University of Minnesota

A. Keys response to G. Mann’s 1977 NEJM Op-Ed: “Diet-Heart. End of an Era.”

Ancel Keys responded rapidly, as did many, to the observations and arguments (aka “distortions”) that George Mann used in his shocking New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece in 1977: Mann, GV Diet-Heart: End of an Era. N Engl J Med 1977; 297:644-650. 

The scientific community at the time was accustomed to “proper debate.” Mann set a new tone and seemed to do so with the blessing of America’s most prestigious medical journal. This piece, addressed to a few specifics that annoyed Keys, and the other published letters in reaction did not wholly prevail. More importantly, later and current attacks on “diet-heart” and “dietary guidelines” are often even more devious and, via social media, less constrained. Today, healthy debate is impaired by polar opinions, the “mass effect” of repetitions in the blogosphere, and insufficient new research with needed evidence on issues beyond nutrient effects on health, to include whole foods, food groups,  and long-term social eating patterns and culture. (HB)

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