If you’ve come here to justify spending 90 minutes of your valuable time watching ‘What the Health documentary’, then you’re at the right place!
Our intention with this review is to show you whether it’s worthy of watching and verify the legitimacy of its health claims (including the credibility of the featured health professionals).
First, we would like to give a big thank you to Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn, the featured professionals, A.U.M. Films & Media and everyone else who contributed towards this intriguing documentary!
What the Health can be considered a documentary with a fresh perspective and a sequel to the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy made by the same creators.
Just to give you a bit of background, Kip Andersen (narrator) is coming from a family history of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Being concerned with his background he is obsessed with health for obvious reasons and followed all the guidelines provided by health organizations to make sure he wouldn’t be another victim like his father or his grandparents.
Though he never smoked, never drank soda, slept well, exercised and managed stress, he realized that processed meat was a Group 1 carcinogen as stated by The World Health Organization just as cigarettes which are in the same category.
This realization and his background compelled him to unravel the massive network the society is exposed to where the government, the health organizations & institutes, and the animal agriculture & pharmaceutical industry, seem to have a conflict of interest and a hidden agenda to drive consumption rather than serving the interests of the public with integrity at all times.
- Issues with health organizations in terms of recommended diets and conflict of interests in funding (funding by meat/dairy producers, pharmaceutical industry)
- The adverse health impact of animal products on the public
- Debunking the myths associated with animal products
- Real life examples of patients undergoing the effects of a meat-based diet and how quickly they recover with a plant-based diet
- The connection between GMO feed and pharmaceutical industry with animal farms
- Environmental issues with livestock
- The health benefits of plant-based diets
Essentially, What the Health tries to draw your attention to the fact that, despite heart disease and cancer being the leading causes of death in US, and diabetes at an all-time high why the leading health organizations in the nation don’t seem to discourage the very foods that cause such illnesses, which is a fair question to ask.
Who is Kip Andersen (narrator and co-producer)?
Besides the aforementioned background of Kip Andersen, he co-produced his first documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, with Keegan Kuhn which was a great success that went viral and ignited an environmental movement.
He is a graduate of Cal Poly School of Business and the founder of A.U.M. Films and Media, a 501c3 non-profit focused on creating films and media that promote thrivability, compassion, and harmony for all life.
Who are The Experts Featured in The Documentary and are They Credible?
Dr. Neal Barnard FACC 
Dr. Neal Barnard is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiologists, an adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, an American author, clinical researcher, and founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
He won the Lifestyle Medicine Trailblazer Award in 2016 and has published numerous Journal Publications and Books.
Dr. Garth Davis 
Dr. Garth Davis, MD is a bariatric surgery specialist in Houston, Texas and has been practicing for 17 years. He graduated from Baylor University in 1996 and specializes in bariatric surgery and medicine.
Dr. Garth Davis also appeared in the American reality television show ‘Big Medicine’ in which he was in the operating team along with his father .
Dr. Michael Greger FACLM 
Dr. Michael Greger is an American physician, New York Times Best Selling author, and internationally recognized speaker on a number of public health issues, especially the benefits of whole foods, plant-based diet and the harms of eating animal products. He is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine.
His book ‘How Not to Die’ made the New York Times Best Seller lists at least three times.
He is a vegan and the creator of NutritionFacts.org.
Dr. Michael A. Klaper 
Dr. Klaper is an American physician, author and a vegan advocate who graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1972.
He was a NASA nutrition adviser and medical consultant for astronauts.
In 1995 Klaper received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.
Dr. Milton Mills 
Dr. Milton Mills, MD is an internal medicine specialist in Falls Church, VA and has been practicing for 26 years. He graduated from Stanford University in 1992 and specializes in internal medicine.
Dr. Michelle McMacken 
Dr. Michelle McMacken is a specialist in internal medicine and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine. She obtained her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and has been in practice for 11-20 years.
She has been recognized for quality assurance under Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition Program & Physician Practice Connections Recognition Program.
Kimberly Snyder C.N.
Kimberly Snyder is a certified nutritionist and multi-time New York Times and #1 Amazon Best Selling author of The Beauty Detox Solution, The Beauty Detox Foods, and The Beauty Detox Power.
Kimberly is a recurring nutrition and wellness expert on The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show and Access Hollywood and has been featured on many other national shows and publications, such as Good Morning America, The New York Times, Vogue, Elle, InStyle, The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among many others.
She is the go-to nutritionist for many of the entertainment industries’ top celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, Kerry Washington, Channing Tatum and Reese Witherspoon, among many others. Vogue named her as one of the top “results-oriented nutritionists.”
Michele Simon JD, MPH 
Michele Simon is a public health lawyer who has been researching and writing about food policy since 1996.
She received her master’s degree in public health from Yale University and her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Her work has been featured on CNBC, CBS News, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Forbes and has appeared on national TV stations such as CNN, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, and Al Jazeera. She has also contributed to various outlets such as The Huffington Post, Grist, and Food Safety News..
She has written substantially on the politics of food, and her book, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, was published by Nation Books in 2006.
In 2013, Simon was awarded the National Association of Nutrition Professional’s Community Award and the Nutritional Therapy Association’s Award of Excellence.
What the Health Documentary Fact Checking (Claims/Stats/Statements We Thought as Important in Checking):
“worldwide, we’re looking at approximately 315 million people with diabetes”
The number of people with diabetes has increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 according to the world health organization 
“one in ten total health care dollars is spent on people with diabetes”
According to American Diabetes Association 1 in 4 health care dollars in the U.S is spent as health & wellness provision for the people who are diagnosed with diabetes 
“The World Health Organization has classified processed meat such as bacon and sausage as carcinogenic, directly involved in causing cancer in humans”
The World Health Organization has included processed meat in the Group 1 carcinogens due to sufficient evidence of causing cancer to humans .
“on the Eat Healthy page of American Cancer Society website, they actually encouraged eating Group One carcinogenic foods like processed turkey and canned meats”
Under the shopping list The American Cancer Society website has recommended canned meats (canned tuna, salmon) and ground turkey breast  which is not considered a processed meat according to American Institute for Cancer Research  . According to the makers of What the Health, since the making of the film, The American Cancer Society has updated their guidelines to use meat as a side dish .
“in the US, one out of every four deaths is from cancer”
This is true according to the American Cancer Society .
“2/3 of adults are now overweight or, obese”
According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, more than 2 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity 
“most kids by age ten in the US already have fatty streaks in their arteries, the first stage of atherosclerosis leading to heart attacks, strokes”
According to one study it was revealed that there is a very high incidence of lipid-laden macrophages (a type of white blood cells) in the intima of the aorta and coronary arteries of young American children killed in motor accidents, where over 50% of children aged 10-14 years showing some signs of early atherosclerosis .
“diabetes is not and never was caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet, and it’s not caused by eating sugar. The cause of diabetes is a diet that builds up the amount of fat into blood”
According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there is a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if a person is not physically active, overweight or obese. The insulin resistance sometimes caused by extra weight is quite common in people with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can also be caused by certain genes .
In another abstract from PubMed, higher intake of saturated fat and trans-fat could adversely affect glucose metabolism and insulin resistance .
With regard to sugar, do note that organizations such as American Diabetes Association , Diabetes UK  and health websites such as WebMD have called it a myth to consider sugar as a cause for diabetes.
Still, it seems sensible to cut down on ‘added sugar’ as a Mayo Clinic article  shows, according to studies it is implicated that ‘added sugars’ (eg, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup) in the development of diabetes mellitus and has advised to reduce the intake of added sugars.
“carbs consumption was inversely related with diabetes”
Under the ‘nutritional recommendations for individuals with diabetes’ from the book Endotext, a primary goal in the management of diabetes is to regulate blood glucose to near normal levels as much as possible . The amount and possibly the type of carbohydrate can influence this regulation.
While carbohydrate from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are considered healthy, carbohydrates from other sources that come with added fats, sugars, or sodium are discouraged.
“meat was strongly correlated with diabetes”
The study done on 60,903 Adventists which was named The Adventist Health Study-2 showed at baseline, those who didn’t consume meat had a diabetes prevalence of 3.2% and a 7.6% prevalence with those who consumed meat on a daily basis. People who consumed less meat on a weekly basis and those who consumed only fish were between the former extremes at 6.1% and 4.8%, respectively .
“Harvard researchers looked at nine prospective studies finding that just one serving of processed meat per day increased the risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent”
They found that there is a 51% increased risk with diabetes with daily consumption of processed meat (e.g. 50 grams of one hot dog or sausage or two slices of bacon) .
“the leading source of sodium in the American diet for adults is chicken”
According to United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, chicken is in excess considering the per capita availability, than that of beef .
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to put a cap on maximum sodium levels in different categories of meat and poultry products .
While fresh beef, pork, chicken and turkey can be low in sodium, there are many processed products called “enhanced” which are soaked in salt water.
“chicken has nearly as much cholesterol per gram as red beef”
“I found a study suggesting that eating just one egg a day can be as bad as smoking five cigarettes per day for life expectancy”
According to the atherosclerosis-journal where the data was gathered from 1262 patients, it was evident that total plaque area (TPA) increases with egg-yolk years which was quite similar to how TPA increases with smoking pack-years. The effect size of egg yolks appears to be approximately 2/3 that of smoking and was suggested that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by persons at risk of cardiovascular disease .
“yolk of a hen’s egg is the most concentrated in terms of saturated fat and cholesterol”
“fish is a little different. You’ve got the four worries, which are PCBs, mercury, saturated fat and cholesterol”
According to a Harvard Health Article referenced from the book Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks (2007) various pollutants get into our food such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat. Fish are no exception. The harmful substances of concern are mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and pesticide residues . Saturated fat in fish can range from 0.1 g  to 7 g  while cholesterol can range from 7 mg  to 142 mg  according to the type of fish.
“milk is this hormonal fluid, so it’s just packed with sex hormones and natural sex steroid hormones like estrogen”
According to a review article of Hormones in Dairy Foods  all foods of animal origin which include dairy products have oestrogens though varying in degree according to the type of species and physiology
The most concerning hormone content in dairy foods is steroid hormones especially estrogens which have shown to provoke breast and prostate cancers while influencing profound biological effects in animals and humans according to epidemiological evidence.
“dairy products increases your risk for various forms of cancer”
According to an abstract from The Journal of the American College of Nutrition , milk and dairy products carry certain micronutrients and other bioactive elements that may have an effect on cancer risk.
The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research report came into a conclusion that there is a probable link between milk consumption and lower risk of colorectal cancer, a probable link between high calcium diets and a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Our Take on The Documentary
As you can see from the credible panel of professionals featured in the documentary and the ‘fact checking’ we did, it’s NOT a documentary that you would simply want to discard!
This is especially true considering the broad array of health aspects it covers that you as a consumer can benefit by being aware of.
Finally, Let’s Just See a Few Reasons to Watch ‘What the Health Documentary’
- To know how the financial interests of corporates, governments, and other organizations can undermine the interests of the public
- How animal products can deteriorate your health
- The major health benefits of a vegan diet and how you can avoid some of the diseases & prolong your life
- The impact you can have to reduce environmental damage by avoiding meat
- Be inspired from the speedy recoveries made by people simply due to a diet change
- The higher public rating of 7.8 out of 10 from 21,148 viewer ratings suggests, a majority have enjoyed the documentary!
So there you have it!
You can either ignore this valuable documentary and think it is a big fat lie (though our fact-checking says otherwise) or have an open mind to watch it to be enlightened and inspired!
True that there could be a few lapses in the documentary when they gave less weightage on the harmful effects of sugar, compared an egg to 5 cigarettes (though eggs can be detrimental to health), and Dr. Milton Mills’ accusation of the government’s diet recommendations as a form of institutionalized racism can seem quite far-fetched. Yet, as a whole, there’s a lot to gain!
When the officials of renowned health organizations are so reluctant to give interviews let alone answering questions (we were appalled by one officer’s behavior), you should know there is something wrong in the way things operate.
At most, you will lose 90 minutes of your life (if you think you didn’t gain anything), but we believe it can be an eye-opener. This could be about you, your loved ones or friends whom you know that could be suffering due to a lack of knowledge.
Who knows? It can very well be a defining moment paving the way to be a lifesaver!
Official Website: www.whatthehealthfilm.com
What the Health Documentary DVD / Amazon video
Public Rating: 7.8 out of 10 (an average from 21,148 viewer ratings)
- Initial release: March 7, 2017
- Captions and subtitles: English
- Directors: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
- Screenplay: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
- Producers: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
- Executive Producers: Joaquin Phoenix, Greg Anzalone, Jim Greenbaum, and Sheryl & Robert Greenberg
- Distributed by: A.U.M. Films & Media
What the Health Companion Book
- 50 Vegan Documentaries to Watch (animal rights, health, environment and for inspiration)
- 5 Best Vegan Documentaries to Watch
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