Dean Ornish Pedals More Tripe, AWLR Responds

In the September 22 New York Times Opinion Pages, Dr. Dean Ornish pedals more tripe about healthy eating in an opinion piece entitled, “Eating for Health, Not Weight“.  The piece is a startling ramble that vacillates between vainglorious self promotion of his own (rather limited) research, and willful misinterpretation of the facts and conclusions resulting from some JAMA research supporting the health benefits of low carbohydrate eating. Really, should you trust a doctor that ignores and misrepresents research, compares low carb diets to abusing amphetamines, and tries to support this assertion by misrepresenting a study’s actual conclusions about how low carb diets affect C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels in participants?

The study actually shows that both low fat and low carb diet groups showed a significant reduction in CRP, but does Dr. Ornish mention that? Of course not.  Does he mention that the low fat diet resulted in a higher level of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) (another inflammatory agent associated with heart disease) than the low carb diet?  Of course not.  Instead of talking about the facts, he skewers and distorts the research to promote his own agenda.  And lest we forget, Dr. Ornish is a franchise built around promoting a particular way of eating.

Also conspicuously absent in his opinion piece is any mention whatsoever of NuSi, the organization chartered to do the rigorous research that can actually move us forward in understanding many of the central questions of nutrition. It’s hard to understand how anyone writing such assertions about nutrition can do so without acknowledging the vehicle that can actually settle many of the very disputes he discusses.

Fortunately, the good folks at the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry (AWLR) have already posted a response to Dr. Ornish.  It likely won’t get the same circulation as Ornish’s opinion piece, but I can tell you that unlike Ornish, the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry’s response doesn’t skimp on the science or torture the evidence.  Let’s see who else steps up to the plate and calls Ornish on his pap and pablum.


6 Responses to “Dean Ornish Pedals More Tripe, AWLR Responds”

  1. Dean Ornish cannot endorse anything that goes against all he has built up during his career. Doing so would admit he was wrong. As for promoting NuSI, hell will freeze over before he does that. Dr. Ornish is not interested in facts or research. He’s done his one study, his study, the outcomes were as he planned them and nothing, absolutely nothing will change his mind. The vegan and vegetarian crowd all have done their own one study, the outcomes were are they planned them and no one, absolutely no one will make them change their minds. They will continue quoting their one study over and over again in the face of present and future hundreds to the contrary. For example, when trying to argue or reason with a vegan, all you hear is “read the China Study.” They are not interested in facts or scientific studies. I don’t even know why you are surprised.

    • Well put, Kateryna!

      I think I’m less surprised than I am annoyed when someone with the potential to reach so many people and be a real agent for introducing quality, peer reviewed science into the domain, chooses his path instead of throwing his hat in the ring with the folks committed to doing the real research on the subject.

      Seems like such a missed opportunity…

      Still, I have no doubt that you are right about the likelihood of this happening.


  2. What Dean Ornish doesn’t seem to factor in is that most people will struggle w/a diet that is extremely low fat. Doesn’t Ornish realize that losing weight is not the only goal? Even keeping off weight for a few years does not guarantee that one will not regain it all back, plus more. The low carb/high fat approach is very restrictive, to be sure, but it’s also very *satiating*. If you like the foods on this type of diet, it’s much easier to follow than a traditional, low calorie, low fat diet. I know because I’ve lost weight on low fat & it Did work….for a while. Now I’m trying the Ketogenic way. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go off this diet, too, but I’m thinking that I don’t fee as hungry as I did on the low fat diet. And, even though there is Much that I have to give up (pancakes w/REAL maple syrup, anyone?), there is also much that I enjoy on this diet that is Extremely delicious & satiating. Not being (too) tempted is more than 1/2 the battle, I’d say. This diet cuts down on carb cravings. Since Most of what I crave Are carbs, that helps me A LOT. And, if I want to “cheat” a few fingerling potatoes do it, or some whole grain bread (5 grams of fiber per slice) fried in bacon grease & heavily buttered. If that kind of food (which I Rarely have) is a “cheat” so beat. It’s sure better than ripping open a box of Twinkies. Just my take on it all.

  3. I Meant to write: “so be it”, not “so beat”. (Although I am tired today)! Anyway, my point is: some can do any diet to perfection, some maybe not so much. For me, a life long binger of considerable intensity, to go more than a year w/No candy, sweets, cakes, ice cream or sugar of any kind (that is, white table sugar), is more than amazing to me. Yes, Greek Yogurt has sugar in it – natural sugar – but I’ve found a version that is extremely high fat, w/no Added sugar in it. Yes, berries have some sugar – but they take the edge off of any sugar craving w/o inducing More cravings. Considering how Addictive sweets are, I Really am Amazed at how well this diet has helped me contain (if not Completely curtail) all sugars. I’m not sure I Want to curtail ALL sugar. A few blueberries is pretty sweet & really something, when I consider what I Could be having & what I pass up, each & every day. I do so w/Pride – not that sick feeling I Used to have, trying to do a low fat diet like Ornish promotes – and white-knuckling it constantly. I am following this diet in the Real World & it Really seems to be working for me if the scale & my blood work are any indication.

  4. DBGibb

    If you have read some of Ornish’s books you realize that he’s a vegan for ideological reasons (animal rights) and not health. Trying to justify your moral beliefs through science is never a good idea. A good scientist tries to DISPROVE his/her theories. Scientists trying to PROVE their ideology tend to only show evidence that supports their beliefs and ignores other evidences that counters those beliefs.


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