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Dean Michael Ornish (born July 16, 1953) is an American physician, researcher, speaker, president and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, as well as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He is known for his promotion of what he says are healthy diets, particularly vegetarianism.
Ornish, a native of Dallas, Texas, is a graduate of Dallas's Hillcrest High School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in Humanities from the University of Texas at Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address. He earned his M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine, was a Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and completed a medical internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (1981–1984).
Ornish is known for his lifestyle-driven approach to the control of coronary artery disease (CAD) and other chronic diseases. He promotes lifestyle changes including a whole foods, plant-based diet, smoking cessation, moderate exercise, stress management techniques including yoga and meditation, and psychosocial support.
He has been a physician consultant to former President Bill Clinton since 1993, when Ornish was first asked by Hillary Clinton to consult with the chefs at The White House, Camp David, and Air Force One to cook more healthfully. In 2010, after the former President's cardiac bypass grafts became clogged, Ornish met with him and encouraged him to follow a mostly plant-based diet, because moderate changes in diet were not sufficient to stop the progression of his heart disease, and he agreed. In contrast to Esselstyn, Ornish recommends the consumption of fish oil supplements and does not follow a strict vegetarian diet, allowing for the consumption of occasional animal products.
In March 2015, The New York Times published an article by Ornish critical of diets high in animal fats and proteins. Science and health writer Melinda Wenner Moyer responded to Ornish in Scientific American; in it, she criticized Ornish's research and dietary recommendations, saying he used what she considered to be misleading statistics. Her article elicited a lengthy response from Ornish, who defended his position by citing a number of research studies, saying that she was mistaken regarding the statistics he had cited, and identifying serious flaws in the studies she said conflicted with his claims. In reply, Moyer wrote another article critical of Ornish's arguments, concluding: "Ornish’s diet would probably be an improvement on the current American diet—if people could actually follow it long-term. But his claims about the dangers of saturated fat and red meat go beyond the science and in some cases contradict it."(links to the article and previous replies)
- "Preventive Medicine Research Institute". 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- Philip J Tuso, MD; Mohamed H Ismail, MD; Benjamin P Ha, MD; Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. "Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets." The Permanente Journal (Kaiser Permanente). 2013 Spring; 17(2):61-66.
- Sherwell, Philip. "Bill Clinton's new diet: nothing but beans, vegetables and fruit to combat heart disease", The Daily Telegraph, October 3, 2010.
- Caldwell Esselstyn and Dean Ornish Explain Healthy Way for Bill Clinton's Dramatic Weight Loss. CNN. September 22, 2010.
- Wenner Moyer, Melinda; Ornish, Dean (June 1, 2015). "Why Almost Everything Dean Ornish Says about Nutrition Is Wrong. UPDATED: With Dean Ornish's Response". Scientific American. Retrieved 7 Aug 2015.
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