Cornell Nutrition Scientist Responds to BBC’s “Clean Eating” Documentary

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Dr. T. Colin Campbell reacts to a recent BBC "Horizon" documentary.

We are now at a junction as to what is to be the future of medical and health care. For BBC to ignore this junction speaks very poorly of their own biases and possible allegiances. - Dr. T. Colin Campbell

A recent BBC "Horizon" television program featuring a Cornell University nutrition scientist faces opposition by online supporters of two scholars interviewed for the program, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Cornell University Professor Emeritus in Nutritional Biochemistry and Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal Program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

The BBC Two “Horizon” episode included an interview with Dr. Campbell, who, prior to the interview, was led to believe that he was participating in an in-depth documentary covering the topics of nutrition, healthy eating, and a prominent body of academic research. Instead, discussion of his prolific research was edited by the “Horizon” staff into what many feel is a misrepresentation of this work in order to provide support for the documentary team's preconceived, corporate friendly beliefs about such topics.

In the fall of 2016, "Horizon" host Dr. Giles Yeo and a BBC "Horizon" production crew traveled to the United States to interview Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn at Esselstyn’s residence. However, Dr. Esselstyn's interview was omitted and Campbell was unaware that his interviews would be used as part of an attempt to tarnish this research and health message. The true nature of the program was discovered only after the program broadcast on Jan. 19, 2017 in the United Kingdom. BBC Two aired the "Horizon" episode without the courtesy of permitting either doctor to view a final edited version, or by alerting either doctor of the show's broadcast date. They were also shocked to learn that the title of the episode is "Clean Eating – The Dirty Truth," and is presented as an expose about the effects of social media and "fad" diets.

In addition to Dr. Esselstyn, three of Dr. Esselstyn's cardiac patients were interviewed—yet these interviews also did not appear in the broadcast. These patients told remarkable, articulate accounts of having turned around their life-threatening cardiovascular illnesses by implementing Dr. Esselstyn’s clinical instructions and adhering to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet.

“We are now at a junction as to what is to be the future of medical and health care. For BBC to ignore this junction speaks very poorly of their own biases and possible allegiances,” said Dr. Campbell, coauthor of “The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health,” one of the most comprehensive studies of health and nutrition ever conducted and recognized by The New York Times as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” and “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition,” both appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

“Our hospitality and research have been rejected by the BBC,” said Dr. Esselstyn, New York Times Best-Selling author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” “[The BBC] never thanked us, and have dishonored themselves, while misleading the public." Dr. Esselstyn hosted the BBC at his residence and organized patient interviews for the "Horizon" program.

The active online community has been in an uproar over the program’s inaccurate portrayal of the merits of a whole food, plant-based diet, with some advocates stating in comments on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube that they submitted formal complaints on the BBC website. Since the original television broadcast, many have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns and directly question the motivations of Dr. Yeo and the BBC. A growing number of Twitter users have rallied around the #HorizonCleanEating hashtag, originally created by the "Horizon" program.

An official response by the BBC stated that, “As with all BBC programmes this film was edited in line with BBC Guidelines, and accurately reflects the views of Prof Campbell that he expressed in the interview he conducted with the BBC.”

Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn also took an active role in the online discussion by publishing responses to the BBC regarding the documentary, available on the Center for Nutrition Studies’ website. To date, these articles have been shared over 5,000 times on Facebook with expansive commentary. One Facebook user wrote, “The writers claim that his science is unproven; yet they fail to analyze real evidence based data of WFPB eating on the body and they fail to read and/or comprehend, the extensive empirical evidence performed by Dr. Campbell and his team over many years.”

“Gone are the days of angina, diabetes, arthritis, neuropathy in my feet, high blood pressure, 12 of the 13 daily medications, sugar cravings, and weight issues,” said Patricia Slimbarski, one of Dr. Esselstyn’s patients interviewed for the documentary. Slimbarski had type II diabetes and severe heart disease and achieved remarkable success after following a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. “I have lost at least 100 lbs from what I was for most of my life.” Slimbarski’s doctor was amazed by her ongoing progress and prompted her to notify the Cleveland Clinic media, resulting in the airing of Slimbarski’s story on local television. On March 2016 her story was shown on “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt from New York City.

Slimbarski remarked, “My life has completely transformed since I have adopted this whole food, plant-based lifestyle.”

“Horizon: Clean Eating – The Dirty Truth” -
Dr. T. Colin Campbell's Response to BBC -
Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.'s Response to BBC -

ABOUT the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies:
The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Ithaca, NY, home of Cornell University. The Center was established to advocate Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s life changing research findings with the world through a variety of resources including a robust website with articles, recipes, a monthly newsletter and more. Since 2009 their online Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition education program has empowered thousands of individuals to understand and implement the “live a whole life” philosophy in a broad variety of endeavours.


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