Friday, October 30, 2015

Neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson is asked about his endorsement of dubious Mannatech supplement company

Presidential candidate Ben Carson was asked during debate this week about his ties to Mannatech, maker of a dubious nutrition supplement based on "glycoscience."

Carson responded:
I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda. I did a couple of speeches for them, I do speeches for other people.
Jim Geraghty, who thoroughly covered these ties already last January in the National Review, yesterday pointed out that Carson's response appears to be untrue, or in Geraghty's words, "bald-faced lies." Geraghty explains how the paid speeches were compensated highly enough that reasonable people will recognize this as a paid sponsorship arrangement.

Indeed, that point becomes obvious with even a brief look at Carson's video about Mannatech, in which he praises the company for "trying to find a way to restore the natural diet as a medicine, as a mechanism for maintaining health." Carson says:
The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, he gave us the right fuel, and that fuel was the right kind of healthy food.
Geraghty describes the company's "long, checkered past" in the National Review.


Anonymous said...

Refreshing to see you identify at least one set of nutritional supplements as "dubious". May we expect to see you retracting your endorsements of organics and distancing yourself from dubious claims of health and nutritional benefits accruing to organic production? Woo is woo, you do know.

usfoodpolicy said...

That's a great suggestion. Which endorsement shall I retract?

Jack Everitt said...

Ben Carson seems like such a kook compared to all of the other candidates - more akin to Sarah Palin than any other recent candidate.

Anonymous said...

I do believe dogs eat grass to induce vomiting, not because they see the benefits of "fresh green produce". However, I suppose it's silly to even start picking apart this video.

Unknown said...

I think it is very interesting to see Ben Carson's view of nutrition as a treatment in regards to the challenges he will face if he is elected as the leader of the free world. The United States struggles as a food system to combat the obesigenic environment we have created for consumers. I am a student of nutrition and have been well-versed in the effects of nutrition on disease states including healing from oxidative stress and surgeries. Ben Carson should realize that glycoscience or glycobiology specifically deals with researching compounds in whole foods. The more scientific literature I read on supplementation, the more obvious it becomes that supplementation only has benefits in the case of single nutrient deficiency. When compared to optimizing intake through natural foods, supplementation is not the primary way to optimize health. By taking supplement form of fruits and vegetables, you lose important components such as fiber. The most healthful way to optimize nutrition for an individual is to consumer more plant based foods and to observe moderation with more indulgent choices. The addition of a supplement to a diet high in processed foods and fat would not be as beneficial as transitioning to a whole foods diet high in phytonutrients.

It is also interesting and upsetting to see Carson refute affiliation with a company with whom he has clearly aligned himself. If he believes in a product then he should be able to say so confidently, right? If Carson gains the Republican nomination for the 2016 election year, can we expect him to be this undecided about crucial food programs in the United States? If he believes in whole food nutrition to create optimal health, will it mean he endorses and fully funds programs like Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) or National School Lunch Program (NSLP)? Will his associations with supplement companies mean he endorses supplementation over important agricultural programs that reduce hunger and increase nutritional intake in Americans like the commodities food program? The political environment for food advocates is already burdened with powerful lobbies from food companies that negate much the progress that occurs within our government. Things like soda taxes in the form of the SWEET act, increased funding for SNAP, prevention and treatment of obesity measures, and the older Americans act are actively fought against by lobbies. If Carson can be paid and endorse such a product before he would ever hold political office, it is not far fetched to consider that is support for or against food policy could be bought while in a position of immense political power. This prospect is the exact opposite of the kind of change this nation needs to correct its food system and promote health of its citizens. It is my hope that we all, as voters, consider the implications of our vote for President of the United States for food policy and choose wisely in the 2016 presidential election.