The China Study; time to change my diet?

We were on a trip recently and stopped for three days to visit some relatives we seldom get to see. He's a physician, past department chair at a highly regarded clinic/academic center and is working on a major research project in four countries, one of which is China. They've altered their dietary pattern in a very significant manner since we last saw them, four years ago. I asked for the background data on their new diet and purchased two books, the first of which is "The China Study," by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and his youngest son, Thomas M. Campbell II.

Dr. Campbell, an emeritus named-chair professor at Cornell, has been a long-term major figure in the area of nutrition and was involved in a large-scale research project involving scientists from China, the US and England. They did blood-work and gave out questionnaires to 6,500 adults in rural and semi-rural areas of China as well as performing urine tests, three-day dietary measurements and analysis of food samples.

The resultant book emphasizes health differences between people in China on a mostly to exclusively vegetarian diet and those of us who eat what has been termed the Western Diet, one rich in meat and dairy products, relatively low in vegetables and fruit. Dr. Campbell strongly advocates our switching to an exclusively plant-based diet and details how the "Diseases of Affluence," especially heart attacks, diabetes Type 2, some cancers, and obesity are related to nutrition.

I also looked at Dr. Campbell's impressive bio and, as well, read some of the critiques of his conclusions. I think the book is well worth reading and enjoyed Dr. Campbell's article in "The Huffington Post," published today (7-21-2010). In it he calls for an NIH Institute of Nutrition. I would agree that our Western Diet, rich in fats, sugar and salt, is a major cause of overweight and many assocated diseases. I would disagree that some of the specific conclusions in "The China Study" have been conclusively proven. I'd love to see a new NIH branch which could fund studies to prove or disprove those conclusions.

I'd recommend you read the book and judge for yourself.

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