Netflix has a great documentary that talks about veganism. What the Health promises is that there is one healthy way of eating, in the same spirit as many diet books and food documentaries. It involves removing all animal products.
Kip Andersen, co-director of the film and star of the film, explains that meat, fish, poultry, and dairy fatten us and give us Type-2 diabetes and cancer.
He recalls a childhood spent smoking hot dogs and cold cuts.
Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, co-director of the project, hoped to make it clear that diet and disease are interrelated and encourage healthier eating habits. We are now in the midst of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemics, which is evident from the food choices we make.
Andersen’s film is flawed on many levels and raises food fear sirens at an alarmingly high level. Andersen mischaracterizes and exaggerates what we know about the effects of certain foods on disease. He offers a narrow view of science, with cherry-picked studies to back his views. He seeks out vegan and animal rights-friendly professionals in health rather than a balanced group of experts and engages with silly gotcha journalism to suggest that organizations such as the American Diabetes Association deliberately conceal the truth about diet.
Most of us could stand to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and dairy, and a plant-based diet is a healthy choice for many people. This film doesn’t address our health issues, with messages such as “drinking milk can cause cancer” and “eating eggs is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes.” It misunderstands science and obscures nutrition facts that could help us live longer healthier lives.
Table of Contents
What The Health cherry-picks, misreports studies to support veganism:
What the Health is part of a genre of food documentaries (and diet books) that selectively analyze nutrition research to demonize particular foods and praise a particular diet. Andersen picks out nutrition studies and exaggerates or misreports them to make his case for veganism. Let’s look at a few examples.– Advertisement –
1) Smoking is just as harmful as eating processed meats:
Andersen claimed that bacon is a food WHO considers being on par with asbestos and cigarettes in terms of causing cancer. He also claims that consuming a daily amount of bacon increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.
Eating processed meat — including hot dogs, bacon, and lunchmeats — does increase the risk of colorectal cancer, according to a WHO review of the available research, but the health effects are not nearly as large as Andersen suggests.
The lifetime colorectal cancer risk for a person is approximately 5 percent. Consuming processed meat daily seems to increase a person’s absolute cancer risk by 1 point to 6 percent. That’s 18% of the lifetime 5 percent risk. While a few slices of bacon or salami sandwiches won’t change your lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer, eating them every day could increase your chance by one percentage point.
What’s more, the WHO did not say that eating meat was as deadly as smoking. It determined that the strength of the evidence linking colorectal cancer to processed meats is comparable to that linking tobacco and cancer. This means there are convincing data. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that processed meats are as harmful as smoking. According to the agency, there are strong links between processed meats and certain types of cancer.
When the filmmaker asked, “If processed meats can be labeled as cigarettes, how are kids allowed to eat this way?” the filmmaker clearly didn’t get the WHO’s interpretation of the research. (It’s fair to say that many other media outlets also misunderstood the WHO warning.– Advertisement –
2) An egg per day is the same as five cigarettes:
The claim that eating eggs is a dangerous way to be healthy is ridiculous and shows a lack of understanding about cholesterol’s role in our health. One in three long-term smokers is a second-generation smoker their habit will cause them to die. Egg eaters are not affected by the same fate. Although the media has been critical of cholesterol for decades, scientific evidence has shown that it is not necessarily linked to higher blood cholesterol or a greater risk of developing heart disease. National cholesterol guidelines are now in place. Recently, the nutrition committee classified cholesterol in the American diet as a “nutrient concern”.
3) Consuming milk can cause cancer:
There are likely to be single studies that support a link between milk and cancer. Systematic reviews of the most relevant research find out more about dairy consumption and the risk of developing cancer or death from it.no consistent link. a systematic review of breast cancer and dairy intake according to the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Health (SMBOH), women who consume more dairy are less likely to develop cancer. Andersen does not mention the high-quality evidenceConsuming yogurt and other dairy products can reduce the risk of obesity, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease.– Advertisement –
4) Consuming one serving of processed meats daily increases the risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent another:
example of an exaggerated claim. The following is an example of a grossly exaggerated claim. In a systematic review of the relationship between diabetes and processed meats, the authors found that daily consumption of processed meat was associated with a 19% increase in risk, but this was again a relative risk.
If you have any questions, please contact us. American man’s lifetime chance woman’s risk of developing diabetes is 32% and a man is 38% respectively. Consuming processed meats would result in an absolute increase of 6 and 7 percent, respectively. To experience this risk increase you would need to eat processed meats every single day. This is not the same as the bacon research. This type of research, like all nutrition science, can only reveal correlations and not causality (more below).
5) Fish can be toxic:
You thought that only meat was bad for your health? How to improve your health you should also stay away from fish. It’s high in mercury, antibiotics, and other chemicals, according to the film. Mercury exposure can pose a danger to some fish, but it is not a problem for everyone. Not all fish are created equal mercury exposure is a concern. Nutrition researchers are important to note that eating fish has many health benefits such as providing essential nutrients like omega-3 oils. Therefore, it is not a wise decision to eliminate fish from your diet due to concerns about mercury.– Advertisement –
6) Five10Genetics accounts for a quarter of all cancers? The rest of the body is caused by food:
Andersen repeatedly exaggerates the importance of food in causing disease in the film. Our health is not only affected by what we eat. We have some of the most important research on cancer risk factors.30% of all new cancer diagnoses are made in the United States. Lifestyle changes, not just diet, can help reduce cancer risk. Reduced cancer risk behaviors include not smoking, quitting alcohol, exercising, and keeping a healthy weight.
Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that if we did more physical activity, stopped smoking, cut our alcohol intake, and avoided dangerous sun exposure — as well as improved our diet — we’d prevent 20 to 40 percent of the deaths from the five leading causes (heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries).
While diet is essential for good health, we cannot fix all our health problems by eating better. Harriet Hall, who had a good skeptical take on What the Health over at the Science-Based Medicine blog, seemed to agree: “The film tries to convince viewers that food is medicine, and indeed is all the medicine we need to prevent and cure obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other chronic diseases. It didn’t convince me.”– Advertisement –