Nina Teicholz

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Nina Teicholz

Nina Teicholz is a journalist who became an advocate opposed to the mainstream nutritional principle that saturated fat is unhealthy and should be minimized in the American diet.

Education and early life[edit]

Nina Teicholz grew up in North Berkeley, California.[1]

She earned a degree in American Studies at Stanford University, and completed her master's in Latin American Studies at Oxford University.[2][3]


Teicholz worked as a reporter for National Public Radio[4] and became a freelancer, contributing to publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gourmet, The New Yorker, The Economist, Salon, and Men's Health.[2]

She said that she became interested in dietary fats while doing a series of stories investigating food for Gourmet, and was assigned a story on trans fat that was published in 2004.[5] Her 2014 book, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, traced the history of US diet guidelines; in the book she discussed the science behind the guidelines and the influence of industry lobbying on them, and also questioned the emphasis on avoiding saturated fat. She advised readers to "eat butter; drink milk whole, and feed it to the whole family. Stock up on creamy cheeses, offal, and sausage, and yes, bacon".[6][7] The book made The New York Times Best Seller list that year,[8] and was named one of the Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2014 by The Wall Street Journal[9] and one of the year's best science books by The Economist.[10] The book was criticized by nutritionists including Marion Nestle.[11][12]

Teicholz authored an opinion piece with similar themes in The Wall Street Journal in October 2014 that caught the attention of hedge fund founder John Arnold, who recruited her to join the efforts funded through his Laura and John Arnold Foundation to fight obesity, namely through the Nutrition Science Initiative, which does research, the Action Now Initiative, a lobbying group, and the Nutrition Coalition, which is aimed at improving dietary guidelines.[13]

In February 2015, the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released its report, written to provide a foundation for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and The New York Times published an op-ed by Teicholz criticizing the committee and its work.[14] The Arnold Foundation funded further work by Teicholz on the DGAC report, which was published in the British Medical Journal in September 2015.[13][15] In that article, Teicholz continued the themes of her book and her February op-ed, and wrote that the DGAC showed bias against fat and meat and did not use all the available evidence, and that members had undisclosed conflicts of interest.[11][16] The BMJ circulated a preprint of the article with a press release, and Teicholz' claims were widely covered in the media.[13][16][17][18]

Teicholz' claims were harshly criticized by the DGAC, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and others, including a petition signed by 180 scientists, and they called for the BMJ to retract the article or issue corrections.[11][13][16][19][20] The BMJ issued a correction in October 2015 and another in December 2016, the latter with a statement that after an independent review of the paper, it had decided not to retract it.[21][22][23][24]

Meanwhile, the Arnold Foundation had been pressing for Congressional hearings about the DGAC report and attempted to block the release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans; its lobbying group arranged meetings for Teicholz with members of Congress and White House staff.[11][13] Teicholz and the Foundation were criticized at the time for being allies of the meat and dairy industries in their lobbying and other public relations efforts to maintain high levels of meat and dairy consumption by US consumers.[25][26]

Teicholz' advocacy has been criticized by Marion Nestle for making strong claims about the benefits of a low carb, high fat diet that go beyond what the science can support;[11] Nestle wrote of Teicholz' advocacy: "It does little to foster the health of the public to make nutrition science appear more controversial than it really is."[14]

Teicholz is an advocate of beef consumption.[27] Beef industry leader Amanda Radke has written in Beef Daily that "Today's best beef advocates wear a variety of hats [...] like Nina Teicholz or Gary Taubes who turn against conventional health advice to promote diets rich in animal fats and proteins".[27]

In 2017, Salim Yusuf stated that Teicholz "shook up the nutrition world but she got it right",[28] a statement for which he was immediately and broadly criticized, as he had been for prior statements outside the mainstream of nutrition science.[29]

Selected works[edit]

  • Billings, J.; Teicholz, N. (1 November 1990). "Uninsured patients in District of Columbia hospitals". Health Affairs. 9 (4): 158–165. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.9.4.158.
  • "Nina Teicholz Reports On The Avon Ladies Of The Amazon". NPR. June 20, 1996.
  • Teicholz, Nina (22 October 1998). "Library/Web Sites for Women; Offerings That Include Both Fluff and Finance". The New York Times.
  • Teicholz, Nina (29 March 1999). "Talk of the Town: Table Talk". The New Yorker.
  • Teicholz, Nina (17 July 2000). "When drugs take a holiday". Salon.
  • Teicholz, Nina (June 2004). "Heart Breaker". Gourmet Magazine.
  • Teicholz, Nina (16 April 2006). "Op-Ed: Nuggets of Death". The New York Times.
  • Teicholz, Nina (10 October 2007). "What if Bad Fat is Actually Good for You?". Men's Health.
  • Teicholz, Nina (2014). The big fat surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet (First hardcover ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1451624427.
  • Teicholz, Nina (June 2, 2014). "How Americans Got Red Meat Wrong". The Atlantic.
  • Teicholz, Nina (28 October 2014). "Op-Ed: The Last Anti-Fat Crusaders". Wall Street Journal.
  • Teicholz, Nina (20 February 2015). "Op-Ed: The Government's Bad Diet Advice". The New York Times.
  • Teicholz, Nina (23 July 2017). "Op-ed: Don't believe the American Heart Assn. — butter, steak and coconut oil aren't likely to kill you". Los Angeles Times.


  1. ^ Duggan, Tara (January 11, 2017). "Fat finds favor on U.S. tables again". San Francisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ a b Nina Teicholz in Contemporary Authors Online. Gale, 2015. Accessed 18 Feb. 2018.
  3. ^ "Journalist Nina Teicholz: In the world of nutrition, a bulldozer for truth". Diet Doctor. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  4. ^ Glastris, Kukula (4 January 2015). "Meat Puppets". Washington Monthly.
  5. ^ Ward, Tricia; Teicholz, Nina (February 9, 2015). "An Interview With The Big Fat Surprise Author Nina Teicholz". Medscape.
  6. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (20 July 2014). "Stone Soup". The New Yorker.
  7. ^ "The case for eating steak and cream". The Economist. 31 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Food and Diet Books - Best Sellers". New York Times. 8 June 2014.
  9. ^ Russell, Anna; Thompson, Stuart A. (December 12, 2014). "Best Books of 2014: A Compilation". The Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ "Books of the Year: Page turners". The Economist. December 4, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d e Nestle, Marion (28 September 2015). "Never a dull moment: the BMJ's attack on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report". Food Politics.
  12. ^ Labos, Christopher (March 2, 2015). "Listen to the doctor: Too much fat is still bad for you". CBC News.
  13. ^ a b c d e Purdy, Chase; Bottemiller Evich, Helena (7 October 2015). "The money behind the fight over healthy eating". Politico.
  14. ^ a b Nestle, Marion (23 February 2015). "Dietary guidelines shouldn't be this controversial". Food Politics.
  15. ^ Teicholz, N (23 September 2015). "The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?". BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 351: h4962. doi:10.1136/bmj.h4962. PMID 26400973.
  16. ^ a b c Duhaime-Ross, Arielle (September 23, 2015). "Medical journal's bogus investigation could derail better dietary guidelines". The Verge. Follow up: Duhaime-Ross, Arielle (September 28, 2015). "Medical journal will 'clarify' its bogus investigation of US food committee". The Verge.
  17. ^ Apple, Sam (14 October 2015). "What the Government's Dietary Guidelines May Get Wrong". The New Yorker.
  18. ^ Sifferlin, Alexandra (September 23, 2015). "Here's What's Wrong With the U.S. Dietary Guidelines". Time.
  19. ^ Wilde, Parke (26 September 2015). "British Medical Journal (BMJ) gives low-carb journalist Nina Teicholz an outlet to blast the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC)". U.S. Food Policy.
  20. ^ Apple, Sam (22 January 2017). "John Arnold Made a Fortune at Enron. Now He's Declared War on Bad Science". Wired.
  21. ^ "BMJ won't retract controversial dietary guidelines article, says author | Retraction Watch". Retraction Watch. 23 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Corrections: The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?". BMJ. 351: h5686. 23 October 2015. doi:10.1136/bmj.h5686. PMID 26500345.
  23. ^ "Corrections: The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?". BMJ. 355: i6061. 2 December 2016. doi:10.1136/bmj.i6061. PMID 27913380.
  24. ^ "Press release: Independent experts find no grounds for retraction of The BMJ article on dietary guidelines" (PDF). BMJ. 2 December 2016.
  25. ^ Shanker, Deena. "The Political Clout of the Meat Industry". The Atlantic.
  26. ^ Picard, Joe (20 October 2015). "Coalition is full of baloney on nutrition guidelines". TheHill.
  27. ^ a b Radke A (2 December 2018). "Cowboy Ninja & Beef Checkoff create rancher fitness program". Beef Daily. Informa.
  28. ^ "Top Cardiologist Blasts Nutrition Guidelines". 2017-02-27. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  29. ^ Phend, Crystal (2 March 2017). "Fat Wars: Diet Docs Have Salim Yusuf in the Cross Hairs". MedPage Today.

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