Newsletter Update | February 26, 2018

The Nutrition Coalition Update | February 26, 2018

FEATURED

  • Stunning Results from a Large Dietary Study on Type 2 Diabetes
  • More Calls to Change the Dietary Guidelines
  • Obesity Causes Health Care Costs to Rise, New Study Shows 

A LARGE STUDY ON TYPE 2 DIABETES SHOWS PROMISING RESULTS

One of the biggest-ever diet studies on people with type 2 diabetes, conducted at the University of Indiana, recently published results, and they are stunning. The intervention was a low-carb diet with continual care delivered via a mobile app (the product of a company named Virta, which funded the trial). After 1 year, the group of 262 patients in the intervention group saw:
  • 60% reverse their diabetes, meaning their average blood sugar dropped so low that they no longer could be diagnosed as diabetic
  • 94% reduce or entirely eliminate reliance on insulin.
  • an average reduction of 12% of body weight
Meanwhile, a control group following the American Diabetes Association’s standard (high-carbohydrate) diet saw no improvement in health.
 
Even more impressive:
  • Adherence to the diet was measured via blood markers (called ketone bodies) meaning that the high adherence numbers found in this trial—83% for the intervention group—were real. 
Sixty percent reversal in a field where type 2 diabetes is considered a chronic, progressive, irreversible disease is potentially nothing short of revolutionary for the treatment of this disease.[1]

Yet of almost equal interest to this apparent groundbreaking news is the fact that the media ignored it almost entirely. We salute Politico, the only major outlet to feature the story, including a tweet by a health company executive saying that if the intervention were a drug, it “would be the biggest blockbuster in history.”

PARADIGM CHANGE - IT'S HAPPENING

A professor at the University of Illinois recently argued in an op-ed the guideline drafting process needs a revamp. Right now, the experts who develop the guidelines are guilty of group think. They embrace evidence that supports conventional dietary wisdom, and neglect research that contradicts it."
 
A Canadian doctor also made the same point in a recent op-ed: "Most nutrition researchers and dieticians were educated at a time when low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets were thought to be healthy. They are heavily vested in this obsolete model and are reluctant to accept a new, scientifically validated model contrary to their beliefs. But this is what good science demands: the rejection of an existing model in the face of new, compelling evidence."

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: THE LATEST LOW-CARB VS. LOW-FAT STUDY

Another diet study, just published in JAMA, which tested a low-carb versus low-fat diet, showed no difference between the two groups: both lost about the same amount of weight. What's the news here? Both groups reduced sugar + refined carbs while adding vegetables, but there was no control group eating a regular amount of sugar, carbs, and vegetables so we can't conclude that the change in these foods was the "healthy" factor at work here. Nor can we credit the "lack of processed foods," as some have claimed, because--again--there was no control group eating a regular amount of processed foods. We can't even say that the two diets are equal, because the study was not well controlled (e.g., it lacked oversight), so it's hard to know exactly what subjects actually ate. For instance, "participants were instructed to reduce intake of total fat or digestible carbohydrates to 20 g/d during the first 8 weeks," yet the first data collection did not occur until the 3-month mark, so the researchers had little idea of what their subjects actually ate before then. Still, subjects did achieve some of the researchers' goals, achieving low-ish carb and low-ish fat diets, and they did so without counting calories. Our best take-away? The study supports existing, more rigorous trial data showing that losing weight without counting calories is possible if you also reduce carbs. Perhaps adding veggies, sticking to whole foods helps, too, but the absence of a control group in this trial and/or other trials on these points make them, as yet, inconclusive.

WHY THE U.S. DIETARY GUIDELINES MATTER

Obesity continues its relentless rise. A new report concludes that obesity drives up US Health care costs by 29%, with obesity-related illnesses now making up nearly 8% of health care costs in the U.S. Some of the largest increases were in Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. 

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

In just a week, over 32,300 supporters of evidence-based nutrition signed a petition in support of Tim Noakes, a well-known professor of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town, who over the past few years has been subjected to hearings by health authorities, for tweeting to a breastfeeding mother that she could safely wean her child onto a “LCHF” (low carb, high fat) diet. Specifically Prof. Noakes was charged with giving advice that is “not evidence-based." Prof. Noakes was acquitted of all charges last April, but now the S. African authorities are appealing their own decision in further hearings which took place this week. The Nutrition Coalition helped launch a letter/petition in support of the science. This petition will stay open for another week. Decision is due in 3 weeks.

BEYOND #ALTFACTS IN NUTRITION

The notion that red meat causes cancer is indeed terrifying. When the World Health Organization came out with its decision in 2015, two professors in evidence-based medicine wrote this rebuttal, published as an op-ed in the Financial Times (but behind a paywall). We posted the original, for you to read and share.

NUTRITION FUN

The New Yorker’s amusing look back on how carob traumatized a generation.
 
Weird, but fun: crocheted food

FURTHER READING

See this excellent profile of our founder, Nina Teicholz, investigative journalist and "bulldozer for truth."

TO GET INVOLVED IN THE NUTRITION COALITION

Sign our petition for Dietary Guidelines that are evidence based.
 
SIGN HERE
We need your support for our work toward evidence-based Dietary Guidelines--to make America healthy again.
 
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The Nutrition Coalition is a nonprofit educational organization working to strengthen national nutrition policy so that it is founded upon a comprehensive body of conclusive science, and where that science is absent, to encourage additional research.  We accept no money from any interested industry or commercial interest.
 
[1] Note: The principal limitation of the study is that there was no randomization, meaning that subjects chose the study arm in which they wanted to participate. Normally, non-randomization can be a problem, because study subjects who choose a diet they believe to be healthy are likely to be more motivated to adhere to it and improve their health habits in various other ways as well.  Whereas: those choosing a placebo know their treatment is ineffective and are unlikely to feel motivated. However, in this trial, since all subject were choosing their own diets, presumably they all felt they made the best choice, and one could reasonably assume they all felt equally motivated to follow them. Moreover, even with some distortion from non-randomization, self-selection could not explain a 60% vs. zero result in diabetes reversal.
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