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Nutrition Past and Future

20 Cholesterol Confusion 3 A Poverty of Animal Fat 

In video 40 of The Primitive Nutrition Series, I showed you this ridiculous graph which shows how the people who live in countries in which more animal foods are consumed tend to live longer. I found this on the Perfect Health Diet website. It is still there as of the time of this recording, along with their idiotic exclamation, “Take that, vegetarians!” When you look at the actual countries and their positions on the graph, you realize just how bogus this visual is. It basically takes advantage of the fact that animal food consumption is reflective of a country’s wealth and industrialization. Industrialized countries have industrialized animal food production. Meanwhile, the poorest countries with the shortest life spans have practically no health care to speak of and lack the institutions and safety of civil society. No intelligent person could think that the high mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa is a result of their lack of butter, yet that is what the Perfect Health Diet people want you to think.

Here is  a very similar graph showing how meat consumption relates to per capita income. The graphs have similar shapes, don’t they? The Perfect Health Diet couple pretends they are on top of the science and looking out for you, yet they chose to deceive you so blatantly with that graph. I don’t know how you feel about this but I find their behavior revolting.

Let’s look at another example of a comfortable, well-fed, and safe confusionist try to use this same tactic. This is Malcolm Kendrick.

KENDRICK: What I did was just plotted the cholesterol levels and the rates of heart disease in most of the European countries, and I added into this graph the data from Australian Aboriginals. The reason for looking at Australian Aboriginals is that they have the highest rate of heart disease in the world currently, and so you’d probably expect they have a high cholesterol level. But when you look at it, what you find is Australian Aboriginals have the lowest cholesterol level of any population studied, and they have a heart disease rate that is about 30 times that in France and about 15 times that in the United Kingdom. And if you look to the right of this graph and you can see that the Swiss have the highest average cholesterol levels of any population or country in the world and their heart disease rate is about a third of that in the United Kingdom. And wherever you look, you basically see there’s no correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease. None at all.

Yes, you heard that right. He just compared the Australian Aboriginals to the Swiss. I could go through this whole graph and tell you what is happening here. For example, Lithuania is relatively higher than most of the other countries because of social stress and drinking behavior. I’ll talk about that in a later video. The same could be said for Russia, which is also quite high. But let’s stay with the Aboriginals and the Swiss for this discussion.

The Australian Aboriginals have been historically socially disadvantaged by low income, high unemployment, and poor education. They do indeed have high rates of heart disease.

Dr Kendrick should know that diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. The aboriginals suffer from very high rates of diabetes. As I explained in the last chapter of The Primitive Nutrition Series, the people in developing countries tend to encounter health problems from poor nutrition very easily because access to excess calories is a new problem for them. The aboriginals also have much less access to healthy foods. Does Kendrick think they are a bunch of vegans? They are one of the model cultures for the Paleo people. If they aren’t eating their traditional foods, they are almost certainly eating junky, cheap, low quality, shelf-stable, processed food.

Many of them don’t even have refrigerators. Consequently, they are more likely to be diabetic and obese.

Unsurprisingly, their diabetes takes place in the context of a high-fat, low-fiber diet. Kendrik should know that in this study, higher protein intake was associated with more diabetes among aboriginals.

The researchers here directly attributed their diabetes prevalence to their lack of high-fiber, starchy foods. Yet for some mysterious reason that must have nothing to do with promoting good health, the good Dr Kendrick is not telling us to eat more healthy starches and less animal protein.

Moreover, had this well-trained doctor chosen to research this matter just a little bit instead of simply being so proud of himself for arranging a bunch of dots on a graph, he might have learned that as a population that has been genetically isolated, they have developed polymorphisms that predispose them to heart disease. There has been published research on this very problem for the Aboriginals. Kendrik doesn’t care. He is more interested in slapping together any flimsy argument to pander to the obese and ignorant.

Dr Kendrik, as a doctor it might have occurred to you that Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world with exceptionally good health care. Yes, health care can help people stay healthy, doctor. Do you mean to say you didn’t know that?

Kendrick also probably hasn’t bothered to learn that the usual risk factors do affect cardiovascular risk within the Swiss population. They are humans just like everyone else so they have the same risk factors. High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease for the Swiss. That is the finding of this study.

The poverty ploy is one of the worst examples of debating in bad faith you will ever see from the confusionists. Our opening graph from the Perfect Health Diet people used a measure called “healthy life expectancy.” The bottom countries as measured by this parameter are struggling with HIV/AIDS. Do the Perfect Health Diet people, with all their education, think that they can protect themselves from HIV if they eat enough butter? I would love to hear them try to explain their chart given the considerable confounding effect of HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile, the countries with the longest life span are very wealthy. At the top of the list are small states that are major international gambling destinations.

The effect of poverty on mortality rates is well-studied within the United States. From an epidemiological perspective, one might say that low socioeconomic status causes death as surely as any other risk factor. Poverty kills.

An epidemiologist might tell you that poverty is the most-studied, best understood determinant of poor health in their field. Poverty is a marker for all sorts of physical and mental stress. In an indirect but very real way, it actually kills people. The next time you hear someone who doesn’t have to face these problems every day try to use the misfortune of the poor to fool you about their fatty foods that they can afford to stuff into their fat bellies every day, you will have an immediate indication of their intelligence and moral character. Identifying the poverty ploy is easiest way to tell who is serious and who is not in the diet debate.

Our next source of confusion is not at all like the poverty ploy in that you don’t have to be a complete jerk to end up propagating this one. Many well-intentioned and studious individuals get tripped up onit. We’ll take another look at biomarkers in the next video.