Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Professor John Yudkin and Dr Ancel Keys

Here's a page or so (p163-4) from John Yudkin's book "Pure White and Deadly", 1972 edition. Yudkin begins the chapter with an apology for talking about such uncomfortable disagreements in public. But he liked the truth.

This quote covers opinion from Prof John Yudkin and Dr Meyer Friedman. You can hear their dislike of Keys. Keys was the architect of what has become the current world obesity epidemic and never one to let the truth get in the way of a good idea, as with his six nations "fat causes heart disease" study. Unfortunately Meyer's list of those easily misled did not include gullible politicians who set food policy. Keys was a very successful politico, with intense conviction of his own correctness. Fine if he had been right, which he wasn't.

Yudkin begins:

I have already mentioned Dr Ancel Keys and his pioneer work in relation to diet and heart disease. A year or so ago he wrote a memorandum which he sent to a large number of scientists working in this field and which with very few changes has now been published in a medical journal 'Atherosclerosis'. It consists entirely of a strong criticism - I nearly said virulent criticism - of the work I have published from time to time on the theory that sugar is the main dietary factor involved in causing heart disease.

The publication contains a number of quite incorrect and unjustified statements; for instance; that we had never tested our method for measuring sugar intake; that no one eats the amounts of sugar that we and others have used in our experiments; that it was absurd of me in 1957 to use intemational statistics of 41 countries as evidence for the relationship between sugar and heart disease (exactly tbe same statistics that Dr Keys had previously used for only 6 selected countries to show the relationship between fat and heart disease).

He ends by triumphantly pointing out that both sugar and fat intakes are related to heart disease, but that the cause must be fat, not sugar, because he had just found in 1970 that fat intake and sugar intake are themselves closely linked. You will remember my own discussion of this link in Chapter 5, based on the fact that, as far back as 1964, I had shown this relationship to exist between fat intake and sugar intake. Let me therefore quote from a recently published book Pathogenesis Of Coronary Artery Disease written by Dr Meyer Friedman, another distinguished worker in this field:

"It is sad, for example, to observe that essentially honourable investigators omit published data (including some of their own data obtained earlier) which refute or call into question their contemporary data and the interpretations they have made of them. It is even sadder to observe how these same observers eagerly and indiscriminately collect studies (no matter how poorly or incompletely performed) supporting their respective hypotheses but peruse with the most "nit-picking" and distrustfuI eye other studies which tend to subvert the interpretive verity of their own. But this is not really a very important cause of our present confusion because only a few investigators indulge in these practices and their foibles are quite well known to their scientific peers. They essentially succeed in misleading only themselves and those physicians and laymen who can not be expected to know of the self-imposed enslavement of these investigators to their respective concepts"

Hmm, Friedman on Keys sounds like Ravnskov on Keys' modern followers.

Plus ça change (plus c'est la même chose)



Willow said...

I remember reading articles by Professor Yudkin - in the 70s, I believe - in which he described sugar as "pure, white and deadly". I've no doubt he was right in that a lot of sugar can be harmful in many ways.

But I'd say these days that salt is a bigger enemy of health for most people. - Pure, white and deadlier still...

Peter said...


I'm not salt-concerned, though I have to admit that I don't consume 20g/d.


Willow said...


It depends on whether you are 'sensitive to salt', have high blood pressure, are overweight, etc. - A very high proportion of people are sensitive to salt these days, often as a result of taking pharmaceutical drugs, more and more of which are always being prescribed.

Zenmurai said...

This should help with your answers, mate.


Willow said...


Thank you so much for that link. What an extremely interesting lecture! I couldn't follow all of it, obviously, but the main points are accessible and very illuminating.

I still believe that salt is deadlier - to people who are sensitive to salt - but clearly it is by no means the only enemy to health.

Unknown said...

true once again--hindsight is 20/20. We can now lay this issue to rest: John Yudkin was 100% right on. Keys was dead, and deadly for so many, wrong!
The truth is most often buried in lies. Tragic...

Unknown said...

Very important to watch "Sugar the bitter truth" Sugar is actually a poison!


Robert said...

I have no idea how much sugar/carbohydrate Ancel Keys had in his own diet, but he lived to be about 100 years old.


Peter said...


Keys looked like he had been dead for some time before the picture was taken, just still breathing.


CarbSane said...

Interesting Jack Lalanne interview:
Part I
Part II

Unknown said...

We are inundated with salt in:
processed, factory cooked and packaged, msg laden, natural flavored enhanced, and preservative corrupted imitation,food.