Healthcare Politics Nutrition

David Katz, MD and Marion Nestle, PhD

Worry not, people, the Food Revolution Summit is almost over! I’m tuning in to just two more speakers from Saturday, so the last update may be Monday morning. Today, though, there were two great speakers, named above.

David Katz, MD

Dr. Katz is the President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and someone I frequently retweet, so his name may be familiar to some because of that.

Most disease is caused by environmental toxins (tobacco), poor diet, and lack of exercise. He went on to expound on Dan Buettner‘s work on the Blue Zones project and how that applies to lifestyle medicine. If you’re not familiar with Dan Buettner and the Blue Zones, take a moment to familiarize yourself. It started as a fascinating National Geographic project to find the people who live the longest on the planet and how they are similar. Dan took this work and is now trying to proactively apply it to communities. Cool stuff. Anyway, combining the Lifestyle Medicine work with the Blue Zone work Dr. Katz has a list of 6 keys to health and longevity:

  1. A primarily whole food plant-based diet (in the Blue Zones they usually supplemented with small amounts of pork, but not beef or seafood)
  2. Minimize toxins (primarily tobacco)
  3. Stay physically active (note, this does not mean “cardio”, but simple walking will suffice (although Blue Zoners often walked 10+ miles per day)
  4. Get lots of sleep, regularly
  5. Minimize your stress when you can
  6. Stay very active in being social; family, friends, groups, community

“Dinner is destiny”. I love that, simple and profound. The point is that it’s what you do every day that matters the most.

“The 2015 Dietary Guidelines are a national embarrassment”. He went on to say that the report from the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee was actually quite good, but as I noted in my previous post, the Big Food interests and their lobbying power stifled the important messages and make the final product worthless. He also noted, as others have (including me) that the real tragedy is that the Guidelines are the basis of public policy. BTW, if you want to look at the Advisory Committee report, can do get the full 571 page report here to look at and download to your heart’s content.

Lastly, as Dr. Katz and John Robbin’s discussed optimal diets and the continual swirl of controversy and confusion, they both agreed that Michael Pollan probably said it best:

“Real food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Marion Nestle, PhD

I have seen Marion Nestle speak (in videos) several times and I have been a reader of her website and blog for several months. She is an amazing woman who has been virtually the “lone voice in the wilderness” for many years when it comes to discussing the politics of food and shining the light of truth onto the subject. She talked mostly about CocaCola and Pepsi and their battles to maintain themselves as legitimate and vital concerns now that the truth about high fructose corn syrup (HCFS, see Wednesday’s post with Mark Hyman) and it’s links to obesity and cardiovascular disease have become so widely known. She was a memeber of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Panel and one of the principles in getting the New York City ban limiting the size of soft drinks to 16 ounces, a move that is being challenged in the courts by Big Food. She has also been instrumental in exposing Coke and Pepsi’s attempts as anonymously funding efforts to ban GMO labeling, among other nefarious deeds.

Why would Coke and Pepsi give a rip about GMO labeling? Back to the high fructose corn syrup. Apparently almost all of the corn in the US is now GMO corn, so if there is a labeling law, all soft drinks would have to carry the GMO label. As usual, it’s all about the money. This is just another blatant attempt to maintain corporate profit selling a product that is demonstrably bad for your health. But corporations are people, as the Supreme Court has ruled, and so as long as they keep making money for their shareholders they can spend however much money it takes, either publicly or anonymously, to hide the truth and raise a small level of uncertainty and doubt as to the science. It’s just like Big Tobacco and Climate Science all over. It’s the same playbook every time and we keep falling for it.

Much of the spending in New York state trying to defeat the soda ban is being done by the National Restaurant Association. So, what’s their tie? As always, follow the dollar. According to Ms. Nestle, restaurants and movie theaters pay about 1¢ for each fluid ounce of soft drink. That’s the cost, all in (i.e. the cup, the syrup, the water, the CO2 tank, the cooling and the staff to serve it). Now imagine you just bought a soft drink at a movie theater. Say you got a 20 ounce cup and the theater is one that allows “free refills”. The theater is out 40¢ for your purchase. You probably paid $3 for it. That’s a 650% profit margin. So, yeah, they have a good reason to fight this. Guess what; no soda machine in my restaurant. 🙂

2 replies on “David Katz, MD and Marion Nestle, PhD”

Some pork = bacon!! Sorry, but I can’t go all the way yet and to still be mostly plant based and be ok? Yay!! It’s a doable less scary path to be on.

I’m trying super hard to avoid judgement. I got bitched out last week for not being “vegan enough” when I suggested my restaurant would exclusively serve plant-based food. Whatever. The realist in me says that if I can get people to eat just a little bit of pork (in any form) and eschew the rest of the animal based foods then we’ve won!

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