The Dr Peter Centre

When I wrote about my AIDS work in the previous post I was unaware that preparations were being made to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of my friend and colleague, Dr Peter Jepson-Young. On November 15th, there were a number of tributes in various Vancouver media which brought back poignant memories for those of us who were close to Peter. Here is a link to an article that describes the AIDS care facility we established in his name:

I’m back – with a vengeance!

I apologize for the extended hiatus. I have been busy with a “career transition”. I am in the process of moving from my research position back into clinical practice, an experience that has been interesting, challenging and, so far, fun. I’ll start with some deep background. It is basically the story of my career prior to my low-carb epiphany so you are forgiven if you decide it is too boring to bother with. For those of you with excess time on your hands, this is what has been happening.

After completing medical school, I trained in family medicine and did general practice for awhile before shifting into a public health role. I started working for the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in 1988 as the Associate Director of Sexually Transmitted Disease at a time when the AIDS epidemic was the all-consuming public health concern. Vancouver was the Canadian epicentre of the epidemic and some of the early leading-edge research was being conducted here so it was an exciting time to be working in this area. I was tasked with developing HIV prevention programs targeting the Aboriginal population of the province. My efforts in this area attracted the attention of the federal government which needed to develop an Aboriginal component for their national AIDS strategy. This is how I came to be recruited to work for Health Canada in 1990.

While with the BCCDC, I had become interested in the intersection of public health and the mainstream media and came to appreciate the media’s incredibly powerful role in informing, and sometimes mis-informing, the public about health issues. In particular, during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the media tended to fan the flames of hysteria about AIDS which complicated my job of getting accurate information to the public. I also knew that the media had the power to deliver a positive message which led me to develop the concept for a television series called “The Dr Peter AIDS Diary”. The Diary was the story of one of my colleagues, a young gay physician, who was dying of AIDS. Each week he did a brief segment on some aspect of AIDS. Our idea was to teach people the facts about AIDS with the subtext that it was something that can happen to anyone and that people with AIDS, and gay people, should not be feared or ostracized. The Diary was broadcast weekly on the evening news and was eventually turned into a documentary film that received an Academy Award nomination. The Diaries were an extraordinary success.  Dr Peter became a local celebrity and when he died, after doing 111 consecutive episodes, there was a huge public outpouring of sympathy for him. Shortly before his death, at his request, a small group of us started a foundation to capitalize on the goodwill he had generated and were able to translate that into the establishment of a modern AIDS care facility in downtown Vancouver. The Dr Peter AIDS Centre has become a model for how to effectively serve people with a devastating disease in a compassionate and cost-effective way.

The Dr Peter series and the lasting legacy of the foundation were things that I worked at that were outside the duties of my civil service public health position. Back in those days it was not uncommon to be contacted directly by reporters whenever an issue related to AIDS was in the news. And there was generally no problem in responding. That, unfortunately, has changed over the years. Governments have become much more restrictive in terms of what individual civil servants are allowed to communicate via the media. This tightening of media access to public officials has been an ongoing process ever since I began working in government but had become increasingly constrictive with the arrival of the current federal administration. Ironically, they had campaigned on openness in government and then quickly instituted the tightest of controls once they were elected. Being constrained in what you can say to the public is a particularly difficult problem when you are working in public health. I recall an incident where we were dealing with a Listeria outbreak and the public was being warned about certain packaged meat products that had been contaminated. In small isolated northern communities, where the main vehicle for communication is via the local radio, our public health officers were not allowed to use that medium to get the warning out because of the complete clampdown on contact with the media.

In my case, since I was getting frequent requests for interviews related, initially to the documentary, and then whenever a diet story was in the news, I was a big problem for the communications staff. On the one hand, they preferred that I not respond to any requests at all but, on the other hand, they ran the risk of appearing to be keeping important information from the public. In fairness, some were quite sympathetic to what I was doing but were severely constrained by a rigid system that was run directly out of the Prime Minister’s office. As the media began to realize the extent of this policy change across government, there were actually news stories about scientists in the civil service who were being prohibited from discussing their work publicly because their findings were in conflict with government policy. Being caught on the horns of this dilemma was very stressful for communications staff. I recall one incident where a senior staffer had a screaming fit because I was scheduled to be interviewed about the documentary, even though it was clearly going to be a good-news story. In retrospect, it is remarkable that I was able to communicate via the media as much as I did, given the general “cone of silence” that had descended on the civil service with the current administration.

Where I worked, in the federal health department, there was a specific concern whenever I spoke to the media about the benefits of a low-carb diet because this is  also the place where the Canada Food Guide is produced. Health Canada is particularly proud of the Food Guide as it is the most highly requested of any government communications product. Although I was always very careful not to embarrass the department by directly challenging the validity of the Food Guide, I also know there were many internal meetings of those bureaucrats to discuss how to minimize the damage I was doing to their highly valued brand. I am sure there was a big sigh of relief, maybe even a little celebration, in that office upon my departure.

When I first started working for the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Ottawa, I was able to continue to do part-time clinical practice in Vancouver. My Ottawa masters allowed me to continue to live in Vancouver on the understanding that I would have to travel the length and breadth of the country to do the necessary work. For several years I literally lived on airplanes and in hotels as I got Aboriginal AIDS programming underway across the country. During those years I really came to appreciate the value of continuing with clinical work while doing the other more bureaucratic stuff. It was almost a refuge from the pressure of functioning in the byzantine bureaucratic system and the rigours of the crazy travel schedule I was keeping. I loved returning to Vancouver to do clinic shifts and vacation locums. It was during that time that I came to realize what a tremendous gift my medical education was and that I was greatly privileged to be in a position to help others with their vital problems. I know this sounds kind of corny but I had reached some sort of state of grace with my practice of medicine which was particularly interesting since much of what I was doing at that time was in the STD/HIV clinic, a type of practice that was not highly sought after by my colleagues.

In 1996, I was offered a senior management position in Ottawa that required relocation and which didn’t allow me to continue clinical practice because of the demands of the job. I accepted these changes because I was intrigued with the challenge. I was to take control of the health benefits program that provided drugs, dental services, vision care and patient transportation to all the First Nations and Inuit people in Canada. The program represented a third of the entire Health Canada budget at the time and had been growing at double-digit rates. Because of the cost and growth rates, the program was in the cross-hairs of austerity-conscious senior bureaucrats and politicians. Over the course of three years, I worked with a staff of about 40 dedicated civil servants to bring some management control to the program to curtail unnecessary expense while preserving the essential services that were so important to the client population. We were constantly under attack by the drug companies and service providers whose incomes and profits derived from the program and also from the clients who were deeply suspicious that our mandate was to cut their benefits. Again, I found myself criss-crossing the country to communicate with providers and clients the true nature of our approach to re-designing the program. And, again, I learned how the media can be both your friend and your enemy when it comes to getting accurate health information to the public.

The pharmacy component of the program was the fifth largest drug plan in the country. After we established an electronic system to manage the pharmacy transactions, we also developed the capacity to systematically search for prescription drug abuse by clients, prescribers and dispensers. We were in the throes of figuring out how to translate that information into effective interventions to prevent prescription drug abuse when the Auditor General made our program the focus of his annual report to parliament. We had run into a significant roadblock from our legal colleagues in the Justice Department who were concerned with our use of the drug database for this purpose. They took the position that we could not use this newly available data to intervene, even in obvious cases of abuse, because it was deemed to be a confidential medical record. We were in the midst of grappling with this problem when the Auditor General used our new system to measure the extent of the abuse problem which they then described in lurid terms in their report while, at the same time, neglecting to tell the story of how we were also trying to address the problem. Of course, we got clobbered in the press and I was summoned to testify in front of hostile parliamentary committees about what was actually going on. It took years and enormous expense to get that issue sorted out to the point where the data could be used for the prevention of drug abuse.

Although I loved the challenge of the Ottawa job, and the progress we were making was considerable, I was in a working environment that was less than ideal. Over my three years there, we had reduced the budget growth to effectively zero through improved management and without cutting actual benefits. The overall savings we made during that period, based on projections of earlier growth rates, amounted to about $100 million. I had a wonderful staff and, during my tenure there, my shop became the most desirable place to work in the organization (I learned this from my future wife who was working in a different area at the time). I worked extremely hard and maintained an intense pace. In those days there was a sign-out book in the lobby of the office where you were required to make an entry if you left the building after 6:00 pm. It was a rare day that I didn’t sign that book. There was no monetary reward for working all those excess hours and, as I discovered, very little recognition for a job well done, either although the real reason for that was obscure at the time.

Even though I loved the job, I was finding it increasingly difficult to continue working there. I won’t get into the gritty details but, to give you some indication of the kind of workplace stress I was under, I will tell you that my immediate superior was charged with criminal behaviour and ended up sentenced to jail. It turned out that he had orchestrated a multi-million dollar fraud and was syphoning public funds into his multiple private bank accounts. Before this bombshell landed, I was finding it increasingly hard to work with him.  In retrospect, my relationship problems may have intensified when I befriended and and became a golfing buddy with the departmental auditor. This would certainly have been a threat to my boss who needed to keep his crime well hidden from the internal system of checks and balances. Having somebody close to him hanging around with the person charged with preventing fiscal malfeasance, even though I was completely in the dark about my boss’s nefarious affairs at the time, was likely a big source of stress for him. In either case, the working relationship deteriorated to the point where I knew I had to escape.

When the Regional Director position opened up in Vancouver I grabbed it and moved back to the west coast to take on a job that was as far away from Ottawa as possible but was, in some ways, even more challenging. I was in charge of over 200 staff and had responsibility for a large budget that was constantly being strained by the health service delivery requirements of a diverse and needy First Nations population scattered across a huge geographic region. The legitimate health demands were always in excess of the available resources. I often said that one’s success as a Regional Director depended on how politely and skillfully one could say “no” and I don’t claim to have been particularly good at that. It was about six years after I became Regional Director that I developed type 2 diabetes. Job stress was certainly a factor although I also had a family history of diabetes and a not so good lifestyle at the time, too. In retrospect, my diet was probably the main contributor. I was vegetarian and thought nothing of eating pasta five nights a week and waffles with fruit, french vanilla yoghurt and maple syrup for breakfast every day (yikes!).

After my low-carb epiphany (described above in The Story So Far) I was fortunate in that I was given the opportunity to shift out of my executive job and pursue research into how low-carb dieting might be important for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Since this disease was a big problem in the Aboriginal population and our other approaches were not delivering results, I was able to persuade the department to support my work in this area. I knew at the time, however, that by stepping outside the main business line of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, I would be vulnerable when the senior staff who were supporting me left or when the next budget crunch arrived. So, it came as no surprise that, a few months ago, when the Canadian government announced plans to chop 20,000 civil service jobs, mine would be one of them.

My years of employment as a civil servant entitled me to a pension, but since it represented a 60% drop in income and, since I am not independently wealthy, I was not ready, nor was I inclined, to actually retire. For the past six years, I have been focussed on using a LCHF diet to help people with their weight and metabolic problems. I have been involved in a number of research initiatives and have been working with First Nations communities to use this kind of approach for groups and individuals with some success. It seemed to me that my next career move should be the application of this kind of diet in a private practice medical setting. With this in mind, I had a look at the rules that the College of Physicians and Surgeons have developed for somebody like me who wants to return to clinical practice after some time away. I contacted them to explain my position and the fact that I had developed considerable expertise in this area, that I taught other physicians, lectured in the medical school, did research, etc, etc. My request was that I be given their blessing to embark on a practice limited to the use of this diet. I explained to them that I didn’t want to return to a general medical practice. Unfortunately for me, the rules don’t allow for that kind of focussed return to practice. I was told that I had to re-train in general practice and that it would take a year or more given the length of my time away. I was provided with some information on the re-training program that was available but was also advised that, given my age, my chances of getting a position there were effectively nil. It turns out that the existing positions that come with salaries, much like the medical residency positions one takes after graduating from medical school, were designated for immigrant doctors who need to qualify the Canadian exams. If I was to get re-trained, I would have to organize and fund my own program.

I relayed this information back to my “career transition” contact at Health Canada. I had been provided with a government policy document that laid out the process of negotiating the exit of senior executives in the civil service. The policy described a process where one’s particular circumstances were considered and an exit package would be uniquely designed to accommodate one’s transition needs. For most people this meant a lump-sum payment based on salary and some other potential benefits including career counselling, re-training and relocation costs. At first glance, it appeared to be quite generous and humane as I am sure it was intended to be when it was developed. The problem, as I soon found out, was that it was ill-suited to the current situation where the numbers of senior executives departing were unprecedented. It quickly became apparent that a one-size-fits-all approach was being applied. The problem for me was that, unlike other executives, who were able to start work in another position as soon as they departed, I was faced with a lengthy and expensive retraining program. I argued that this was a unique situation that warranted additional accommodation in the exit arrangement. I asked that I be allowed to embark on my retraining while still employed, something that is not uncommon for employees who are upgrading their education with plans to stay in the civil service. The difference in my case was that I would be leaving at the end of the educational period. Unfortunately, my arguments were not accepted, although, because of simple bureaucratic delay I was able to get a couple of months of the retraining done before the axe actually fell.

I am not at all bitter over my exit and continue to feel grateful that I had the support of the department to pursue the diet work for as long as I did. I did think that the fact that I had saved the department in excess of $100 million might have bolstered my argument for a bit more support on the way out but that was not to be the case. Even then, I don’t fault anyone in particular as I can appreciate how difficult a time it was for those senior executives who remained and who had to manage the decimation of the ranks that was occurring all around them as a result of the government’s decision to downsize. I relate this, not out of disgruntlement, but only as a backgrounder to the story of what I am doing now.

My immediate task is to meet the re-training requirements of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and to do this without the benefit of a funded position in an established program. So far, I have been able to cobble together some hospital rotations in internal medicine and emergency medicine and have found a family medicine group practice that has been willing to take me on in the capacity of a medical resident. I am four months into my ad hoc program now and am awaiting the results of a two-day comprehensive exam that I was required to write a couple of weeks ago. My exam performance will be used to determine how long I will be required to retrain before returning to unrestricted clinical practice. While this may seem like a burdensome process, and it is in some ways, I am actually really enjoying myself. The intensity of the hospital shifts was great for getting me back in the groove of dealing with a wide array of medical problems and, now, the day-to-day of a general practice clinic has been very edifying in terms of seeing first-hand how desperate is the problem of chronic disease. It is my impression that about half the people I am seeing don’t really need to see a doctor, their minor illnesses will get better on their own, while the other half, the truly ill ones, most often present with a multitude of the manifestations of carbohydrate intolerance. Even so, I am thoroughly enjoying my clinic time as I am back to where I started in terms of feeling privileged to be able to help others. I find this is especially true now that I have a much better understanding of diet and disease. I find patients are generally quite receptive to a discussion of diet but the time constraints of the typical office visit doesn’t allow for an effective intervention. The other doctors in the clinic are intrigued with my diet work and have encouraged me to start a diet group while I am working there. I have already recruited a number of the diabetic and metabolic syndrome patients from the practice and will start evening sessions for them in a couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to that.

I will continue to blog as time allows and I will still be doing as much lecturing as I can. I am scheduled to speak on the upcoming Low-Carb Cruise in May 2013, so I am looking forward to that, as well. Yesterday I spoke at an annual diabetes update meeting for physicians and was swarmed at the end of my talk by doctors wanting to learn more about low-carb and how to implement it in their practices. I am keenly interested in that question and am looking forward to developing an approach that can work within the resource constraints of a typical general practice and that can be made available to other interested doctors. When I finish my re-training, I hope to be able to work in a general practice that is focussed on diet while also helping the broader community of physicians find ways of applying LCHF in their practices. And, now that I am off the government communications leash, I am also looking forward to the opportunity to broadcast the message as widely as possible through the mainstream media. Stay tuned.

Low-carb baby n=1 three year progress report.

A couple of days ago, our neighbour’s teenaged daughter called to ask if we had some fresh basil to spare. I cut some sprigs and put them in a baggie which she came to fetch. As I came back into the house, I passed Issy who was busy with some toys in the hallway. Without looking up, she said, “That was nice of you, Dad”.  My wife and I exchanged looks of incredulousness. This is something we find out selves doing a lot these days with our little daughter who seems so advanced for her age.

Issy has acquired a large vocabulary and is very good at expressing herself, often using multi-sylable words and complex grammar and syntax. She is very self-assured and polite. She is always saying, “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, “no thank you Dad”. She loves books (one of her brother’s good habits she has picked up) and insists on a number of them being read to her at bedtime. We have noticed that it takes only a couple of readings for her to accurately memorize the text which she then recites as though she is actually reading. She announces each book by its title and author and seldom makes an error when reciting the story, page by page. All of this before her third birthday. We think she may be exceptionally smart and are looking forward to her pre-school which starts soon so we can get an objective opinion on that (I am acutely aware of the fact that all parents tend to think of their kids as exceptional).

Of course, if there is something extraordinary going on here, I attribute it to her dietary history. She continues to thrive on her LCHF toddler fare. She eats with gusto and likes a lot of the things she finds on her daddy’s plate. In the morning we share my usual breakfast of frittata with tomatoes and mayo. Occasionally, when I have more time, I make a plate of over-easy eggs with lots of salt, pepper and cayenne with fried tomato and maple flavoured bacon all doused with mayo and green salsa. She wolfs that down. She still eats the special foods we prepare for her including pureed meat sauces and veggie dishes like creamed spinach but she loves our dinner entre’s like barbequed salmon or ribs or steak and will still try to grab a sip of wine when we aren’t looking. She is tall for her age and slim and fit. And she is as tough nails while being the most sweet and charming little girl when she wants to.  She is stubborn as all get out. When she has made up her mind about something there is no compromise. It’s “my way or the highway”. As difficult as this can be at times, I really admire her tenacity even though it often drives her mother to the brink of madness. I am comforted by the thought that nobody is ever going to push her around. She is definitely the dominant personality of the household.

I try to take Issy with me on errands as often as I can and on the occasional overnight trip just to give my wife a break. She is already asking when I am going to teach her how to drive the car, something her almost teen-aged brother has never mentioned. He is perfectly content to be chauffeured around with his nose in a book or some kind of electronic device yet he is still very capable when it comes to driving the boat or the garden tractor. He continues to do really well, too. He is a fine young man at the age of twelve. He is slim and fit even though his idea of a good time is hours in the basement on his xBox wearing a headset so he can play with his buddies from school and god knows where else. He is currently taking his fourth level in sailing which entails spending all day on the water in a small dingy over the course of two weeks. In the winter we ski every weekend and school holiday, something he has been doing since he was three. He isn’t as low carb as Issy, having developed some bad eating habits before we went all in with LCHF when he was two. In both their diets, though, there is no sugar. Alex eats a bit more starch but we have recently switched to all gluten-free products. Issy tends to pick up on his bad habits and likes to eat some french fries if we are in a restaurant and will eat a rice cracker or two at home. They both like sweets but are usually satisfied with things like my low-carb ice-cream, whipped cream with berries and sugar-free freezies. I was hoping Issy wouldn’t develop a sweet tooth having had no exposure to sugar from the time of conception but, for whatever reason, that was not to be. It just means that I have to make sure we have a good supply of my ice-cream on hand along with other wholesome treats like the cookies my wife makes with coconut flour, flax meal and sugar-free chocolate chips.

They both continue to be very sturdy when it comes to community-acquired infections. When a virus comes around they might get the sniffles and a cough for day or two but no really serious malaise. Issy still remains remarkably fever-free and still has not had a diaper rash (although the diapers are pretty much gone now). Neither of them has ever had an ear infection or sore throat. All of this, I attribute to the diet, of course.

Although we haven’t had as much time in the sun this summer as we would normally do because of my “career transition” (more on that to come), both kids seem remarkably resistant to sun-burns. We learned over the years with Alex that, although we usually used sunscreen, he didn’t appear to really need it. Even in the most direct sunlight, he never burns as his skin turns to a radiant, golden brown. It appears the same is true for Issy. Both of them are sporting a very healthy glow as we approach the end of summer and we tend not to bother with sunscreen most of the time now (I know this is heresy in the eyes of my derm colleagues but the more I learn about the metabolics of cancer, the less I am convinced that skin cancer is simply due to sun exposure). Alex, having been on the water all day, every day for the past two weeks without sunscreen, now looks nicely tanned but not excessively so.  I think there is something going on here that is also related to their LCHF diet.

And, of course, both kids are beautiful. Alex’s feet are almost as big as mine now so he has a growth spurt coming. He is well muscled, slender and fit. He has big green eyes and eyelashes so thick and long that they are often the first thing people notice about him (mostly women and gay men). It is not unusual for complete strangers to comment on his eyelashes. He is also very photogenic. The camera has always loved him. Both his mother and I have been telling him that he should consider modelling as a way to generate income for the college fund. He thinks we are crazy, of course. And, Issy, with her piercing blue-green eyes and little button of a nose, shows signs of a visage of great beauty in development.

I don’t mean to be superficial about appearances because I think true beauty is a deeper and more complicated trait than simply how one’s integument looks. While, I think that their diet has a lot to do with their skin tone as well as their physical development, I also think that it gives them a mental and emotional benefit, as well. Poise and self-assuredness are attractive as are a sense of humour and joie de vie. While both of them are fit and sturdy and radiate a glow of good health, it is my hope that a diet that promotes brain growth, intellectual function and a healthy, stable emotional state will provide the underpinnings of true beauty.

Alex has a razor-sharp wit, does well academically and is no slouch intellectually while it appears that Issy may be truly exceptional in terms of intelligence and social development. If that turns out to be the case, I would speculate that this will be due to the intra-uterine and epigenetic effects of a ketogenic diet during her gestation and infancy as these are the things that distinguish her dietary history from that of her brother.

All in all, as we celebrate Issy’s third birthday this week, the n=1 is everything I had hoped it would be. I cannot imagine a healthier or more well developed child of three. Although she is bossy as heck, we are so happy she has joined our family. There is much love in our household and a sense that it is going to be a wild ride, as well, with the best yet to come.




I urge you to ignore this paper.

A new study condemning eggs has the dietary world all atwitter. Unfortunately, I am in the midst of a “career change” so I don’t have the time to get the full paper and do a proper critique. I’ll explain what the career change entails a bit later, after the dust settles on the mechanics of departing a large organization where one has worked for over 22 years. In the meantime, my somewhat desultory blogging habits will likely be even more so, at least until I reach my new equilibrium, probably a few months from now.

This newest egg study is from the group at U of Toronto where the glycemic index was invented by Jenkins who is a co-author on this paper. Jenkins has collaborated in the past with Dr Neil Barnard, the PETA-affiliated vegan evangelist, who runs the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a thinly disguised vegan advocacy group. Dr Barnard has the distinction of having been sanctioned by the American Medical Association more than once for the use of guerrilla tactics to advance the animal rights, vegan agenda. I am beginning to view these UofT folks as cut from the same cloth as T. Colin Campbell whose “China Study” has served as a paean to the virtues of veganism and validation for everyone who has that inclination while actually relying on science of the flimsiest kind to build the case (see Denise Minger’s excellent critique at

Okay, enough ad hominem character assassination, what about the merits of the study? Just from the abstract, here are some major problems. Firstly, it is an observational study. As you know, you can establish correlations from this kind of data but not causation. Secondly, it relies on food recall questionnaires. These are notoriously flawed and may return accurate information at a rate as low as 15%. The findings have huge overlapping confidence intervals and yet achieve statistical significance. How does that happen? (recall what Dr Mike Eades said: if you torture the data enough you can get it to tell you anything you want) And finally, the data showed an increase in plaque area of only 5.6%. In an observational study, you don’t have to overlook much of a confounder to get that kind of variation. Recall the hormone replacement therapy cock-up where the observational data showed a 50% reduction in CVD risk and when the clinical trial was done the result was actually a 30% increase, instead. That’s an 80% spread because of overlooked confounders. A 5.6% effect, given the inherent problems with this type of data – why is this even being published?

For a critique from somebody who has actually read the study, I recommend you have a look at what Zoe Harcombe has to say:

There has been, predictably, much coverage of this study in the mainstream media, as well. This is the only article that I have seen that puts the issue into proper perspective:

What does it all mean? Well, as I write this I am finishing my usual breakfast of frittata (with eggs, cream, mushrooms, onion, cheese and, oh the humanity – bacon!). And I will continue to tell anyone who will listen that an egg is a perfect food since it contains all the ingredients needed to make a baby chicken.

Alec Baldwin gets it.

Here is an interview of Robert Lustig conducted by Alec Baldwin on WNYC:

Hat tip to Eddie at

This is how it works.

I found the following nugget in the comments on a piece on saturated fat on The commenter is David Brown.

The original piece is worth reading. It gives a good perspective on the fact that there is no evidence that saturated fats are harmful. This comment, however, sheds much needed light on how the whole business of nutritional science and policy-making has been thoroughly corrupted by vested interests in the agri-food sector. A cautionary tale, indeed:

“Quote from paragraph 7: “On the other hand, the vast majority of trans fats in our food are manufactured by adding hydrogen bonds to unsaturated fats.”

Technically, it would be more accurate to say that “the vast majority of trans fats are formed during partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acid chains.”

Quotes from paragraphs 6 and 15: “Why such a huge effort has been put in promoting the risk of saturated fat,s and their possible effects on blood cholesterol is hard to understand, not least because the scientific basis behind it is indeed fairly weak…In light of the available scientific evidence it is hard to understand how we have managed to create those misconceptions.”

This article explains how the anti-saturated fat campaign got started:

This article documents the rise of the low-fat ideology:

Corporations have always done what was necessary to protect supply chains. The International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF) is the latest, most powerful iteration of a string of food and beverage supply chain protection schemes. It amounts to a corporation funded educational machine that shapes the content of dietetics instruction throughout academia. Here is what the IFICF says about itself:

“Incorporated as a public education foundation in 1991 and based in Washington, DC, the International Food Information Council Foundation is independent and not-for-profit. We do not lobby or further any political, partisan, or corporate interest. We bring together, work with, and provide information to consumers, health and nutrition officials, educators, government officials, and food, beverage, and agriculture industry professionals. We have established partnerships with a wide range of credible professional organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions to advance the public understanding of key issues. For example, we have a long-standing relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion as part of the Dietary Guidelines Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate Food Guidance System. Recognizing the global nature of food safety, nutrition and health issues, the Foundation extends its mission internationally. We share education materials with an independent network of Food Information Organizations and partners from around the world. We also serve as a news media resource. We provide science-based information to the media and refer journalists to our 350 independent, credentialed experts on a variety of nutrition, food, and safety topics…We believe in the importance of educating health and nutrition professionals. We regularly host Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs which are offered in person and via Web cast, and have developed a series of Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the American Dietetic Association, CPE-approved learning modules on a variety of subjects.”

How do dietitians view this arrangement? Read Justin Stoneman’s article: America: A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation. Quote:
“People in America like to think that they eat with freedom. Ultimately, however, they can only pick what is presented to them, and what they can afford. Then, the decision is based on what they believe to be healthy, tasty and safe. With that in mind, can you imagine how great it would be for the industries mentioned above, if dietary advice given could be contained and restricted to just one organization that they could pour money into? That scenario is not just some North Koreanesque wet dream. It is USA 2010. The ADA (American Dietetic Association) has complete monopoly on dietary advice. To keep the bubble airtight, the full might of the law has even been implemented. Kim Jong-il would be proud of the attention to detail. Staggeringly, in 46 out of 50 States, the message the authorities want you to have is protected. The law determines who is able to provide you with nutritional advice. The Commission on Dietetic Registration is the credentializing agency for the ADA. A practicing dietician not registered with the ADA or CDR is liable to face prosecution in over 90% of the country. With that in mind, who precisely is ‘sponsoring’ the ADA and the nutritional advice you receive? My friends, it is a beautiful army. Partners (recent and current — and their latest annual revenue figures): Coca Cola (revenue $31.4 billion), GlaxoSmithKline (revenue $42.5 billion), Hershey’s (revenue $5.3 billion), Unilever (revenue $55.8 billion), Aramark (revenue: $12.3 billion). There are even some ‘premier sponsors’: Mars (revenue: $30 billion), PepsiCo (revenue $44.3 billion), Truvia sweetener (revenue of parent company Cargill: $116.6 billion), Kellogg’s ($12.7 billion). ADA ‘sponsors’ have combined revenues of over $400 billion.

Why are these gargantuan companies — whose only intention is to make money, not make you healthy — allowed to fund the ADA? The ADA themselves can perhaps assist us. On their own website (in the section where they are trying to seduce corporate America), they offer a helping hand: Why Become an ADA Sponsor? As ADA past president Martin Yadrick stated in a 2008 US News & World Report article: “We think it’s important for us to be at the same table with food companies because of the positive influence that we can have on them.” But, Martin, darling, they are paying you to be at their table. You are publicly telling America that you are somehow the one wearing the trousers in the relationship? My headline must be correct — even the ADA seem to think that America is stupid.”

“In the end, it’s not that hard to understand how the anti-saturated fat ideology originated, became common knowledge, and remains entrenched dogma. It’s simply good business for the edible oils industry. Or at least it was for the better part of a century.”