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'What the Health' — Where This Vegan PR Film Went Wrong

According to the sugar industry, sugar is harmless and may even be an important part of a healthy diet. Industry recommendations suggest getting 25 percent of your daily calories from sugar. This, despite research1 showing people who get 25 percent or more of their calories from sugar triple their risk of death from heart disease compared to those who get 7 percent or less of their calories from the sweet stuff.

The sugar industry promotes the myth that saturated fat is to blame for weight gain and ill health, not sugar, along with the thoroughly debunked energy balance theory. Fortunately, some great books have now been written exposing the history and extent of the cover-ups. Two examples are science journalist Gary Taubes’ book, “The Case Against Sugar,” and Marion Nestle’s “Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).”

Which brings us to the topic of today’s article: The documentary “What the Health,”2 which is currently one of the most viewed documentaries on Netflix. Sadly, this film nonchalantly ignores the accumulated evidence against sugar in a misguided effort to promote vegan ideology.

What the Health?

Funded through an Indiegogo campaign,3 this film is supposed to “expose collusion and corruption in government and big business” that is keeping us sick. In reality, it’s a call to veganism, but some of the arguments are so flawed, it might as well be considered a freebie to the sugar industry.

While I agree in principle with recommendations to avoid all processed foods and meats raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), there are nuances with regard to meat consumption that I believe are vitally important if you’re interested in optimal health.

According to the film, the focus on sugar as a contributor to obesity, diabetes and ill health has steered people away from the real culprits, which they claim are meat and animal fat. Again, while I often warn against excessive consumption of animal protein, important details are overlooked in this film. Worse, the suggestion that sugar isn’t a problem is counterproductive to the point of rendering the film useless and laughable in terms of helping people take control of their health and well-being.

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