Did Nina Teicholz Research and Write The Big Fat Surprise?

For some reason, Nina Teicholz is on a social media publicity blitz for an article I refer to as Hite & Economists.  

This paper should be an embarrasment to the authors and the journal that accepted it for publication, beginning with the title.  The "statistical review" was some sort of resampling of the NHANES data, and included 1965 data from a different source, that could not be adjusted because they didn't have any informational basis upon which to do so.   So Nina's excitement that this is the first study to go back to 1965 should instead be indignation regarding why the authors chose to do so.

Furthermore from The Big Fat Surprise:
Unaware of the flimsy scientific scaffolding upon which their dietary guidelines rest, Americans have dutifully attempted to follow them.  Since the 1970s, we have successfully increased our fruits and vegetables by 17 percent, our grains by 29 percent, and reduced the amount of fat we eat from 43 percent to 33 percent of calories or less.
“33 percent of calories or less” . . . “share of those fats that are saturated has also declined”: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘“Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients— United States, 1971–2000,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 53, no. 4 (2004): 80– 82.
Source:  Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients --- United States, 1971--2000
There are more recent reports available.   Did Nina Teicholz even write this book?  How can she post as she did to Facebook, as if there is ANYTHING new about Hite & Economists?


In my post, I compared the Hite & Economists analysis to but one of the numerous papers based on NHANES data:  Trends in energy intake among adults in the United States: findings from NHANES.

This is the first to correlate the information to obesity?  Yeah, it's only missing this graphic!

What is this nonsense "Analyses to date have been buried or their findings obscured."   NHANES data has been analyzed to the hilt!   I would note that the 2013 Trends paper was written by scientists affiliated with the CDC and other government bodies.

Furthermore, if anything, the trend in recent years is to challenge the integrity of NHANES.  For example:  Do Flawed Data on Caloric Intake From NHANES Present Problems for Researchers and Policy Makers?     In the Trends paper, those with higher BMI report inconsistently low caloric intakes, for example.    Nonetheless, nobody seems to contest the reality that Americans eat more than we did 40 years ago, most of that increase was in carbs (mostly refined) and we're the heavier for it.   

Did Low Fat Advice Make Us Fat?

I pretty much demolished this notion highlighting a study on the Thai people.    Thanks to commenter macrauchenia, we now have a larger population in the Chinese to consider.  Macrauchenia linked to:  Prospective study on nutrition transition in China.   I couldn't find his graphic quickly, so compiled one of my own that mirrors the "groundbreaking" evidence put forth in Hite & Economists.

Interestingly, in both the Thai and Chinese cases, the macronutrient shift was not accompanied by a caloric increase.  The transition of physical lifestyle is not addressed in those figures, but these data fly in the face of fattening carbs.

Did the Intrepid Journalist Hint at Conspiracy?

Firstly, Teicholz is now promoting an article in which she's acknowledged for her support.  In what fashion?

But there's quite a bit fishy about the Hite & Economists paper.  Why do I call it that?  Because it is lead-authored by a Principal at The Brattle Group, co-authored by two more Principals and an Associate, a pediatric MD/professor, and Adele Hite PhD Student (Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media) at NC State.   Only Hite's partial affiliation is mentioned in the byline, Melanie Rosenberg's is not even mentioned, for Brattle you have to wait until the very end of the article, after the acknowledgments, conflict of interest statements, and even after the references.  

What does Brattle do
"The Brattle Group answers complex economic, regulatory, and financial questions for corporations, law firms, and governments around the world." As such their clientele "include many of the world's best-performing and most admired companies, law firms, and industry organizations as well as U.S. and international regulatory and government agencies."

Help me out here.  Did lead author Evan Cohen, who specializes in "financial modeling and valuation with a focus on complex business litigation", just wake up one day and think to himself "let me look at those Dietary Guidelines"?  How did this work exactly.

How did Adele Hite get with Brattle economists with some unmentioned pediatric doctor???  HOW.  This inquiring mind really wants to know.  Transparency and all that jazz.

The bio images come from the News article on Brattle's website about this "study":  Brattle Economists Author Report on Nutrition and the Rise of Obesity in the United States.   More detailed bios are available:  Evan CohenMichael CraggBin ZhouJehan deFronseka.

Ahhh ... there it is.  At the end of Cohen's bio:

He [Evan Cohen] currently has an active interest in disputes affecting the supply chain for food.
So let's get an article published in a peer-review journal that can be referenced in litigation.   I would not be at ALL surprised if his interest is fostered by having the Beef Checkoff or other industry as a well-paying client.

NO conflicts of interest were declared here.  These economists didn't write this paper for free, they did so as salaried (presumably) principals in a consulting firm.  

Adele Hite?  No mention of her being Director of Healthy Nation Coalition, an organization with a seemingly sole purpose to eliminate Dietary Guidelines.  I've mentioned this several times now, as have others.  But they have a dead man on their Scientific Advisory Board!   Dr. Robert Su, of "Carbohydrates Can Kill", passed away in 2013.  The other doctor is James Carlson, author of "Genocide: How Your Doctor's Dietary Ignorance Will Kill You".  Okey Dokey ....

That's all for now folks.

Informal poll:
1. Did Teicholz write TBFS?
2. If she did, did she just compile the notes from someone else's research?


Gordon said…
#2. I don't think she did the research. She's copied far too many mistakes for that ...
charles grashow said…
1) Yes
2) Yes - see Gary Taubes, GCBC, WWGF.
Seth Yoder said…
I've spent years studying the field of nutrition science and this is the first ever time I have heard of that journal (Nutrition) in which the "statistical review" was published.
Hello_I_Love_You said…
These nitwits at Brattle are no nutrition or dietary experts. These masquerade as corporate finance and valuation experts but do you know what their "metier" really is? Lobbying and public relations. Doing a snow job to make one side look better. They work on litigation and try to punch holes in other peoples' arguments. Some of them are lawyers, some of them have economic backgrounds. But the commonality is that they'll lie through their teeth for their clients, who'll pay them. They're basically hired guns with no expertise on the subject matter.
carbsane said…
I've seen it referenced a few times in the IHC ;-)

Peer review was supposed to be research done by people working in a particular field, reviewed by other people working in that same particular field.
Lighthouse Keeper said…
Spin doctors trying to usurp real doctors as usual.
carbsane said…
Sorry, the poll was an afterthought and not worded very well. I was getting at whether she actually wrote the book first, and basically if she did, whether or not she did the research.

Anyone who can claim that some NHANES analysis hasn't been done or is being covered up, while citing a "Trendes from NHANES" official government document (CDC) in the introduction of her book, has a serious credibility issue going on.
carbsane said…
Exactly. This is usually the sort of thing Teicholz should be interested in exposing.

IHC = Incestral Hypocrite Cult ;-)
Gordon said…
You're wording was fine, I was reading too quickly. I read Charles comment, reread the poll, and felt like a dolt ...
macrauchenia said…
1 & 2: I've never read it and I don’t think I want to waste my time ever reading that stuff. When I saw her NYT piece, I made the mistake of actually reading it, and it just really ticked me off for some reason. What really gets to me is if you look at comments section in most news stories the revisionist view always seem to get about 20 times the vote ups. I saw this withTeicholz's responses on Marion Nestle's blog and her response to the CSPI guy on Huff Post. I wonder if it is related to how active libertarians and anti-government types are on social media. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that groups like libertarians and creationists have been know to overwhelm video comments on Youtube.

Now that the NYT has published an equally atrocious editorial by Dean Ornish, a sort of balance has been restored. I don't feel as ticked off, maybe a little disappointed in Ornish. Both editorials were on the most emailed stories lists, but I observed that Teicholz's remained on the list well over a week, and Ornish's did not last a week.

Teicholz's claims do seem to be a less extreme form what's out on LCHF blogs, but seems to be softened to be palatable for mass audience. I thought
perhaps she had been working on her book and chose the timing because
of the Chowdhury meta-analysis. I know you think the meat industry might be in some way behind Teicholz? It's certainly something to look into, but I don't seen much evidence of it. I think vested interests are obviously involved in Hite's paper, but I'm very reluctant to speculate or particularly to dismiss something on those grounds because it seems to send the wrong message to me. A lot of anti-GMO activists cut off debate simply by blaming Monsanto or claiming other conspiracies, and I hate to validate that kind of thinking. Other ideas have been proposed. I ran across a blog the other day called Plant Positive where it is suggested that media such as Time magazine are getting desperate because they have ever decreasing circulation and decreasing profitability, and that is likely motivating them to run these terrible poorly fact checked articles. Also, I read that Teicholz has been a journalist for a while so she may have connections and know game pretty well. Her husband also writes editorials? I wonder what the quality of his work is like?
macrauchenia said…
My original post on the study is here: http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2015/03/zoe-harcombe-and-adele-hites-hyper.html#comment-1896078174 (sadly only one vote up)

I came came across it in comments by Rachael McLean, Murray Skeaff, Jim Mann and Lisa Te Morenga: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7654/rr-5

"The fallacious ecological argument that Smith invokes to infer that lower fat intakes in some countries have led to increasing rates of obesity could be applied equally to the opposite phenomenon in China (18% of the world’s population) where the increasing fat intakes correspond closely with rising obesity rates."

I usually read responses by Jim Mann. So far he seems pretty reliable to me. I could have done without the quote from the pseudo-science loaded "Unhappy Meals" at the end, but there are a lot of great quotes in the response that seem relevant to your posts:

Lay authors may not understand the inherent complexities, imprecisions and inaccuracies associated with individual studies and, whether by design or simply because they have not carried out a formal search of data bases, may not be in possession of the totality of evidence. “Cherry picking” of evidence whether by design or default can lead to serious misinterpretation of existing knowledge.

"Systematic reviews also differ in their findings based on how the research question as well as the qualifying criteria for inclusion of studies is defined. This opens the door for cherry picking of results, as is often seen in the popular press and, unfortunately, some academics who are not trained in nutritional science or who may have vested interests."
macrauchenia said…
Funny, I could have sworn it was in Nutrients, but yeah I guess I must have assumed because I've never heard of Nutrition either. So is Nutrition like a second rate version of Nutrients? If I'm I'm attempting to publish basically garbage, I should first try to get it into Nutrients, and if they won't take it I go to Nutrition?
StellaBarbone said…
The NYT did publish both the Tiecholz piece and the Ornish piece in the more widely read Opinion section rather than in Science, but that subtlety is lost on a lot of readers.
carbsane said…
I didn't even read the whole Ornish piece as I was cut off at the pass by Eades' arm flailing. Ornish basically accurately quoted some stats about increased ADDED fat consumption, and Eades went all conspiratorial about how Ornish was misleadingly implying that this was due to fatty meat content.
macrauchenia said…
Sure, I think his whole-foods, plant-based diet that only happens to be low in animal protein has a role to play in treatment. I also think that LFHC diets have a role to play. It just annoys me that people are distorting the facts. I guess my annoyance speaks to something that Dr. Guyenet and others have written about about; For some reason people get unusually worked up over claims about diet and macronutrients that you don't see in other scientific controversies you see in biochemical matters.

I think the sharp left turn comes when Ornish goes after animal protein. He does a certain amount of fear mongering. I think Dr. Katz has done a better job on that subject writing about the tendency to conflate new research on health risks with new risks.

Normally Men's Health wouldn't be my go-to source, but here's an article that was shared by Dr. Freedhoff and the author's associate, Alan Aragon, seems to me to be a pretty evidenced-based figure.

macrauchenia said…
What section does Taubes write for? I'm a little unsure of Gina Kolata, but she seems to be ok.
StellaBarbone said…
He used to be a staff writer for the Science section, but that was over a decade ago. Everything he's published in the last decade has been in the Opinion section or the weekend Magazine.
Hello_I_Love_You said…
That's what I was gonna say. Dr. Katz put Perlmutter in in his place by calling his Grain Brain book bogus. He should be encouraged to do the same to Nina's
macrauchenia said…
Didn't he? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/were-fat-sick-broccoli-did-david-l-katz-md-mph
Kitty said…
I think looking at the macronutrient changes to our diets vis a vis the obesity epidemic is like looking at what cocktail is most likely to cause alcoholism. Of course it's the carbs, because Cool Ranch Doritos and pinto beans have a lot in common, as do Crisco and avocados.

I just had another friend fall of the wagon on her low-carb diet, face-first into an enormous plate of fettuccine alfredo with a side of self-loathing. Arguing about diets that everyone knows full well people can't adhere to is madness. I have no idea how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
carbsane said…
If her NYT article ticked you off then I suggest against reading the book. It may give you a coronary even if your arteries are pristine!
carbsane said…
Speaking of Time, they appear to be high on the mailing list of the publicity department over at Open Heart "peer review journal".
carbsane said…
This journal is some sort of "front" if you ask me. Elsevier is in the business of selling science journalism. http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/

This particular Nutrition journal (there's another) is associated with three international societies for parenteral and enteral nutrition: Croatian, Czech and Japan Societies to be exact.
MacSmiley said…
MacSmiley said…
What poll? Is that something I'm not seeing on mobile?
MacSmiley said…
Whoops. Now I see it. Was it added to the article without an update tag? I don't think I noticed it the first time I read the article.

But I could be wrong.
carbsane said…
I think this was one of the more disheartening aspects of when I participated on Jimmy's forum. The constant cycling of hanging in for a while, falling off the wagon, binge, guilt/self-berating, rinse repeat because they had been convinced that LC is the ***ONLY*** way to lose weight and they lost 20-30-50-100 or more pounds the last time!

For some reason they never seem to remember that most did actually successfully lose weight by some other means as well.

In this regard, Amy Dungan is one who boggles the mind with her nonsense Haters Gonna Hate nonsense. Nobody hates you Amy, and franky, you are hardly famous even in LC circles. But one really has to wonder why someone who has been unsuccessful at low carbing for the past almost decade now. Why would she encourage anyone to try the diet? Does she think she's just such a huge failure as a person because she can't stick to the extreme diet, and thus thinks "it works for those who can" or something? I think she got stuck in a community and feels a sense of belonging and got trapped into LC = healthy = only way. It's not working for her. This is NOT because of her character or will, and even trying to be LC seems to have exacerbated thyroid issues rather than helped. But who am I to say anything, right?
Radhakrishna Warrier said…
I recently had a hilarious encounter with an extreme low carb group. I started a thread on "area under the curve" (area under the blood sugar versus time curve) in an e-forum supposedly devoted to diabetes (and not low carbing) but tightly controlled by an extremely low carbing chief moderatoress and a small coterie of other extreme low carbers, both ordinary members and ordinary moderators around her. The chief moderatoress and the coterie around her seem to nicely fit your description "got stuck in a community and feels a sense of belonging and got trapped into LC = healthy = only way" :)

In the post I explained that according to the concept of the area under the curve the impact of blood sugar is not dependent only on its absolute level but also on its duration. The combined effect of the level and duration is measured in terms of their product which is the area under the curve. With the post I also provided accompanying figures that I drew myself and in one of the figures, within the area under the curve I had shown the math expression "definite integral t1 to t2 f(t)dt". But there was no math in the body of the post.

I think the definite integral symbol in the figure touched a raw nerve in the moderatoress. She must have concluded that "with all that math" the post was somehow inherently heretical to the religion of low carbing.

Soon began the attack posts. The coterie was incapable of attacking the topic of the thread (the definite integral symbol was a big deterrant :) ) so they took up peripheral issues. I refused to be drawn into a fight, providing only factural replies. I think the coterie felt frustrated. The chief moderatoress through one of her minions (an ordinary moderator) finally got the thread closed :)

The whole incident brought up in my mind the image of the three wise monkeys. But I am doing injustice to those monkeys because they were wise and were trying to hear, speak or see no evil. The adjective 'wise' does not fit this coterie. They were just trying not to hear, speak or see anything other than LC :)

Kitty said…
I think believing, and perpetuating, the lie that they will eventually lose their carb cravings is a huge part of the problem. Some drives (e.g. sex, sleep, interaction) can only be tamed through moderation if they have become compulsive. Puritanical abstinence will never work, as our very physiology will betray us every time, since we are built to seek sweet and calorie dense food.

I remember the low-carb forum confessions. Someone will lament that she is craving some perfectly normal food like a sandwich, tons of people jump in and tell her to resist and the next thing you know the poor soul ate an entire cake and no one makes the connection. I remember once a guy asking what to do about Thanksgiving (relatives he rarely got to see were preparing all his favorite foods). When I made the radical suggestion that he should just enjoy the food, since after all it's only one day, you would have thought I suggested handing out vodka shots at an AA meeting. People who you knew would be whining about bingeing on something disgusting in a couple of weeks were making elaborate plans to deny themselves delicious foods that they see once a year because they had so demonized a macronutrient.
macrauchenia said…
Hmm, yesterday afternoon, I took a break from watching Dr. Taylor's diabetes video. I decided to check out the beef industry link. I searched for Teicholz on Drovers CattleNetwork, and I think I've started to develop a slight arrhythmia for some reason.

I was going to ask you about this one in particular though: http://www.dairyherd.com/blogs/Sjostrom-Fat-wont-make-you-fat--Part-2-264890781.html I really want to read a decent profile of Dr. Keys, but one that I can actually trust. This one did have some interesting background on Keys I hadn't seen elsewhere. Is he getting it from all from the Big Fat Surprise?

Also, I'm wondering if anyone has come across the claims in this press release story? http://www.cattlenetwork.com/news/meat-matter-caveman-diet
StellaBarbone said…
I wanted to use AUC to explain a blood sugar issue a few days ago, but I knew better. Way, way to mathy and a sure way to lose the audience.
carbsane said…
To add: I've noticed over the years that the LC modus operandi goes something like this:
1. "They" have it all wrong
2. Here is the sciencez of LC , "Gary Taubes tells us ..."
3. Challenge them on the science and you are accused of ad hominem attacks, trying to "sound intelligent" (a special funny usually uttered from the fingertips of one Fred Hahn), getting overly technical, etc.
4. Well LC just works, and if it doesn't work, it still works better than anything else, so who cares if our science is wrong because their's is more wrong.
macrauchenia said…
I've been meaning to write to him and asked how he accounted for his ties to alternate medicine since he is otherwise reliable. I saw someone comment that he wrote with the same question and Katz wrote back fippantly with a book plug and some links to studies on CoQ 10.

The one that boggles me a bit is how Stephan Guyenet can endorse Kris Kessler, an acupuncturist.
carbsane said…
Chris Kresser you mean ;-) Near as I can tell they are "old friends" in the ancestral community. I don't put much into most folks' blog rolls in terms of endorsements. I used to have one but the widget disappeared during one of the template updates a couple years ago and I decided not to bother with it any more.
carbsane said…
I've asked Katz on FB twice in a non-confrontational manner. No response.
macrauchenia said…
Righ,t and how can that scoundrel Carbsane be endorsing supplements/examine.com
carbsane said…
Examine doesn't sell supplements. Their Guide provides a review of all research in humans available for a wide array of supplements that someone may wish to investigate, and/or can inform as to what supplements have proven benefits for a particular condition and may be worth trying.
StellaBarbone said…
Orac took a whack at him yesterday on Science Based Medicine:
Jane Karlsson said…
I once emailed him with some information about minerals, and he thanked me and sent me an invitation to join his LinkedIn group. I thought it was a group of people interested in nutrition, so I tried to join, but couldn't because I needed to state the name of my company. I have no company. I suppose he thought I was trying to sell minerals or something. Why is he a member of a LinkedIn group of entrepreneurs? Isn't he an academic?
Jane Karlsson said…
That's the second or third time I've read an article on Science Based Medicine that I found vaguely unsatisfying. Interesting they have to go to such lengths to bash him. To my mind it didn't work.
Wuchtamsel said…
I somewhat share your feeling. I had to start reading this terribly written piece several times... Seems as if the person who wrote it didn't think remotely about what to write before starting.
billy the k said…
Anyone looking to obtain some nice, low AUC's for glucose and insulin? Have a BLT for your breakfast, lunch and supper:

In 1985, Frank Nuttall and Mary Gannon tested the AUC's for both glucose and insulin for 26 "healthy normals"—14 male and 12 female volunteers—following 4 different diets varying in their macro ratios:

"Plasma Glucose and Insulin Profiles in Normal Subjects Ingesting Diets of Varying Carbohydrate, Fat, and Protein Content."

All subjects had ≥300g/day carbohydrate for 3 days prior to the test diets, described as follows:

Standard.................11%pro 49%fat 40%carb
High Protein............41%pro 40%fat 19%carb
High Carb................10%pro 27%fat 63%carb
High Fat...................10%pro 75%fat 15%carb

On page 446 is the graph showing the integrated areas of glucose and insulin concentration above the fasting values for a 4 hour period after each meal obtained with the various diets: "The mean glucose areas for the male and female groups combined was 210% greater with the high carb diet compared to the standard diet. With the high protein and high fat diets it was 19% and 36% of that obtained with the standard diet." [i.e., 81% and 64% smaller glucose AUC's, respectively]

"The 12 hour integrated insulin area with the high carb diet for the combined female and male groups was 157% of that with the standard diet.
With the high protein and high fat diets it was 74% and 39% of that with the standard diet>"
[i.e., 26% and 61% smaller insulin AUC's, respectively]
StellaBarbone said…
Dr. Gorski has been vehemently anti-woo since the days of misc.health.alternative -- at least 20 years.
Jane Karlsson said…
I see. Well if complementary medicine is no better than placebo, at least it's no worse. Placebo can do astonishing things.

I wouldn't write off homeopathy just yet. As far as I have been able to find out, there really is such a thing as structured water. If Katz thinks it's worth investigating, I say let him do it.

The quackbashers think placebo controlled trials are the gold standard, but actually they aren't a lot better than quackery. The patients are not supposed to know whether they're getting the drug or the placebo, but since most drugs make you feel different (isn't that the point?), it's likely that in many cases they have a pretty good idea.

There have even been placebo controlled trials of cancer chemotherapy drugs. What placebo can be compared with a drug that makes you throw up and your hair fall out?
LWC said…
I only come across Gorski/Orac in my efforts to learn more about Katz after learning of his support of homeopathy, reiki and a whole list of "treatments" that I never even knew existed. So I was unaware of the timeline. And "woo" should have been in the list of synonyms but didn't occur to me.
LWC said…
Placebo and nocebo effects are real, but that's not the point. I have no desire to send this thread off topic, so this will be my final response. I have a background in chemistry; homeopathy is neither plausible nor possible. As horrible as chemo and the other science based medicine options for cancer are, they are medicine and do heal people. Homeopathy, at best, merely drains your wallet.
carbsane said…
How about vortex water? LOL. David "Avocado" Wolf hawks these systems: https://www.alivewater.com/davidwolfe

Jane Karlsson said…
You are probably right. Homeopathy is like cold fusion. But there are some puzzling results, in both fields.
StellaBarbone said…
Here is a link to Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.) destroying homeopathy in an 1842 lecture:

It's quite amusing and worth a read.
Jane Karlsson said…
Thanks. It was indeed worth a read, but by the time I'd read the first chapter I couldn't face the second, which was the one on homeopathy and was even longer than the first. But I did read what he said about Hahnemann, and I do very much get it.

As I understand it, water can be imprinted with electromagnetic patterns (sets of frequencies) which persist for longer than expected considering water is a fluid. Water researcher Martin Chaplin suggests it might be to do with impurities such as dissolved glass, which are always present even in 'pure' water.

Chaplin says there are domains in water where delocalised electrons and protons flow more easily than between the domains. Perhaps different domains resonate to different EM frequencies depending on things like their size and shape.

"Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) have significant effects on liquid water that last for minutes after the field is removed [1896 ]. Electromagnetic-treated water has been proven to have diverse biological effects on both animal and plant cells [2219 ]."
StellaBarbone said…
No. Homeopathy is pure woo. It is nothing but quackery.
Jane Karlsson said…
Please read what I wrote again. I am not disagreeing with you.
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