Dr Gillian McKeith
Star of Channel Four's You Are What You Eat, and best-selling author of a book by the same name. I have been thoroughly wound-up by her show from the start. Her ideas on TV seemed a bit dubious, but were generally skated over. Subjects would lose weight by eating less and exercising more - hardly surprising. But her book is, in my humble opinion, pure quackery.
Her own website proclaims her to be the World's Top Nutritionist - a grand claim. Professor of Nutrition at Cambridge or Harvard perhaps? Her management list her education as:
PhD, Doctorate in Nutrition; American College of Nutrition (Birmingham, USA)
MSc Nutrition, Masters Degree in Nutrition; American College of Nutrition
BA, Bachelors Degree in Neuroscience Linguistics & Language; University of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK)
MA, Masters Degree in Health Systems Management; University of Pennsylvania – Ivy League (Philadelphia, USA)
London School of Acupuncture (London, UK)
Kailish Centre of Oriental Medicine - Kampo Herbology (London, UK)
East West College of Herbs - (San Diego, USA)
Australasian College of Health Sciences (Portland, USA) – pending Diploma in Herbal Medicine
A little investigation was required. I could find no American College of Nutrition in Birmingham, Alabama via directory enquiries. No surprise. There is a professional organisation based in Florida of the same name. However, it does not grant degrees. I phoned the American College of Nutrition in Florida to check whether she might at least be a member or fellow, but they have no record of her. However, I was told that their executive director did write to the 'American College of Nutrition' in Alabama in the 199os requesting that they cease to operate under that name.
Note: in fairness, I have no reason to believe that Dr McKeith has ever claimed to have got her degree from the Florida organisation - but the confusion could easily arise as long as she uses the name 'American College of Nutrition' without the qualification that appears on her management website. The American College of Nutrition in Florida has a good deal of professional standing, so I wanted to be clear which one was being referred to.
Later, the Alabama organisation called itself the 'American College of Holistic Nutrition', which has now become Clayton College of Natural Health. As the Clayton website states, giving its history:
In the late 1970s Lloyd Clayton, Jr., N.D., who had recovered his own health through natural healing, established an eco-friendly herb company. Soon, his new company was inundated by customer inquiries regarding herbs and how to use them.
Delighted to discover such strong worldwide interest in natural health, he and his family members created two distance learning colleges in 1980: The Clayton School of Natural Healing and American Holistic College of Nutrition.
So, could it be that the 'World's Leading Nutritionist' got her PhD from a postal course? And what is the value of such a course?
Moreover, would the people she has accused of 'abuse' on TV, for feeding their kids junk, be so inclined to take such abuse from her if they knew she wasn't an MD? That her PhD is from a self-proclaimed degree-granting institute with accreditation from, it would appear, only other institutions that are self-proclaimed to grant accreditation?
In fact, her qualifications from prestige universities like Edinburgh and Penn seem to have been in subjects unrelated to her present role.
Of course, if she is in fact the World's Leading Nutritionist and can draw on some other evidence to support this claim, I'll gladly add it here.
Dr Gillian McKeith - Official website