Tag Archives: nutrition

Keep It Simple: Doctors Say Sound Nutrition Should Replace Calorie-Counting and Pharmacotherapy | The Paleo Diet

When we think about enormously complex problems, like the social and economic burdens of chronic degenerative diseases, we sometimes presume that the solutions must also be complex. Complex problems, however, often have simple, straightforward solutions.

Imagine you’re an astronaut living on a space station powered by enormous solar-powered generators. Your worst-case scenario would be for those generators to break down and for you to be missing the tools required to fix them. In 2012, astronauts aboard the International Space Station found themselves in precisely this situation. One of the station’s power distributors went down, but when the astronauts ventured outside to assess the situation, they discovered that metal shaving had accumulated around several critical bolts.

NASA had equipped them with highly technical tools, but none of their tools could remove the shavings, and if the shavings remained in place, the generator could not be repaired. After a thwarted 8-hour repair attempt, the astronauts went back inside to brainstorm solutions. Finally, they improvised a makeshift tool consisting of an allen wrench and a toothbrush. It worked – a $3 toothbrush saved a $100 billion space station.1

Could the same graceful simplicity be applied to the cardiovascular disease and diabetes crises? The American Heart Association estimates that in 2011 the annual cost of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the US was $320 billion.2 Similarly, the cost of diabetes increased over 40% from 2007 to 2012 and now costs at least $245 billion annually in the US.3

In a new editorial published in Open Heart, Doctors Aseem Malhotra, James DiNicolantonio, and Simon Capewell argue that complex, expensive, and ultimately ineffective “solutions” are exacerbating the heart disease and diabetes crises while simple, relatively inexpensive, effective solutions are being overlooked.

Specifically, they argue, “An exaggerated belief in the (modest) benefits of pharmacotherapy, aggressively reinforced by commercial vested interests, can often mislead patients and doctors, and promotes overtreatment in chronic disease management, and may even distract from and undermine the benefits of simple lifestyle interventions.4

In short, our approach to chronic diseases is one of treating symptoms rather than addressing underlying disease causes. Likewise, our approach to food is one focusing on calorie-counting and energy balance rather than sound nutrition. The diet industry generates $58 billion annually the US but long-term follow-up studies show the vast majority of dieters regain the weight they lost during diet regimens.5

So what is the solution? In their Open Heart editorial, the doctors point to numerous randomized controlled trials in which simple dietary interventions resulted in dramatic disease risk reductions. In the DART trial, for example, the consumption of fatty fish among survivors of myocardial infarction resulted in a significant 29% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to control patients. Moreover, in an Italian study, the consumption of 1 daily gram of omega-3 fatty acids led to clinically important and statistically significant reductions in all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality.

Higher-fat diets inclusive of nuts, olive oil, oily fish, as well as plenty of vegetables, consistently outperform the antiquated low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet recommended by the American Heart Association with respect to attenuating inflammation, atherosclerosis, and thrombosis. In their editorial, the doctors specifically endorse “a high-fat Mediterranean-type diet and lifestyle.” A high-fat Mediterranean-type diet has remarkable overlaps with the Paleo diet, as both emphasize sound nutritional principles and a widely varied, yet balanced diet. Our modern health problems are complex, but the solutions can be as simple as respecting and embracing the dietary traditions and nutritional wisdom of our ancestors.



[1] Garber, M. (September 6, 2012). “Behold, the Toothbrush That Just Saved the International Space Station,” The Atlantic.

[2] Mozaffarian, D., et al. (December 17, 2014). “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2015 Update,” Circulation 2015, 131.

[3] American Diabetes Association. (April 2013). “Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2012.” Diabetes Care, 36(4).

[4] Malhortra, A., et al. (August 26, 2015). “It is time to stop counting calories, and time instead to promote dietary changes that substantially and rapidly reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” Open Heart, 2(1).

[5] Strohacker, K., et al. (January 2010). “Influence of obesity, physical inactivity, and weight cycling on chronic inflammation,” Frontiers in Bioscience, 2.

Nutrition Divided: Low-Fat vs. High-Fat Diet | The Paleo Diet

The amount of debate in the nutrition field has never been greater.1, 2, 3 As Americans (and everyone in the world) gets progressively more obese, we seem to be digging into our respective trenches, saying ‘this diet or that diet will cure all ills’.4, 5 This is a sad waste of resources, and a little bit irresponsible, especially in a field where the endgame should be helping people – not furthering one’s own agenda. Sure, you may say I’m biased as well, writing this piece for The Paleo Diet. But the bottom line is, I care about people’s health more than I care about making money.

If you don’t believe me, go ahead and take a look at my website Eat Clean Train Clean. See if I have anything for sale, or any agenda to be pushed. You will find that I have a nutrition lecture, with slides and scientific references for sale, for a whopping $2 – and that’s it. And it isn’t a ‘pro-Paleo, bash everything else’ lecture. It highlights the science behind good nutritional choices. The long-winded opening here is simply to make a point: everyone who has a ‘big voice’ in nutrition – also has an agenda.6, 7, 8 And they’re not going to stray from their agenda, because it might mean less book sales, less money and less of a voice.

Possibly the single best example of this is Dean Ornish.9 While at first glance Ornish seems like a great nutrition icon (after all, he pushes low fat diets, lots of vegetables, etc.) if you dig a little below the surface, you will find some rot.10 Okay – lots of rot.11 Did you know that Ornish is paid by McDonald’s?12 Yes – that McDonald’s. ConAgra and Pepsi Co. also have Ornish on the payroll.13, 14 Since we all clearly know that McDonald’s, ConAgra and Pepsi are making us all healthier, we really should applaud Dr. Ornish for his work – right? My tongue is planted firmly in cheek on that one.

Nonetheless, because I firmly believe in unbiased science, if Ornish’s approach had some scientific merit, I would actually applaud him for some of his work (the Big Food work is never going to get my approval, but to each their own). But the simple fact is – Ornish’s approach has little-to-no scientific merit.15, 16 While he is indeed correct in stating that we all likely need to eat more vegetables, he goes far away from good science by virtually ignoring the huge problem of sugar – which is undoubtedly one of our biggest dietary downfall in the last 50 years.17, 18, 19 Is it a mere coincidence that if Ornish bashed sugar, he might lose his McDonald’s, ConAgra and Pepsi deals? I think any astute reader will clearly be able to draw the obvious conclusion here.

If you haven’t caught on to the fact that your favorite dietary “guru” may just be cashing in on things, it may be a good idea to take a look around and do some internet searching – just to see what really goes on behind the scenes. If one wants to see some clear bias in action, go ahead and read Dr. Ornish’s piece for The New York Times.20 But this isn’t to simply bash Ornish – like any headline-grabbing nutrition guru, he does offer some good advice. Because when it comes to nutrition, there are always some broad agreements that can be made.21, 22

No one will ever debate that organic vegetables should be included in every diet.23, 24 That is because they have clearly been found to support many different neuronal and physiologic processes.25 26, 27 Though Ornish himself ignores this next point (another nail in the coffin for his bias) almost everyone else agrees that good amounts of healthy fats are very beneficial (elements such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, almonds, etc.).28, 29, 30 Another common point that nearly everyone agrees on? Eating organic, lean protein.31, 32, 33 This means wild caught salmon, organic chicken and other muscle-building sources of essential amino acids.

Another point that – again, everyone but seemingly Ornish – can agree on? Keep sugar to a minimum – especially added sugar.34, 35 Even the World Health Organization agrees on this point.36 If Ornish’s bias isn’t crystal clear by now, then I’d be shocked. You can also clearly see that I have yet to mention a Paleo Diet. Again, I am not biased. Does it happen that all of these points fall squarely under the Paleo Diet umbrella? Sure. But all of these elements also fall under the Mediterranean Diet umbrella – which nearly everyone in the nutrition world agrees – is extremely healthy.37 And guess what? The science backs up that diet, too.38

Even Dr. David Perlmutter’s often controversial ketogenic diet approach, is substantiated by sound scientific research.39 While one could argue the science doesn’t quite back up all of Dr. Perlmutter’s conclusions yet, the point is he has salient scientific data to support his claims. And I do think one day he will end up being right about nearly everything he states in his book. Only time – and more scientific research – will tell.

So, when you look to indulge in a healthy diet, they may be confused by all of the noise in the media. At that point, I think it is important readers look to the science. And what does the science say? Avoid lots of sugar, eat lots of vegetables, eat lots of healthy fats, and consume quality sources of protein.40 That is all you really need, to put together a healthy diet.

Another huge issue here, which seemingly is only hinted at, is that people have trouble sticking to any diet.41 That is another discussion for another day, but the human factor must be weighed into the scientific debate, as well. The bottom line is, take care of yourself, worry only about your health, and not the back-and-forth bantering that goes on in the media.

There is very little new in the world of nutrition, and the same foods which have been helping humans thrive for centuries, will also be the ones we should keep consuming, since our physiology will not change enough by the time I’m dead, or you are dead, to warrant brand new food choices. If you are overweight, think of all the food choices that led you to this state. Too much sugar? Too many processed foods? Not enough vegetables? That’s what I thought. You don’t need to read biased, industry-backed propaganda to know what to eat. Intrinsically, you’ve known all along.


[1] Willett WC. Diet and health: what should we eat?. Science. 1994;264(5158):532-7.

[2] Kornhuber J. [What should we eat?]. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2014;82(6):309-10.

[3] Adams SM, Standridge JB. What should we eat? Evidence from observational studies. South Med J. 2006;99(7):744-8.

[4] Roth J, Qiang X, Marbán SL, Redelt H, Lowell BC. The obesity pandemic: where have we been and where are we going?. Obes Res. 2004;12 Suppl 2:88S-101S.

[5] Swinburn BA, Sacks G, Hall KD, et al. The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments. Lancet. 2011;378(9793):804-14.

[6] Available at: //www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6759000. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[7] Available at: //www.nytimes.com/2007/01/09/health/09research.html. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[8] Available at: //www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-dr-oz-hits-back-with-investigation-of-mysterious-critics-20150423-story.html. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[9] Available at: //www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2011/12/the-ornish-myth/. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[10] Available at: //www.menshealth.com/nutrition/high-protein-diets. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[11] Available at: //articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-11-15/entertainment/9004040864_1_fat-diet-nathan-pritikin-diseased-arteries. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[12] Available at: //www.weightymatters.ca/2007/02/dr-dean-ornish-shills-for-mcdonalds.html. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[13] Available at: //www.foodonline.com/doc/dr-dean-ornish-endorses-conagras-natural-food-0001. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[14] Available at: //www.hsc.wvu.edu/Wellness/Dr-Dean-Ornish-Program/Bio-Dean-Ornish.aspx. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[15] Available at: //www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-almost-everything-dean-ornish-says-about-nutrition-is-wrong/. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[16] Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2007;297(9):969-77.

[17] Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516-24.

[18] Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):434-9.

[19] Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. J Nutr. 2009;139(3):623-8.

[20] Available at: //www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/opinion/the-myth-of-high-protein-diets.html. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[21] Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):384S-92S.

[22] Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996;96(10):1027-39.

[23] Magkos F, Arvaniti F, Zampelas A. Organic food: buying more safety or just peace of mind? A critical review of the literature. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(1):23-56.

[24] Liu RH. Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):517S-520S.

[25] Martin A, Cherubini A, Andres-lacueva C, Paniagua M, Joseph J. Effects of fruits and vegetables on levels of vitamins E and C in the brain and their association with cognitive performance. J Nutr Health Aging. 2002;6(6):392-404.

[26] Polidori MC, Praticó D, Mangialasche F, et al. High fruit and vegetable intake is positively correlated with antioxidant status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(4):921-7.

[27] Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270-8.

[28] Lawrence GD. Dietary fats and health: dietary recommendations in the context of scientific evidence. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):294-302.

[29] De roos N, Schouten E, Katan M. Consumption of a solid fat rich in lauric acid results in a more favorable serum lipid profile in healthy men and women than consumption of a solid fat rich in trans-fatty acids. J Nutr. 2001;131(2):242-5.

[30] Willett WC. Dietary fat plays a major role in obesity: no. Obes Rev. 2002;3(2):59-68.

[31] Brehm BJ, D’alessio DA. Benefits of high-protein weight loss diets: enough evidence for practice?. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2008;15(5):416-21.

[32] Paddon-jones D, Westman E, Mattes RD, Wolfe RR, Astrup A, Westerterp-plantenga M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(5):1558S-1561S.

[33] Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004;23(5):373-85.

[34] Clabaugh K, Neuberger GB. Research evidence for reducing sugar sweetened beverages in children. Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. 2011;34(3):119-30.

[35] Basu S, Lewis K. Reducing added sugars in the food supply through a cap-and-trade approach. Am J Public Health. 2014;104(12):2432-8.

[36] Available at: //www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[37] Willett WC. The Mediterranean diet: science and practice. Public Health Nutr. 2006;9(1A):105-10.

[38] Scarmeas N, Stern Y, Tang MX, Mayeux R, Luchsinger JA. Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Ann Neurol. 2006;59(6):912-21.

[39] Available at: //www.drperlmutter.com/learn/studies/. Accessed May 5, 2015.

[40] Babio N, Bulló M, Salas-salvadó J. Mediterranean diet and metabolic syndrome: the evidence. Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(9A):1607-17.

[41] Thomas SL, Hyde J, Karunaratne A, Kausman R, Komesaroff PA. “They all work.when you stick to them”: a qualitative investigation of dieting, weight loss, and physical exercise, in obese individuals. Nutr J. 2008;7:34.

National Nutrition Month and Paleo- Can We Find A Common Ground?

March is National Nutrition Month and according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,1 “the campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”

A recommendation from the USDA suggesting we take preventative measures to avoid leaky gut and cut out grains, or rely on leafy greens rather than milk for calcium, is a long way off. But, are there any suggestions for good health, which parallel what true Paleo diet living exemplifies?

The USDA,2 offers several resources for getting yourself on track for eating a “healthier” diet, including eating right on a budget, food plans, and tips of the day.

Unsurprisingly, the tips of the day tend to include advice like “make sure half your grains are whole grains” and “choose low fat dairy products in order to keep the calorie count low.”

But where are these recommendations coming from?

Marion Nestlé’s Food Politics,3 provides some insight in response to a report by the industry watchdog group, Eat, Drink, Politics,4 on some of the corporate sponsors of the USDA including Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and the Dairy Council. These food industry corporations influence the nutrition healthcare professionals’ curriculum, meanwhile in part or in whole develop the dietary recommendations for the general public.

So you’re saying, I’ll just find a Paleo practitioner! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Paleo is still a niche market where the many interpretations of what is and what isn’t Paleo are at odds.

We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know. In other words, it’s easy to simply go to the doctor when something is wrong and, if there is no indication that what you’re eating has a role in how you’re feeling, there isn’t a reason to naturally doubt their council.

In an ideal world, we should be able to go to the doctor, get sage medical advice, and be straight on our path to healing. And in some cases, this can happen. If you’ve found an incredible functional medicine doctor, or an amazing naturopath who knows to ask if you’re eating gluten when you complain of a skin rash, or tell you eating dairy plays a role in symptoms of gassiness and bloating, great! But for many, this is not the case and as a result, patients are faced with long term medicating and challenges dealing with moderate to severe symptoms. Misdiagnoses are common and so often, consuming a toxic Standard American Diet (SAD), is the unidentified culprit.

What can we do? Educate!

Everyone in the community can benefit tremendously by learning the effects of eating refined wheat-based products or drinking low-fat milk and eating battery raised chickens. And, while global change isn’t going to happen overnight, if we can approach it in stages, and get people on board little by little, it’s going to promote tremendous awareness.

One admirable and significant example is Jamie Oliver’s mission with Food Revolution:5

“My wish is to create a strong sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Start a community garden, offer to give a talk at your children’s school, or team up with other neighbors to create Paleo potluck meals or picnics on the weekend.  By proactively approaching the health of our society with positive, fun activities, we can collectively get ourselves on the right track to health far more easily than sitting around stewing about the erroneous, inaccurate advice we get from the MyPlate recommendations.

Remember, we can catch more flies with honey, and since honey is Paleo (once in a while), we may as well take this route!



[1]  “National Nutrition Month.” National Nutrition Month. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

[2] “ChooseMyPlate.gov.” ChooseMyPlate.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

[3] “New Study: Big Food’s Ties to Registered Dietitians.” Food Politics New Study Big Foods Ties to Registered Dietitians Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

[4] “New Study: Big Food’s Ties to Registered Dietitians.” Food Politics New Study Big Foods Ties to Registered Dietitians Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

[5] “Food Revolution Day – 15/05/15 – #foodrevolutionday.” Food Revolution Day 2015. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Stop Counting Calories, Start Assessing Quality | The Paleo Diet

In the new paper soon-to-be published by Public Health Nutrition, a Cambridge University Press journal, doctors Sean Lucan and James DiNicolantonio question prevailing ideas on obesity and weight gain, with respect to calorie counting, while arguing for a more qualitative, rather than quantitative, approach to nutrition.1 Dr. Lucan is a practicing family physician and researcher whose work focuses on urban food environments and how they influence dietary behavior. Dr. DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. We caught up with Dr. DiNicolantonio to discuss his new paper and ask his views on calories, food quality, the Paleo Diet, and more.

In their paper, the doctors observed that most public health initiatives addressing obesity approach the problem arithmetically. In other words, make a balance sheet, add calories in, deduct calories out, and whenever there’s a deficit, weight loss should occur. This approach can also be summarized as “eat less, move more.” Research shows, however, that caloric intake and caloric expenditure are coupled, and thus consuming fewer calories “will necessarily result in a compensatory drive to reduce calories expended.”2 People who cut calories often fail to lose weight because they get tired and hungry, and this hunger drives them toward higher-calorie foods. Maintaining caloric deficit, the doctors argue, “is practically and biologically implausible.”

So what makes us gain weight? Is a calorie a calorie? In other words, do 100 calories of salmon have the same physiological impact as 100 calories of sugar or 100 calories of bread? In fact, different foods have substantially different effects on key hormones related to satiety, food consumption, weight maintenance, and body composition, particularly ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone) and leptin (an appetite-suppressing hormone). Long-term overconsumption of refined and rapidly absorbable carbohydrates, the doctors explain, may promote leptin resistance, a condition they characterize as “a neurohormonal drive to ‘eat more’ and ‘move less.’”

We asked if sugar, in all its guises, is driving the obesity epidemic. “Refined/rapidly absorbable carbohydrates as well as added sugars (sucrose, also known as table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup) as well as free sugars, honey, 100% fruit juice, and syrups (agave syrup for example) are the primary drivers of obesity,” said DiNicolantonio.

Many people are surprised to learn that fruit juice is so metabolically destructive. Dr. DiNicolantonio refers to fruit juice as “soda without the buzz,” echoing Dr. Loren Cordain’s claims that fruit juice is “liquid candy” following the report fruit smoothies were equally as unhealthy as soda beverages. “Fruit juice actually has a higher fructose to glucose ratio than most sodas,” said DiNicolantino. “The rapidly absorbable sugar that is provided outweighs any small benefit provided from vitamins and minerals supplied in fruit juice.”

We also asked Dr. DiNicolantonio for his thoughts on the Paleo Diet. He observed that there are “good” and “bad” interpretations of Paleo. The bad interpretations, or more accurately, misinterpretations, would be those including highly processed animal foods or otherwise inferior quality animal products. “Then there is good/healthy Paleo,” he explained, “which is someone who is consuming animal products from animals set to pasture and never grain finished.”

In his paper, DiNicolantonio argues that with respect to calories, quality is far more important than quantity. He feels the same way about Paleo—quality predominates. “In essence, you can eat animal foods and be healthy, or you can eat them and be unhealthy. It depends on how the animal is bred and fed, as well as how the person is cooking the animal products.”

So if you’re trying to lose weight, quantitative strategies like caloric restriction probably won’t help. The Paleo Diet, on the other hand, is a scientifically vetted, evolutionary approach to health and wellness, including reduced body weight. The Paleo Diet works because it’s fundamentally a qualitative strategy, focusing on nutrient and ingredient quality rather than quantity consumed.

Christopher James Clark, B.B.A.

Nutritional Grail

Christopher James Clark | The Paleo Diet TeamChristopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.


[1] Lucan, S and DiNicolantonio, J. (Embargo: November 24, 2014). How calorie-focused thinking about obesity and related diseases may mislead and harm public health. Public Health Nutrition. doi:10.1017/S1368980014002559

[2] Ibid.

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

Oftentimes in the health, fitness and nutrition industry, we find ourselves splintered off, into tiny sections, subsections and niches. While the monetary rewards and competitive market may deem this necessary, this line of thinking substantially hurts the Paleo community’s overall power.

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

“The 2011 QSR 50.” QSR Magazine. N.p., Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

Collectively, we can recognize, organize, harness, and use our power to reform the many apparent dangers and problems of the U.S. food industry.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

The ills of the industry are vast.11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 And the food industry, unlike citizens, is protected by lobbyists, politicians and corporations.21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 History has a way of repeating itself. If we look to the tobacco industry that publicly touted little health risk, the food industry is equally aware of which staples are detrimental to health, but publicly don’t bat an eye at our skyrocketing (and bankrupting) healthcare costs.28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37

Type 2 diabetes is killing our economy, to the tune of $245 billion, per year.38 39, 40, 41, 42 In the U.S. alone, nearly one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, yet food and beverage companies continue to target them with advertising for the same products that contribute to their problems.43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 To put the food industry’s hold on our health in proper perspective, realize that basically 10 companies control nearly our entire food supply.49

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

Bradford, Harry. “These 10 Companies Control Enormous Number Of Consumer Brands [GRAPHIC].” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

Shao. Korean Society of Community Nutrition and the Korean Nutrition Society. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 June 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2011

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

Bernhardt, Amy M.,Public Library of Science. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Do you know who does the bulk of water purification, overseas? Coca-Cola. Remember the time when you didn’t have to pay $8 for a bottle of water, at the movie theater? 50, 51, Remember the time when we weren’t buying bottled drinking water – at all? 52, 53 I sure do.

We used to rely on farmers, and their honest practices, to provide us with clean, organic, non-GMO food. Now we rely on multi-national corporations and mega-companies, who specifically target “heavy users” (their language, not mine) to provide them with the large majority of their profits.54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61

Layman’s terms translation: “Heavy users” are the high-roller consumers of soda and junk food.62 The term “heavy users” was co-opted from the tobacco industry. Is this an implication of addictive product? We think so.63, 64, 65, 66   Tantalizing and deceptive marketing allowed limited nutrition and excessive sugar to enter the mainstream.67, 68, 69, 70

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

Berman, Jillian. “You’re Paying A Ton To Subsidize Fast Food’s Poverty Wages.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Worse yet, these ad campaigns target impressionable children, at peak times to maximize their visibility.71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 7,7 78, 79,80, 81 In spending billions of dollars to capture “market share” (i.e. your kid’s mouth, and your hard-earned dollar) to peddle sugary, salty products,82, 83, 84, 85 your kids become over-stimulated, sick – and left craving more.86, 87, 88, 89, 90

On this issue, we have the opportunity to build bridges, not walls.

Rally together. Support what we all believe in: reform the food industry so they have our best interest and health in mind. Take action and responsibility and together we can fix the increasing health problems that plague us in the 21st century.

In 2013, we spent roughly $2.8 trillion (almost 20% of our GDP) on healthcare.91 We are in the business of helping people, whether they’re ill, uninformed, injured – or all three.

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

The Dark Side of the Food Industry | The Paleo Diet

De Vogli R, Kouvonen A, Gimeno D. The influence of market deregulation on fast food consumption and body mass index: a cross national time series analysis. Bull World Health Organ 2014;92:99–107A

Soon our country’s healthcare system will be bankrupt from all these diseases and illnesses – many of which are entirely preventable.92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101 Join the fight against the ills of the food industry, and ‘share’ this article with your family and friends. You have a voice, and you can make a difference.


[1] Ashraf MJ, Baweja P. Obesity: the ‘huge’ problem in cardiovascular diseases. Mo Med. 2013;110(6):499-504.

[2] Gill TP. Key issues in the prevention of obesity. Br Med Bull. 1997;53(2):359-88.

[3] Karnik S, Kanekar A. Childhood obesity: a global public health crisis. Int J Prev Med. 2012;3(1):1-7.

[4] Rubenstein AH. Obesity: a modern epidemic. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2005;116:103-11.

[5] Ofei F. Obesity – a preventable disease. Ghana Med J. 2005;39(3):98-101.

[6] Seidell JC. Prevention of obesity: the role of the food industry. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 1999;9(1):45-50.

[7] Sharma LL, Teret SP, Brownell KD. The food industry and self-regulation: standards to promote success and to avoid public health failures. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(2):240-6.

[8] Bauman HE. What is the food industry doing on nutrition problems?. Bull N Y Acad Med. 1971;47(6):601-5.

[9] Buttriss JL. Food reformulation: the challenges to the food industry. Proc Nutr Soc. 2013;72(1):61-9.

[10] Namba A, Auchincloss A, Leonberg BL, Wootan MG. Exploratory analysis of fast-food chain restaurant menus before and after implementation of local calorie-labeling policies, 2005-2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013;10:E101.

[11] Harris JL, Pomeranz JL, Lobstein T, Brownell KD. A crisis in the marketplace: how food marketing contributes to childhood obesity and what can be done. Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30:211-25.

[12] Ronit K, Jensen JD. Obesity and industry self-regulation of food and beverage marketing: a literature review. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(7):753-9.

[13] Gross LS, Li L, Ford ES, Liu S. Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States: an ecologic assessment. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(5):774-9.

[14] Mohan AV, Mccormick D, Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, Boyd JW. Life and health insurance industry investments in fast food. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(6):1029-30.

[15] Kessler R. Engineered nanoparticles in consumer products: understanding a new ingredient. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119(3):a120-5.

[16] Nyenje ME, Odjadjare CE, Tanih NF, Green E, Ndip RN. Foodborne pathogens recovered from ready-to-eat foods from roadside cafeterias and retail outlets in Alice, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa: public health implications. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012;9(8):2608-19.

[17] Prayson B, Mcmahon JT, Prayson RA. Fast food hamburgers: what are we really eating?. Ann Diagn Pathol. 2008;12(6):406-9.

[18] Jahren AH, Kraft RA. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in fast food: signatures of corn and confinement. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008;105(46):17855-60.

[19] Sánchez-villegas A, Toledo E, De irala J, Ruiz-canela M, Pla-vidal J, Martínez-gonzález MA. Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression. Public Health Nutr. 2012;15(3):424-32.

[20] Wickens K, Barry D, Friezema A, et al. Fast foods – are they a risk factor for asthma?. Allergy. 2005;60(12):1537-41.

[21] Taylor PL. Innovation incentives or corrupt conflicts of interest? Moving beyond Jekyll and Hyde in regulating biomedical academic-industry relationships. Yale J Health Policy Law Ethics. 2013;13(1):135-97.

[22] Nestle M. Preventing childhood diabetes: the need for public health intervention. Am J Public Health. 2005;95(9):1497-9.

[23] Fields S. The fat of the land: do agricultural subsidies foster poor health?. Environ Health Perspect. 2004;112(14):A820-3.

[24] Cohen DA, Sturm R, Scott M, Farley TA, Bluthenthal R. Not enough fruit and vegetables or too many cookies, candies, salty snacks, and soft drinks?. Public Health Rep. 2010;125(1):88-95.

[25] Roblin L. Childhood obesity: food, nutrient, and eating-habit trends and influences. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007;32(4):635-45.

[26] Reedy J, Krebs-smith SM. Dietary sources of energy, solid fats, and added sugars among children and adolescents in the United States. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(10):1477-84.

[27] Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(2):274-88.

[28] Brownell KD, Warner KE. The perils of ignoring history: Big Tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is Big Food?. Milbank Q. 2009;87(1):259-94.

[29] Moodie R, Stuckler D, Monteiro C, et al. Profits and pandemics: prevention of harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink industries. Lancet. 2013;381(9867):670-9.

[30] Alderman J, Daynard RA. Applying lessons from tobacco litigation to obesity lawsuits. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30(1):82-8.

[31] Bodenheimer T. High and rising health care costs. Part 1: seeking an explanation. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(10):847-54.

[32] Allison DB, Zannolli R, Narayan KM. The direct health care costs of obesity in the United States. Am J Public Health. 1999;89(8):1194-9.

[33] Alemayehu B, Warner KE. The lifetime distribution of health care costs. Health Serv Res. 2004;39(3):627-42.

[34] Katon WJ, Lin E, Russo J, Unutzer J. Increased medical costs of a population-based sample of depressed elderly patients. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(9):897-903.

[35] Sharma LL, Teret SP, Brownell KD. The food industry and self-regulation: standards to promote success and to avoid public health failures. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(2):240-6.

[36] PLoS Medicine series on Big Food: the food industry is ripe for scrutiny. PLoS Med. 2012;9(6):e1001246.

[37] Chandon P, Wansink B. Does food marketing need to make us fat? A review and solutions. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(10):571-93.

[38] Available at: //www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html. Accessed November 2, 2014.

[39] Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2012. Diabetes Care. 2013;36(4):1033-46.

[40] Mello MM, Pomeranz J, Moran P. The interplay of public health law and industry self-regulation: the case of sugar-sweetened beverage sales in schools. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(4):595-604.

[41] Fleck F. Top health officials adopt global plan to cut obesity. BMJ. 2004;328(7451):1278.

[42] Zhuo X, Zhang P, Hoerger TJ. Lifetime direct medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45(3):253-61.

[43] Harris JL, Graff SK. Protecting young people from junk food advertising: implications of psychological research for First Amendment law. Am J Public Health. 2012;102(2):214-22.

[44] Owens, Brian; . Storm brewing over WHO sugar proposal. Nature News. 2014;507(7491):150.

[45] Powell LM, Szczypka G, Chaloupka FJ. Trends in exposure to television food advertisements among children and adolescents in the United States. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(9):794-802.

[46] Costa SM, Horta PM, Dos santos LC. Food advertising and television exposure: influence on eating behavior and nutritional status of children and adolescents. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2012;62(1):53-9.

[47] Yokum S, Gearhardt AN, Harris JL, Brownell KD, Stice E. Individual differences in striatum activity to food commercials predict weight gain in adolescents. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;

[48] Chan TF, Lin WT, Huang HL, et al. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with components of the metabolic syndrome in adolescents. Nutrients. 2014;6(5):2088-103.

[49] Available at: //www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/consumer-brands-owned-ten-companies-graphic_n_1458812.html. Accessed November 7, 2014.

[50] Available at: //www.businessinsider.com/facts-bottled-water-industry-2011-10. Accessed November 2, 2014.

[51] Lalumandier JA, Ayers LW. Fluoride and bacterial content of bottled water vs tap water. Arch Fam Med. 2000;9(3):246-50.

[52] Raj SD. Bottled water: how safe is it?. Water Environ Res. 2005;77(7):3013-8.

[53] Doria MF. Bottled water versus tap water: understanding consumers’ preferences. J Water Health. 2006;4(2):271-6.

[54] Available at: //www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html. Accessed November 2, 2014.

[55] Spök A. Molecular farming on the rise–GMO regulators still walking a tightrope. Trends Biotechnol. 2007;25(2):74-82.

[56] Kasarda DD. Can an increase in celiac disease be attributed to an increase in the gluten content of wheat as a consequence of wheat breeding?. J Agric Food Chem. 2013;61(6):1155-9.

[57] Shao Q, Chin KV. Survey of American food trends and the growing obesity epidemic. Nutr Res Pract. 2011;5(3):253-9.

[58] Grier SA, Kumanyika SK. The context for choice: health implications of targeted food and beverage marketing to African Americans. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(9):1616-29.

[59] Williams JD, Crockett D, Harrison RL, Thomas KD. The role of food culture and marketing activity in health disparities. Prev Med. 2012;55(5):382-6.

[60] Seifert SM, Schaechter JL, Hershorin ER, Lipshultz SE. Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults. Pediatrics. 2011;127(3):511-28.

[61] Chriqui JF, Piekarz E, Chaloupka FJ. USDA snack food and beverage standards: how big of a stretch for the states?. Child Obes. 2014;10(3):234-40.

[62] Barry D, Clarke M, Petry NM. Obesity and its relationship to addictions: is overeating a form of addictive behavior?. Am J Addict. 2009;18(6):439-51.

[63] Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):434-9.

[64] Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.

[65] Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.

[66] Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLoS ONE. 2007;2(8):e698.

[67] Liu Y, Von deneen KM, Kobeissy FH, Gold MS. Food addiction and obesity: evidence from bench to bedside. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2010;42(2):133-45.

[68] Gearhardt AN, White MA, Potenza MN. Binge eating disorder and food addiction. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011;4(3):201-7.

[69] Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR. The role of food addiction in clinical research. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(12):1140-2.

[70] Garber AK, Lustig RH. Is fast food addictive?. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011;4(3):146-62.

[71] Harris JL, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Marketing foods to children and adolescents: licensed characters and other promotions on packaged foods in the supermarket. Public Health Nutr. 2010;13(3):409-17.

[72] Powell LM, Szczypka G, Chaloupka FJ. Trends in exposure to television food advertisements among children and adolescents in the United States. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(9):794-802.

[73] Montgomery KC, Chester J. Interactive food and beverage marketing: targeting adolescents in the digital age. J Adolesc Health. 2009;45(3 Suppl):S18-29.

[74] Elliott C. Assessing ‘fun foods’: nutritional content and analysis of supermarket foods targeted at children. Obes Rev. 2008;9(4):368-77.

[75] Schwartz MB, Vartanian LR, Wharton CM, Brownell KD. Examining the nutritional quality of breakfast cereals marketed to children. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(4):702-5.

[76] Page RM, Brewster A. Emotional and rational product appeals in televised food advertisements for children: analysis of commercials shown on US broadcast networks. J Child Health Care. 2007;11(4):323-40.

[77] Jacobs DR. Fast food and sedentary lifestyle: a combination that leads to obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(2):189-90.

[78] Handsley E, Mehta K, Coveney J, Nehmy C. Regulatory axes on food advertising to children on television. Aust New Zealand Health Policy. 2009;6(1):1.

[79] Osei-assibey G, Dick S, Macdiarmid J, et al. The influence of the food environment on overweight and obesity in young children: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2012;2(6):e001538.

[80] Kotz K, Story M. Food advertisements during children’s Saturday morning television programming: are they consistent with dietary recommendations?. J Am Diet Assoc. 1994;94(11):1296-300.

[81] Karupaiah T, Chinna K, Mee LH, Mei LS, Noor MI. What’s on Malaysian television? – A survey on food advertising targeting children. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(3):483-91.

[82] Andreyeva T, Kelly IR, Harris JL. Exposure to food advertising on television: associations with children’s fast food and soft drink consumption and obesity. Econ Hum Biol. 2011;9(3):221-33.

[83] Zimmerman FJ, Bell JF. Associations of television content type and obesity in children. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(2):334-40.

[84] Harris JL, Pomeranz JL, Lobstein T, Brownell KD. A crisis in the marketplace: how food marketing contributes to childhood obesity and what can be done. Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30:211-25.

[85] Story M, French S. Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2004;1(1):3.

[86] Johnson L, Mander AP, Jones LR, Emmett PM, Jebb SA. Is sugar-sweetened beverage consumption associated with increased fatness in children?. Nutrition. 2007;23(7-8):557-63.

[87] Krummel DA, Seligson FH, Guthrie HA. Hyperactivity: is candy causal?. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1996;36(1-2):31-47.

[88] Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001;357(9255):505-8.

[89] Mysels DJ, Sullivan MA. The relationship between opioid and sugar intake: review of evidence and clinical applications. J Opioid Manag. 2010;6(6):445-52.

[90] Yanovski S. Sugar and fat: cravings and aversions. J Nutr. 2003;133(3):835S-837S.

[91] Available at: //www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/health-expenditures.htm. Accessed November 2, 2014.

[92] Available at: //www.cnbc.com/id/100780248. Accessed November 2, 2014.

[93] Anand P, Kunnumakkara AB, Kunnumakara AB, et al. Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharm Res. 2008;25(9):2097-116.

[94] Tuso P. Prediabetes and lifestyle modification: time to prevent a preventable disease. Perm J. 2014;18(3):88-93.

[95] Khuwaja AK, Khawaja S, Motwani K, et al. Preventable lifestyle risk factors for non-communicable diseases in the Pakistan Adolescents Schools Study 1 (PASS-1). J Prev Med Public Health. 2011;44(5):210-7.

[96] Ofei F. Obesity – a preventable disease. Ghana Med J. 2005;39(3):98-101.

[97] Danaei G, Ding EL, Mozaffarian D, et al. The preventable causes of death in the United States: comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. PLoS Med. 2009;6(4):e1000058.

[98] Klonoff DC. The beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on type 2 diabetes and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2009;3(6):1229-32.

[99] Dontas AS, Zerefos NS, Panagiotakos DB, Vlachou C, Valis DA. Mediterranean diet and prevention of coronary heart disease in the elderly. Clin Interv Aging. 2007;2(1):109-15.

[100] Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-salvadó J, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(14):1279-90.

[101] Bodenheimer T. Primary care–will it survive?. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(9):861-4.

Affiliates and Credentials