Newsletter Update | June 21, 2018

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The Nutrition Coalition Update | June 21, 2018


  • Science shines at groundbreaking conference in Zurich 
  • Tim Noakes speaks to Nina Teicholz about his victory
  • New paper on "Virta” study: In addition to reversing T2 diabetes, most heart-disease risk factors improved


The BMJ and global reinsurer SwissRe co-hosted a “Food for Thought” conference in Zurich last week, which BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee launched by saying, “There is no such thing as miracle diet, but if there’s a miracle meeting, this is it.” The “miracle” referred to the fact that for the first time, real debate took place on key contested issues in science, including saturated fats and low-carb diets, with speakers on all sides of the issues. Participants included some of the chief architects of our current nutrition policy, such as Walter Willett from Harvard, Dariush Mozaffarian from Tufts, and Nita Farouhi from Cambridge, as well as critics of that policy, including researcher Zoe Harcombe, author/journalist Gary Taubes and Executive Director of The Nutrition Coalition (TNC) Nina Teicholz. The conference videos are all available on the conference website, and we would particularly recommend watching Godlee’s closing remarks. At minute 1:33, she says, “One big reversal [in our thinking] is the demonization of fat. I think we’ve got to recognize those reversals, acknowledge them, and have some humility about what is said. I think there may be a tipping point that we're hearing about the reversal of some conditions, diabetes and obesity being two. I also think that the humility must extend to the [dietary] guidelines.'”  


In a unanimous decision, South African authorities acquitted professor Tim Noakes, for the second time, of all charges claiming that he had endangered the public health by tweeting to a mother that she could safely wean her child to a low-carb diet. S. African officials had declared Noakes innocent in April 2017 but then appealed their own verdict. Learn more about this important case and its potentially global implications here.

To support Noakes during this second hearing, an international group of doctors launched a petition -- signed, in the end, by more than 42,000 people . TNC's Teicholz recently interviewed Noakes and his wife about the difficulties they've endured over the past four years, and Noakes thanked his petition signers, which you can watch here.


If the Noakes case can be seen as an effort to silence voices speaking about the benefits of carbohydrate restriction, an echo of this tactic occurred recently when the Australian Medical Association asked Netflix to stop distribution of the film The Magic Pill, claiming that the real-food advice promoted for various health conditions in the movie was “irresponsible.” This effort backfired, and Netflix is expanding its distribution of the film world-wide as a result. TNC recommends this film.


Diabetes reversal is possible on a low-carbohydrate diet -- while also improving cardiovascular health. That is the latest news from the “Virta study,” in which a ketogenic diet, combined with a smartphone-based monitoring app, resulted in a stunning 60 percent reversal of type 2 diabetes. Most cardiovascular risk markers improved during that time as well, according to this detailed post by the Virta team based on a paper recently published in Cardiovascular Diabetology. Virta also found that patients with diabetes on their program saved an average of $4,300 in annual medication costs.

"The science is clear. Reversing diabetes is possible -- and should now be our goal,” writes Dr. Sarah Hallberg in a recent op-ed in Detroit News.
Intermittent fasting is fast-growing in popularity but has been little studied. A new study shows intermittent fasting, particularly with an early time restricted feeding window (8am-2pm), improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress -- even without weight loss -- in men with prediabetes.
The low-carbohydrate diet is also reported to hold promise for patients with type 1 diabetes, giving them exceptional glucose control, according to a survey conducted by Boston Children's Hospital, published in AAP's Pediatrics and covered by the The New York Times. It's been considered nearly impossible for people with type 1 diabetes to achieve normal blood glucose -- but this survey gives hope that it is possible.


 A recent recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Nina Teicholz questions why our government now requires chain restaurants to post calories on menus when science cannot demonstrate that these regulations have any meaningful effect on calorie restriction.

The World Health Organization has announced plans to recommend a cap on saturated fat, at ten percent of total calories, as well as a virtual ban on trans fats. Unfortunately, the limits on saturated fats are not based on rigorous scientific evidence. The public comment period lasted only a month. 

Cato Institute reports that despite the growing evidence that sugar is bad for health, U.S. lawmakers do not seem inclined to reduce subsidies to the sugar industry.


"A Medical Mystery: What happened to U.S. healthcare spending, beginning around 1980?" asks The New York Times in an article about how U.S. spending shot up in this particular year. Yet compared to peer countries, American life expectancy gains have fallen behind. The Times article does not mention one likely factor: the year 1980 is when the U.S. launched its high-grain, low-fat Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Could this policy have played a role? We think so.
Bad news from the new WHO study presented at a European obesity conference in Vienna. The report projects that without a change in course, one in four people globally will be clinically obese in 30 years. Some 22 percent of the people on earth will be obese by 2045, compared to just 14 percent last year. In addition, 12% percent will have type 2 diabetes, compared to nine percent in 2017, the report estimates. That is unsustainable. We need new thinking on the obesity crisis. 
Salt Wars: What should our guidelines say about salt? The epidemiological evidence is conflicting (i.e., the current advice that "lower is better" is not supported by a at least six large analyses). Only a clinical trial can properly establish cause-and-effect, but how can a large, well-controlled trial be done? One group of researchers proposed conducting the trial in prisons, an idea that spurred some debate. Meanwhile, we believe that since the evidence is so conflicting, the government ought to walk back its current salt guideline, or at least couch it with less certainty.


"Nutritional epidemiology is a scandal" Stanford University Professor of Medicine John Ioannidis told CBC News. "It should just go to the waste bin." But instead, policies and guidelines are largely based on this type of evidence, which Ioannidis characterized as "complete chaos." (Ioannidis also gave an hour-long critique of nutritional epidemiology for the Zurich conference, available to watch here.) Tuft's Mozaffarian presented a rebuttal in his closing remarks the next day.

Other outlets are picking up on this problem. "Almost 40% of peer-reviewed dietary research turns out to be wrong,” reports one story, with the subhead: “Food science has a huge statistics problem. The solution, for now? Stop treating new nutrition studies like they contain the truth.”


An organic egg producer has petitioned the FDA to be allowed to use the word "healthy" on its product. Currently, the FDA does not permit eggs to use this term but does allow sugar-laced cereals and bars to be labeled "healthy." Eggs used to be considered unhealthy due to their cholesterol content, but both the American Heart Association, in 2013, and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, in 2015, quietly dropped their long-standing limits on dietary cholesterol due to the fact that these caps were not evidence-based. It turns out that there’s no reason to fear eggs. What’s more, eggs are full of essential nutrients, including choline and lutein-- essential for brain and eye health. Yet it will take a long time to re-educate consumers after 50 years of mistaken warnings about dietary cholesterol. And that’s precisely the problem with guidelines based on weak evidence. It takes people far longer to unlearn than to learn. One must ask: what harm is done in the meantime?


Sign our petition for Dietary Guidelines that are evidence based.
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.
Copyright © 2018 The Nutrition Coalition, All rights reserved.

*Source for Chart “Rise in U.S. Overweight/Obesity Coincides With Beginning of Dietary Guidelines”: US-CDC