True Health Initiative Rapid Media Response
The report issued by the Annals paper instructed people to continue their current intake of both red and processed meat, despite their own systematic reviews and meta analyses showing that red and processed meat were linked to increased disease risk and in opposition to accepted research and recommendations international health organizations. Seeing the reports as a threat to public health, THI rapidly mobilized to counter these confusing and inaccurate claims.
In five days, THI worked with our incredible Council of Directors, and network of Membership Organizations to organize and orchestrate a communications response designed to deflate sensationalized headlines, redirect the narrative away from a “plant versus meat” debate and towards a focus on the studies themselves, including the methodological flaws and call to attention the fact that there is more consensus than discord and that inaccurate claims and hyped up headlines are a public health problem.
As expected, the red meat reports caught public attention with a mass media storm. Any while there was sensationalized reporting, and inaccurate representations of the date- the True Health Initiative Response was Effective. Within hours headlines highlighted the study’s flaws and the health communities’s concentrated dissent from the claims made.
Some examples of the THI effect:
“It’s the most egregious abuse of data I’ve ever seen,” says Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was among the signers of the letter. “There are just layers and layers of problems.,”
“It leads back to this misconception that nutrition is hard and confusing, that we don’t know how to eat, that doctors can’t agree,” says Jennifer Lutz, executive director of True Health Initiative. “We do know the best diet for human health and also the planet
A separate group of physicians and public health experts from the True Health Initiative, an organization aimed at “fighting fake facts,” wrote a collective letter pleading the authors not to publish the paper “for the sake of public understanding and public health.”
Johnston previously authored a study, also published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, that challenged the quality of the evidence behind the recommendations to limit sugar. That paper, published online in 2016, was funded by the International Life Sciences Institute, a nonprofit group funded by large food and beverage companies that has come under intense scrutiny for its role in shaping food policy.
““As a member, along with my son and colleague, Ocean Robbins, of True Health Initiative (THI), I’m seeking to correct the record on this dangerous development.”- John Robbins
“Why would you make a ‘weak’ recommendation about eating red and processed meat?” asked Stanford School of Medicine nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner. “I’m completely flabbergasted. I’m also really worried about how dangerous this is.”
In an attempt to address the issue, nutrition researchers recently developed a different methodological approach to evaluating their work. Called Hierarchies of Evidence Applied to Lifestyle Medicine, or HEALM, the approach borrows tools used by other major organizations, such as the USDA, the Community Preventive Services Task Force, and the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. The HEALM tool was just announced in August, and will need to be used and evaluated.
New York Daily News: The Truth About Meat and Health: Don’t be Confused by Misleading Reports by THI Director, Jennifer Lutz
The CDC reports that 6 out of 10 Americans suffer from chronic illness, 80% of which is preventable with proper diet and exercise, according to the World Health Organization. Our food is killing us, and these notions that we simply don’t know what to eat, and can’t trust the science are bullets in the gun.