comments_image Comments

Is the Popular 'Paleo Diet' a Bunch of Baloney?

The Paleo diet might be more successful in generating profit for its proponents than producing health for its followers.

Continued from previous page


First of all, this means that vegetarians are no healthier than meat-eaters, but it also means that they are no less healthy.

However, Cordain neglects to mention the sentences that precede what he quotes. These read, “Mortality from ischemic heart disease was 24% lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians… Further categorization of diets showed that, in comparison with regular meat eaters, mortality from ischemic heart disease was 20% lower in occasional meat eaters, 34% lower in people who ate fish but not meat, 34% lower in lactoovovegetarians, and 26% lower in vegans.”

In other words, Cordain is selectively quoting this study’s findings to give a false impression of the results. The study found that vegetarians are 24 percent less likely to die of heart disease than their meat-eating counterparts, and no more or less likely to die of anything else.

A second, more recent study he cites also found no differences in mortality between vegetarians and meat-eaters. Again, he quotes from it selectively, noting that “Within the study, mortality from circulatory diseases and all causes is not significantly different between vegetarians and meat-eaters,” leaving off the rest of the sentence: “but the study is not large enough to exclude small or moderate differences for specific causes of death, and more research on this topic is required.”

Yet Cordain says, “In fact, if the truth be known, your lifelong dietary deprivations will not prolong your lifespan but rather will produce multiple nutrient deficiencies that are associated with numerous health problems and illnesses. If you have forced plant-based diets upon your children, or unborn fetus they will also suffer.”

Long story short, while many aspects of the paleo diet are uncontroversial and beneficial, like increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, switching to pasture-raised meat, and cutting out processed foods, the overall premise of the diet as well as some of its key components appear based on pseudoscience and unsubstantiated claims. But, you might notice that many of the most popular, well-known paleo diet Websites sell books, diet plans and memberships. It appears that this diet might be more successful in generating profit for its proponents than producing health for its followers.

Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of "Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It."

See more stories tagged with: