Recently, Jeff Nelson, an individual who has a business that promotes a low-fat vegan lifestyle, has made me the subject of a series of vicious and relentless personal attacks. He dredged up a more than a decade-old error in a chart review study and a misunderstanding between Dr. T. Colin Campbell and myself to attack my reputation, my integrity, my credibility and my business practices. Dr. Colin Campbell then unfortunately posted a misinformed statement that adds to the mess. Here is the list of those claims numbered and my response and evidence of their incorrect and slanderous nature. Any comments that I try to post under Jeff Nelson's video are quickly hidden as shown below.
- I falsified the data in this study published in 2008 to make myself and my diet look good.
Though I am very upset by the errors in the study, I had no role in the data entry, statistical analysis or calculations. My role was to allow a researcher, Barbara Sarter, PhD, to review my patient charts around 2002.
Here is a statement by Dr. Sarter, the leading researcher of this study. “I conducted this chart review project as a completely independent, unfunded research activity while I was an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. The research report was published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine with my name as first author, Dr. Campbell in the middle, and Dr. Fuhrman as third author. Dr. Fuhrman played no role in the collection of the data or analysis of the results.”
- I was accused of putting Dr Campbell’s name first on the study, that he agreed to participate with, to get it published and aggrandize myself in some way.
This is false as Dr. Sarter wrote above. Dr. Campbell contacted me twice about this when it happened—before we both knew that the study had errors in it. I showed him and he was aware that the original study had his name in the middle position. See the screen shot below – and he was told and accepted that. Then when the journal posts their yearly archives (brief synopsis) of all articles printed—they alphabetize the authors. I had no role in that, I do not work for the journal and have no control of what they do.
Dr. Sarter had written in an e-mail to Dr. Campbell back then in 2008, which I have a copy of, and have copied it here:
“The Alternative Therapies Archives (which had your name first) is not a different journal, it is simply a listing of the back issues of the original journal that published our article. The article is listed there under each of our names, alphabetized, as all articles were there, but the cross reference is to the original publication that had me, Colin and Joel listed as authors in that order. Nothing needs to be done.”
So Dr. Campbell was aware back then, that I did not put his name as the first author.
The screenshot Nelson showed on his YouTube attack against me (shown below) lists the authors in alphabetical order (Campbell, Fuhrman, Sarter); this appears to be a fabricated version of the article, since there are revision marks visible in the text, which would not have been included in the final published article. The final published article listed the authors as Sarter, Campbell, Fuhrman and is listed the same on PubMed. The journal no longer has Dr. Campbell’s name anywhere, so that is further indication Nelson fabricated this mock up to implicate me falsely.
The additional claim that I had the producer of the movie “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” place a Cornell banner over a poster of this research study in question to, in some way, to link me to Dr. Campbell, is also untrue.
On the journal’s website, Dr. Campbell’s name has been removed as per his request. Among the archives where authors are listed alphabetically you can now see my name first, even though Dr. Sarter was the primary author, because we are listed alphabetically as I already explained.
In the physical copy of the 2008 journal, the order is Sarter, Campbell, Fuhrman:
This is a screenshot of Nelson's "faked" version:
- Nelson stated, Dr. Sarter was my intern and paid by me. Not true. Her statement, “I have never been an employee or intern of Dr. Fuhrman. He paid me an honorarium once for a video talk I gave for his nutritional education website. I have no conflict of interest in this matter, financial or otherwise.”
- I refused to retract the study from the journal when Dr. Campbell asked me to.
Not true. He pulled his name off the study. He did not discuss this with me or give me options of how to handle this. That would have been a good idea. The fact is, I phoned Dr. Campbell and got him on the phone to try to ask him what else I could do to rectify this situation. He hung up the phone on me.
- Jeff Nelson claims I am still citing the 2008 weight loss study. I am not.
Nelson showed two screenshots, supposedly proving that I still cite the 2008 study. The first screenshot was of an article I did not write or submit to that website. The article mentions my name and the study. Nelson is purposely misleading his viewers here, implying I wrote this and posted it recently. Nelson has the viewer falsely believe he is showing my website with that.
The second screenshot was of an old article which the magazine decided to re-run online earlier this year without my knowledge, and my staff has contacted the magazine and had it removed.
- I publicly lied that the study results showed that the patients did not regain the lost weight over the period of the study.
All of my statements about the study outcomes were supported by the original, as well as the corrected data analysis. The number of subjects included was inaccurate by one. I reported accurately what the study concluded in its original published report , which stated, “weight loss appeared to be sustained in those who returned for follow-up” and this was true.
Furthermore, a review of the corrected data, still substantiates that these patients of mine did not have significant weight regain and my statement was not false. Here is Dr. Sarter’s response based on her published erratum and re-analysis of the original data.
“I corrected these mistakes and submitted an erratum to the journal, reporting that the actual mean weight loss of the group of 18 who had a 2-year follow-up visit was 37.6 lbs. The most significant weight loss occurred within the first year of follow-up for all participants. Out of the 18 people with 2 year data, none regained their original weight. At two years four had a regain of 5 pounds or less, and one had a 10 pound regain, from their lowest weight at one year. Significant regain would be defined as 10% of original baseline weight, and using this criterion, no one regained a significant amount after the original highly significant weight loss.
The new statistical re-analysis still found these results to be highly significant statistically, so the conclusions of the report were unchanged. Dr. Campbell did not consult with me to go over the data and add his input. I communicated with the journal editor to discuss the situation and they suggested I submit the erratum, which was subsequently published.”
- That my claim is false that my obese and compliant patients lose 12 – 15 pounds the first month and about 8 pounds a month in subsequent months.
I stand by this with 30 years of experience after many thousands following my program across the country. I have over 1000 success stories submitted to my website for publication by the public. We have posted over 500 of them, for people to review, many with before and after photos. The average weight loss of these submitted cases, with many remarkable recoveries of
serious diseases, is over 50 pounds—sustained over time. This is further documented in a survey study of my website members who follow my guidance, who also showed a similar amount of weight loss overtime when the results were aggregated and published recently.
At my retreat in San Diego where people stay for 30 – 90 days and are 100 percent compliant with my dietary program, obese individuals routinely lose more than 15 pounds the first month and 8 – 10 the next. Those figures are accurate and not exaggerated, and we have begun a study review process for publishing this data in the scientific literature.
- I misrepresented that Dr. Campbell had made unfair and unjustified attacks against me before the mistakes in this study were aired. I brought up that we had a falling out way before this unfortunate event.
This point I had already proved with a copy of the e-mails by John Mackey and other physicians on the Whole Foods Market Scientific Advisory Board, whose e-mails I saved, who were forced to reprimand Dr. Campbell for his insulting comments towards me. Dr. Campbell and a few of his closest medical associates also attempted to exclude me from the Whole Foods Advisory board (unsuccessfully) and refused to have constructive dialogue and meetings. This was before this error-containing study was discovered. As a result, two separate advisory boards had to be set up by Whole Foods Market. I think instead of trying to exclude me from their meetings, and refusing to join me on the Whole Foods Advisory Board to discuss these scientific controversies, and hear my decades of experience with patients, and their blood results and outcomes; they could have been open to friendly discussions and interest, since I had the most real patient interactions, with sick people following similar guidelines. That would have showed a true scientific spirit.
I would not choose to dig up this old issues, to talk negatively about Dr. Campbell, or even discuss these past errors that all of us may have made, if I had not been the recipient of vicious and slanderous attacks attempting to discredit me and destroy my reputation and career. I am still hoping that one day there could be open dialogue and forgiveness all around. Nobody is perfect.
- The outcome my critics hope to have, is to use this mistake in my past, to discredit anything else I say or do. They do not want to grant the fact that I have experience with patients, close friends and family that developed dementia and Parkinson’s disease, while on a super healthful vegan diet, that when checked had a very low to non-existent DHA level. There is significant number of studies and in the scientific literature linking low DHA levels to brain shrinkage or dementia. Their response is that this is all just a ruse to sell DHA supplements. They couch my cautious conservatism to not take chances with people’s brains as being fraudulent. I will speak-up with a passion for what I believe in, as I am certain that some individuals are being needlessly damaged by the nutritional viewpoints of these people attacking me.
I have a differing viewpoint on health and nutrition and what constitutes an ideal diet and ideal nutritional protocol, especially for a vegan, compared to these individuals who are highly critical of me. Hundreds of esteemed lifestyle medicine physicians and nutritional researchers agree with my interpretation of the literature, as opposed to the views of Mr. Nelson and perhaps Dr. Campbell. Many of those in the lifestyle medicine and nutritional research community side with me in these areas of debate. Hopefully with more time and the accumulation of further evidence it will be easier to ascertain who is correct with regard to some of these differences, and their relative risks and benefits. Personal attacks should not be a part of the evaluation of the evidence.
As always, thank you for your understanding and compassion while I navigate these troubled waters as the recipient of these derogatory attacks.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
 Fuhrman JH, Ferreri DM, Singer ML. Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance on a Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Rich (NDPR) Diet: A Survey Study. International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention 2019; 1:1.