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The China Study Review

March 10, 2011

Well I finally finished The China Study so I owe you guys a review of the book. I’ll start out by touching on the end of the book (the part I haven’t written about yet) before sharing my overall thoughts.


Previous China Study updates can be found here: “The China Study Begins”, “Eat More Weigh Less”, & “Frustrations and Realizations”.


The final part of the book is titled “Why You Haven’t Been Told This Before”. Dr. Campbell aims to explain to readers why the health and diet information that the public hears isn’t the same as what he has detailed in his book. After all, if all health benefits of a plant-based diet have so much scientific backing, why haven’t we been seeing them all over the news?

First he explains the “dark side of science” – the part where the members of nutrition committees that review studies and create public reports are largely pro-industry. This means they have some sort of connection, often financial, to an industry like dairy, meat, or drug. Because of this they often only promote science that helps these industries, often ignoring the truth. Dr. Campbell has served on (and ultimately been removed from) many of these committees for challenging the recommendations and conclusions they come to.

Dr. Campbell goes onto explain some of the government’s nutrition recommendations and the studies upon which they are based. It turns out that these studies are often incomplete or inaccurate, but by pulling out tidbits of information and twisting words they are able to make claims that benefit food industries. Rarely is there information released that isn’t somehow backed or sponsored by a large corporation. (This goes for fruits and vegetables too, not just meat and dairy).

Finally Dr. Campbell questions if our government is truly doing what is best for us. Did you know that only 3.6% of the U.S. National Institute of Health’s budget is designated for projects related to nutrition? (p. 315) Or that the government offers extreme tax cuts for pharmaceutical industries that make more and more drugs with serious side effects? It seems a little backwards to me.

Dr. Campbell encourages us to take the information he has given us and take charge of our own health.


I was thoroughly impressed with The China Study. It basically provided scientific evidence and first hand accounts for what I had been hearing about nutrition and health. I had heard that eating a plant-based diet was better for health, but this book provided charts and graphs to tell me exactly why and how my body would benefit. I had heard that the government and food industries totally distorted the nutrition information we receive, but now I have specific names and examples of these distortions to back it up.

My only disappointment, as I mentioned in a previous post, is that some of the conclusions and advice aren’t quite concrete enough. I expected Dr. Campbell to be able to say 100% that a plant-based diet is the only way to ever avoid health problems. I wanted him to go into detail about what foods to eat and which ones to dismiss. I guess I thought that there would be some “Monday thru Friday” meal plan like most other diet books.

But not so in this one, and I think it is actually for the better. This isn’t a book about losing weight and telling us the perfect breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All Mr. Campbell wants us to know is that eating plants and avoiding animal products can honestly and truly affect our health. He can’t do anything more than give us the scientific evidence and let us choose for ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we eat oatmeal for breakfast and a salad for lunch each day. It doesn’t matter if we have one apple every day or combine rice with beans to form a complete protein. It is the aggregate effect of all of our nutrition decisions that will lead us to better health.

I think he told the story quite well!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 1:58 pm

    Great review, Clare!
    Now I want to run to the nearest bookstore and buy “The Chine Study” ASAP 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. March 10, 2011 2:21 pm

    sounds like SUCH a great one! and i love all the evidence and research gone into it- it is on my must read list!

  3. March 10, 2011 2:40 pm

    Interesting. Great review. You are very well spoken, Clare.

    I try to incorporate LOTS of plant-based foods in my diet and I can honestly tell that I feel best when I do that. I’m not sure that I’d want to go 100% plant-based, but it’s not something I would dismiss either.

    Thanks for the in-depth recap. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. March 10, 2011 3:03 pm

    this book sounds so interesting! I’ll definitely have to check i tout!!

  5. March 10, 2011 3:46 pm

    This book is on my list to buy. Great review!

  6. March 10, 2011 4:51 pm

    I love books like this! They’re a great way to switch the reading list up a bit! Great review!

  7. Kate permalink
    March 10, 2011 5:04 pm

    Fantastic review, Clare! I know a few other people who’ve read the book, and no one has been able to explain/analyze it like this…I feel like I have to read it now 🙂

    Side note…don’t know if you follow basketball, but GO BEARCATS 😉

  8. March 10, 2011 5:22 pm

    The China Study is sitting on my night stand waiting to be read. I’m just finishing the Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and then this is my next read. I can’t wait to get into it!

  9. March 10, 2011 5:28 pm

    Really great review! I am not a vegetarian and I have no big plans of becoming one any time soon, but I also rarely eat meat. A burger or steak is an occasional treat. I do eat a lot of chicken and fish, though. I haven’t read the book, but I do agree that a largely plant-based diet is the way to go. Like I said, I treat myself to the occasional burger but none of my meals revolve around meat products as much as they do around vegetables, grains, and beans which make up the majority of my diet. I think its refreshing that he doesn’t try to push one diet meal plan on people but just present them with the information so everyone can make an informed decision on their own.

  10. March 10, 2011 7:50 pm

    Wow, thanks for the review, I have been wondering about this book, and what it was all about, and this was a thorough and helpful review of the book! Definitely some sketchy stuff going on with the food biz…

  11. Natalie permalink
    March 11, 2011 7:00 am

    Wow this is really interesting. I might have to buy this book. I never realized how corrupt the food industry was until I watched Food, Inc. It sounds like The China Study touches on some of that as well. Sounds like a great read! Thanks Clare.


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