The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
  • Title: The China Study
  • Subtitle: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health
  • Author(s): T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell (II.)
  • Publisher: BenBella Books
  • Year: 2006
  • ISBN-10: 1932100660
  • ISBN-13: 9781932100662


The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell is a groundbreaking book that presents a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between diet and health. Based on an expansive research project, conducted by Campbell and his team, this thought-provoking book challenges traditional notions about food and nutrition. The study takes place in China and explores the dietary habits and health outcomes of different populations, providing compelling evidence that a plant-based diet can be immensely beneficial for preventing or even reversing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Campbell’s meticulous research, combined with his engaging writing style, makes “The China Study” an informative and enlightening read for anyone curious about the impact of diet on overall health.

Campbell’s findings in “The China Study” are both eye-opening and thought-provoking. He explores the role of dietary protein, specifically animal protein, in the development of various diseases, debunking myths surrounding high-protein diets. The author also delves into the harmful effects of a Western diet, highlighting the correlation between animal-based foods and the rise of chronic diseases. Additionally, he presents evidence that adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet can not only prevent but also reverse health issues. Campbell’s ability to distill complex scientific concepts into accessible language makes this book suitable for both health professionals and laypeople seeking to make informed choices about their diet and overall well-being.


Book Review

An Eye-Opening Journey into Optimal Health: "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell

In the ground-breaking book “The China Study,” T. Colin Campbell provides readers with a wealth of knowledge on the profound relationship between diet and health. Drawing from the renowned China-Cornell-Oxford Project, conducted over the course of several decades, Campbell presents a compelling case for the health benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. With remarkable clarity and a captivating narrative, he explains how our dietary choices can either promote or hinder our well-being.

One of the most intriguing aspects of “The China Study” is the meticulous research conducted in rural China, the world’s largest and most diverse population. Campbell and his team focused on comparing the dietary habits and health outcomes of different regions within China. Through their observations, they discovered fascinating trends that directly linked diet to chronic diseases.

Across the board, regions with diets rich in whole plant foods had significantly lower rates of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. For example, the book documents the remarkable difference in cancer rates between two separate counties: one with high consumption of animal-based foods and the other with a predominantly plant-based diet. The study revealed that the county with less animal protein consumption exhibited significantly lower cancer rates, whereas the opposite was true for the county with a Westernized diet.

Campbell delves deep into the influence of dietary protein, particularly animal protein, on disease development. Using extensive scientific research, he dispels common misconceptions about the importance of high-protein diets for optimal health. He highlights the detrimental effects of excessive animal protein consumption, such as the promotion of cancer cell proliferation and the impairment of liver function. Campbell further emphasizes that adopting a plant-based diet can lead to significant improvements in health outcomes.

Moreover, “The China Study” thoroughly explores the Western diet and its consequences on human health. Campbell reveals how diet patterns in developed countries, such as the United States, are directly linked to the surge in chronic diseases. He debunks the myth that genetics alone are responsible for this increase, underscoring the significant role diet plays. By comparing the disease rates between Chinese immigrants in the U.S. and those living in rural China, Campbell establishes a clear correlation between the Western diet and the development of chronic diseases. This eye-opening revelation challenges readers to reevaluate their own dietary choices and consider the long-term implications.

Throughout the book, Campbell presents a plethora of evidence supporting the notion that adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet can not only prevent but also reverse chronic illnesses. He recounts numerous personal success stories of individuals who experienced significant health improvements upon shifting to plant-based eating. These include individuals with heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Campbell’s inclusion of these individual accounts adds a human touch and serves as inspiration for readers seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Written in an engaging and accessible style, “The China Study” succeeds in presenting complex scientific concepts in a manner that the general public can understand. Campbell’s ability to make health research relatable and practical is commendable. He uses clear language, supported by charts and graphs, to illustrate the sometimes intricate connections between diet and health outcomes, making the information accessible to both medical professionals and individuals with a general interest in the subject.

In conclusion, “The China Study” is a remarkable book that challenges conventional wisdom regarding diet and health. Campbell’s extensive research and compelling arguments provide a solid foundation for adopting a plant-based diet to preserve and strengthen our overall well-being. By presenting both scientific evidence and relatable personal stories, Campbell’s work encourages readers to question their dietary choices and empowers them to make informed decisions that can dramatically impact their health. “The China Study” is an essential read for anyone seeking to optimize their health and take control of their well-being.


Everything in food works together to create health or disease. The more we think that a single chemical characterizes a whole food, the more we stray into misunderstanding the profound effects of nutrition on health.

Key Ideas

The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell presents several key ideas and insights regarding the relationship between diet and health. Here are the main concepts explored in the book:

  1. Plant-Based Diet and Disease Prevention Through extensive research and analysis of data from the China-Cornell-Oxford Project, Campbell demonstrates a strong correlation between the consumption of whole plant foods and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. He emphasizes that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can play a significant role in preventing and even reversing health ailments like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

  2. Harmful Effects of Animal Protein Campbell challenges the notion that high-protein diets are universally beneficial. He argues that excessive intake of animal-based proteins, particularly from sources like meat and dairy, can promote the development and progression of chronic diseases. Providing scientific evidence, he highlights how animal protein can trigger mechanisms in the body that contribute to cancer growth and other health issues.

  3. Western Diet and Health Consequences The book explores the impact of the modern Western diet, characterized by processed foods high in animal fat and protein. Campbell argues that this diet pattern, prevalent in developed countries, is a significant contributing factor to the rise of chronic diseases. By comparing populations in China with Westernized diets to those with traditional plant-based diets, he reveals stark differences in disease rates, concluding that our food choices play a crucial role in health outcomes.

  4. Reversibility of Chronic Diseases Campbell presents compelling evidence to support the idea that adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet can not only prevent but also reverse chronic diseases. He shares empirical examples of individuals who witnessed improvements and transformations in their health by making dietary changes. Campbell proposes that by eliminating the causative factors, such as animal-based foods, and embracing whole plant foods, individuals can dramatically influence their health outcomes.

  5. The Power of Nutrients Working Synergistically Campbell suggests that the health benefits associated with a plant-based diet are due to the synergistic interactions between various nutrients and complex compounds found in plant foods. Rather than isolating particular nutrients, he advocates for consuming whole, unprocessed plant foods to harness the full range of health-promoting compounds present in these foods.

Overall, “The China Study” presents a holistic perspective on nutrition, highlighting the importance of shifting towards a plant-based diet to improve overall health, prevent chronic diseases, and achieve optimal well-being. Campbell’s research-based insights offer a compelling argument in support of dietary choices aligned with whole plant foods, while challenging prevailing beliefs about protein intake and advocating for a more balanced, evidence-based approach to nutrition.


Target Audience

The book “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell is targeted at a diverse audience with an interest in nutrition, health, and the impact of diet on well-being. It is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Health-conscious individuals The book offers invaluable insights into the relationship between diet and chronic diseases. It provides evidence-based information to help readers make informed choices about their food intake and offers practical guidelines for adopting a plant-based diet to optimize health and prevent diseases.

  • Medical professionals “The China Study” presents a comprehensive analysis of the scientific research conducted on nutrition and health. It provides healthcare practitioners with evidence and arguments to incorporate into their practices and supports the idea of lifestyle changes, particularly in promoting plant-based diets, as a powerful tool in disease prevention and treatment.

  • Nutritionists and dietitians The book offers a wealth of information about the benefits of a plant-based diet, empowering nutrition professionals to make recommendations that prioritize whole plant foods. It challenges existing dietary beliefs and provides a strong scientific basis for adopting a balanced and plant-centric approach to nutrition.

  • Individuals with chronic diseases “The China Study” provides hope and inspiration for those battling chronic diseases. It offers compelling evidence that dietary changes, specifically adopting a whole-food, plant-based approach, can have a profound impact on preventing and potentially reversing these conditions. It serves as a guide for those seeking to improve their health outcomes through dietary choices.

  • Scientists and researchers The book is recommended reading for those interested in the connection between diet and health from a research perspective. Campbell’s work presents a comprehensive analysis of the China-Cornell-Oxford Project, providing valuable insights into study design, data interpretation, and the complexities of nutritional research. It serves as a valuable resource for scholars and researchers in the fields of nutrition, epidemiology, and public health.

The China Study” is recommended reading due to its ability to challenge conventional dietary beliefs with compelling evidence. Its comprehensive analysis, clear language, and engaging narrative make it accessible to a wide range of readers. Whether one is seeking personal health improvements or a deeper understanding of the complex effects of diet on health, this book offers valuable information and empowers individuals to make informed choices about their nutrition and overall well-being.

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