Here’s the scoop, courtesy Dr. Andrea Eenfeldt at Diet Doctor:
“A new study allegedly shows that the Paleo diet can cause obesity and diabetes – in just eight weeks!… The lead author, Associate Prof Sof Andrikopoulos, allegedly says this means people should avoid low-carb and high-fat Paleo diets, especially people who are overweight and sedentary. They might suffer “extreme weight gain”. He goes on to say that there is “no scientific evidence” that low-carb high-fat diets work, meaning he’s not aware of at least 19 high quality studies (RCTs) in humans showing that low carb diets not only work, but that they work significantly better than other diets.”
And here’s a taste of the LC/Paleo world’s (understandable) rage against this nonsense:
My friend and fellow freedom fighter, Dr. Richard Feinman – who’s the author, among many other things, of this seminal article about diabetes and low carb diets as well as a handbook to the second phase of Dr. Atkins’ Revolution – published this impassioned letter to the editor (reprinted in full from my Facebook feed):
Dear Professor Atkinson,
I am writing in regard to the paper by Lamont B, et al. Nutrition & Diabetes 2016, 6:1-7 which recommended against the use of low-carbohydrate high-fat diet (LCHFD). The recommendation follows from presumed risk based on experiments with 9 mice from a strain bred for susceptibility to metabolic abnormalities. The study ignored the dozens of studies, listed in their own references, comprising hundreds of human subjects, that contradicted the mice data. In addition, Dr. Andrikopoulos, the submitting author, participated in a wide-spread media program that was not scientifically accurate, included ad hominem attacks on all workers in the field and was outside of normal scientific protocol.
For these reasons, this paper should be retracted. The data should be subject to new peer review, sensibly including people with experience with LCHFD in humans.
There are numerous papers demonstrating the value of dietary carbohydrate restriction. Our review (, reference (5) in Lamont, et al.) includes 77 references and documents the evidence that nothing is better than LCHFD for obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. We do not think that this is the final word and we are open to criticism. However, a study of 9 mice for eight weeks does not raise questions about this extensive body of knowledge.
Such a miniscule study would not be considered of major import even if it were exceptional but Lamont, et al. is not. The results are, in fact, ambiguous:
1. The LCHFD had better improvement than control on TAG and HDL (“good cholesterol”) and there were no significant differences in total cholesterol or LDL. The ratio of HDL/TAG is considered one of the best indicators of CVD risk: the LCHFD conferred decreased risk.
2, The result that a reduction in dietary carbohydrate worsened glycemic control, if reproducible, would be a landmark phenomenon demonstrating that conditions could be found where an NZO mouse showed metabolic behavior completely the opposite of what is seen in humans. That increasing dietary carbohydrate will decrease blood glucose in humans is absurd and has been contradicted by thousands of recorded measurements.
3. Similarly, the result (Figure 1) that the low-carbohydrate mice gained more weight even though they consumed fewer calories makes no sense at all. In fact, in the numerous diet studies in humans, the low-carb arm almost always loses more weight and critics claim that that is only because they took in fewer calories.
The paper and associated media reports exemplify the contentious nature of this field. Low carbohydrate diets have been the subject of unrestrained criticism and bias by the medical establishment for forty years. Even with this background, however, Lamont, et al. has crossed some line of irrational opposition to a therapy that has met every challenge for safety and efficacy and is widely used if not totally accepted. Dr. Andrikopoulos’s reported comments to the Mail, for example , that “In people with pre-diabetes or diabetes, the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet could be particularly risky…. there is no scientific evidence that these diets work.” are completely out of line.
In the end, it is people struggling with obesity and diabetes who are the real victims of this breakdown in scientific practice. There is a serious ethical issue in that Andrikopoulos’s paper and his reported public statements are intended to deny a treatment to people with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a treatment that, in fact, is established as effective and safe and is even included in the “individualization” recommended by health agencies. It is impossible to tell how much harm has been done but retraction of the paper will be a start to correction.
Richard David Feinman
1. Feinman RD, Pogozelski WK, Astrup A, Bernstein RK, Fine EJ, Westman EC, Accurso A, Frassetto L, Gower BA, McFarlane SI et al: Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base. Nutrition 2015, 31(1):1-13.
2. Hodgkins A: The Paleo diet is ‘dangerous and increases weight gain’, diabetes expert claims. In: Mail Online. 2016, last accessed, February 20, 2016.
What Can Be Done to Stop Nincompoops Like Mouse Man?
Mouse Man is just one of many meemaws, doofuses, dumbkopfs, arrogant a-holes, and other undesirables I’ve had the displeasure of reading about (or, in rare cases, meeting) during my 7 year career as a nutrition science gadfly. Other members of this despicable pantheon include, of course: His Eminence, Dr. David Katz; Marion Nestle, Alan Aragon, the entire 2015 DCAG committee, practically the entire leadership cabal of the vegan movement, the list goes on.
Here’s the sad reality. These dumbfaces HUGELY outnumber those on the Paleo/LC team, and they have way, WAY more power over the debate than we do.
I want to suggest something radical and perhaps uncomfortable:
Mouse man et al are just symptoms of a deeper problem. And that problem is that the Paleo/LC “movement” or whatever you want to call it lacks a clear, simple message.
Yes, there are slogans that we use: “Just Eat Real Food”; “High Fat Low Carb”; etc. But these both oversimplify and also fail to provide enough specificity to drive a message. What is “real food”? Does agave nectar count? What about organic carrots and apples lovingly grown in a pesticide and GMO-free local garden that are then juiced and consumed rapidly, sending a combo of glucose and fructose down the gullet that is, for all intents and purposes, biologically indistinguishable from soda pop?
The point I’m making is that we need get our collective shit together. We need to force change, and the only way we will do so is with strict message discipline and a kick ass and take names attitude. Otherwise the paleo/LC world, small as it is, will just eat itself with “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” arguments over whether you can ever in a million years eat a potato and if so, why and how much.
We must stop Mouse Man, Katz, Nestle, etc. at the root.
Otherwise, we will keep playing whackamole with them. There are just too many of them. We need to coalesce around an extremely rigid message and shove that message down the world’s throat. The facts are in: we live in an intellectual desert of unfathomable aridity, and we cannot depend on journalists, doctors, researchers, science “watchdogs” like the Skeptic Society, or the general populace to fix this. The nonsense will go on, literally until infinity, unless and until we can counter the conventional message with a strong, decisive and specific message of our own and row all of our oars together.
Good science from places like NuSI, more books by great people like Nina and Ludwig… These are great and absolutely essential. But I fear that absent a better PR push, these profound works will only fuel a rebellious minority (us!) that will be perpetually outgunned. Science as an institution is irreparably broken, 538’s analysis to the contrary be damned. This is especially true re: nutrition science.
We cannot assume anyone will save us or that the problem will fix itself.
The fate of literally billions of people is in our hands. Thousands are dying every day, silently, thanks to the conventional diet wisdom. We – a ragtag group of doctors, gadflies, bloggers and activitists scattered across the four corners of the Earth and united basically only via the internet – are all that stands between continued carnage of a genocidal scale and redemption for humanity. We must stand as one. We must get our shit together and forge a message as clear and sharp and unrelenting as a Masamune sword.