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Bad Science: 2016 Mouse Study of the Paleo Diet Is a Classic Example of Research Being Used to Make Claims it Can’t Make

By The Paleo Diet Team
August 7, 2019

In 2016, a group of researchers led by Dr. Sof Andrikopoulos in Australia published a single study exploring the effects of a high-fat diet on glucose regulation and weight gain in mice.

This study set off a media storm that zeroed in on the Paleo Diet®, it claimed various health concerns and weight gain for those on the diet. Using no uncertain terms, headlines were published reading things like “Paleo Diet = weight gain.” Sadly, the author of the study didn't make any attempt to dissuade these claims despite the fact that the term “paleo” was never once used in the study.

We always want to trust the science, but this study was a classic example of science gone wrong. It was a poorly designed study, it drew incorrect causal relationships, made claims far beyond the scope of the study, and let the media produce sensationalized headlines that were never backed by the research. This is the type of science we need to call out.

So, with that idea in mind, all three members of our Editorial Board: Dr Loren Cordain, Dr Mark J. Smith, and Trevor Connor have written responses addressing the litany of issues with the study:

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Loren Cordain Ph.D. Response to Mouse Study

By Loren Cordain, Professor Emeritus

We can not draw conclusions by a single study. Good science is backed by a body of research before any casual relationships can be drawn. Dr Cordain explains what’s required for good science and why this mouse study doesn’t come close to meeting the criteria.

Read More Here!

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I Smell a Rat...

By Mark J. Smith, Ph.D.

Dr Smith addresses the media coverage of the study and how it took a clearly biased approach that simply couldn’t be backed by the research. He also shows how the author of the study promoted this coverage despite the fact that his study couldn’t back it.

Read More!


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But Is It Even Paleo?

By Trevor Connor, M.S.

Connor dives into the study itself and analyzes the diet that was fed to the mice, explaining why this diet was nothing close to Paleo. In fact, virtually none of the food in the mice’s diet – including casein, sucrose, canola oil, and clarified butter fat – is part of the Paleo Diet.

Read More!

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Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.