Summary – Dr James Muecke Australian of the Year 2020

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I recently discovered that Dr James Muecke, the Australian of the Year in 2020, presented a talk at the National Press Club on Tuesday, 1 December 2020.

Muecke has states that we need to “Declare war on type 2 diabetes and cut back on sugar” in order to reduce the incidence of blindness.

Muecke believes that we should be eating more eggs, cheese, meat and dark chocolate to minimise diabetes, its associated blindness (diabetic retinopathy) and diabetic neuropathy. Peripheral diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage of the limbs that is caused by diabetes. 50% of adults with type 2 diabetes have peripheral neuropathy. It can result in pain, numbness and an increase in sensitivity. Diabetes account for more than 80% of amputations.

The cause of diabetes has been known at least from the 1920s – that is, high-fat diets. It took another 70 years to discover the mechanism. If you type “intramyocellular lipids diabetes” into a Google Scholar search, you will receive hundreds of search results that documents the cause of type 2 diabetes. “Intramyocellular lipids diabetes” refers to fats inside muscle cells.

  • Diabetes (2001) Effects of Intravenous and Dietary Lipid Challenge on Intramyocellular Lipid Content and the Relation With Insulin Sensitivity in Humans.
  • Diabetes (1999) Association of Increased Intramyocellular Lipid Content With Insulin Resistance in Lean Nondiabetic Offspring of Type 2 Diabetic Subjects.
  • Diabetologia (1999) Intramyocellular lipid concentrations are correlated with insulin sensitivity in humans: A 1H NMR spectroscopy study.
  • Diabetes (1999) Rapid impairment of skeletal muscle glucose transport / phosphorylation by free fatty acids in humans.
  • Journal of Clinical Investigation (1996) Mechanism of free fatty acid-induced insulin resistance in humans.

Normally, insulin attaches to protein receptors on the cell’s surface and signals the cell membrane to allow glucose to enter. If there is an accumulation of fat in the cell, it interferes with insulin’s signalling process and glucose cannot enter the cell. Fat can accumulate inside muscle cells even in slim people. The real cause of type 2 diabetes is not an excess of sugar or carbohydrates. It is an accumulation of fat inside the cells that interferes with the muscle cells ability to respond to insulin. The muscle cells are unable to access glucose, which is required for energy production.

When popular commentators such are Muecke make public statements, they do not need to quote their sources. However, with some understanding of the literature it is often easy to determine the source as the quotes often are directly taken from papers, along with the idiosyncratic wording and fallacies.

Low-Carbohydrate Diets

There are a multitude of websites advocating low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets – far more than those advocating whole-food, plant-base diets. People enjoy their high-fat, animal-based diets and do not require much encouragement to increase their consumption.

If carbohydrates are limited in the diet that means an increase in fats, proteins and animal-based foods. Those offering low-carbohydrate dietary plans usually offer (expensive) supplements to make up for the deficiencies of their diets.

Dr Muecke is passionate about his crusade to prevent diabetes, its associated blindness (diabetic retinopathy), diabetic neuropathy and amputations. Unfortunately, the solution is based on popular myths and as a result is contributing to society’s ill-health. No-one has the courage to gently point out that the “facts” Dr Muecke is presenting to the Australian public does not hold up to scrutiny.

Eliminating sugar from the diet is a simplistic message. Foods are much more than the sum of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Whole-food, plant-based diets automatically removes added sugars and  oils. This results in a diet high in fibre, complex carbohydrates, micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and thousands of phytonutrients such carotenoids and flavonoids. Individual components do not work in isolation but work synergistically.

Instead of solving the problems of increasing diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and auto-immune diseases, Muecke is creating an environment that amplifies the problem.

NOTE: References from articles in peer-reviewed journals are provided in the documents listed at the end of the article.

The PURE Study

Muecke quotes The PURE Study to support his case. I have attached a document that shows in some detail the shortcomings of the PURE Study.

American College of Cardiology Review

Muecke also quotes (or misquotes) a Journal of the American College of Cardiology review of the literature that found there was “no evidence that cutting saturated fats from your diet would help you  live longer”.

Muecke presumably was referring to the 25 page review 2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. This is interesting as the review did not examine longevity or mortality. The review specifically states that,

Because of resource limitations, CVD morbidity and mortality outcomes were not included in the evidence review for this question.

Muecke’s statement does not appear anywhere in the 25 page review.

Other Concerns

Muecke has also stated:

There are over 100 controlled clinical trials that a healthy fat diet works to both prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes. Need to shift from a high-carb to low-carb pattern with a good dose of healthy fat.

Since Muecke relies on the media to disseminate his information, he does not need to communicate what these “controlled clinical trials” are.

Muecke indirectly refers to a 2019 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium to support his beliefs.

Walter Willett, the Harvard professor of epidemiology and nutrition, called the study “the most egregious abuse of data I’ve ever seen“.

WHO’s Draft Guidelines are Out of Date

It is evident that Muecke is also influenced by Arne Astrup’s article WHO draft guidelines on dietary saturated and trans fatty acids: time for a new approach? that was published in The BMJ on 3rd July 2020 and received so much attention in the popular press.

The next day the ABC published an article, World Health Organisation’s recommendations on saturated fat are out of date, expert team says as its top news story. The low-carb marketing team is very well organised.

Professor Stewart Truswell from University of Sydney and Professor Jim Mann, from University of Otago were “incensed” at the coverage of this paper. Professor Mann was at a World Health Organisation diabetic conference in Europe and the meeting decided not to engage in a public debate because it will “give them oxygen” – they will always lose out to the well-funded dairy and beef industries.

I disagreed. I have produced an 85 page A5 document that reviews Astrup’s paper which Stewart has reviewed. I also produced a 97 minute video with some of the highlights.

Professor Truswell has reviewed my document and movie.

Astrup also published a similar article in 2011 The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010?

A symposium was held at the The University of Copenhagen on 28–29 May 2010, for all the authors of this paper. The symposium was organised and sponsored by The Nordea Foundation OPUS Research Centre, The Centre for Advanced Food Studies, Denmark.
Unrestricted grants [for the symposium] were received from The Beef Checkoff (USA), Centre National Interprofessionnel de l’Economie Laitiere (CNIEL), The Danish Agriculture & Food Council, Dairy Australia, the Dairy Council for Great Britain, the Dairy Council of California, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, The Global Dairy Platform, Milchindustrie-Verband, the National Dairy Council (USA), and Svensk Mjolk.

My book – and video – documents how the food industry has manipulated the media and researchers to ensure that corporate profits take precedence over public health.


I have taken the material to the Newcastle Herald, our local members of parliament, The Australian newspaper and Sydney Morning Herald but no-one is interested. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) stated that it was not their responsibility to bring this material to the attention of their members. The editors of the Australian Medical Journal (AMJ) likewise stated this material did not meet their criteria for publication. Each time I addressed their concerns, they discovered another reason why it could not be published.

I made a complaint to the The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), concerned that a medical practitioner was disseminating information that was affecting the health of the general public. However, complaints can only be made about specific instances of neglect or misconduct.


Attached Documents

Summary Dr James Muecke – Australian of the Year in 2020.pdf

A summary of the views of Dr James Muecke – Australian of the Year in 2020

Dr James Muecke Australian of the Year in 2020.pdf

Examines some of the claims that Dr Muecke makes to justify his high-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-animal based diet.

The PURE Study Myths.pdf

Muecke cites The PURE study as confirming that fats and saturated fats are not implicated in increased mortality and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This document examines some of the flaws of this study.

Carbohydrates-and-Diabetes.pdf

The cause of type 2 diabetes has been known since at least the 1920s. It took another 70 years to discover the process of how type 2 diabetes is manifested. It has very little to do with sugar or carbohydrates.

WHOsGuidelinesforStaturatedFatsA5.pdf

A document that examines Astrup’s 2019 and 2011 papers that Muecke relies on to justify his stance. It also examines in some detail the role of corporate funding in ensuring that corporate profits are protected. This document and accompanying movie has been reviewed by Professor Truswell.

WHO’s Recommendations

WHO's recommendations on saturated fat are out of date, expert team says.
However, the study has been funded by the dairy and beef industries.
Discover how industry-funded research is deceiving the public.

Three eBooks

Low-carbohydrate Mania

Low-carbohydrate Mania: The Fantasies, Delusions, and Myths

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Center for Nutrition Studies

Center for Nutrition Studies