study conducted in the 1960s titled Corn Oil in Treatment of Ischaemic Heart Disease:
The patients receiving the key treatment (corn oil) fared worse than those in the other two groups: two years from the start of treatment infarction or death had occurred in one- quarter more of the corn-oil than of the control group… It is concluded that under the circumstances of this trial corn oil cannot be recommended as a treatment of ischaemic heart disease. It is most unlikely to be beneficial, and it is possibly harmful.
When actual clinical research tells me that corn oil isn’t beneficial and possibly harmful, I have every right to conclude that the “experts” telling me to switch from butter to corn oil are morons. I don’t care how many letters the experts can put after their names.
The American Heart Association tells us to switch to vegetable oils because they lower LDL. Back in 2010, I wrote a post showing that according to data I found on the AHA’s own web site, people with “high” LDL don’t have more heart attacks than people with “low” LDL.
The American Heart Association tells us to avoid animal fats because they raise cholesterol, and by gosh, everyone knows you have to lower your cholesterol to avoid a heart attack. Here’s the conclusion from a study titled Serum Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis in Man, in which researchers compared known cholesterol levels with plaque buildup in 200 bodies that were autopsied:
No correlation could be observed between the serum cholesterol level and the amount and severity of atherosclerosis in the arteries.
The kicker? That study was published in Circulation, which is published by … wait for it … The American Heart Association.
Last year, the American Heart Association came out with their Presidential Advisory Study, in which they bravely declared they’ve been right all along: yup, saturated fat will kill you. So why haven’t studies shown that people have fewer heart attacks when they cut back on saturated fats? Well, lead author Frank Sacks explained, that’s because when people cut back on saturated fats, they consumed more sugar.
Gee, I don’t how that could have happened.
Sacks was on the AHA’s dietary advisory committee when Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms were labeled as heart-healthy foods. I looked it up.
When “experts” put their seal of approval on boxes of sugar-covered grains, then later tell us giving up bacon and eggs didn’t reduce heart disease because people ate more sugar, we have every right to conclude that they’re morons. Or as Curly Howard would put it, intelligent imbeciles.
We can say the same about the people who told us sugar doesn’t cause heart disease … especially when it turns out they were paid by the sugar industry. Yes, I’m talking about the geniuses at the Harvard Nutrition Department. As a reminder, here are some quotes from an article in The New York Times:
The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.
The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.
Moving on to the experts at the American Diabetes Association, here are some exact quotes I clipped from their dietary recommendations online back in 2011:
- Your digestive system turns carbohydrates into sugar quickly and easily.
- Carbohydrate is the food that most influences blood glucose levels.
- The more carbs you eat, the higher your blood glucose goes.
- The higher your blood glucose, the more insulin you need to move the sugar into your cells.
- The Food Pyramid is an easy way to remember the healthiest way to eat.
- At the bottom of the pyramid are bread, cereal, rice and pasta. These foods contain mostly carbohydrates.
- You need six to eight servings of these foods per day.
Starchy foods raise your blood sugar, and the higher your blood sugar goes, the more insulin you need … so make sure you eat six to eight servings per day of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Do I even have to comment on the stupidity?
And of course, it’s recommendations from the AHA and ADA that prompted the expert dietitians who designed menus for hospitals to come up with “heart healthy” choices like these:
And finally, let’s move on to my buddy The Guy From CSPI. He pushed anti-saturated-fat hysteria for years. He demanded calorie counts on restaurant menus — a Grand Plan that required spending more of other people’s money. There was no evidence that confronting restaurant patrons with calorie counts would change what they ordered. In fact, studies have shown exactly what I predicted years ago: people order what they order, period, and calorie counts don’t make a difference.
Naturally, The Guy From CSPI had an explanation for why the Grand Plan failed:
Nutrition is not the top concern of low-income people, who are probably the least amenable to calorie labeling,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
In other words, the plan was good, but people didn’t follow it correctly because they’re stupid. And of course, CSPI is still pushing for more calorie labels … on foods sold in grocery stores, movie theaters, convenience stores, vending machines, etc.
In other words, we need to do the same thing again, ONLY BIGGER.
But for a true sense of how wrong The Guy From CSPI has been, you can watch this:
I could go on and on with examples of how The Anointed have taken us down the wrong path on nutrition. Hell, I could write a decent-sized book and still not run out of examples.
As I mentioned in the previous post, members of The Anointed like Dr. David Katz have linked to The Death of Expertise as a reminder that we need to shut up and respect the experts. Sure, I respect genuine experts. I respect people who give advice based on logic and facts. I respect people who give advice that works.
But the “experts” in nutrition have been so wrong, so often, they’ve lost any right to demand our respect. Instead, they have our contempt. And they’ve earned it.
If you enjoy my posts, please consider a small donation to the Fat Head Kids GoFundMe campaign.
I’m glad you included the ADA with the other so-called “experts.” Since I have diabetes, they’re my favorite people to hate. Those not familiar with how the ADA counts carbs might think those “heart healthy” meals are low carb. But those aren’t grams, those are carb servings; 1 carb serving = 15 g of carbs. They recommend 45-60 g of carbs per meal, 15-20 per snack. That’s a heck of a lot of carbs! Every diabetic I know who follows the ADA recommendations is way overweight (much fatter than I am) & in poor health. One dear woman I know couldn’t understand how to go low carb when I first explained it to her some years ago – she’s now in a wheelchair. I’m going to be in the hospital for a procedure next month – I wonder what they’re going to try to feed me. I think I’m going to take my own food.
Yup, explained what a “carb” means on those menus back in this post:
My diabetic father-in-law was in a hospital last year, eating those ADA-approved breakfasts for diabetics. His blood sugar was over 700. Nobody at the hospital even checked until my mother-in-law insisted.
I work in a hospital, and I would bring my own food, if I was you. The ADA diet is crap.
Crap would be less harmful.
Your writing is fantastic, Tom. Filled with facts, studies and splattered lightly with a humor that can only be yours. Do you think the grain companies have paid the AHA and ADA a 5 or 10 year deal to continue to say the crap they do?
They’ve certainly taken a lot of money from the makers of processed grains over the years. That seal of approval on boxes on Cocoa Puffs wasn’t cheap.
I call Coco Puffs “Chocolate Covered Sugar Bombs” in reference to the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. Intelligent shopper seeing the check mark on the Coco Puffs might well go for the generic equivalent which my term encompasses.
Give them credit they have put the limit for sugar to 6 teaspoons for men and 4 for women. A 20 ounce Coke has 16 teaspoons which is liver poison already unless perhaps you are at a crossfit level of physical activity or better.
Have I thanked you for your efforts lately. Consider it done.
I happily accept your thanks.
The Anointed don’t even seem to be thinkers anymore–they’re just bots or NPCs (non-playing characters), take your pick. Ideas like a high-cholesterol diet clogging your arteries made sense at one time, but the AHA (and others) are now just mindlessly repeating advice that contradicts their own literature. Really, they’re worse than NPCs or bots; at least those would say there’s a programming error.
I’d really like to get inside the brain of someone at the AHA to see how they still justify this nonsense.
I’m afraid it’s just money, Tom. In a culture that worships money as the highest and almost the only value, people will do literally anything for money.
In the battle between God and Mammon, Mammon is winning hands down.
I don’t have any problem with people pursuing money. The people making paleo and real-food products want my money as well. The problem is when The Anointed decide whose products should get the blessing of government.
In the case of the 7th Day Adventists their deity wins, if their is any contest. You can’t argue with Divinely Inspired Truth (DIT)if an experiment contradicts DIT then the experiment is wrong and they will design an experiment to sing the DITy answer.
Yes God cannot be wrong. Although wait, didn’t he arrange that we evolve eating meat, and make cholesterol, and . . .and . . .and . . .
Also he made finches and buntings that are seed eaters, but wait, he arranged for them to feed their young on insects, the few that don’t have young that develop very slowly by comparison.
Also he made animals out of meat, not tofu.
So this appeared I. The news today, and I’ve seen it given serious air time on the TV this morning. Because WTF, have we learned nothing? No one can stick to this.
GPs to prescribe very low calorie diets in hope of reversing diabetes
I can see why it appeals to the national health service. It’s a perfect government plan: it won’t work because it’s not natural to live in a state of constant starvation. Then they can blame people for not following it.
I have to admit that the calorie counts on menus have affected what I order. When I see that my meal will give me only 500 calories for $15, I think, hell no! If I’m going to pay $15 for a meal, then I want as many calories as possible. The more money I spend, the more calories I want. More bang for my buck. Makes sense to me.
Indeed. Only The Guy From CSPI would assume we’ll go to restaurants and want as little food for our money as possible.
But companies use fewer calories as a product advantage. Go figure. Of course calories are cheap, HFCS and industrial grain oils are really cheap. I think I have seen half gallons of “vegetable” oils for $1.29 or something that absurd.
It seems that Americans are gettin 30% of calories from “vegetable” oils.
I laugh when I see “only 250 calories!” on packaged meals. I translate that as “we’re giving you very little food for your money.”
When I got to the all you can eat Chinese Buffet, I don’t go for the salad.
I can’t remember the last time I ate at a Chinese buffet. I know I was still in California, so it’s at least nine years.
I eat the meat sources then go for a couple of pieces of sushi.
We found a Chinese buffet here in Tulsa that has a nice Mongolian BBQ section. The main benefit being that it tastes good, is freshly cooked, AND you get to decide what goes in it.
Altogether different from the “Mongolian bbq” on our cruise last week where they had NO idea what a Mongolian bbq was. They cooked some random meat and vegetables with some sort of gloppy sauce on it and called it “done.” Ugh.
The BBQ would work. Last time I went to a Chinese buffet, it was basically a starch fest.
It seems that the experts who are wrong are exposed in the end.
In France, the “High Authority on Health” just withdrew its 2017 recommendations on dyslipidemia because independent experts showed that they were not in line with current knowledge (LDL and cholesterol not being the problem), and that the “experts” who proposed them had conflicts of interest with statin producers.
Curiously enough, these recommendations led to an increase in the number of people who would need statins (50% of people older than 60).
Funny how that works, eh?
How many of your so called morons are just saying that stupid stuff for the payoff? Of course the Vegans may be willing to lie because low fat and especially low animal fat reduce demand for meat and hence killing animals, so what if it kills people. Well in their world meat eaters deserve to die, IIUC.
I hope it’s a payoff. Otherwise they’re being stupid for no reason.
In regard to dairy fats, most Americans are getting the bulk of their dairy fats from frozen desserts (with massive amounts of sugar), so the lack of link to negative health consequences should be overwhelming.
Clearly dairy fats are protective.
After reading your two posts on The Annointed, The Experts and Knowledge I happened to see a retweet from Dr. Mike Eades of a recent blog post by Belinda Fettke, https://isupportgary.com/articles/the-plant-based-diet-is-vegan
I read her article and was astounded by the information provided and the apparent influence of the Seventh-Day Adventist organization on health and nutrition, even today. I wonder how many of our experts are followers of this organization/religion and how it might affect their research. I’m concerned.
Yup, I read that too. I had no idea they were that involved in influencing dietary guidelines.
When you stop to consider that the folks that brought breakfast cereals to market in the late 1800’s were devout Seventh Day Adventists, not really much of a surprise.
For real fun, try discussing low carb with an SDA doctor some time. Had the pleasure (doctors are understandably curious when you show up in their office 115 lbs. lighter than your last visit and you’re no longer diabetic, not to mention a lipid profile that you could eat off of) and to his credit he didn’t completely flip out. Just sort of grunted. Figure I’ll do one more visit so he’ll get another set of labs (give him a round of the Feldman Protocol to really raise his eyebrows – got my LDL-C to 85 the last time I did it) and then find another doctor. Sorry, but when you put a patient on a medication against their wishes and your rationale is ‘I like it’, um, well, maybe I don’t.
I had no idea either but it makes sense when you see (most) dieticians’ religious attitude towards “healthy whole grains”. It actually Is religion.
Of course it’s money too, the likes of wheat, soy, seed oils, sugar/HFCS etc. are cheap to buy and easy to mark up by adding some chemicals and a “heart healthy” label. And when you eat the most profitable “foods”, bingo! you need the most profitable drugs as antidotes. Have you seen how much the price of insulin has increased recently?
Yup, we always have to follow the money.
“I could go on and on with examples of how The Anointed have taken us down the wrong path on nutrition. Hell, I could write a decent-sized book and still not run out of examples.”
I would like to have that book. It would be good to have all that information concentrated in form of book and easily available in secure place of my bookshelf.
Maybe someday. The goal now is to promote the Fat Head Kids book and film.
I like watching presentations from the various low-carb/keto conferences where they announce their (usually non-existent) conflicts of interest. I wish authors would express their personal dietary preferences in the same way. I’ve looked through a couple books on preventing Alzheimer’s disease and one of them stated outright that red meat is the first thing that should be cut from the diet to prevent Alzheimer’s. The other said animal protein was OK – if it was grass-fed, organic, fed purely on fairy grass and unicorn tears. Any other meat was poison. All the “superfoods” listed in the book to prevent Alzheimer’s were vegan. The author’s vegetarian/vegan dietary preferences weren’t overtly listed anywhere in the book. So someone who isn’t clued in will take this information as fact, after all, these are DOCTORS writing these books.
Agreed. That’s why I check the author’s background.
“Hell, I could write a decent-sized book and still not run out of examples.” I think you’ve found your next book. And the ‘Death of Expertise’ would make an excellent title. Show the experts exactly why they have lost the respect due their titles. Not just in the nutrition field, but every field that has been compromised by money and ideology. With the combination of wit and wisdom you display on your blog, I think it would be a sure-fire best seller. Besides, I don’t think you’re going to shuffle off this mortal coil without writing one more book. This one sounds dear to your heart and I think I know why. You’re a lot like me, an intellectual that did not get subsumed by the Borg. For whatever reason, you were blessed with an almost non-existent ego, a lack of greed, and a passion for truth. It’s why you have so much love in your life. I blame it on your Catholic upbringing. I’m not trying to proselytize you, but I think you would enjoy the philosophy in the first three chapters of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ. It’s not really Roman Catholic per se, much more in line with the true meaning of Catholic, ie. universal.
I’m pretty sure I have another book in me as well. I appreciate the compliments.