Let's talk about Dr. Weston A. Price and his theories


A friend at work mentioned this guy the other day, and started to lecture on how our eating habits are bad, raw milk is good for you, soy is poisonous, etc. Thankfully, we were working and the discussion didn’t have to continue, but I told her I’d look the guy up when I got home.

I did so, and after reading a handful of sites, consensus seems to be he was a quack, that his “landmark study” was no such thing, and that he spent the last part of his life giving out bad advice to anyone who would listen. At least, that’s the impression I get from googling him and reading a bit.

So, is there anything to his so-called study and his conclusions? Is there any scientific basis for anything he claimed? Is the foundation that bears his name just carrying on with his advice, or have they funded studies that back up his claims?

What’s the Straight Dope on Weston A. Price, DDS?

Well, my personal take on him is that he is not as whacked as many of the raw foodists I have met [somehow I ended up on a raw food mailing list back in the early 00s, I have NO idea how it happened but I hung out reading for a couple years before the whackery got to me and I ran screaming]

I have a similar idea about foods - we evolved to eat foods as they come in their raw and basic cooked state. We did not evolve with margarine trees and HFCS flowers … if it takes manufacturing in a laboratory, we are not meant to eat it.

I will eat butter and eggs, and cold pressed olive oil as my fats of choice [and of course the fat inherent in the cut of meat] and I prefer natural ferment vinegars - wine, apple cider, malt to thinned down glacial acetic acid made from wood pulp. [i know, just think of the source of the white distilled vinegar makes it a turn off…] and I prefer my home raised chickens that run around eating real grain and bugs and plants to something from an anonymous poultry factory. I know exactly how fresh my eggs are =)

On the other hand some natural foods need processing to be in an edible form - soy needs to be ground and cooked in liquid to produce soy milk, grains while they can be eaten raw are best and easier eaten when cooked into porridge or breads, and many legumes need cooking to release proteins and denature certain toxins. Cooking is what separates us from animals [did you know that the green parts of potatoes can be toxic in the right amount? Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant are related to deadly nightshade…]

If you read the ‘caustic commentary’ articles in their site, its pretty obvious they’re alternative medicine types. Comments about vaccinations causing ill health, anecdotal deaths as evidence of bad diet being the real cause of flu deaths were the first I found, Also arguments about cholesterol being an incorrect view of heart disease, and pasteurisation being a bad idea. And its title that its commentary taking on the ‘dietocrats’.

Theres so many non-mainstream ideas its sort of hard to know where to start.

If you’re a proponent of the consensus of mainstream empirical research as the generally most effective way to identify the most healthy diet and information about nutrition in general, you’re probably going to view them as somewhat moonbatty.


Nutrition and Physical Generation, his landmark work, is worth a read. His followers, especially online, tend to be several varieties of wing-nut unfortunately. My family doctor who’s a smart guy is a fan, though - thinks he has entirely the right idea. As do I.

He’s not a scientist and no, most of his theories have not been scientifically researched, much less proven. There is much evidence coming forward that he was on the right track, however (industrial oils and excess fructose seem to have a deletarious effect on all mammals including humans, there’s little real evidence that saturated animal fat is linked with disease, etc).

I’m mainly familiar with the Weston Price Foundation as a source of non-evidence based scaremongering about soy protein, but they churn out other dubious and quackery-laden health information (especially as regards to nutrition) as well.

Among other things, they promote the idea that animal fats and saturated fat from sources like coconut oil are good for you, while lacking good data that diets high in these substances are heart-healthy as claimed. A leading proponent of coconut oil whose articles appear on their site is Mary Enig, a researcher with ties to the coconut oil industry.

A common technique with coconut oil promotion is to point to lower rates of heart disease in certain Third World countries in which the oil is used for cooking, while ignoring other dietary and genetic factors that are likely responsible for the differences. Enig has suggested that consuming coconut oil makes you less susceptible to bacterial infection. In this article she cites some preliminary data that does not come from human trials, then goes into a list of examples of antibiotic-resistant bacteria with the implication that dietary coconut oil has been shown to be effective against them (it hasn’t). Very deceptive in my view.

Knowledgeable heart experts do not subscribe to these theories about dietary fat.

Weston Price himself was a pioneer of “holistic dentistry”, with its associated nonsense about “toxins” that supposedly cause a whole host of diseases.

Price also performed poorly designed studies that led him to conclude that teeth treated with root canal therapy leaked bacteria or bacterial toxins into the body, causing arthritis and many other diseases. This “focal infection” theory led to needless extraction of millions of endodontically treated teeth until well-designed studies, conducted during the 1930s, demonstrated that the theory was not valid."

This sort of stuff seems to be the basis of the quack dentistry that urges people to get mercury-containing fillings yanked out and replaced with composite fillings (which contain their own share of “toxins”). The concept that toxicity is only meaningful in terms of dose has apparently never occurred to these people.

I wouldn’t accept any health advice coming from Weston Price at face value.

I see on the wiki that

But as far as I can tell, there really is no research, at least not any that is considered valid by the scientific and/or medical communities. Stephen Barrett, who runs quackwatch.com seems to take exception to nearly everything the man ever did, and he seems to back up his case fairly well.

I see on the wiki that

But as far as I can tell, there really is no research, at least not any that is considered valid by the scientific and/or medical communities. Stephen Barrett, who runs quackwatch.com seems to take exception to nearly everything the man ever did, and he seems to back up his case fairly well.

Actually, while Stephen Barrett raises good good points about issues with holistic and biological and the organizations that bear Price’s name he forgets that Weston Price himself was a product of his time. A November 3. 1933 presentation paper by Charles F. Bodecker, D.D.S. from the laboratory of Histo-pathology, Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery, New York called
“Metabolic Disturbance in Relation to the Teeth” and a February 19, 2009 web paper via ‘‘Orthomolecular Medicine News Service’’ called “Vitamin Deficiency Underlies Tooth Decay” show that there was a lot of research on nutrition effects on tooth decay with many reports showing results similar to Price’s thought there was much debate on which vitamins and minerals were the key factors. (I have included the references from those two papers so people know where the data came from in case the links ever fail)

Also the only references Stephen Barrett provides regarding focal point theory are old and seems to been overruled by even more recent research. (Bergenholtz, Gunnar ;Preben Hørsted-Bindslev, Claes Reit putlich (2009) “Textbook of Endodontology” by by Wiley page 136 Saraf (2006) Textbook of Oral Pathology Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers pg 188)

“Metabolic Disturbance in Relation to the Teeth” References:

Agnew, M. C.; Agnew, R. G.; Tisdall, F. F. (1933) “The production and prevention of dental caries.” Journal of the American Dental Association, JADA 20; 193-212.

Boyd, J. D.; Drain, C.; Nelson, M. V. (1929) “Dietary Control of Dental Caries.” American Journal Diseases Children 38, 721.

Eddy, W. H. (1931) “Diet and Dentition.” Dental Cosmos 73, 346

Howe,Percy R. (1921) “The Effect of Vitamin-Deficient Diet upon the Teeth.” Dental Cosmos 63, 1086

Hanke, M. T. (1933) The Chicago Dental Research Club. “Nutritional Studies on Children.” Dental Cosmos 75, 570, June, July, August

Jones, Martha; Larson, M. P.; Pritchard, G. P. (1932) “Dental Disease in Hawaii.” Journal American Medical Association 99, 1849, November 26

Marshall,John. (1928)“Experimental Findings in Nutrition Studies and their Relation to Clinical Practice.” Dental Cosmos 70, 1080.

Marshall, John. (1933) “Dental Aspects of Mineral Metabolism.” Dental Cosmos75, 773, August.

McBeath, Ewing. (1932) “Report to the Commonwealth Fund of New York.” Journal Dental Research 12, 723

Klein, H., McCollum, E. V. (1931) “A Preliminary Note on the Significance of the Phosphorus Intake in the Diet and Blood Phosphorus Concentration, in the Experimental Production of Caries-Immunity and Caries- Susceptibility in the Rat.” Science 74,662,December 25.

Klein, H., McCollum, E. V. (1932) “The Significance of the Calcium and Phosphorus Ratio, in Caries-Susceptibility and Caries-Immunity.” Journal Dental Research 12, 524.

Mellanby, May; Pattison, C. L.; Proud, J. W. (1924) “The Effect of Diet on the Development and Extension of Caries in Teeth of Children.” British Med. Journal 2, 354, August 30.

Mellanby, May; Pattison, C. L. (1926) “Some Factors of Diet Influencing the Spread of Caries in Children.” British Dental Journal 47, October 1, p.1045.

Mellanby, May; Pattison, C. L. (1928) “Action of Vitamin D in Preventing Spread and Promoting Arrest of Caries in Children.” British Med. Journal 2, 1079, December 15.

Price, Weston A. (1931) “New Light on the Control of Dental Caries and the Degenerative Diseases.” Journal American Dental Association 18, 1189

Price, Weston A. (1932) “Control of Dental Caries Through Diet.” Journal American Dental Association 19, 1339

Price, Weston A. (1933) “Additional Light on the Etiology and Nutritional Control of Dental Caries with its Application to each District showing Immunity and Susceptibility.” Journal American Dental Association 20, 1648

“Vitamin Deficiency Underlies Tooth Decay” references:

Tisdall, F.F. The effect of nutrition on the primary teeth. Child Development (1937) 8(1), 102-4.

McBeath, E.C. Nutrition and diet in relation to preventive dentistry. NY J. Dentistry (1938) 8; 17-21.

McBeath, E.C.; Zucker, T.F. Role of vitamin D in the control of dental caries in children. Journal of Nutrition (1938) 15; 547-64.

East, B. R. Nutrition and dental caries. American Journal of Public Health 1938. 28; 72-6.

Mellanby, M. The role of nutrition as a factor in resistance to dental caries. British Dental Journal (1937), 62; 241-52.

His Majesty’s Stationery Office, London. The influence of diet on caries in children’s teeth. Report of the Committee for the Investigation of Dental Disease (1936).

McBeath, F.C. Vitamin D studies, 1933-1934. American Journal of Public Health (1934), 24 1028-30.

Anderson, P. G.; Williams, C. H. M.; Halderson, H.; Summerfeldt, C.; Agnew, R. Influence of vitamin D in the prevention of dental caries. Journal of the American Dental Association (1934) 21; 1349-66.

Day, C. D.; Sedwick, H. J. Fat-soluble vitamins and dental caries in children. Journal of Nutrition (1934) 8; 309-28.

Agnew, M. C.; Agnew, R. G.; Tisdall, F. F. The production and prevention of dental caries. Journal of the American Dental Association, JADA (1933) 20; 193-212.

Bennett, N. G.; et al. The influence of diet on caries in children’s teeth. Special Report Series - Medical Research Council, UK (1931) No. 159, 19.

Mellanby, M.; Pattison, C. L. The influence of a cereal-free diet rich in vitamin D and calcium on dental caries in children. British Medical Journal (1932) I 507-10.

Brodsky, R. H.; Schick, B.; Vollmer, H… Prevention of dental caries by massive doses of vitamin D. American Journal of Diseases of Children (1941) 62; 1183-7.

From the general tone of the posts, it really does appear that the “antiWPF” folks mainly get their info from a little web surfing, not from actually Reading Books and experiencing the lifestyle for a number of years. Steven Barret appears to be nothing but a vicious extension of the AMA, out to debunk every single method and approach that flies in the face of allopathy, (or the definition of American medical science) although, in the past 12 years or so that I have checked in, natural healing (as it is now called- the term "alternative " itself being more and more obsolete… for many it is a primary choice, not an “alternative”), although he himself has no experience with any of it, and no training. Steven Barret is a yapping pit bull at the gates of allopathy, and reaching the end of his media life.

There also seems to be a prevailing sentiment that the best information comes from medical communities… oh wait- rename that medical industry…when in fact we have shameful levels of sickness and perpetuated sickness from medical “care” , and suppressed dietary science from universities/researchers/doctors who are paid by major corporations (Kraft, Coke, etc) to come up with “research” . If you care to, there are dozens of books available on amazon written by MD’s and former pharma execs detailing the fraud, lies, exploitation and racketeering within the medical profession for the past 50 years. Just the two key words racketeering and medical will string you out on the path of books to last you all night.

Actually, the WPF provides much research and backing for their claims, and a growing very well educated and discerning contingency are feeling much healthier incorporating their advisory. I would not call myself a “follower”, but I have transformed some formerly brainwashed beliefs about nutrition, food sources, food production, farming and more by keeping an open mind and reading many of the books the WPF suggests, while incorporating the information directly into my practice and personal life.

I’ve spent a great deal of time needing to refute the quackery shoved out by the bushelful by the Institute. They are very well funded and are terrific at marketing and publicity.

I know of nothing they say that has any scientific backing. I’ve examined “studies” that they’ve done only to find that they were of biased samples that were asked loaded questions. These studies were not subject to peer review and I know of one case in which the FDA repudiated their findings.

I don’t use the word quack lightly. There are many areas of nutrition in which insufficient research has been done to back up any claims. There are enormous numbers of questions for which we have no good answers.

However, WPF claims to have answers. They don’t. Do not believe anything they say on any subject. It may, like a stopped clock, accidentally be right, because they have so many opinions on so many foods. But unless you go elsewhere for understanding there is no way to tell what statements buried in the mass are worth following, and all too many statements that are sheer folly.

A good readable book on the history of nutritional knowledge and the ways doctors, ranging from the best authorities to food company stooges - who sometimes were the same individuals who switched sides when being paid enough, is Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet, by Harvey Levenstein. He traces the problem over the course of the 20th century. The medical establishment was often wrong and needed to correct itself. However, the quacks are always wrong and refuse to correct themselves. Price’s followers are in the latter category.

I used to be annoyed by the terms “allopathy” and “allopathic,” but now I think they’re great— I know immediately to discount anyone using them. It’s a great time-saver.

Hmmm…join date of Jan 2011, massive wave of woo-friendly denunciation of science and medical professionals (funny how they do that when all the evidence points to their being wrong)…Mary Enig, is that you?

Though he has been dead over 60 years Price’s own words refute Barrett’s claims:
Barrett: “While extolling their health, he ignored their short life expectancy and high rates of infant mortality, endemic diseases, and malnutrition.”
Price: “since 1870 the average length of life has been increased by fifteen years, that marked reduction has occurred during this period in infant mortality and in mortality due to tuberculosis, typhoid, smallpox and many other diseases.” ((1923) Dental Infections, Oral and Systemic)

“This physician stated that there were about 800 whites living in the town and about 400 Indians, and that notwithstanding this difference in numbers there were twice as many Indian children born as white children, but that by the time these children reached six years of age there were more white children living than Indian and half-breed children. This he stated was largely due to the very high child mortality rate, of which the most frequent cause is tuberculosis.” (1939) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects Paul B. Hoeber, Inc; Medical Book Department of Harper & Brothers; Chapter 6)

“The changes in facial and dental arch form, which I have described at length in this volume, develop in this age period also, not as a result of faulty nutrition of the individual but as the result of distortions in the architectural design in the very early part of the formative period. Apparently, they are directly related to qualities in the germ plasm of one or both parents, which result from nutritional defects in the parent before the conception took place, or deficient nutrition of the mother in the early part of the formative period.” (Chapter 19)

“It is important to keep in mind that morbidity and mortality data for many diseases follow a relatively regular course from year to year, with large increases in the late winter and spring and a marked decrease in summer and early autumn. […] I have obtained the figures for the levels of morbidity for several diseases in several countries, including the United States and Canada.” (Chapter 20)

“Dr. Vaughan in her reference to the data on the annual report of the chief medical officer, the Minister of Health, states as follows: Our infant mortality returns show that over half the number of infants dying before they are a year old die before they have lived a month…” (Chapter 21)

Short life expectancy, high rates of infant mortality, and endemic diseases being eliminated by modern culture *were *addressed by Price and he even referenced his 1923 work in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (Chapters 2 and 18). Despite all this Barrett claims Price ignored the very things Price himself talks about.:eek::eek::eek:

Ooo, a double zombie thread about a health quack. There’s some sort of synergy there.

Only one of your alleged Weston Price quotes appears to relate to “primitive” cultures. And it only addresses infant mortality, and not malnutrition and disease affecting older individuals.

Price is far from alone in jumping to conclusions about superior health in Third World cultures based on purported benefits of a particular food, supplement or lifestyle. For example we are constantly hearing about “miracle” foods of some non-Western culture, from those who ignore the fact that the “miracle” doesn’t prevent these people from dying on average much sooner than Westerners.

Did you happen to notice that virtually all the references you provided are from the 1920s and 1930s? :smiley:

Are brains on the diet?

If they are, I bet they’re in (raw) milk gravy.

Trust me-no brains were used in the preparation of that diet.

maximara, if you want to defend Price, stick around and actually engage the discussion.

Popping in with a post to prop up his reputation and then disappearing for months at a time makes it appear as though you are just shilling for Price’s books or his institute.

The next time you revive this thread after months of quiesence, it will be closed and you will be Warned or Banned.

[ /Moderating ]