In January 2019, the EAT Lancet diet was launched, which provided specific dietary guidelines intended for the world. Upon reviewing the recommendations, I found them to be deficiencient in many nutrients. In November 2023, a paper titled “Adherence to the EAT-Lancet reference diet is associated with a reduced risk of incident cancer and all-cause mortality in UK adults” was published in the journal “One Earth”. The lead author was Karavasiloglou. The study, which used data from the UK Biobank cohort, claimed a connection between adherence to the EAT Lancet diet and reduced cancer incidence and all-cause mortality.
The study included 473,836 participants, excluding those with cancer or cardiovascular disease at baseline, pregnant women, and those with missing dietary information. Participants were followed for an average of 11.5 years, during which 46,594 cancer cases, 7,530 cardiovascular events, and 34,438 deaths occurred. Adherence to the EAT Lancet diet was grouped as low, moderate, or high based on points assigned by the researchers.
The study reported statistically significant associations for cancer and all-cause mortality, while cardiovascular events showed no significant association.
However, there was a critical flaw in the study’s methodology. The study did not examine the EAT Lancet diet, rendering any conclusions invalid.
The study allocated points based on criteria such as avoidance of wheat, dairy, eggs, sugar, limited meat and fish intake, and high fruit and vegetable consumption. However, it failed to include essential components like tubers, legumes, nuts, palm oil, dairy fats, and lard or tallow fats. Additionally, the study awarded points for avoiding grains and added sugars, whereas these were supposed to account for almost half the EAT Lancet diet.
Nine out of 15 EAT Lancet diet components could not be matched, as they were absent or excluded in the UK Biobank data. Consequently, the Karavasiloglou et al. diet accounted for only one-fifth of EAT Lancet calories, making any claims about disease and adherence to the EAT Lancet diet invalid.