What we've been told about nutrition is often wrong.

Book review: Death by Food Pyramid

Book review: Death by Food Pyramid
books, glasses, pen

Don’t be fooled by the relatively young age of the author of Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health. Denise Minger may be young in years but she is an indefatigable researcher and an entertaining writer.

In Death by Food Pyramid, Minger leads us through a journey of food policy (part one), scientific inquiry (part two), and dietary analyses (part three). Any one section could stand alone, but there is synergy among them, especially if the reader is a novice in any one component.

If you are new to the idea that many of the best eating practices you’ve heard during the past 50 years have very little scientific merit, this is definitely a must-read. It is more approachable than the work of journalist Gary Taubes and definitely more cheeky!

Key players:

    • Ancel Keys, American – the principal advocate for “saturated fat causes heart disease by driving up blood cholesterol” messaging
    • John Yudkin, British – the principal advocate for “white sugar” being the driver of dietary-related disease; author of Pure, White and Deadly

Even though I worked in the food industry (on the side of farmers) in the early days of my career, I have been stunned to learn the degree of sizzle-over-steak messaging about diets from official government sources. I’m slightly less mortified by the oversimplifications in mainstream media reporting; that’s the nature of the beast.

If you are researching the science behind low-carb diets, this is a book to consider adding to your library.

If you have already read Gary Taubes, you may not discover much that is new in her how-we-got-to-today’s narrative. This is not a clone of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It or Good Calories, Bad Calories; Minger is somewhat kinder to Keys than Taubes, for example.

Minger is one of the most readable scientific writers I’ve encountered. Read more at her blog: Raw Food SOS.


Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Nutrition researcher by necessity: life-long migraineur, complete hysterectomy, colon resection, glucose intolerance. (I have become my mother.) Former food industry communicator. Digital maven; motorcyclist; educator.


What's your experience?