December 17, 2003

Click here to subscribe to Lowcarbezine!

Order The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook from Amazon.Com
Order 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes from Amazon.Com
Order 500 More Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com

Order The Low-Carb Barbecue Book from Amazon.Com

Order 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com

Order How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet -- And Lost Forty Pounds! from Amazon.Com

Order 500 Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com

The Physician's Committee For Responsible Medicine

Business travel sounds glamorous, but mostly results in watching television in hotel rooms at odd hours. As a result, I end up watching shows on the road that I generally don't catch at home - and I happened to catch not one, but two, appearances by Dr. Neil Barnard, the president of the Physician's Committee For Responsible Medicine. Dr. Barnard was making the rounds of the chat shows to tell us all how terribly dangerous a low carb diet is, and how we'd all better become vegetarians - vegans, no less - post haste, or face dire consequences - heart disease, cancer, kidney damage, etc.

Doc Barnard must have been worrying a few people, because I got a couple of emails asking what I thought of what he had to say. Surely it will come as no surprise to you all that after eight years of the terrific health that has accompanied my low carb diet, I'm distinctly unworried about dire consequences, especially considering that I've recently had blood work showing that my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, liver function, and kidney function are all just fine.

What may come as a surprise, however, is a little information about Dr. Neil Barnard and his committee:

* Dr. Barnard is, indeed, a physician - whose training is in psychiatry, not nutrition, cardiology, oncology, nephrology, or any of the specialties pertaining to the statements he's making. By contrast, the late Dr. Atkins, still Barnard's arch-nemesis from the grave, was an Ivy League educated cardiologist.

* The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine is a front group for the animal rights group PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Dr. Barnard is PETA's staff medical advisor. PETA is opposed to any human interference with animals, up to and including keeping pets. In short, Dr. Barnard's position apparently has as much, if not more, to do with moral convictions as it does with health issues. To give you an idea of how extreme Dr. Barnard's position on the subject of animal food is, here is a quote:

"To give a child animal products is a form of child abuse."

-- from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) president Neal Barnard's 1994 book, Food For Life

That's right. All of you who give your children milk to drink instead of soda or Kool-Aid, or a stick of string cheese instead of chips are abusing your kids, according to Dr. Barnard.

I am very much bothered by the fact that the television shows that had Dr. Barnard for a guest did not state up-front the fact that he has a moral and political axe to grind, and Dr. Barnard did not volunteer the information. This strikes me as dishonest. So does the fact that the PCRM does its level best to obscure the fact that it is an arm of PETA, and more concerned with the animal rights movement than with health.

Perhaps most interesting is the reaction of the American Medical Association. Admitting up front that the AMA was not a huge fan of Dr. Atkins, either, it is still illuminating to read their opinions of Dr. Barnard: and his committee:

"The AMA continues to marvel at how effectively a fringe organization of questionable repute continues to hoodwink the media with a series of questionable research that fails to enhance public health. Instead, it serves only to advance the agenda of activist groups interested in perverting medical science. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is an animal 'rights' organization, and, despite its title, represents less than .5 percent of the total U.S. physician population. Its founder, Dr. Neal Barnard, is also the scientific advisor to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an organization that supports and speaks for the terrorist organization knows as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)."

-- from a September, 1992 censure of PCRM issued by the American Medical Association

"The general approach used by PCRM takes selective data and quotations, often out of context In response to a Resolution passed unanimously at the recent AMA House of Delegates meeting, the American Medical Association calls upon the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to immediately terminate the inappropriate and unethical tactics your organization uses to manipulate public opinion."

-- Letter to PCRM's Neal Barnard, from James Todd, executive vice president of the American Medical Association, July 26, 1990

Keeping in mind that the AMA is troubled mainly by Dr. Barnard's stance on medical testing, not nutrition, it is still clear that Dr. Barnard does not represent mainstream medical thinking in any way. Doc Atkins wasn't exactly mainstream, either, of course, but then, he openly admitted and discussed the fact that he was a maverick - and of course, in the past couple of years a great deal of mainstream medical research has emerged to support his work.

In short, folks, Dr. Barnard is not someone you want to pay a whole lot of attention to. Next time he appears on your television screen, consider switching over to Comedy Central instead. You'll probably learn more.

Posted by HoldTheToast at December 17, 2003 09:34 PM