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November 24, 2004

Nutrition pioneer Ancel Keys dies at 100

Nutrition researcher and public health activist Ancel Keys passed away on November 20th at the age of 100. Keys made significant contributions to human physiology and nutrition, including the classic two-volume work The Biology of Human Starvation. During the Second World War, Keys invented the K-ration as a lightweight high protein food for paratroopers. Later in his career Keys studied the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease. His research helped to establish the link between high-fat, highly-processed diets and CVD.

Washington Post obituary

Wikipedia entry


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A giant among men, no matter how compact he was. However, let us hope that during WW2 his conscientous-objector paticipants in the starvation study were volunteers.

The conscientious objector participants were definitely volunteers. Highly motivated volunteers at that. Keys talks quite a bit about the psychological and emotional states of his subjects before, during, and after. He chose only stable and determined participants. Several of the volunteers were divinity students who had their own theological interest in fasting or self-denial.

It's always great to see a good
person live a long life. I hope
his sunset years were comfy.

One Hundred Years you hung around!
A most impressive number.
Of all the research things you found
before eternal slumber,
just one stands out because it did
cause so much damage, killed so many,
when in the fifties, young and fit,
you thought, while sitting on your fanny,
that this world needed to be told
a theory that everyone
could grasp so all the young and old
would have new hope for true salvation.
Your friends were dropping, one by one
and doctors had no explanation.

While cutting open the deceased
you searched for clues inside their veins,
then found in arteries your beast,
it had eluded other brains.
Cholesterol, the new catch-cry.
here was an ugly, smelly stuff,
mere sight of it, to your keen eye
convinced you that you'd seen enough.

I have a nagging, strong suspicion
that basic science was your weakness.
When you embarked upon your mission
to leave behind post-mortem bleakness.
In spite of calls for sanity
from well-respected men of science,
you gathered all your vanity
and schooled yourself in harsh defiance.
Your studies were, let's say selective,
you knew the outcome from the start.
A brilliant medical detective
you saw yourself as super smart.
Your theory - like outback fires -
took off, infected many others.
Turned healthy people into buyers
and poisoned millions and their mothers.

Your life's work has now been debunked,
although the industry resists.
I wonder if you knew you flunked
the real test, of which the gist
is simply that the Bogeyman
exposed by you as evildoer
not only should but, surely, can
flush your credentials down the sewer.

I know you reached a ripe old age.
But did you follow what you taught?
Or were you like a macrophage
which eats what's there? I would have thought
that in the State of Minnesota,
where Swedes and other Europeans,
have settled with their old traditions
and eat their fats without a quota,
have done so for so many eons.
Would they accept your superstition?

I'm sorry you did not invent
a method that would keep man healthy.
Instead, the statins and the stent
and bovine droppings made you wealthy.

This tribute means to say 'J'accuse',
the French expression comes to mind.
Les grenouilles*, they did refuse
to line up, follow your behind.
So rest in peace in regions yonder,
and if you look down from the sky,
the thought occurs now, do you wonder
at all about the great Masai?
And, does it bother you at last,
the fudging and the pale-white lies,
now, when you see how overcast
you made the world with your wolf cries?

Just promise me, if you come back
for a new life here on the ground,
would you acknowledge that you lack
the common sense you never found?

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