Diabetes UK: A Sham

I have had ongoing disputes with Diabetes UK and Professor Mike Lean (Glasgow University) for a few weeks, which has finally lead me to lose my patience.

I intended to write a full cross examination of Diabetes UK’s decision to award Mike Lean and Glasgow University, £2.5 million for a study, which in my opinion and the opinion of others, is a waste of money and that it will not solve the diabetes epidemic; however I have other commitments at the moment. Fortunately I stumbled across an article, which raises some of the issues I was intending to address, saving me some time thankfully.

Here is the article that has saved me a lot of time on this. I will however raise a few issues about the study before proceeding to the direct email communication with Diabetes UK below.

A quick snapshot of their proposed very low carbohydrate diet (VLCD), reveals their “food” of choice is a shake used by The Cambridge Diet (no vested interests there), delivering 600 calories per day. Contained in this shake are vitamins, some of which are in synthetic form and as such, don’t absorb well in the body. Their source of magnesium, the most important mineral in the body, responsible for at least 300 metabolic reactions and the prevention of type 2 diabetes, is magnesium oxide; magnesium oxide is basically a cheap junk form that only delivers a 4% absorption rate!

If you are going to limit calories (not necessary anyway if you use a high healthy fat diet), then at least make sure the nutrients are maximized and magnesium oxide and synthetic vitamins doesn’t cut it. Most people are magnesium deficient as it is and this would have been an opportunity to ensure that good quality magnesium is used in the study, especially when type 2 diabetes is linked to magnesium deficiency.

Our next ingredient is gluten, public enemy number one, even worse than sugar, and responsible for over 200 diseases. Type 1 diabetes is included in this extensive list; so if you don’t have type 1 diabetes, you could possibly get it by guzzling down Professor Lean’s shakes (Nice!); this could happen via an autoimmune response to the gliadin proteins in the gluten, which damages pancreatic tissue.

NB We are not talking about Celiac disease; gluten sensitivity is enough to produce antibodies and studies have been published, concluding that everyone has gluten sensitivity to some degree.

Our final ingredient in the snapshot look at the The Cambridge Diet shake is the artificial sweetener, aspartame, which can worsen insulin sensitivity, raise insulin levels as much as sugar, ultimately leading to type 2 diabetes (the very thing they are trying to cure!). There are also other conditions linked to aspartame such as fibromyalgia, IBS, autism and cancers; see here.

Finally once patients finish the diet, they are referred to their GP practice for ongoing support and dietary advice. Seriously? GP’s know nothing about nutrition and neither do their support staff. In fact the NHS’s protocol is to refer people to Weightwatchers, that great dinosaur of the diet world.

Now on to the emails. 

From: clark@thefatlosspuzzle.com [mailto:clark@thefatlosspuzzle.com]
Sent: 25 September 2015 15:12
To: Barbara Young
Subject: Re: Complaint about Professor Mike Lean

Directly below is my last email to the CEO (now replaced), Barbara Young.

Dear Barbara,

Further to our recent communications regarding Mike Lean, as I indicated to you in the previous email, I will be writing a blog on the trial funding issue, but this will take time as there are many issues to consider and articulate.

However for now the other issue is concerning Mike Lean’s role in a “healthy” pizza company (www.eatbalanced.com), where he acts as a nutritional adviser. This is not on and and is a conflict of interest and is misleading the public.

Diabetes UK obviously turned a blind eye to this or was it an oversight? Surely you would not deem a pizza made with wheat flour as healthy? Here are some of wheat’s highlights in the human diet.

  • Wheat is not needed in the human diet
  • Wheat is a known neurotoxin
  • Gluten in wheat is linked to at least 200 diseases, including cancers and Alzheimer’s
  • Wheat in any form has a higher insulin spike than sugar (yes sorry about that, as uncomfortable as it may be); therefore it is worse than sugar in causing diabetes.
  • Wheat is a major cause of obesity
  • Wheat is a major cause of leaky gut syndrome; as Hippocrates said once, “all disease begins in the gut”

In view of the above, I am requesting that you ask Mike Lean to stand down from the pizza company due to a clear conflict of interest. If you need any evidence to back up the aforementioned claims, then let me know. However I would be shocked if people on your board do not know about the dangers of wheat and gluten, which gets lost in the media due to sugar. Wheat is actually worse and it is being ignored. I don’t know how some people sleep at night; the system is corrupt and broken and Lean is one example of many.

I won’t be letting this go; it’s too important.


Clark Russell

Below is the reply from Diabetes UK:

Dear Mr Russell,

Thank you for your email to Barbara Young dated 25 September. As you will know, Barbara Young has left Diabetes UK. I am replying on behalf of our new Chief Executive Chris Askew.

You have asked if Diabetes UK was aware of Professor Lean’s role in the development of the “Eat Balanced” pizza range, suggesting that it represents a conflict of interests and is misleading to the public. You have also made a number of assertions about the role of wheat in human nutrition.

I would make the following observations:

  • As you know, Professor Lean is an employee of the University of Glasgow and not Diabetes UK. Many scientists are involved in the commercialisation of research. This is ultimately a necessary part of the process of delivering the benefits of academic research to society and universities have their own governance procedures to ensure that this does not represent a conflict of interests with the employer.
  • I can see no conflict of interest between Professor Lean’s involvement in “Eat Balanced” and his receipt of grant funding from Diabetes UK, which is on an unrelated topic.
  • From the publicly available materials relating to “Eat Balanced” I do not believe that Professor Lean is “misleading the public”. It is clear to me that “Eat Balanced” has highlighted the high levels of salt and fat, low levels of fibre and limited information on vitamin and mineral content in commercially available pizzas, and that they are marketing their product as having an appropriate nutritional balance and lower calorie content than other pizzas. This rather laudably demonstrates the principle that there is no good reason why types of prepared meals that are currently unhealthy cannot be made significantly more healthy by manufacturers.
  • Your objection seems to stem primarily from your views about wheat, on which we will have to agree to differ. Some people have an identified medical reason to avoid wheat. Others may prefer to do so as a matter of personal choice.  However for people who have not been recommended to avoid wheat on medical advice, there is no reason why food containing wheat should not be included as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Yours sincerely,


Alasdair Rankin PhD
Director of Research

E alasdair.rankin@diabetes.org.uk | Diabetes UK 10 Parkway, Camden, London NW1 7AA |

W www.diabetes.org.uk  | Facebook www.facebook.com/diabetesuk | Twitter www.twitter.com/diabetesuk

My response to the email directly above from Diabetes UK.

He (Alasdair Rankin) said “As you know, Professor Lean is an employee of the University…..

(Me) Who is Prof Lean’s employer has no relevance on the issue. Secondly, I don’t know what benefits to society (of this academic research) he is talking about; is it the health destroying wheat pizza (Yummy!) or the £2.5 Million diabetes study?, this red herring of a study could easily be ditched and replaced (without any money spent) by a more effective, high healthy fat diet (ketogenic), saving £2.5 million of public donor money for other uses.

Thirdly the University’s governance procedures are obviously not working, as they do not have any clue about wheat’s health impact or they don’t want to know, because Lean has just secured £2.5 million revenues for the University.

The next point from Diabetes UK states, that “I can see no conflict of interest…….

(Me) Seriously is this for real? A wheat flour based pizza with all the aforementioned points I made on its detrimental effects to health including diabetes, and Diabetes UK can see no conflict of interest. Think about the hypocrisy of that for a second, we have a Professor in charge of a diabetes study, also acting as the Chief Nutritional Officer in a pizza company. Come on this is morally bankrupt.

The next point goes on to state, “From the publicly available materials relating to “Eat Balanced”…….

(Me) They have reduced the salt, added a couple of vitamins (probably cheap, synthetic ones), reduced the fat (less cheese I guess), but unfortunately the vitamins would not absorb well, not only due to the possible synthetic component, but also the fact that gluten inflames the gut, in turn preventing the absorption of nutrients. They have also added sunflower and rapeseed oils, which in the non-cold pressed form (cheaper and used by all fast food and convenience food makers) are highly inflammatory to the body, leading to a multitude of disease, again diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

Also you should get fibre from fruits and vegetables not grains; high fibre grains are junk foods dressed up with a health halo. The higher fibre pizza is just a red herring; a pile of nonsense really. Finally they mention a lower calorie pizza; not that old chestnut again; this is another example of outdated dogma. Someone forgot to tell them it is quality not quantity that is the key to health and weight control.

They talk about nutritional balance; it’s a vague term that is used by all Government and affiliated agencies including health charities to basically cover up the fact that, the balance is highly skewed in favour of starchy carbs (like the NHS “Eatwell Plate”), the main driver for all modern disease including diabetes. What they really should be saying is a macronutrient content highly in favour of healthy fats and low in carbs with moderate protein. That’s the proper balance for optimal human health and there are 23 high quality studies confirming this; unfortunately this clashes with the food industry (e.g. Tesco and Diabetes UK partnership), Big Pharma profits and academic research funding for universities.

The final point states, that “Your objection seems to stem primarily from your views about wheat………

(Me) I can’t believe that the Director of Research of a diabetes charity could state all the comments in the last point; gluten must have damaged his brain, it’s a neurotoxin after all.

Everyone has an immune response to the gliadin protein in gluten and therefore all people, although they may not know it, have created an inflammatory response in their body; this response when exposed constantly over time to the foreign body (gliadin in this case), leads to systemic or chronic inflammation, which sets the stage for multiple disease processes further down the road. There have been 4 groundbreaking books on wheat’s deleterious effects in the past 3 years, here, here, here and here and to deny the potential health effects from wheat is to live in complete denial of the facts.

Diabetes UK should be disbanded, Professor Lean stripped of his title and the £2.5 million of public donor money returned to whoever can do the job of combating diabetes effectively without the interference from cronyism, academic egos and vested interests.

I think a petition is in order. Stay tuned for the next part of the Diabetes UK soap opera.



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