Welcome to our review of the ‘What The Health’ documentary. In our review we will take a look at the key findings of studies and claims by physicians who were interviewed for the documentary and give our opinion if ‘What The Health’ is worth your time!
The documentary was created in 2017 by filmmaker Kip Anderson and directed by Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix, which gives the documentary some credibility regarding its quality and entertainment value.
What makes a good documentary? I guess that depends what you want out of it.
Do you want entertainment, shocking facts and conspiracy theories? Or do you want a non-biased viewpoint looking at both sides of an argument?
We feel this documentary, despite being intriguing and shocking, does not give the full story.
Summary of What The Health?
The documentary looks into the causes of weight related diseases such as diabetes and cancer, interviewing physicians and medical experts on the reasons for these diseases.
It highlights that many studies find a link between eating meat, and weight related diseases and tries to dispel the ‘myth’ that sugar is the cause of diabetes and obesity.
Kip Anderson questions why the American Health Organisation and other health charities do not publish the findings of the World Health Organisation’s studies on their websites and often give contradictory advice regarding what is healthy to eat.
This raises the question whether there is a conspiracy theory in place. The filmmaker discover that large food companies have been paying for studies that give favourable results towards meat and dairy consumption.
The documentary then questions whether we can trust any of the dietary advice given by the national health associations, suggesting that they have been paid off by large food companies.
The Findings of What The Health
He says that in the USA 1 in 3 medicare dollars is spent treating people with diabetes. 1 in 10 total healthcare dollars spent on people with diabetes so this is clearly a major problem. In the next 25 years 1 out of every 3 Americans will have diabetes!
The World Health Organisation looked at 800 studies from 10 different countries and finds a direct link between cancer and processed meat such as bacon and sausage.
The report concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
The World Health Organisation classifies processed meat as a Group 1 Carcinogen, which is the same group as cigarettes, asbestos and plutonium with red meat being classed as a group 2 carcinogen!
After doing his research, Kip Anderson discovers that this research regarding processed meat has been around for over 50 years, and wonders why he remained ignorant of the findings.
He visits the American Health Organisation website and is shocked to find none of this information available, and even finds that on their recommended foods list they include some group 1 carcinogen meats.
A shocking statistic is revealed that two thirds of adults are now overweight or obese in the USA.
The filmmaker interviews Dr. Neal Barnard, an author and Clinical Researcher who discusses the cause of diabetes.
He stressed that diabetes is not caused by sugar or a high carbohydrate diet but actually from a diet that builds up the amount of fat in the blood. This causes fat in the blood to block the absorption of sugar into the cells.
Weight Loss Surgeon from The Davis Clinic Dr. Garth Davis discusses the results of a study that showed carbohydrate consumption was inversely related to diabetes, where the more carbs consumed then the less people were diagnosed with diabetes.
The study did find that meat was strongly correlated with diabetes.
A Harvard study found that having 1 serving of meat a day increased the risk of diabetes by 51%.
What The Health has many interviews with physicians and cardiac experts who are all giving evidence that supports the link between diabetes, cancer and meat.
The American Cancer Society encourages people to switch from eating processed and red meat, to fish and chicken.
However the documentary discusses a study where carcinogens were found in chicken and argues that if you’re selling chicken, especially in restaurants then people have a right to be warned.
A Harvard University study found that men with prostate cancer who had a diet high in chicken increased their risk of the disease progressing by 4 times.
Criticism of What The Health
There is overwhelming evidence found in documentary that supports the link between eating processed meat and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiac problems. However there are major flaws to the message it is trying to send.
The documentary is clearly pro vegan, trying to promote the vegan lifestyle by criticising any diet that contains meat or animal products. There are also many studies that show the benefits of eating meat, giving our bodies a rich supply of protein that is essential as part of a healthy diet.
What The Health does not discuss any of the benefits of meat or animal products, and even talks about the high level of cholesterol found in egg yolk. There are studies that show egg yolks, despite the cholesterol, are actually rich in important nutrients that benefit the body.
What The Health is an interesting documentary that highlights some startling facts around the state of our health in the USA and the western world.
There is no hiding from the fact that we are in an obesity and diabetes epidemic which is clearly related to our diets. The documentary really makes you think about your food choice and makes you question the reliability of the evidence supporting the nutritional information.
What The Health is clearly biased towards a vegan lifestyle and goes to great lengths to highlight the link between meat consumption and cancer. It does fail to give a balanced view around the benefits of a balanced diet and the nutrients available through meat.
If you want a documentary that is a real eye opener and makes you question your diet choice, then What The Health is worth a watch!