Health

 

Q&A with T. Colin Campbell PdD, Author of The China Study

nytimes.com | TARA PARKER-POPE | 01/08/11

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Six years ago a small Texas publisher released an obscure book written by a father-son research team. The work, based on a series of studies conducted in rural China and Taiwan, challenged the conventional wisdom about health and nutrition by espousing the benefits of a plant-based diet.

To everyone's surprise, the book, called "The China Study," has since sold 500,000 copies, making it one of the country's best-selling nutrition titles. The book focuses on the knowledge gained from the China Study, a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine that showed high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those who ate primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.

Last fall, former President Bill Clinton even cited the book in explaining how he lost 24 pounds by converting to a plant-based diet in hopes of improving his heart health. The president gave up dairy, switching to almond milk, and says he lives primarily on beans and other legumes, vegetables and fruit, although he will, on rare occasions, eat fish.

Recently, I spoke with T. Colin Campbell, a co-author of the book and professor emeritus at Cornell University, about the success of the book, the research behind it, and why he thinks the nation's health woes can be solved by plant-based eating.

Here's our conversation.

Q. How did you end up writing this book?

A. I have been in the field for a long time and had a major research program at Cornell. We published a lot of research over the years. My program had a good reputation. I'd finally gotten to a point where we'd discovered a lot of things that were very exciting, things that were provocative. Finally I sat down to write the book, to tell my story.

Q. What was so unusual about your story?

A. In the beginning of my career I was teaching nutrition in a very classical sense. Nutrient by nutrient. That's the way we did research, that's the way I taught it. I came to believe, after doing the work we did in the Philippines and China, that there was a very different world of understanding nutrition. I ended up with a view now that is almost diametrically opposed to what I had when I started my career.

Read the whole story here.



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