Neal Barnard is the president of the physicians committee for responsible medicine (PCRM) based in Washington D.C. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine (Barnard Medical Center, n.d.).
On January 6th, 2016, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and other medical doctors threatened legal action against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the removal of cholesterol concerns from their dietary guidelines, claiming the egg board’s financial ties negatively influenced the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans by violating “the Federal Advisory Committee Act which mandates that the advisory committee ‘will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority of any special interest’ (PCRM, 2016a, para. 2). According to files acquired by PCRM under the freedom of information act:
The American Egg Board had directly nominated one individual who was then placed on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee. A second member was actively receiving egg-industry research grants according to industry documents, and two others worked at a university that had requested and received more than 100,000 from the American Egg Board for research aimed at challenging the cholesterol limits (PCRM, 2016a, para. 3).
The recommendations for cholesterol were going to be changed to state “cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern for overconsumption” and that ‘’available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol.” PCRM and other medical doctors who brought about the lawsuit claimed the new guidelines would make it difficult for them to treat patients with heart disease and diabetes. (PCRM, 2016a, para. 4). According to PCRM (2016):
On November 12, 2015, the Physicians Committee fired a shot across the bow in the form of a demand letter to DHHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, putting them on notice that it would litigate if warnings on dietary cholesterol were weakened, and the Physician Committee followed up with a Lawsuit on January 6, 2016. (PCRM, 2016b, para. 5)
With the threat of an impending lawsuit, the USDA and DHHS changed their stance on the cholesterol guidelines and strengthened, not weakened, the warning on cholesterol. According to the final draft of the USDA and DHHS (2015), the recommendations were changed to that of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) guidelines, stating, “as recommended by the IOM, individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible” (p. 32).
After the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines were published, Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, had this to say about the changes: “Cholesterol in eggs, poultry, cheese, and meat contributes to heart attacks and other health risks, we praise the Government for resisting industry pressure to weaken the warnings. It has actually strengthened them”. (PCRM, 2016b, para. 7).
The Lawsuit PCRM and other medical doctors filed can be seen here. http://www.foodpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/Physicians-Committee-USDA-HHS-Lawsuit-1.6.16-2.pdf
Some of Neal Barnard’s work includes dietary modification in patients with type II diabetes, which was funded by the National institute of Health. According to Barnard et al. (2006), “both a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic control; however, the changes were greater in the vegan group” (pg. 1782). This research prompted Neal Barnard to write a book called Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The scientifically proven system for reversing diabetes without drugs.
PCRM also produces ads for billboards, TV commercials, and informational graphics to warn consumers about the links between certain foods and the development/prevention of cancer. Their most recent ad was banned from being played in movie theatres, due to conflicts of interest in which movie theaters were selling processed meat to patrons. This ad was to be played prior to the movie sausage party to warn individuals of their risk of consuming red and processed meat (Barnard, 2016).
The ad can be viewed here
Michelle Castillo of CBS ran a news story on March 14th 2012 about the above billboard that appeared in Chicago, IL. Chicago was chosen because the number of hot dog restaurants rivaled fast food restaurants and PCRM wanted to inform individuals of their risk (Castillo, 2012). This billboard was placed almost 3 years prior to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer branch of the World Health Organization, confirmed in October of 2015 that just 50g of processed meat (three strips of bacon or one hot dog) increases the risk of colorectal cancer by as much as 18% (IARC, 2015).
This photo was taken just off of highway 41 in DePere, WI and caused some controversy in Sept of 2011. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine posted this billboard near Green Bay, WI to warn individuals about the risk associated with consuming cheese and according to Jones (2011) “Wisconsin is the No. 1 cheese producer in the United States” (para. 12).
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also informs individuals of up-to-date research on food’s role in the cause, and prevention, of chronic lifestyle related diseases. These resources are available free of charge. The entire website is user friendly and available for all who are interested in improving their health and wellbeing. They also provide a free online book, Cancer Survivor’s Guide, offering tips on how to reduce the risk of developing cancer by following a low fat whole foods plant-based diet. Recipes are also provided. The Cancer Survivor’s Guide free PDF download can be found here: http://www.pcrm.org/shop/byNealBarnard/cancer-survivors-guide.
The Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine website can be viewed here. http://www.pcrm.org/
Neal Barnard Quotes:
“The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.”
“Exercise is beneficial, and I strongly recommend it. But a lack of exercise is not the primary reason for weight problems, and exercise can never take the place of a healthful diet.”
“Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use… it’s time we looked into holding the meat producers and fast-food outlets legally accountable.”
“The thinnest people on the planet are those who eat the most carbohydrate.”
Books by Neal Barnard
- Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes
- 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart
- Power Foods for the Brain
- The Cheese Trap
- Foods that Cause you to Lose Weight
- Breaking the Food Seduction
- Foods that Fight Pain
- The Cancer Survivor’s Guide
- Turn Off the Fat Genes
- Food for Life
- Nutrition Guide for Clinicians
Barnard, N. D., (n.d.). President – Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C. Retrieved from 09 http://www.pcrm.org/barnard-medical-center/doctors-and-staff
Barnard, N. D., Cohen, J., Jenkins, D. J. A., Turner-McGrievy, G. Glloede, L., Jaster, B., Seidl, K., Green, A. A., Talpers, S., (2006) volume 29 pg. 1777-1783. A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Journal Diabetes Care. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/8/1777.full
Castillo, M. (March 14, 2012). Advocacy group claims hot dogs cause “butt cancer” on Chicago billboard. CBS NEWS. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/advocacy-group-claims-hot-dogs-cause-butt-cancer-on-chicago-billboard/
Jones, M. (August 26, 2011). Cheesehead maker has issue with billboard firm threatens lawsuit over use of its hat on anti-cheese sign. Journal Sentinel Online. Retrieved from http://archive.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/130608538.html
N Barnard. (2016, August 17). Theaters Ban Our ‘Sausage Party’ Cancer Ad. [Web log comment] Retrieved from http://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/theaters-ban-our-sausage-party-cancer-ad
The international Agency Research on cancer, the cancer agency part of the the World Health Organization. (2015). IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. (2016, Jan 6) A. News Release: The Physicians Committee Sues USDA and DHHS, Exposing Industry Corruption in Dietary Guidelines Decision on Cholesterol. Retrieved from: http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/physicians-committee-sues-usda-and-dhhs
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. (2016, Jan 7) B. News Release: The Physicians Committee praises New Dietary Guidelines for Strengthening Cholesterol Warnings, But Demands Investigation into Cholesterol Money Trail. Retrieved from: http://www.pcrm.org/USDA
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015). Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
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