May 7, 2017

Health Cover-up Largest of Our Time - P1

The typical American diet is the number one cause of deadly and chronic illnesses in this country. In addition, the companies that produce some of the food products Americans eat aren’t likely to try to help reduce these serious problems.

Don’t look for assistance from government agencies and some of our best-known health-related organizations. They have conflicts of interest because they receive funding from the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries. That’s the main premise of a new documentary that premiered online last week.

“What The Health,” which is streaming now on Vimeo, seems to have garnered early attention. The hour-and-a-half long documentary was the top trending video on Vimeo On Demand in the first few days after its release on Mar. 22.

Filmmaker Kip Andersen was not available this week for an interview, but in press materials, he said the documentary “reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time.”

Officials at some of the organizations criticized in Andersen’s film are not impressed. They accuse Andersen of cherry-picking studies and ignoring the importance of industry-funded research. Just a reminder – industry-funded research can seldom be trusted.

“There’s no doubt that poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to various health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” Greg Miller, PhD, FACN, chief science officer for the National Dairy Council, told Healthline in an email. “People want to do their best when choosing a healthy diet, but so much information — and misinformation — makes it hard to know who and what to believe. That’s why it’s unfortunate when films such as ‘What the Health’ misrepresent sound nutrition science.”

Andersen begins his film by discussing how his family medical history got him interested in the topic.

“Like a lot of Americans, I have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, so it was important to me to learn more,” Andersen, who co-directed “What the Health” with Keegan Kuhn, said in a press statement. Andersen proceeds to detail the health hazards of some of the favorite foods in the United States, citing numerous studies along the way.

He says meat, in particular processed meats, is a major cause of cancer and cardiovascular disease. This includes all meat products from beef to chicken to turkey to even fish. Chicken, he points out, is the top producer of cholesterol in Americans’ diets.

Andersen, who also made the film “Cowspiracy,” then goes after the dairy industry. He says the health risks of products such as milk, cheese, and eggs have been underplayed. He states that eggs are pure fat and cholesterol.

Andersen then checks the websites of some of the country’s major organizations. He says the American Cancer Society has no warning about meat on its site and even has suggested recipes that include processed meat.

Andersen also finds recipes for meat dishes on the American Diabetes Association website. There are also “heart healthy” recipes for beef dishes on the American Heart Association website.

Andersen also notes the Susan G. Komen foundation has no warning about dairy products on its site even though he quotes research linking dairy products to breast cancer.

Andersen calls each of the organizations for an explanation but does not get answers.

He finally lines up an interview with an official at the American Diabetes Association. That interview ends with the official walking out of the room.

After feeling stonewalled, Andersen goes online and looks up the funding sources for these various organizations.

He finds each of them has a long list of corporate sponsors.

The American Diabetes Association receives support from Dannon yogurt, among others.

The American Cancer Society receives support from Tyson Foods, among others.

The Susan G. Komen foundation receives support from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Yoplait, among others.

And, the American Heart Association receives support from the Texas Beef Council, among others.

He adds that the organizations also receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

Andersen points out the federal commission that formulates U.S. dietary guidelines every five years is filled with members who have received corporate support.

During the course of the film, Andersen interviews a dozen people in health-related fields including physicians and dietitians.

He also profiles three people with chronic illnesses near the end of the documentary that are faring better after two weeks of cutting out medications and eating a more plant-based diet.

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