Who is funding Low Carb Downunder?

Pete Evans, Sarah Wilson and some international speakers were involved in the recent series of Low Carb Downunder presentations. It was a very slick exercise. And very expensive, but who footed the bill?

In August and September the Low Carb Downunder road show came to Sydney and Melbourne. I went along to the Sydney presentation and was certainly impressed by the organisation of the event. Great venue, a big audience, big celebrities and an international speaker – the Melbourne program had three!

Pete Evans is quite a performer. He moved confidently around the stage engaging his lay audience with his passion for The Paleo Way of eating and they lapped it up. If you have ever seen one of those American motivational speakers at work and their star struck audiences hanging off every word, it was a bit like that.

But something was not quite right. The usual rhythm of things is that nutrition professors sell nutrition messages and celebrities sell products. So what were these celebrity presentations on nutrition all about?

It looked like market preparation to me, but for what? And who is behind it?

Who signed the cheque?

No sponsor of Low Carb Downunder was mentioned on either the program or at the event itself. With such lavish organisation, big name celebrities and associated public relations the cost of the road show would have been considerable – my guess is about $120,000. So someone wrote a big cheque, but who? If the exercise was altruistic why the secrecy?

A more extensive series of Low Carb Downunder presentations is planned for November. Another big cheque to be signed but still the sponsor remains undisclosed.

At scientific meetings sponsors are always declared, which reinforces my view that the whole exercise has nothing to do with nutrition or health and everything to do with marketing.

Seeing Catalyst in a new light

With such deep pockets those orchestrating this exercise have the sort of reach that nutritionists can only dream of.

Last year, the ABC’s science program Catalyst ran a series of controversial programs with three key messages – sugar is toxic, saturated fat is fine and the whole cholesterol/heart health story is a myth. Is it a coincidence that the content of these programs closely mirrors the agenda of Low Carb Downunder? Maryanne Demasi, the journalist who produced and presented the Catalyst programs, was actually on the Sydney program of Low Carb Downunder but failed to show up on the night.

Those three catalyst programs are now starting to look like an impressive public relations exercise. Unfortunately for the ABC, it came at a considerable cost – the reputation of Catalyst was laid to waste in the process.

Investigative journalism needed

Catalyst let the general public down. Let’s hope that journalists from other media outlets will now take a good look at the celebrity-driven, PR-savvy low carb movement and actually ask some hard questions.

The obvious question about Low Carb Downunder is: who’s funding it?





90 thoughts on “Who is funding Low Carb Downunder?

    • The questions raised here seem to be less about the backers of Low Carb Down Under and more about the protection of those trying to maintain the nutritional rubbish we have been all led to believe for the last 40 years was ‘healthy.’

      The data could not be more clear- a saturated fat diet using grass fed animals is heart and brain healthy, There are NO known wholesome grains (wheat, rye, barley and oats). Eating fruits daily to get a fructose assault has never been part of most humans’ diets.

      The diseases of the modern era are linked directly to the abnormal eating patterns recommended by organizations such as the Heart and Diabetes foundations and who are supported in their mission by the food and Pharma industries. Now, THAT is corruption.
      LCDU has none of that. By the way, Catalyst did not ultimately cause the ABC a black eye – Maryanne Demasi stands tall in this fiasco because all of her programs told the truth. It is the ignorant comments by Drs Norman Swan and Emily Banks that caused the ABC to remove the programs from its website that are destructive. Withholding facts from the public by self appointed Eminences is not scientific nor in the public’s interest! Big Brother indeed!

  1. If this road show Low Carb Downunder is in fact a commercial exercise, would the organisers have a legal obligation to disclose it as such? As in some kind of disclaimer, so that the General public is not being mislead into thinking that the information being presented is medical nutrition therapy? Do we know if they have done this?

    • I don’t know Nerida. If it were an altruistic project you would expect someone to stand up at the beginning of events and say “Low Card Downunder is an non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health of humankind …”. If it were a scientific organisation you would expect declaration of any sponsorships. But we get nothing. So I thought I should ask the question. Regards, Bill

      • Low carb = low cal. That’s why it works. Plain and simple. When you reovme one whole macronutrient from your plate, you reduce your calories by approx 1/3rd. Was nothing to do with food type. You can lose weight eating pasta, or rice, or yams. So long as you run a calorie deficit. I eat lean protein, carbs, fat. I just eat less and I exercise more. I lost 30 lbs in 4 months and kept it off 2 yrs now. Eat from smaller plates. Ur eyes see a full plate, but ur eating less. Go walking too

        • Hi Yusuf. On average Australians eat about 40-45% of their calories in the form of carbohydrate so, yes, if they adopt a low carb diet their calorie intake will probably fall and this will inevitably lead to weight loss.
          The best weight loss diet for any person is the diet they will stick to, so there are many options. Lower calories and time are the only way though . Regards, Bill

  2. Hi Sceptical Nutritionist and Everyone,
    I am the convenor of the recent LowCarbDownunder conferences referred to. For answers to the issues raised see the just updated:
    Is Sarah Wilson right to suggest we should eat less sugar? Is Pete Evans right to suggest we should eat more whole food? Will Maryanne Demasi have the last laugh on the Australian Heart Foundation? (Yes, yes and YES!!)
    Great these issues are being discussed.
    Bring on the debate!
    Rod Tayler

    • Hello Rod. Conventional nutritionists in Australia have been recommending that people eat less sugar and more whole foods for the last three decades. But none has tried to take down the Heart Foundation using media connections. Maryanne Demasi works with the ABC.
      This follows the recent attempt to take down a leading nutritionist at the University of Sydney and another colleague who had the temerity to publish a scientific paper. Interestingly, these researchers were also attacked by the ABC via the Background Briefing program.
      Are you really trying to tell me that Low Carb Downunder is doing this for the good of humankind?
      This is an attack on nutrition science and the methods are deplorable. Regards, Bill

      • Bill,
        What muddles the conventional nutritionists ‘eat less sugar and more whole foods’ message is that they also recommend things like margarine and low Gi sugar which are certainly not whole foods. Similarly the Heart Foundation tick in trying to guide us toward slightly-less-bad for you processed foods is implicitly recommending non whole foods.


        • Hi Pete. Margarine is basically an emulsion of oil and water – it’s like firm salad dressing. It may not be a whole food (neither is coconut oil) but it has more essential nutrients and has a better effect on blood lipids than butter, so it’s a healthier alternative for people who want to spread something on their bread. Not perfect, just better.
          Have you ever seen a scientific paper report adverse health effects from the sort of trans-free margarines we have in Australia? Regards, Bill

          • I believe that margarine is made using Nickel and or Palladium, not to mention that they often add artificial colours in the process. Margarine may basically be an emulsion of oil and water, but that is not all it is.

          • Hello Eiryn. Have you ever seen an analysis of margarine showing traces of nickel or palladium? Tinned fruit has been exposed to metal but that doesn’t mean that the metal is in the food or that the food is bad for health. Regards, Bill

  3. Hi Bill,
    I’m one of the founders of Low Carb Down Under. I’m sorry we did not connect at the Sydney event as I would have been delighted to answer any and all questions. I’m a sceptic like you. My (doctor) father taught me to read and listen broadly and form a view with perspective. That includes buying and reading your The Pro-Active Plan: the ultimate cholesterol-lowering diet – I assume it was sponsored by the manufacturer, which is not hidden. I should also read all the papers you have published on your site. Well, we’re sharing a perspective too. In Pete Evan’s defence, let’s recognise that he is an Australian opinion leader. He isn’t selling heroin. He’s promoting the life skills of healthy cooking and eating. We need more Pete Evans to help get more Australians cooking and eating fresh food. However, I really don’t think we’re “celebrity driven”. Rod and I are hard working (trying to help people get healthy in our own ways) and are doing Low Carb Down Under as a passion. Many of the speakers are back-room researchers who are actually shy.
    In fact we’d welcome your suggestion that “other media outlets will now take a good look… and … actually ask some hard questions.” Feel free to pick up the phone and call me anytime. Ultimately, we’re all trying to help Australians become healthier.

    • Hello Jamie. You are basically saying that your organisation is well intentioned and operating in the interests of population health.
      How come that virtually no nutrition/health organisations in the world agrees with your package of messages, especially the advocacy for saturated fat and the demonisation of unsaturated fat. Why don’t you talk to some of these health authorities rather than attack them?
      You have managed to create a consumer market for coconut oil in Australia where none existed two years ago. Hardly a whole food; hardly the sort of food that humans ate in Paleolithic times. It’s very hard to believe that there is no commercial dimension to your activities.
      The question remains: where’s all the money coming from?
      I guess all will be revealed in time. Regards, Bill

      • Are you suggesting we live in a bubble here in Australia? Coconut Oil has been a popular health food product in the United States for close to a decade. I know because I used to shop at Whole Foods weekly. Countries such as Sweden and South Africa have embraced a low carb lifestyle. Constructive debate is taking place in those countries and it would be wonderful if more of that could take place in Australia. Sadly, I think the way Pete Evans has gone about things, and articles such as this one, are doing more harm than good.

    • Jamie,

      You stated that “Well, we’re sharing a perspective too. In Pete Evan’s defence, let’s recognise that he is an Australian opinion leader. He isn’t selling heroin. He’s promoting the life skills of healthy cooking and eating”.

      The real question is why he feels the need to rubbish others to get his message across? Don;t most other organisations including the DAA and NHF try to promote people eating less junk foods, eating more wholefoods and cooking more.

      The reality is that they disagree with his ‘schtick’, not to mention that calling out nutrition authorities and controversy get him and his products a lot of media attention (which I believe is the real motivation).

      Just out of curiosity and in the interest of full disclosure, are the speakers paid, have their expenses covered or receive any other benefits from lecturing at Low Carb Down Under?

  4. A most unfortunate diatribe just maybe it is a self funding g exercise. Anyway it’s none of your [expletive deleted] business.

  5. As a member of the aforementioned Sydney audience, I take exception with your condescending evaluation of the both the audience and the event.

    You have certainly made it sound like some big production when in truth it was quite underwhelming… “lavish organisation” – I think not! Tickets (you failed to mention that at least part of the funding of the event came from ticket sales?) were not even checked audience members trickled through the doors.

    This was the first time I had heard or seen Pete Evans speak and his showmanship was completely off putting. There was certainly misinformation spread. To suggest that the everyone in the audience (except yours truly, the only educated individual at the event so say you?) “lapped it up” is beyond ignorant.

    The other self involved individual who sells books was also painful to listen to and was far too important to even stay around for the Q&A.

    I did enjoy Professor Phinney’s perspective.

    Suffice to say I think your evaluation of the event was so far from reality I question whether you even attended the event at all!

    The real “obvious question” is – who is funding Bill Shrapnel? Then again, the answer to this is a quick Google search away.

    • Hello Georgie. I was there alright. We agree on some things – yes, misinformation was spread; one speaker was painful to listen too; Pete’s showmanship was off-putting (to me); and both of these speakers dropped the F-bomb during their presentations, which was unfortunate. But the audience was uncritical and the questions were largely from true believers. Those in the audience who actually knew something about nutrition stayed quiet. Like me, I suspect they were there to try to find out what this thing is all about. Regards, Bill

      • I went to “The Paleo Way” in Sydney a few months ago. And was actually really impressed. I’m a scientist and really enjoy science lectures etc and actually didn’t mind that some of the speakers were so polished. Nora Gedgaudas spoke and was not like a showman it was a very intense and dense science lecture, I took lots of notes and then did further study when I got home. I am a ‘true believer’ so I was very excited about it but I didn’t get to my ‘true believing’ through being convinced by a sparkly personality I have done the research and more importantly (for me personally) my health was restored!

  6. Take a look at the latest recipe on the Dietitians Association of Australia Facebook page. Cake – sugar, margarine, sugar… brought to you by Unilever.

    • Hello Jill. For your child’s next birthday party what are you going to offer the kiddies? Fresh meat? I suspect you will offer them a piece of cake. If you aim to make a healthier cake, what ingredients would you include?
      There are lots of little ways of making diets healthier. Strict adherence to a radical diet is not for everyone. Regards, Bill

      • Parents feeding kiddies margarine and sugar and white flour should be clapped in irons…… they are not healthy and the heart Foundation knows this…. soon they will get their comeuppance… If parents want their children to outlive them…. feed them right. Currently it appears this is the first generation of children who may die before their parents thanks to the so called ‘healthy’ nutrition bandied about by ‘accredited dieticians’…..

        • Hello Clare. People who make recommendations about diet tend to fall on a continuum, from pragmatic at one end to dogmatic at the other. I’m definitely at the former end and I suggest that you might be down the latter. My views were shaped by two experiences with people close to my own family in which children were brought up on strict no-sugar diets. In both cases the children over-reacted when they discovered sweet foods at Easter and a birthday party – they absolutely stuffed themselves. Fortunately, both sets of parents shifted down the pragmatic end of the scale a bit.
          All foods have a place, even cake. We are better off teaching our children the role of ‘sometimes’ foods than trying to ban them. Regards, Bill

        • Jenny, I seldom eat cake but I did have a piece at a family celebration at the weekend. Quite appropriate, don’t you think? Regards, Bill

          • Hi Bill, I used to do that too and understand the desire and the pressure to do so. I’m coeliac so my cake would have to be GF. Listening to my body over the last few years has led me to a new way of doing things. In the past I would go to Christmas and my Mum would have bought heaps of GF goodies specifically for me (even though I asked her not to) and I would dutifully eat them and then be sick for a couple of weeks after. So I have changed my approach, I needed to, in order to maintain my health. Not everyone is like me (coeliac, allergic to soy and walnuts, intolerant to heaps of things, bad reaction to alcohol). And I work part time at a school and in the last week of school there were 6 (!!!!) food related events, in the past I would have gone along with it and eaten some food that I wouldn’t normally consume and then suffered. This time I went to 2 events, one I had black tea (no prob) and the other a formal 3 course meal event I had a GF option and I avoided some of the carbs and I had a great time. Many of my colleagues ended that week clutching their bloated tummies and shaking their heads. I’m going to keep doing it my way! SO for me I’d be saying NO to the cake!

  7. with the rates of obesity and diabetes at record levels, anyone with some healthy scepticism would naturally ask if perhaps the conventional dietary guidelines are wrong. The science overwhelmingly shows a low carb diet produces better outcomes for type 2 diabetes and obesity when compared with high carb low fat. At the end of the day if there is substance to the LCHF thing, you won’t be able to stop it from increasingly in popularity. Once one tries it like my wife and I did, it is blatantly self-evident that it makes you feel healthier on a number of levels. You will never be able to take people’s experience away from them. I challenge you to try the diet for a month Bill and then report back.

    • Hello Wesley. If you read my blog you will see that I don’t advocate high carbohydrate diets. In fact, I have been arguing hard for the last two years or so that we need to moderate carbohydrate intake and adopt a more Mediterranean-style diet i.e. replace some of the poor quality carbohydrates in our diet with unsaturated vegetable oils. That’s what the scientific evidence states.
      I have no issue with arguments to lower intake of poor quality carbohydrates. However, I do take issue with recommendations of the low carbers to replace carbs with saturated fats like coconut oil and to avoid unsaturated vegetable oils – this is diametrically opposed to evidence-based advice. Regards, Bill

  8. I am the owner of a health food store. We have been introducing the Paleo way of eating to our customers for about 2 years. Hundreds of customer have now adopted the Paleo lifestyle and the testimonials are unbelievable, weight loss, resolved gut issues, reduction in joint problem etc etc. I have never seen so many conditions resolved by ditching the current dietary guidelines. They eat heaps of saturated fat, low carbs, moderate protein and heaps of vegetables. Many report their doctor is amazed at their test results and are puzzled when they explain what they eat. .

    You have little faith in mankind, people are fed up with the rubbish we have told about what to eat for the last few decades. I think that people like you and DAA etc are frightened of, is that they are listening and changing and they aren’t going back, because they feel great, believe me, this is not some fad, people have told me they will never go back to what they were eating before. They have lost faith in dietary authorities, and doctors and the vested interests behind promoting processed foods.

    • Hello Mike. As I am trained in science I don’t base my recommendations on anecdotes; I base them on scientific studies published in reputable journals. If the Paleo diet is codified, tested in good studies and proven to be beneficial then I will endorse it. But at this stage it’s a fad with a combination of recommendations that are both consistent with good science and contrary to it. Regards, Bill
      PS. The DAA doesn’t develop dietary policy. They usually encourage members to endorse the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

      • From what you are saying the human race was lucky to have survived the last few million years without science to tell us what is healthy to eat!!!!
        Look that the are heaps of Dieticians dropping the guidelines once they do look at the science, I don’t think you are looking too hard, for some reason.

        • No Mike, I wasn’t saying that. But basic nutrition tells us that humans need essential nutrients and that the best way to get sufficient amounts of all essential nutrients is to eat a wide variety of foods. Cutting whole food groups out of diets, such as grains, dairy foods and vegetable oil-based products is a recipe for an unbalanced diet. Regards, Bill

          • surely most people know by now that there is no such creature as vegetable oil?
            Carrot Oil? Cucumber Oil? Cabbage Oil? Broccoli Oil? NOPE… Bill why not give it the correct name of SEED OIL….

            Could you explain what it is exactly we are missing out on by say cutting out grains? Why they are ‘essential” etc…..

          • Grain and dairy varying accounts have been part of our diet mainly last 10,000 years. Vegetable oils (seed oils) the last 100 years. Same again, how did we last millions of years without these ‘important food groups”?

          • Hello Mike. There is no doubt that one reason humans now dominate the planet is our ability to survive on widely differing diets. But just because foods are relatively new to the human diet doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad for health.
            The effects of diet on human health have been studied in depth over the last three decades: dairy is OK – the watery part probably a bit better for us than the fatty part; grains are OK but high fibre/wholegrains are much better than refined grains; vegetable oils are OK but the unsaturated oils (olive, canola, sunflower) are better than saturated oils like coconut oil and palm oil.
            Rather than avoiding whole food groups it’s better to make healthy choices within them. Regards, Bill

        • Just remove the anecdote and put the rest of the post up then please. I forgot to save it. :(
          Nutrition science studies often start with anecdotal success – take Dr Terry Wahls and her own diet success with her MS.
          For my post grad research – I’ve tracked down a number of people with rheumatoid athritis all of whom have had similar anecdotal success with reduction in inflammation on a paleo diet – and I might add clinical changes in antibodies and reductions in medication. I’m looking at commonalities in their diets, this should lead to an intervention pilot study.
          I don’t really understand why no anecdotes? I merely used it to introduce myself.

  9. Bill,
    Good to see that one part of your story is correct:

    “Last year, the ABC’s science program Catalyst ran a series of controversial programs with three key messages –
    [1] sugar is toxic,
    [2] saturated fat is fine and
    [3] the whole [LDL] cholesterol/heart health story is a myth…”

    Spot on, and here’s a sample of the solid evidence for those claims:
    1. [Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada Position Statement on sugar]
    2. [Siri-Tarino et al Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:535-46]
    3. Yes, LDL is an unreliable guide to anything that matters. That’s why there is no mention of LDL-C in standard definitions of Metabolic Syndrome p.9 [Kassi et al. BMC Medicine 2011, 9:48]

    I can’t speak for others but my sense is that, more than anything else, people involved with Low Carb Downunder think that a (very) low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet represents our best chance for reversing longstanding global trends towards obesity and type 2 diabetes, while minimising the risk of heart disease.

    In my opinion, the RCT evidence for that assessment is very strong.

    • Hello Rory
      I noticed you were at the Low Carb Downunder meeting in Sydney. Were you at the Melbourne meeting too? I know I’m prying but who paid for your air fares? I mean, it is unusual for a high powered economist to turn up at a low brow presentation on diet so I assume you are part of the firm.
      You were at another meeting in Sydney at the end of last year, railing against people at the University of Sydney. When we spoke briefly afterwards you said “It’s not personal” by which I understood that it was just business.
      So tell us: what’s the business?
      I assume your fees are substantial. But who pays your invoices? Come on, give us the full story.
      I won’t reply to your comments on blood lipids and health [no external links please]. I am putting the finishing touches on a post that I think deals accurately and honestly with the issues. I’ll put it up this morning. Regards, Bill

      • Hi Bill,

        Thanks for posting my response. I’m happy to respond to your queries on my situation, happy to explain why I’m even here. I started looking at this space in 2011 after reading Gillespie’s “Sweet Poison”. The subsequent elimination of added sugar from my diet quickly – and for me, amazingly – reversed my long and distressing trend towards obesity (peaked at 97kg) and type 2 diabetes. As you have noticed, I’m rather admiring of David Gillespie’s efforts to improve public health.

        Along the way, I stumbled across the University of Sydney’s misinformation regarding sugar on the formal scientific record, and – as you know – I am determined to have that high-profile misinformation retracted. Happily, I’m getting some slow-in-coming satisfaction on that front.

        In 2012, I read Gary Taubes’s profoundly important history of nutrition science – “Good Calories, Bad Calories” – and discovered that the “Australian Paradox” fiasco is just the tip of an iceberg of incompetence in global nutrition “science”, with that iceberg being the main driver of global obesity and type 2 diabetes.

        Right or wrong, that’s my assessment of the situation. That also was the assessment of Dr Maryanne Demasi in those three ABC Catalyst shows that you did/do not like. For the record, I have met Maryanne and I’m also admiring of her efforts to improve public health.

        Yes, I was at Sydney LCDU. Yes, I was at Melbourne LCDU. I was also at FIZZ NZ in Auckland in February. So too, I was at Obesity Australia’s annual conference at ANU in Canberra last November. And I’m all paid-up to go to this year’s OA event at the Charles Perkins Centre on 19-20th of next month. See you there?

        Unfortunately, no-one is funding me. I alone have paid for my various flights, cabs, fees for registration and two nights accommodation in Auckland (Quest, Queen St ~$150pn). I’ve also paid several thousand dollars to purchase 100+ books – by Gillespie, Taubes, Noakes, Tiecholtz, Phinney, Westman, Volek etc – to gift to friends, randoms, doctors, scientists and journos. My excellent website also has cost me several grand over recent years.

        On the expenses I’ve incurred via my hobby in the nutrition space, you now know more than my wife!

        Bill, you wrote: “You [Rory] were at another meeting in Sydney at the end of last year, railing against people at the University of Sydney. When we spoke briefly afterwards you [Rory] said “It’s not personal” by which I [Bill] understood that it was just business”.

        To clarify, I have no business links to LCDU or in the nutrition space. My revenue is zero. Separately, I do own a cattle property and two Akubras, but no cattle.

        When I said to you, “It’s not personal” at that Coca-Cola-funded event, I meant that I’m highly critical of everyone who I think is misinforming the public on nutrition matters. You have links to University of Sydney’s low-GI crew, you have links to the sugar industry and you seem to have had a role in the misinformation that is the Green Pool sugar series, if only the marketing. Again, my concerns are not personal. They are based on what I consider to be the unreliability of information being pumped into the public debate.

        My association with LCDU is merely as an enthusiastic and admiring audience member. My interest is in educating myself to help my family and friends to minimise our risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and – later on – Alzheimer’s.

        Given what I now think I know for sure, naturally I’m also keen to nudge the NHMRC, the Heart Foundation, the Dietitians Association of Australia and the Australian Diabetes Council away from their non-science-based low-fat dietary recommendations.

        Bill, my interest is in improved public health. No doubt we’ll be crossing swords further in coming years. I hope you’re up for a long, hard slog, ’cause I reckon you guys had it far too easy – until Gillespie showed up – for far too long.


        • Rory, thanks for providing such a fulsome response. Nevertheless, I still can’t make sense of large pool of funds that Low Carb Downunder has at its disposal. You are a man of means; are you staking them?
          A domain check reveals the Low Carb Downunder website is registered to Healthy Inspirations Franchising Pty Ltd. A franchise can be purchased for $30K.The website is http://www.healthyinspirations.com.au/faq/.
          What’s this all about? Is Low Carb Downunder essentially setting up a weight loss business? And then maybe a food business to go with it? Like Weight Watchers?
          Everything about Low Carb Downunder suggests it’s commercially driven. Please convince me it’s not.
          Regards, Bill

          • Bill,

            Staking them? Not quite! I think I paid $70 to attend LCDU Melbourne. The price for Sydney was ~$30 I think. On “Healthy Inspirations Franchising Pty Ltd”, I promise I do not know. Maybe ask Rod Tayler.

            I’d be surprised to find that anyone on stage here: http://lowcarbdownunder.com.au/, is paid anything beyond flight and hotel expenses, if that. I would perform at LCDU for free – not that anyone has asked! – and I assume the LCDU crew does exactly that.

            I would be thrilled, however, if it turns out that someone is making money providing reliable and effective LCHF advice that assists the fat and sick – and their families – to escape their unnecessary miseries. For decades, it’s been entities damaging public health who have enjoyed fat financial returns.

            In fact, I would be upset if Robert Atkins, Gary Taubes, David Gillespie et al did not make money from their books, as they literally are life-savers/extenders for millions of those once trapped in what seemed an inescapable fat-and-sick rut.

            Accordingly, I think it’s a tragedy that those two ABC Catalyst shows were retracted – for no good reason – and remain retracted, despite a formal investigation having confirmed them to be factually correct.

          • Thanks again Rory. But we haven’t got to the bottom of Low Carb Downunder and its associates.
            • We have an organisation with lots of money, running expensive road shows with international speakers.
            • Their approach is essentially commercial – driven by celebrities, plenty of PR, low on science.
            • They challenge science with anecdotes.
            • They attack individual nutrition scientists and public health organisations with rare ferocity.
            • People within the ABC (both TV and radio) are supporting this movement, providing plenty of PR, challenging science with anecdotes and attacking individual scientists and public health organisations.
            • It looks to all the world that Low Carb Downunder and associates are trying to turn healthy eating advice on its head, creating new marketing opportunities for commodities and products (like coconut oil) that were hard to market when food manufacturers and the community were focussed on conventional nutrition science
            • Low Carb Downunder is associated with “Healthy Inspirations Franchising Pty Ltd” – a weight loss franchise – but we don’t know what this means
            We didn’t get very far. I suspect all will be revealed in time. Regards, Bill

    • Mr Robertson, you say, of Low Carbohydrate High Fat diets, that ”the RCT evidence for that assessment is very strong.” Would you please take us through a critical review of that evidence?

  10. Thank you Bill for battling to be the voice of reason amongst the hype. Celebrity promotion of simplistic messages is becoming more and more popular – it sells books and TV shows, and increases the popularity and exposure of the celebs. If they were only promoting a rational whole foods diet with balance and no extremes, who would flock to the show or the bookstore?

    Finally, I was disappointe to see Pete Evans as the mascot for an anti-FLuoridation campaign group. My polite disagreement there has already gained me a ban.

  11. Please Bill talk nutrients not food groups! You are embarrassing yourself! Health/medical professionals who talk about ‘food groups’ are insulting our intelligence the NHRMC (who determine the Australian dietary guidelines etc) rescinded their document on Core Food Groups because it is a poor tool for analysis and education regarding nutrition. Talk about NUTRIENTS, macro and micro nutrients!! What Pete Evans is promoting is a balanced and nutrient dense lifestyle. This way of eating is promoted by many doctors and nutritionists because it reverses and prevents disease!

    • Jenny, there are lots of ways of discussing nutrition – essential nutrients, non-essential nutrients (like saturated fat), foods, food groups, diets, characteristics of diets, like glycaemic load, etc etc. Let’s discuss it all. Regards, Bill

  12. On a positive note! Great to hear from you Bill it has been months!!! For those of us interested in the state of ‘nutritional thinking’ in Australia it is interesting to hear your 2 cents worth. Glad you are back!!! Have you been busy or on holidays?

  13. I must agree with Bill that the low-carb movement obviously has industry support and that someone does not want that support known; the reason being that much of the low-carb dietary ‘science’ is either flawed, myth, hubris, and even dangerous — and demonstrably so.
    As for Catalyst, I stopped watching after that deplorable recent debacle on saturated fat and cholesterol. Their reputation is perhaps irrevocably damaged.

    • Hello Paul
      Unfortunately, we haven’t heard the last of the ABC’s Catalyst program. They will be running a special episode on low-carb diets later this year, and Maryanne Demasi is again the producer. And Stephen Phinney, Tim Noakes and Pete Evans (all affiliated with Low Carb Downunder) have been interviewed for it. One credible authority also interviewed for the program told me that they “had a pre-conceived agenda”. What a surprise!
      I was interviewed by Demasi for the first of last year’s Catalyst programs (on sugar). It was obvious that the story would be pure Lustig. I urged her to at least read the Institute of Medicine report or the EFSA report and attempt some semblance of balance. Silly me.
      I can’t understand why the ABC would weigh in behind this movement. I was also interviewed for the ABC’s Background Briefing program on Rory’s dispute with the University of Sydney by Wendy Carlisle. Again, very one-sided.
      But why? What’s in it for the ABC? Regards, Bill

        • Hi Sue. I admire the ABC too and use it almost exclusively as a source of news and current affairs. But I just can’t understand why those who run the ABC allow it to be used as the communications arm of Low Carb Downunder. Regards, Bill

  14. Invited speaker- “Living with diabetes for more than 50 years”
    R. Raab, Past Vice-President (2000-2006), International Diabetes Federation http://www.idf.org
    Open Forum, International Diabetes Federation Congress, Melb, Dec 2013
    Living with diabetes for more than 50 years

    What is the “secret” of living with Type 1 for over 55 years? Is there a “secret”?
    Yes, there is a “secret” to living a long life with Type 1 diabetes and without complications.
    I was diagnosed in 1957 at age 6. I had the typical program of urine testing, animal insulin and then in 1980, self- blood glucose monitoring, and then the use of the “human” insulins. I started regular exercise at age 16 and this has also been very important as has been a “disciplined life”.
    In my view, the 1980s were a particularly dark period in the evolution of diabetes dietary recommendations. Why? The change to the high CHO recommendations have been a disaster for diabetes treatment and outcomes and have also been a major contributing cause of the diabetes epidemic. Diabetes is essentially a disorder of CHO metabolism/ intolerance. The high CHO recommendations make excellent moment to moment blood glucose impossible. It requires high insulin doses and it is also impossible to measure CHO accurately or predict accurately the absorption profiles of the CHO and the insulins.
    In the early 1990s I ‘saw the light’ and implemented a low carbohydrate regime under professional guidance. There is a great deal of interest and implementation by people with diabetes of this regime; but the mainstream advice by diabetes organisations and health professionals does not reflect this, even though basic physiology and evidenced-based research does. The result is that many people with diabetes miss out.
    Essentially, a low carbohydrate regime means much less insulin is needed and this results in vastly improved moment to moment blood glucose levels. At the same time hypos, and particularly serious hypos decrease. My HbA1c improved dramatically and overall I felt much better and have been able to maintain this. I discuss this approach in the article I was invited to publish in IDF Diabetes Voice at [external link]
    In summary, the current recommendations overlook a fundamental reality: blood glucose levels in people with diabetes vary with increasing unpredictability as the consumption of carbohydrate increases. A low intake of carbohydrates requires smaller amounts of insulin, resulting in increased predictability and much smaller variation in blood glucose levels.

    • Hello Ron. You will note from this blog that I do not recommend high carbohydrate diets and in fact I have been arguing for moderation of carbohydrate intake and for more emphasis on carbohydrate quality when choosing carbohydrate-rich foods for several years.
      You would be well aware that control of blood glucose is not the only goal of diet therapy for people with diabetes. Macrovascular complications of diabetes (heart disease and stroke) are largely driven by other factors, notably blood lipids.
      As I mentioned in my latest post, the effects of low carb diets on blood lipids are largely determined by the choice of fat recommended to replace carbohydrate. The CSIRO trial I referenced replaced carbohydrate with unsaturated fats and the results were good. However, many low carb advocates recommend replacing carbohydrate with saturated fat, which has no logical basis in nutrition science and will result in higher lipid-related risk than the CSIRO approach.
      Surely you would recommend against such an approach? Regards, Bill

  15. Bill,

    You wrote: “many low carb advocates recommend replacing carbohydrate with saturated fat, which has no logical basis in nutrition science and will result in higher lipid-related risk…”

    In fact, removing carbohydrate and adding fat – going on a low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet – is exactly what low-carbers advocate for the simple reason that random-controlled trials – RCT, said to be “the gold standard of science” – have show time after time after time that such an approach reverses obesity and type 2 diabetes, normalises blood pressure and minimises the risk of CVD: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19082851 ; http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(14)00332-3/abstract

    By the way, it’s way past time for the nutrition profession to acknowledge that the saturated fat in meat, eggs, dairy, etc has been exonerated: “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD” http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535 ; http://www.artandscienceoflowcarb.com/the-sad-saga-of-saturated-fat/

    • Hello Rory.
      Saturated fat has not been exonerated. Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat lowers heart disease risk – it’s the most proven thing in the nutritional prevention of chronic disease.
      I’m not disputing that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrate has little or no effect on heart disease risk. I’ve been saying that loudly and often since 2009. If you adopt a low fat by replacing carbs with saturated fat you can expect some benefits on blood glucose, but not on heart disease risk.
      If you adopt a low fat diet by replacing carbs with unsaturated fat, especially polyunsaturated fat (see CSIRO trial referred in my latest post), you get more benefit.
      Why adopt the second best approach? Regards, Bill

  16. “It looks to all the world that Low Carb Downunder and associates are trying to turn healthy eating advice on its head, creating new marketing opportunities for commodities and products (like coconut oil) that were hard to market when food manufacturers and the community were focused on conventional nutrition science”

    Bill! Pot. Kettle. Black. It is naive and erroneous to think that ‘conventional nutritional science’ has not largely been shaped in recent times by marketing, lobbying and research funded by the likes of Unilever, Kelloggs etc. – many of which you have worked with – with the pure intention of “creating new marketing opportunities for commodities and products.”

    This corporate funding of nutritional science model is flawed and unfortunately for us Farties, it makes hugely important areas such as defining our basic healthy diet extremely difficult. We live in a world where we have brands like McDonald’s associated with the Heart Foundation tick program for a $300,000 fee. Talk about muddying the waters.

    Given the largely unfettered influence they have had since the dawn of marketing and advertising and the state of the nutritional health of the average person today and the ascendancy of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes I would like to argue that they [corporations and their funded scientists] have dropped the ball somewhat!

    You may believe passionately about your arguments and ideas, but your ties to industry make them far less credible to many people. Margarine and seed oils were originally brought to market because it they were highly profitable – not because they would improve our health and that butter was perceived as a problem. And now we have to endure a farcical back-and-forth as both camps, saturated and unsaturated, duke it out in Internet forums and Facebook. The only loser is the consumer, who clearly can be none the wiser.

    My advice to anyone reading this: eat butter in moderation. Reason: if it is 50:50 that one is going to kill me and I can’t tell which, even though I have Ph. D. myself, I’d rather eat the one that tastes good.

    • Hello Darren.
      If you look up the history you will find that polyunsaturated margarines came about when the World Health Organisation approached a European margarine company in about 1960 and asked if it could create a margarine based on polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which would lower blood cholesterol when used in place of butter. Prior to that I think margarines were made mainly from animal fat.
      You argue that conventional nutrition science has been shaped by big companies. Let’s take the margarine story a little further. When the Heart Foundation launched its Tick program in 1989 it said to the margarine industry that its unsaturated margarines would only be approved if they had 1% salt, instead of the usual 2%. The industry then introduced many reduced-salt margarines.
      About 1995, the Heart Foundation told the margarine industry that it would henceforth consider trans fats together with saturated fat as cholesterol raising fats, and lowered the permitted combined total to 28% of fatty acids, compared to the then standard of about 33%. The industry had to reformulate its products to retain the Tick.
      Later, when the scientific consensus was that trans fats were worse than saturated fats, the Heart Foundation required all margarines with the Tick to be virtually free of trans fats.
      All of these changes required of industry were driven by the Heart Foundation, based on its interpretation of the evolving science.
      Who shaped whose policy?
      Regards, Bill

  17. Bill, to answer you question seriously, can you kindly provide the best 2 or 3 papers that you base your statement that “saturated fat has no logical basis in nutrition science”.

    I will then pass them on and there hopefully will then be a meaningful scientific debate.


    • Hi Ron
      What I said was that “… many low carb advocates recommend replacing carbohydrate with saturated fat, which has no logical basis in nutrition science and will result in higher lipid-related risk than the CSIRO approach.”
      The key reference for the first part of the sentence is Jakobsen MU et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1425-32. The key reference for the second part is Mensink R et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1146-55.
      Regards, Bill

  18. Bill, not everyone takes a paycheque or a kickback or endorses products or organisations, that they might not even believe in, for some kind of financial gain. Some people just want to give back and help others. Low carb downunder is a group of professionals and everyday people from all walks of life that actually care about the health of Australians. These are successful people in their own right and are promoting the latest scientific and medical findings that relate to modern diseases and nutrition. They are trying to inform and help people. I know…there must be a catch right, who’s funding them, what to they stand to gain, it’s just so crazy right? Maybe you need to ask yourself why your attitude towards this appears so misguided?

    • Hello Sally
      Picking up on the points I made to Rory, in relation to Low Carb Downunder and its associates:
      • We have an organisation with lots of money, running expensive road shows with international speakers.
      • Their approach is essentially commercial – driven by celebrities, plenty of PR, low on science.
      • They challenge science with anecdotes.
      • They attack individual nutrition scientists and public health organisations with rare ferocity.
      • Low Carb Downunder is associated with “Healthy Inspirations Franchising Pty Ltd” – a weight loss franchise.
      Why do I think this organisation is commercially driven? Experience. I’ve seen public relations agencies working with companies and the antics they get up to. But I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The targeting of certain nutrition scientists and public health organisations is the worse aspect. Really bad. I’ve worked with lots of food companies in the last 19 years but none has even contemplated trying to take down certain experts or expert organisations.
      And you say the motive is “promoting the latest scientific and medical findings that relate to modern diseases and nutrition” and “trying to inform and help people”? Please excuse my disbelief. Regards, Bill

  19. Bill,
    I was hoping to read your reply to Ron Raab’s request for the best 2 or 3 scientific papers on which you base your statement that “saturated fat has no logical basis in nutritional science”.
    My mother reliably informed me that I was breast fed for the first three years of my life (1948 to1951) and she made no mention of it having been fortified with poly unsaturated seed oils before I consumed it. So why then should I now embrace the notion that commercially manufactured seed oils should be more beneficial to human health than the saturated fatty acids in mothers milk? Or any other sources of saturated fat for that matter.
    Kind Regards,

    • Hi John
      Is it appropriate to look at breast milk as a template for a healthy diet later in life? A cow consumes bovine milk for the first 6-12 months of its life and thereafter eats grass. What does the high saturated fat content of bovine milk tell us about the appropriateness of grass as the staple food of adult cows?
      Not much.
      When weighing up the relative merits of saturated and polyunsaturated fats for adult humans we have to look at scientific studies. The randomised controlled trials, prospective cohort studies, mechanistic studies and animal studies all indicate that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat is beneficial for cardiovascular health. That’s why all leading health authorities recommend it, or the more general advice to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat (polys + monos). Regards, Bill

      • I agree that optimal baby food is not necessarily the same as optimal adult food.

        I am not in any LCHF camp. I think it would very difficult for most people to meet nutrient needs adequately by such means (adequate micronutrients, as well as the carbohydrates themselves). I have read a good many anecdotes of people who seemed to get benefit from low carb diets in the short term (eg 3-18 mths), but got worsened health in the longer term (often including reduced metabolism, as predicted by Dr Atkins). I suspect that there are many studies showing short term apparently beneficial changes in some particular risk markers, and in some symptoms. I doubt that there are rigorous long term studies showing LCHF to be beneficial over moderate or high carb diets that meet other nutritional needs for protein, minerals and vitamins. None-the-less, I can imagine that there might be individual exceptions where long term lowish carb may be useful, if their carbohydrate metabolism is already irrevocably deranged.

        But I am not convinced that the evidence supports (poly- or mono-) unsaturated fats over saturated fats.
        In fact, one of the many difficulties I see in a LCHF diet is that it is difficult to avoid excessive unsaturated fats on a high fat diet, even if you mostly eat relatively saturated fat.

        • Hello Kari. Every authoritative health organisation in the world favours unsaturated fats over saturated fat. What is the source or your doubt?? Regards, Bill

  20. Is it just me or do many of the problems Bill has with the low-carb crowd and Pete Evans, got more to do with feeling hurt that nobody is listening to ‘expert’ nutritionists anymore than what the actual science is telling us?

  21. I very much appreciated the constructive dialogues of 2014, and was amused by some of the less constructive inputs. Such an entertaining year in nutrition science will be hard to follow…
    I for one am preparing a tasty bowl of non-GMO popcorn, gently roasted with local organic cold pressed virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of Murray River salt and homegrown rosemary. Roll on 2015, positive exchanges and good health for all.

    • Hello Simon. I’m not surprised by this. When those controversial Catalyst programs went to air it was obvious to me that there was a commercial interest driving it along. These programs had all the tell-tale signs. It had to be an industry producing a lot of saturated fat, which boils down to one of four major industries – dairy, meat, palm oil and coconut oil.
      I actually put it directly to dairy industry representatives that they could be behind it, but they said no.
      The meat industry is a bit more responsible than this (in Australia) and I imagined that the coconut oil industry was too fragmented to mount such a sophisticated public relation exercise. So I pointed the finger at the palm oil industry, but they put their hands up and said ‘not us’.
      There is no doubt that the dairy people have been quietly pushing the issue along. But to my surprise, most of the push seems to be coming from coconut oil interests. You will have noticed that the ‘saturated fat is OK message’ is also paired with the ‘eat less carbohydrate’ message which is also paired with ‘eat more coconut oil’. A cluster of messages from the same group of people.
      It’s commerce, not nutrition science. Regards, Bill

  22. Hi Simon. Dairy Australia funded Gary Taubes visit to Australia a couple of years ago. Not sure whether Big Dairy has funded Taubes’ work though. It is tempting to think that the same force is pushing both Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig along. They seem to hold each other in high regard (they quote each other); there are commonalities to their stories; and neither has a career in nutrition science constraining their opinions. Hmmm.
    Regards, Bill

  23. The principals named in http://lowcarbdownunder.com.au/about-us-contact/ do not appear to have research qualifications in the area of diet. I wonder what reputable, peer reviewed, randomly selected large sample studies using control groups have been undertaken to establish the low carb, high fat and protein recommendations of this group. If such studies have been done, why would this group not refer to them? Why did Dr. Demasi (who, we understand, has a PhD) not outline them in her program? Was it because she under pressure to file her copy by some deadline?

    Simply bashing established diet guidelines of the Heart Foundation and Diabetes Australia by assertions unsupported by well researched evidence, is just not good enough.

    • Let’s face it Kevo, most of the people making dietary recommendations these days don’t have relevant qualifications. Mind you, they all seem to have good noses for business. Regards, Bill

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