I told you so (The Obesity Initiative)

Don’t trouble me with the facts my mind is made up.’ Foghorn Leghorn

So, now the great obesity initiative is to be rolled out across the UK, driven by the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC). Some time ago I wrote a blog in which I outlined exactly what they would say….and lo, they have said it. The main recommendations are:

  • Food-based standards to be mandatory in all UK hospitals
  • A ban on new fast food outlets being located close to schools and colleges
  • A duty on all sugary soft drinks, increasing the price by at least 20%, to be piloted
  • Traffic light food labelling to include calorie information for children and adolescents – with visible calorie indicators for restaurants, especially fast food outlets
  • £100m in each of the next three years to be spent on increasing provision of weight management services across the country
  • A ban on advertising of foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt before 9pm
  • Existing mandatory food- and nutrient-based standards in England to be statutory in free schools and academies

There is more such stuff, mainly about taxing and banning. It was all wearyingly predictable. This is exactly what the ‘experts’ have been saying for the last thirty years – this time with an ‘amazing 50% added legislation’. If what you have been doing doesn’t work. Then redouble your efforts, with added punishments. That’ll work. Just like prohibition worked in the states.

Even if these were the right things to do, and had some chance of working, I would not support them. Social control through legislation absolutely must be the last resort of a democratic society. Making people do what is good for them….hmmm. Aldous Huxley had something to say on this matter. That, however, is a broader issue.

Looking specifically at some of the recommendation, starting with the concept of putting a duty on all sugary soft drinks. This will inevitably mean that people will drink more ‘diet’ drinks- without sugar in them. Will this be a good idea? Well, here is a study from the USA, and the conclusions thereof:

‘Findings from this cohort of adolescents yielded strong evidence for cross-sectional associations between diet soda consumption with weight status in both boys and girls. Specifically, youth who consumed diet soda were more likely to have a higher BMI and PBF (percentage body fat) compared to those who did not.’ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402912/

This is consistent with other studies which show that drinking ‘diet’ soda is strongly associated with a greater risk of obesity than drinking sugary soft drinks. Such evidence is not hard to find. It is rather more difficult to interpret, but that is – again – another issue.

As for trying to reduce saturated fat consumption. I can say here and now that there is not one molecule of evidence to suggest that saturated fat consumption causes obesity. Not one. As for impact on heart disease….again, nothing.

My favourite quote on this comes from the Framingham study. The single most influential study on heart disease in the world.

‘In Framingham, Massachusetts, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories on ate, the lower people’s serum cholesterol.’ Dr William Castelli, Director of the Framingham study. 1992

[Not that I think cholesterol has anything to do with heart disease, but for those of a conventional view point, lowering cholesterol is supposed to be a good thing].

As for salt….where did this come from? I have yet to see any evidence linking increased salt intake to obesity. And why would it. How could it? Salt has no calories in it; it has no impact on any metabolic parameters that I know of. And I would challenge anyone to show me any evidence from any controlled randomised study that salt restriction (in health adults) has any benefits on cardiovascular disease.

I could go on, and on. But the main point is that the ‘experts’ are trapped with a mind-set that they cannot and will not change. Like all the best zealots, they know what the causes of obesity are. To misquote from Terminator.

‘Listen, and understand. That obesity initiative is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.’

23 thoughts on “I told you so (The Obesity Initiative)

  1. offshoretinker

    If you want to make anyone madder than a wet hen, ask them a question that challenges their cherished, hidebound belief system. People will do anything rather than think!

  2. thaddeus

    Dear Dr Kendrick, I have been very much relaxed by reading your book about the cholesterol con and then your comments in other blog posts about the pointlessness of lowering blood pressure with medication for the sake of it. No doubt this reduction in general worrying avout things will like as not make me live longer. I was wondering though if you have ever looked in to the recently popular fast based diets such as the notion or restricting calories to 25% of normal 2 days a week. Do you know if there is any reason to believe this either a good or a bad idea? Or do we just not know?

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      I am not sure about the 5:2 diet. It could work…. I suspect that not many people will keep it going for the rest of their lives. I feel that no-one should be on a ‘diet’ forever. We all need to find a way of eating and living that is sustainable forever, and I do not think 5:2 fits. I could, or course, be proven wrong.

      1. Lorna McFarlane

        Hi Dr Kendrick, thank you for your reply, I had my appointment and apparently I read my test result wrong, I gave the HDL ratio level, apparently my serum cholesterol is 11.7

        She became very agitated about the fact that I won’t take statins, but now I am totally confused and a bit scared to be honest, since reading all the info from you and all the other guys who believe all the cholesterol thing is a con, I think I have too much info in my head and now can’t see anything clearly.

        I do need to understand what this all means for my health. My serum tryglycerides was 2.04, my HDL was 1.38 and my calculated ldl was 9.4.

        I know what it all means to my Doc, but what does it all ACTUALLY mean ?

        The doctor made me feel totally guilty as a parent, because I refused to pass on my cholesterol level information on to my 23 year old son. I don’t want him taking statins either !

        Does the test result mean I should be on some sort of medication if so what ??

        She had heard of you btw, she raised her eyes to the ceiling and sighed and muttered LOL

        I don’t expect you to answer specifically regarding me, I would just like to know how you would interpret a similar test result.

        Sorry to be a pain but as I said I am totally and utterly confused now 😦

      2. Thaddeus

        I wasn’t thinking of the 5:2 diet as a weight loss regimen. I agree you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight forever. The point of the 5:2 as I understand it is not to lose weight but to extend your life expectancy. This being achieved by forcing your body into “repair” mode rather than “grow” mode once in a while. The notion being that if you don’t get enough calories to grow your body will redirect it’s resources to repairing damaged, possibly putatively cancerous, cells instead. I can believe that the body has a repair mode. And that it might as well grow when the growing is good and repair when it’s not. I can believe that situation could sensibly have evolved. I think from an evolutionary perspective never being hungry ever in your whole life is extremely unlikely. So I can believe that our bodies are not necessarily well adapted to that situation, as fortunate as we might be to enjoy it. This all seems like a seductive notion to me but that doesn’t mean it’s true. I hope more research is done to find out if it really is or not.

  3. Lorna McFarlane

    Hi Dr Kendrick, I am not entirely sure if this is where I should be posting this information, but I thought you might like to hear about my experience.:

    In November last year I applied for Life Insurance, they gave me a medical then turned me down, my cholesterol was 12.6 ?!, my dad died at the age of 60 and apparently had extremely high cholesterol.

    Sooo I freaked a bit, the doctor prescribed me statins over the phone, anyways I wanted to find out a bit more about this whole cholesterol malarky and found your book, that lead me to Gary Taubes and all the other bods with the same message.

    I moved house and had to go see another new GP, who freaked about my cholesterol level, it freaked her even more that I didn’t give a toss lol, She asked me about my dad and asked what he died of, I told her he died over over prescription of statins and a low fat diet, she gave me one of those looks that only you Docs can do lol.

    She asked me if I wanted to see a heart specialist, I told her that if the specialist had the same views as her, then no I didn’t.

    She asked me what I intended to do about it, I told her I was going to eat nothing but saturated fat, high protein and very low carb for 6 weeks,( I DO want life insurance ) by this time she was typing like fury and looking very perturbed, especially when I asked if there was a possibility that I had inherited a condition from my dad that led to abnormally high cholesterol levels, she said no, I had simply inherited high cholesterol ?? ( ah well back to doctor Google ).

    Anyways the upshot of my 6 week experiment :

    I asked for numerous blood tests, I especially wanted to know about my thyroid, I have a sneaky suspicion that my dad had untreated Hypothyroid, she also arranged a heap of other tests, I think just to get me off her back 🙂

    I picked up the results yesterday, my cholesterol level was down to 8.5 :D, and my TSH was almost 5 !,

    I have to go and see the Doc on Wednesday, I might just play with her head and ask what I need to do to get my cholesterol back up to where it was lol

    Oh and by the way, I just posted my results and findings on the Flora Facebook page, my name is L McFarlane.


    ( I wonder how long that will last )

    Sorry if I have wasted your time, I just wanted to let you know how reading your book has impacted on my life. ( one stone lighter too 🙂 )

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      Keep up the good work. I am glad that you feel fitter and healthier. You have not wasted my time. Every person I hear from who has improved their health, and has had the guts to take on their doctors….well, it fair warms the cockles of my heart.

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      I have read his stuff before on Duane Graveline’s website. My problem with this demonising of inflammation is that, in my world, inflammation is otherwise known as ‘Healing.’ Cut yourself and the wound becomes inflamed, not because anything has gone wrong, but because the body is trying to heal itself. Blaming inflammation for anything is like blaming hospitals for causing illness – because you find lots of ill people there.

      1. Chain Reaction

        I see elsewhere that you place Barry Groves’ ‘Trick and Treat’ in a bibliography. Published in 2009 ‘Trick and Treat’ seems to have attained a rare measure of objectivity that sits in accord with the idea that a surfeit of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the kind to be found predominating in vegetable oils and margarines allied to inclusion of highly glycemic carbohydrates could result in overproduction of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. When I read ‘Earthing: The most important health discovery ever?’ I was struck by the synergies in these quite different books. The discussion and accounts in Earthing have some common ground with those in ‘Trick and Treat’. I could not help noticing that that conditions discussed by Groves also respond positively, by accounts, to earthing. To my mind ‘Earthing’ largely endorses the directions tabled by Groves.
        The condition that fair knocked the wind out of may sails was multiple sclerosis and Groves describes MS as a condition resulting from inflammation of myelin sheaths.
        I can accept that inflammation is a desirable feature of the immune and healing response that we could consider ‘adaptive’ but if inflammation lingers for longer than is expedient or strictly necessary does that then take an adaptive response into the realms of a mal-adadptive setting and context? Am I running with the wrong end of the stick if I perceive inflammation is the epidemic of the age in which we live?

        1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

          The inuit (so myth would have us believe), have sixty different words for snow. We just have one. We also only have one word – inflammation – that encompasses many different things. Inflammation is a healthy response, it can be an unhealthy response e.g. asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, systemic lupus erythematosis – and others far to numerous to mention. We can reduce inflammation with steroids e.g. prednisolone. But, long-term steroids use seriously damages the body, and all known anti-inflammatories increase the risk of CHD (apart from aspirin). What can we tell from this? That there is no simple answer. However, I tend to raise my eyebrows and sigh gently when someone tells me that heart disease is all due to inflammation. One thing I do know is that there must be something else, at least one causal layer deeper, causing the inflammation to occur in the first place. The body does not spontaneously inflame. Even in inflammatory diseases e.g. asthma, inflammation is a result of a dysfunctional immune response. Sort that, and the inflammation goes away.

      2. Chain Reaction

        Having just one word for snow and leaves respectively clearly places us at a disadvantage when the wrong kind of snow (or leaves) can disrupt railway services (!) and I do take your points about use of the word ‘inflammation’ when mentioned in its dysfunctional context.
        But just to big up the ‘Earthing’ theory and the work of your fellow THINCS member, Stephen Sintara, MD., the thermal images that appear in the book do help a layman take a cursory hold upon the concept. In addition the marrying of the term ‘zeta potential’ (usually heard in association with colloids and colloidal technology) to the behaviour of blood cells makes for an intriguing concern and potential area of future research. The images (p175) show a dramatic thinning and decoupling of blood cells after earthing. Evidently if ‘isolation’ can invoke unwarranted coupling of cells and thickening of blood there is likely a downstream ‘effect’ relating to this ’cause’.
        I was won over by your directions in your own excellent book and was persuaded by the argument pointing the finger at psycho-social stress as a cause of heart disease. Emotional stress such as bereavement stress is reported to advance events and mortality form accumulating heart disease. In fact something of what you directed in the ‘Con’ hints that psycho-social stress associates with socio-economic displacement or disaffection. Socio-economic displacement and disaffection are man-made circumstances that result from the bipolar properties of a familiar entity and the distribution that follows.
        Just for my convenience (and not for anyone else’s) I see inflammation as one of a suite of responses to injury or insult. I think ‘stress’ is another word whose meaning can vary. So in fairly open terms I think injury or insult puts human physiology under similar stresses while our physiology itself doesn’t concern itself too much with the difference between injury or insult.
        If heart disease is a multi-factorial condition there has to be some functional mechanism that describes a kind of convergence in pathways that appear to stem from different causal starting points.

        Earthing: The most important health discovery ever? (2010) Ober, Sinatra & Zucker

  4. arthurT

    I think the original article is quite old, it (or something similar ) is quoted in ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ – but possibly the other one (are we allowed to mention it here ) rather than Dr Kendrick’s. There is also some discussion of inflammation caused by sugars in the even-older writings of Professor John Yudkin (see his (in)famous book ‘Pure, White and Deadly’). I would be very interested to see Dr Kendrick’s comments about this theory.

  5. NotoriousPyro

    So basically, advertisements for healthy butter (high in saturates, monounsaturates and omega-3) is banned before 9pm… Yet advertisements for lager, vodka, you name it are allowed in public view of schools on billboards…

    Makes perfect sense!

  6. Richard Gibbs

    I see that some posts on this blog have entered the minefield of diets. I tried the Atkins Diet in 2005; it seemed to work for me. On the other hand my wife couldn’t stand it and blamed the diet for the failure of her Gall Bladder. One of my sons also hated the diet. So years later I read that people with blood type A, as my wife and son are, lack the enzyme Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase, which is used in the digestion of dietary cholesterol. Conversely people of blood type O, as I am, have plenty of IAP. I learned of this at http://www.dadamo.com/B2blogs/blogs/index.php/2010/03/10/intestinal-alkaline-phosphatase-where-bl?blog=24. As Dr. D’Adamo says in this link “No single diet theory can address all aspects of our individuality, and only a fool would claim that soy, red meat, grains, coconut oil or anything else is universally good or universally bad for everyone.” Anyway, several members of my family follow his genotype diet, with different eating patterns, with great success. It is not a weight loss program based on calorie restriction but a life style program. http://www.genotypediet.com/index.shtml

    1. Marie

      I call bull… i am type A and do just fine on a low carb high fat diet. I think your wife and son missed their bread.

  7. Martin Haley

    Hi Dr Kendrick.
    Have read the Great Cholesterol Con – excellent read. Sorry if this is not the place for it but two questions if you have chance to answer.
    *What actually did the Framingham Study ‘prove’ with regards to cholesterol and heart disease?
    *If there is NO cholesterol level, how do they measure amounts in those with FH?

    Many thanks in advance

  8. Adrian


    My literature watches tend to agree with your comments however when looking for the link to the Taubes article supporting these views, I found this;
    which doesn’t reconcile with the statement in the above article ” there is not one molecule of evidence to suggest that saturated fat consumption causes obesity”

    I’m interested in your views


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s