What the Health:
The Health Film Health Organizations Don't Want You to See!
Written, Produced, and Directed by Keegan Kuhn and Kip Andersen
AU Films and Media
Released March 2017
The film's subtitle clearly reveals the message Andersen learns as he travels the country to find that health organizations are ignoring or not recognizing the role that diet plays on health. His efforts to question spokespeople from these organizations take an in-your-face approach reminiscent of Michael Moore interviews. Of course, Andersen's interview attempts by phone and in person are rebuffed by the interviewees who realize they are asked to respond to embarrassing questions. When he queries a representative of the American Cancer Society about their website offering recipes using processed meats (known carcinogens), the person refuses to answer.
When he finally achieved an interview with a representative of the American Diabetes Association, the interview ended with the official storming out of the room.
Dietary recommendations of the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association, are spotlighted because these organizations are accepting funds from companies that are marketing products that cause the very diseases these organizations say they are fighting. The websites of these disease-fighting organizations tout products and/or recipes that include items shown to cause disease.
Directors Kuhn and Andersen show clips with statements from prominent physicians that reveal the negative effects of animal protein on obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Meat, chicken and fish are all implicated as the causes of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. To support this claim, Andersen interviews Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Jr. who has been able to reverse heart disease with a plant-based lifestyle. When asked about diet, Dr. Neal Barnard declares fat is more of the cause of diabetes than carbs or sugar.
One of the most dramatic sequences in the film shows an obese woman with a walker who is barely able to move, a women who takes numerous medications daily. After switching to a plant-based diet for two weeks, she is able to discard her medications and her walker to become a different person, one who is now more cheerful and happy with her existence.
Like Cowspiracy, What the Health was funded by contributions collected in an Indiegogo campaign. Both requested $54,000. Cowspiracy exceeded that goal by 217% by raising $117,092. The film was released in 2014. A new cut was delivered in 2015 when Leonardo DiCaprio came on as producer. The updated version streamed on Netflix beginning September 2015.
Although the Indiegogo campaign for What the Health set the goal of $54,000, subscribers responded with 404% of the target amount. The sum was $273,428 when the drive ended on March 6, 2016. The film was released on March of the following year.
What the Health travels the same road as Forks Over Knives in advocating a plant-based lifestyle as an effective means of preventing and combatting diseases that are caused by poor diet. Because of his youth and vigorous appearance, Andersen might be the most effective communicator this health movement needs. The willingness of people to contribute money to produce documentary films like this one is a testament to the need to provide the public with this type of information.
In a statement for the press, Andersen says, "I have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, and it was important to me to learn more."
We also learned more by watching.