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China Diet Study

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The China Diet Study


The three major killers in modern society, coronary heart disease, cancer and strokes can all be linked to what people eat and drink.

(Dr Bhetzel)


One of the biggest epidemiological nutritional research studies called The China Diet Study has been going on since the early 1980s and the data collected so far has shown how much a poor diet can undermine our health.  The China Diet Study has been looking at comparisons between the traditional Chinese, plant based diet and the typical western diets.  One of its leaders is Dr T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist at Cornell University in conjunction with Chinese and British researchers. 


This is a huge study and a wealth of valuable data is being generated that will take years to analyse, however the data so far makes very interesting reading.  Dr Chen Junshi from The Chinese Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene and Epidemiologist Dr Richard Peto from Oxford University.


Western medicine has done so much to eradicate many of the infectious type diseases which used to cause so much death and suffering, however they have been replaced by higher levels of chronic health problems that used to be quite rare, such as:


1.      Diabetes

2.      High Blood Pressure

3.      Coronary Artery Disease

4.      Obesity

5.      Cancers


These diseases are the main cause of mortality and morbidity.  The type of diet humans are designed to eat is one based mainly on plant foods, fruits, vegetables, cereals, with low amounts of low fat meat, dairy products.  However as we have become more prosperous our diet has undergone radical change, instead of a mainly plant based diet the bulk of our diet is comprised of fat, refined sugars, animal protein and low amounts of fruits, vegetables, cereals.


Data so far from The China Diet Study has shown that:




The Chinese plant based diet supplies 20% more calories than western diet but westerners are 25% more obese.


Fat Intake


Chinese diet supplies only one-third of the amount of fat western diet contains.  UK diet supplies over 40% of daily calories as fat.  Majority of fat in western diet is hidden in processed foods.  Fat supplies no fibre, vitamins, minerals, just empty calories.  The plant based China diet supplies around 20% of daily calories as fat.


Complex Carbohydrate


Chinese diet supplies twice as much complex carbohydrate as UK diet.




The Chinese plant based diet is low in animal and overall protein than western diet.  We in west consume 33% more protein than China plant based diet.  70% of protein in western diet is animal protein where Chinese plant based diet supplies only 7% of their protein intake is supplied by animal protein.  High animal protein intake thought to be a factor in osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney disease diabetes, heart disease, cancers.  High protein and fat diets can make a person more predisposed to cancers of reproductive organs and breast.  The Chinese peoples plant based diet rarely suffer these cancers.




The level of cholesterol can be a factor in disease. 

Dr T. Colin Campbell said:


So far weve seen that plasma cholesterol is a good predictor of the kinds of diseases people are going to get.  Those with higher cholesterol levels are prone to diseases of affluence cancer, heart disease and diabetes.


Low cholesterol not only reduces risk of heart disease but also protects against cancer of the colon.  In China, mortality rates from colon cancer are lowest where cholesterol levels are lowest.  Overall cholesterol levels in Chinas range from 88 165 mgms per 100 mls blood and are much lower than those in the west.  In USA cholesterol levels range from 155 274 mgms per 100 ml blood.


Dr Campbell said,


Their high cholesterol is our low.


 He went on to say that the data strongly suggests that a major influence on cholesterol levels and disease rates is high consumption of animal foods.




The plant based Chinese diet contains 3 times more dietary fibre than a western diet.  The average fibre intake in China is 33 grams/day.


(Jane E. Brody: Chinas Block Buster Diet Study, The Saturday Evening Post October 1990)


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