Home Ancestral Health Symposium 'The China Study' and 'Forks over Knives', links to critiques

'The China Study' and 'Forks over Knives', links to critiques


This post is in response to questions I’ve been asked – like “From an academic point of view, how does paleo answer the China study type recommendations?”

The China Study has had a number of brilliant critiques, which really provide an answer to this question, far better than I ever could.  So I’ve compiled this in order to point people at these critiques whenever they ask me “What about the China Study?”

You may be aware that various people; researchers, statisticians, and other interested intellects, have taken the data that Colin T Campbell used as the basis for his book “The China Study”, and put it through their own statistical analyses. In many cases have come to different conclusions. The results question the very conclusion – that we should all eat a plant based, animal product free diet.

You can find the data from the China Study here: http://www.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/~china/monograph/chdata.htm

Here is a collation of the posts that (as far as I can see) have been written by those that have looked carefully at the raw data, and what their statistical analyses of it tells us:

Denise Minger from her blog Raw Foods SOS, wowed everyone with her detailed and in depth analysis of the data from the China Study. From her blog:

The China Study

For those of you who’ve arrived here on a quest for China Study information, welcome! I realize that some visitors may be solely interested in China Study posts and not want to wade through other entries in search of them—so make it easier to find what you’re looking for, here are the links to all the posts I have on Raw Food SOS pertaining to T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study.”

The China Study: Fact or Fallacy? (My original critique of “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell.)

Forks Over Knives: Is the Science Legit? (A critique of the science behind “Forks Over Knives,” a documentary heavily featuring Campbell and his work.)

The China Study: A Formal Analysis and Response (A referenced, uber-long, and cleaned-up collection of all my criticisms pertaining to “The China Study”—more academic and less colloquial, for anyone who prefers the former.)

The China Study: My Response to Campbell (My response to Campbell’s first reply to my critique.)

One Year Later: The China Study, Revisited and Re-Bashed (A collection of peer-reviewed studies based on the China Study data that contradict Campbell’s interpretations and claims.)

Tuoli: China’s Mysterious Milk Drinkers (Information on the health of a Chinese county that eats nearly two pounds of dairy, ample fat, and 134 grams of animal protein per day.)

A Closer Look at the China Study: Meat and Disease (Associations the “meat” variable has with various diseases in China.)

A Closer Look at the China Study: Fish and Disease (Associations the “fish” variable has with various diseases in China.)

A Closer Look at the China Study: Eggs and Disease (Associations the “eggs” variable has with various diseases in China.)

A Closer Look at the China Study: Dairy and Disease (Associations the “dairy” variable has with various diseases in China.)

Denise has recently done a critical analysis of the data / studies used to justify the points of view in Forks Over Knives “Forks Over Knives”: Is the Science Legit? (A Review and Critique)

And from Colin T Campbell himself, A response to Denise’s Critique: A Challenge and Response to The China Study and his final response: http://www.tcolincampbell.org/fileadmin/Presentation/finalmingercritique.pdf

And here is Denise in the flesh delivering her talk to the Ancestral Health Symposium: “How to Win an Argument with a Vegetarian” ABSTRACT: Vegetarianism is frequently cited as being a healthier diet than omnivorism. This presentation examines the evidence behind vegetarian and vegan health claims, including the Adventist Health Studies, heart disease studies, and the success of plant-based diets ala Esselstyn and Ornish with treating chronic disease.

SLIDES: slideshare.net/ancestralhealth/ahs-slidesdenise-minger

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/32062337]

Ned Kock a university professor. He is interested in the application of science, statistics, and technology to the understanding of human health and behavior. He blogs about evolution, health, statistics, and technology. Ned has also taken an extensive look at the China Study data and has many posts in The Health Correlator:

The China Study: With a large enough sample, anything is significant

The China Study again: A multivariate analysis suggesting that schistosomiasis rules!

The China Study II: Wheat flour, rice, and cardiovascular disease

Strong causation can exist without any correlation: The strange case of the chain smokers, and a note about diet

The China Study II: A look at mortality in the 35-69 and 70-79 age ranges

The China Study II: Wheat, dietary fat, and mortality

The China Study II: Carbohydrates, fat, calories, insulin, and obesity

The China Study II: Wheat may not be so bad if you eat 221 g or more of animal food daily

The China Study II: Animal protein, wheat, and mortality … there is something odd here!

The China Study II: Gender, mortality, and the mysterious factor X

The China Study II: How gender takes us to the elusive and deadly factor X

From Chris Masterjohn who is currently pursuing a PhD in Nutritional Sciences on his blog Cholesterol and Health, and Weston Price

The Truth About the China Study

Denise Minger Refutes the China Study Once and For All

Denise Minger’s Refutation of Campbell’s “China Study” Generates Continued Debate

Reductionism and Holism Go Hand in Hand

The Biochemical Magic of Raw Milk and Other Raw Foods: Glutathione

The Curious Case of Campbell’s Rats — Does Protein Deficiency Prevent Cancer?

Forks over Knives – A Pictorial Review

From an Amazon discussion: Analyzing the China Study Dataset

This is well worth a look – from the post:

I was surprised to find the actual datasets published on the Web. ( http://www.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/~china/monograph/chdata.htm). The data is in an Excel friendly format so many of us can manipulate the data and see for ourselves what we think it says to us.

My day-job is analyzing hard drive failure statistics that result from usage and stress testing; I get paid to make the problems being studied “go away”. I have also recently had a triple bypass, so here I have applied my skills to something much more personal. I want to know what I should eat to improve my health.

I took a close look at the 1989 dataset because I had read about China’s governmental response to the finding that unenriched bleached wheat flour was causing heart disease (http://www.gainhealth.org/china-flour-fortification-in-the-west-region). As I was aware of the recent addition of folic acid to bread in the US and Canada, I was motivated to check this out for myself. I recommend doing this analysis for yourself (or find somebody who is good at math whom you trust to do it for you).

I ran multiple variable regression analysis against items of interest to me like “All vascular disease” and Stroke; comparing the ability of blood plasma and the diet items to explain heart disease. The following lists are what I found the data to say.

These are lists of the ratio of improvement (-) or harm (+) between the diet low and high values, the confidence of the finding, followed by descriptors of the diet item. For instance, the people who ate the most animal protein had 68.9% less heart disease (at 95% confidence) than those people who ate the least animal protein. The people who ate the most plant protein had 64.9% more heart disease (at 89% confidence) than those people who ate the least plant protein.

My findings are collected into three groupings – Diet Factors, Blood Plasma and Amino-Acids

M059 ALLVASCc mortality ALL VASCULAR DISEASE AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/1,000) (IC : Continue reading

Other interesting blog posts critiquing the China Study and Forks over Knives:

From Paul Jaminet PhD on Perfect Health Diet: Wheat and Obesity: More from the China Study

From Anthony Colpo, author of The Great Cholesterol Con:  The China Study: More Vegan Nonsense!

Forks Over Knives: The Latest Vegan Nonsense Dissected, Debunked and Destroyed

Michael Eades MD author of Protein Power: The China Study vs the China study

Jimmy Moore: Vegan Propaganda Movie ‘Forks Over Knives’ Set To Hit Theaters On May 6, links to videos of Colin T Campbell, and podcast with Denise Minger

And there are more: Richard Nikoley Free the Animal has a round-up of various posts on the topic: The China Study Smack-down Roundup


  1. I have to say, Julianne, thank you, once again—this is an awesome one-stop compilation when looking for critiques on both The China Study and FoN. Well done!

  2. “RAW MILK IS PROBABLY THE REASON” the Tuoli people are an exception to animal protein statistic claimed in Campbell’s book. He probably left it out to minimize confusion since the American people all(99%) drink junk milk.

  3. well i see this bit too late i guess but anyway, i see u posted load’s of links that i could find by myself with google i guess..i wonder. have YOU ever done similar research as china study? didn’t think so but googling trough results that other ppl say and some other ppl say and nobody really doesn’t spend a lifetime trying and experimenting just taking different opinions by different ppl and making conclusions because we think we know something. The man went there, worked and proved his point by examples. Did anybody else? Don’t get me wrong i still eat meat but that’s just because i’m an idiot.
    About milk, well that’s completely stupid. I don’t really understand how someone can think that milk from another animal is good for them. Only humans can be that stupid. Can u imagine that cow drinks human milk? And why grown up human doesn’t drink human milk? Because their body doesn’t need anything from it anymore, so there is no logical reason why would humans have need for cow’s milk either. Nature, God, Mother Earth call it what ever you wanna, gave us all in hands. Be good to nature, take what you NEED, not what you can, and you will leave good healthy life. But nooo we need to have villa’s, pool’s, fancy cars..by the way that denis minger was 22 when she wrote all that crap ur mentioning..i’m sure she’s valuable source

    • That is true, however, I’ve done post grad research, and Denise uses clinical studies and is analytical and, might I say, unbiased in a way that many of doctors and scientists are not.

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