What the Health

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What the Health
Movie poster with the text, "The Health Film That Health Organizations Don't Want You To See. What the Health: from the creators of the award winning film 'Cowspiracy' www.WhatTheHealthFilm.com"
Movie poster for What the Health
Directed by
  • Kip Andersen
  • Keegan Kuhn
Produced by
  • Kip Andersen
  • Keegan Kuhn
Written by
  • Kip Andersen
  • Keegan Kuhn
Music by
  • Kip Andersen
  • Keegan Kuhn
  • Fernando Arce
Cinematography Keegan Kuhn
Edited by
  • Kip Andersen
  • Keegan Kuhn
  • Ali Tabrizi (assistant)
Distributed by A.U.M. Films & Media
Release date
  • March 7, 2017 (2017-03-07) (New York)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English

What the Health is a 2017 documentary film which critiques the health impact of meat and dairy products consumption, and questions the practices of the leading health and pharmaceutical organizations. Its primary purpose is to advocate for a plant-based diet.

The documentary has been highly criticized by a number of medical doctors,[1][2] nutritionists,[3][4][5] and investigative journalists[6][7] for what they describe as confusing causation with correlation, cherry picking science studies, using biased sources, distorting study findings, and using "weak-to-non-existent data".

Synopsis[edit]

Advertised as "The Health Film That Health Organizations Don't Want You To See", the film follows Kip Andersen as he interviews physicians and other individuals regarding diet and health. Andersen is also shown attempting to contact representatives of various health organizations, but comes away dissatisfied with their responses. Through other interviews he examines the alleged connection between the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as various health organizations. The synopsis is that serious health problems are a consequence of consuming meat and dairy products, and that a conspiracy exists to cover this up.[8][9]

Production[edit]

What the Health was written, produced, and directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the production team for the documentary Cowspiracy.[10]

What the Health was funded via an Indiegogo campaign in March 2016,[11] raising more than $235,000.[12] The film was released globally on Vimeo on March 16, 2017[13], and screenings licensed through Tugg Inc.[14]

Featured individuals[edit]

The following individuals were featured in the film, in order of appearance:[15]

Reception[edit]

The documentary has drawn criticism from many, including scientific skeptics, concerned with its misrepresentation of the facts:

  • On July 3, 2017, medical doctor and founder of Turntable Health, Zubin Damania, acting in his ZDoggMD persona, reviewed What the Health on his YouTube channel. Damania agreed with the documentary's assertion that a diet heavy in processed food was associated with negative health effects[16]:0:50 and that the Food and Drug Administration sometimes offered "stupid nutrition recommendations" regarding recommending a uniform solution for everyone.[16]:9:35 However, he also commented in detail on what he characterized as frequent confirmation bias and cherry picking of selected data, as well as the oversimplification of complex health issues and rampant misinformation which he observed in the documentary,[16]:5:40 he also highlighted what he saw as the ridiculous claim made of "institutionalized racism" on the part of the dairy industry.[16]:9:00 Damania concluded in exasperation: "that was the stupidest [expletive] thing I've ever seen... I feel like I've lost [expletive] brain cells".[16]
  • Joel Khan, a cardiologist featured in the film, responded to ZDoggMD's video via a Medium article titled "Why ZDoggMD and His Toilet Humor Are Best Flushed and Forgotten".[17] Medical doctor Garth Davis, who was featured in the film, addressed ZDogg's criticism via his official Facebook page, referring to the EPIC and Adventist Health Studies as well as other sources to reiterate that "meat consumption is strongly correlated with diabetes".[18]
  • On July 11, 2017, medical doctor Harriet Hall, known as the SkepDoc, reviewed the documentary on Science-Based Medicine. Her opinion was summarized as follows: "'What the Health' espouses the fairy tale that all major diseases... can be prevented and cured by eliminating meat and dairy from the diet. It is a blatant polemic for veganism, biased and misleading, and is not a reliable source of scientific information." At the end of her article she concludes by asserting positive aspects of a plant based diet with "There are undisputed health advantages to a plant-based diet..." and "We as a society should eat more plant foods..." but counterpoints this with "...the evidence is insufficient to recommend that everyone adopt a vegan diet" and "we needn’t entirely reject all animal foods". Finally, she recommends moderation in all things.[19]
  • On 20 July 2017, emeritus professor in nutrition Martijn Katan from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam called the film "propaganda", which exaggerates the health risks of meat, eggs and dairy, and rather dangerously claims veganism prevents or cures just about any disease, like cancer or diabetes. However, he stressed that everyone should eat less meat than the population currently does on average, and that going completely vegan can be a healthy lifestyle if you make sure you get all nutrients you need (though this is hard to do for young children, for whom he did not recommend a vegan diet) and it's also good for the environment.[20]
  • In a review of the film by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz on DietDoctor.com, Teicholz praised the filmmakers' skills of persuasion, but concluded that the film's claims are not backed by scientific evidence.[21]
  • Sarah Berry, Lifestyle Health Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald read the documentary website after her friend sent her a link to it. According to Berry, "What the Health does make some valid points including concerns about the influence of Big Food on dietary recommendations and about poor farming practices, which can be both inhumane and bad for the planet." adding that "The makers cherry-pick science, use biased sources, distort study findings and use "weak-to-non-existent data..." Berry quoted Dr. Joanna McMillan as saying that "To me it's the usual product of those who are filmmakers and not nutrition scientists or trained in any aspect of medicine or science, therefore not trained or qualified to make sense of scientific research."[22]

Book[edit]

A companion book of the same name was released February 2017, it was authored by Eunice Wong, who is married to journalist Chris Hedges.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zubin Damania MD. "A Doctor Watches “What The Health”". ZDoggMD. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  2. ^ Hall MD, Harriet (11 July 2017). "What the Health: A Movie with an Agenda". Science-Based Medicine. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. 
  3. ^ Messina MPH, RD, Virginia. "A Vegan Dietitian Reviews “What the Health”". Vegan.com. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  4. ^ Penner RD. Jessica. "what the health review – the good, the bad, and the ugly". Smart Nutrition. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  5. ^ Susie Burrell (July 21, 2017). "Nutritionist Susie Burrell reviews Netflix's new documentary What The Health". news.com.au. 
  6. ^ Julia Belluz (July 25, 2017). "Debunking What the Health, the buzzy new documentary that wants you to be vegan: The film on Netflix mischaracterizes what we know about food and disease.". Vox. 
  7. ^ "'What the Health' Review: Health Claims Backed by No Solid Evidence - Diet Doctor". 18 July 2017. 
  8. ^ Charles Mandel (February 8, 2016). "DiCaprio-backed Cowspiracy directors find new conspiracy to milk". 
  9. ^ Michael D'Estries (February 11, 2016). "The guys behind 'Cowspiracy' are back to tackle personal health". Mother Nature Network. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  10. ^ Jackie Day (January 23, 2016). "Cowspiracy Film Makers Announce NEW film: What the Health!". My Vegan Journal. 
  11. ^ "What the Health". Indiegogo. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  12. ^ Anna Starostinetskaya (April 15, 2016). "Vegan Filmmakers Raise Money to Qualify for Oscars". VegNews. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Watch What the Health Online". Vimeo On Demand. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  14. ^ "What the Health". Tugg.com. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  15. ^ "About the film". www.whatthehealthfilm.com. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Damania, Zubin. "A Doctor Watches "What The Health"". Youtube.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017. ; note that expletives were censored with beeps in Damania's review.
  17. ^ Kahn, Joel (2017-07-06). "Why ZDoggMD and His Toilet Humor Are Best Flushed and Forgotten". Medium. Retrieved 2017-07-14. 
  18. ^ "Dr. Garth Davis". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2017-07-14. 
  19. ^ Hall, Harriet. "What the Health: A Movie with an Agenda". Sciencebasedmedicine.org. Science Based Medicine. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  20. ^ "Aflevering 139". RTL Late Night (in Dutch). RTL 4. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  21. ^ Nina Teicholz (July 18, 2017). "'What the Health' Review: Health Claims Backed by No Solid Evidence". Diet Doctor. 
  22. ^ Berry, Sarah (20 July 2017). "What the Health: Netflix documentary trades on 'alternative facts' about veganism" – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  23. ^ Hedges, Chris (9 July 2017). "Eating Our Way to Disease". Truthdig. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 

External links[edit]