OBESITY-More China Study Conclusions


Prior to the start of the China study phase of his research, Colin Campbell expected to find a country that suffered from malnutrition, insufficient calories and unable to feed itself. He was surprised to find that the Chinese generally consumed 30% more calories than Americans and that even allowing for a more active rural society their average body weight was 20% lower. Colin Campbell’s research indicates that provided we are not restricting our calorie intake, which is virtually impossible over an extended time frame, those of us who consume a high fat, high protein diet retain more calories than we need and that we store these calories as fat, in our muscle fiber similar to marbling in beef animals, and in more obvious places like around our waist, our butt, and midsection. Basically the Chinese high complex carbohydrate diet with little meat, dairy, and virtually no refined carbohydrates as in processed foods i.e. sodas, crackers, cookies, pizza, chips and etc. keeps them lean along with their use of the bicycle to get to work. Also their rate of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases associated with affluent societies are infinitesimal. As they become more affluent and more urbanized they will lose these advantages. When a Burger King, MacDonald’s, or a pizza store appears on every corner they will have become the same unhealthy society as the US.



8 Responses to “OBESITY-More China Study Conclusions”

  1. Donald Kerstetter Says:

    This comment was sent as an e-mail by Walter Willett of Harvard University School of public Health.

    Don…..Colin believes this is the cause of everything. While there are many problems due to high consumption of meat and dairy, there is abundant evidence that this is not the reason for our obesity epidemic. The evidence is much stronger that refined starch and sugar are the primary contributors.


  2. Donald Kerstetter Says:

    This comment came by e-mail from Fred Kirschenmann.
    Hi Don—unfortunately the issue is a bit more complicated than just refraining from eating meat. I encourage all to read Simon Fairlie’s new book, Meat: The Benign Extravagance. Published in the UK but soon to be re-issued by Chelsea Green Publishers. Fairlie explores these issues from a landscape health perspective and does a good job of helping us all understand some of the complexities involved. Worth the read.


  3. Donald Kerstetter Says:

    Colin Campbell did not directly associate eating meat with obesity as he did with cancer and heart disease. He said that the secret to losing weight is a whole grain plant based diet. His opinion came from the China portion of the study. In effect he said that obesity did not exist in rural societies who ate plant based food and had a reasonable amount of exercise. He did not associate obesity directly with animal protein as he did with cancer.

  4. Donald Kerstetter Says:

    The following comment was received from Robert Lawrence of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
    I am familiar with Colin Campbell’s China Study and have hosted Colin at the Bloomberg School of Public Health on two occasions to discuss his work. I think the epidemiologic association he found between high levels of consumption of animal products (meat, eggs, and dairy) and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers has been validated by more recent publications from the Nurses’ Health Study at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the comparison of life expectancy and disease burden among Seventh Day Adventists, and others. I think the association points to amounts of saturated fats rather than protein with contributions from nitrosamines in cured meats and hydrocarbons produced by grilling. The Nurses’ Health Study does suggest that there is something in red meat that is more unhealthy than poultry but the design of the study limits our interpretations to epidemiologic associations rather than causal pathways.
    I hope this helps.

  5. Donald Kerstetter Says:

    The following comment was received fro Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health re; The China Study
    I certainly agree with the point about the adverse environmental effects of our current ag system, and the adverse effects on human health.

    However, it is magical thinking that we would have a society that is free from all the diseases that you describe, but we could greatly reduce the rates by not smoking, better diets, and more physical activity. However, the optimal diet, or environmental situation, does not have to be completely free of animal products, but should move in the direction of being more plant based. E.g., there is room in a healthy food production system of same pasture cropping and fish raising. Processing is also a complex issue; surely hydrogenated oils and refined grains have been a disaster for health, but some processing is necessary for digestion, and also for preservation as we can’t produce a year round supply of food locally in the north east, especially at the current population levels. What we need is smart processing that is aimed at optimizing both health and environmental impacts…..fortunately these are not mutually exclusive.

  6. Donald Kerstetter Says:

    This e-mail comment is from Catherine Alspach a regular contributor

    Growth is, of course, a problem. However, pollution by farms is far worse. Population growth in general, not just on the Shore, is the problem, and agriculture responds by producing mass quantities of food for all of those people to eat (including the feed for the animals we eat). The nutrient overload from these farms is what is killing the Bay. Population is a huge contributor as well, but farming wins hands down.
    My take on obesity is a combination of “super size it” and a culture consisting of people who don’t feel they have to take responsibility for their actions. Food is cheap and the attitude is “I’ll eat it if I want to, and don’t tell me otherwise, even if it is for my own good.”

  7. kerstis Says:

    the following comment was received by e-mail from Tom Horton

    re farm pollution: it’s a biggie, but I think it’s a fallacy to suppose the scope and intensity of ag is unrelated to the number of people who must be fed, even though the connection is not so direct as nutrient runoff from an acre of corn. my point is you cannot disconnect growth, economic and population, from any of our impacts, ag, sewage, air pollution, etc. ecosystems don’t work that way and neither does their restoration. tom horton

  8. kerstis Says:

    The following was received by e-mail from Katherine Munson
    In 2008, Tom Horton wrote a paper funded by the Abell Foundation
    regarding population and the Chesapeake Bay. I believe population
    growth is definitely a factor related to landscape health–it is
    something we don’t want to talk about however.


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