Continued from The China Study, Part 1 – The Connection Between Nutrition and Disease, by Christopher Daniels
According to its author T. Colin Campbell, in order to fully appreciate the importance of the China Study it is essential to understand the nature of the rural Chinese Diet. In America, approximately 15% of our calories are protein-based, while 80% of this comes from animal foods (12% net). In rural China, 10% of calories are from protein and only 10% of this is from animal foods (1% net). Generally speaking, Chinese diets were overall higher in calories, fiber, iron, antioxidants and vitamin c, and lower in fat, protein and animal products than American diets.
When Campbell cross-referenced his data with the Chinese Cancer Atlas, a geographical study of cancer rates commissioned by Premier Zhou Enlai, who was dying of bladder cancer in the 1970’s, he found disease to form two typical groups: Diseases of Affluence, common to urban cities, include cancer, diabetes and heart disease; Diseases of Poverty, common to agricultural rural areas, include digestive disturbances, pneumonia, infections and parasites, among others.
This information caused Campbell to make a direct link between diseases of affluence and the common Western diet, high in animal fat and protein, but he also found that while the least active Chinese consumed an average of 30% more calories than average Americans, their body weight was 20% lower. He attributes this to homeostatic mechanisms, where the body uses excess calories either to fuel metabolism and maintain core body temperature, or store the extra energy as fat.
According to Campbell, the China Study conclusively proved that diets high in plant foods and low in animal fat and protein help to prevent obesity and most affluent diseases. He goes on to recommend a mostly vegetarian diet to his readers. Unfortunately, it is this conclusion that have many experts in health and nutrition criticizing his work and calling into question his representation of the study’s scientific facts.
According to Denise Minger, who tore apart many of his most important statistical claims in a massive critique called The China Study – Fact or Fallacy, instead of representing the hard facts contained in the original epidemiological monograph, Campbell draws many of his conclusions from his personal vegetarian belief system.
Instead of focusing on the dissimilarities of the Chinese and Western diets, which are not as scientifically clear-cut as Campbell makes them seem, Denise studied their areas of convergence: the shared lack of refined carbohydrates, the absence of refined sweeteners and hydrogenated oils and the consumption of nutritionally dense fare rather than empty calories. This seems to be the consensus of the China Study’s critics: whole, unprocessed foods, both animal and plant, when consumed in their natural state, help to support the health and well-being of those who consume them.
Christopher Daniels is Executive Vice-President of Greens Plus. He studied Holistic Nutrition at the Clayton College of Natural Health and currently directs Superfood Research and Product Development.
The information above is based on the book The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, and is presented for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.