Barry Groves, author and campaigner, dies aged 77.

Earlier this week I learned of the death of Barry Groves. Barry passed away on 29th April 2013. He was aged 77.

Barry and his wife Monica came from a line of farmers or farming families. Barry himself served a full career in the RAF. When he came out of the RAF he took up with research.

Both Barry and Monica had experienced weight problems in their lifetime and Barry set about trying to shed those excess pounds. He and Monica began trying the conventional regimes and found it difficult to lose weight, or hard to keep it off. They wound up doing the rounds of alternate diet plans without much success and then sought to go against conventional wisdom and began to incorporate fat into their diets, as opposed to avoiding it. Having tried various regimes with not much success they found this strategy worked for each of them.

Barry was naturally curious to establish that what they were doing was safe, and of course there were reasons to think it might not be; fats, and saturated fats in particular, had been demonised for supposedly causing heart disease, and they still are. So he set about checking the facts. As he ventured into research he began to imagine he’d been presented with a myth, and as he advanced a bit deeper he became increasingly assured that the popular understanding about saturated fats and cholesterol was wrong. Saturated fats and cholesterol are not the dietary demons they are painted to be.

Barry published three books.

  • Eat Fat Get Thin was published in 2000
  • Natural Health and Weight Loss (2007)
  • Trick and Treat (2008)

Trick and Treat is a tour-de-force. It’s a book I have read to around ¾ of its extent. I had it on loan from the library and another borrower kept requesting the darned thing. It was being passed between us like a hot potato. Trick and Treat is thoroughly researched and thoroughly referenced.

Towards the close of 2008 I had a similar experience to Barry. I am type 2 diabetic and at times prior to 2008 diabetes really muddled my life and my mind. I knew I could manage my diabetes with diet and exercise and I had some good results. But my results were variable and the variations owed a lot to the level of my resolve. But at the close of 2008 I was in a bad way. Something planted a seed in my mind and I began wondering that three factors could work against a type 2 diabetic such as myself.

  • Too much carbohydrate in the diet isn’t good.
  • Too much refined or highly glycaemic carbohydrate in the diet definitely isn’t good.
  • Too much polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the diet may not be good, and especially so if those PUFAs were high in the omega-6 varieties found in vegetable oils and margarine.

I figured I’d research the topic and write a book about it. Heavens, was I naïve! Soon after I became aware of Trick and Treat and then I ventured into Chapter 1. I was overwhelmed, but before i advanced much further I got side-tracked. In the event I didn’t come to appreciate the full significance of this book until early in 2011. And I didn’t really commit to reading it thoroughly until 2012.

However I attended a an event where Barry was present and Monica was by his side. The event was in September 2011. In the mid morning interval I approached him and shook hands. “You and I have something in common,” I said, “in that we have both submitted ASA complaints against Flora.”

Yes,” replied Barry, and what narked me about the process was the willingness with which the ASA will take as read the advice that is returned from the FSA.” I could not help but agree.

I found Barry to be charming. He was assured too, and had grounds to be. Monica was unassuming and equally charming. I warmed to then both, and I never have guesed he was well into his seventies. He had a sharp mind and a sparkle in his eye. Barry told me Trick and Treat was 10 years in the writing, and I suspect there was ten years of work that preceded even foreseeing the book in concept.

Trick and Treat is landmark work and the parts I have read I have read attentively and critically, and for the most part I can see no reason to consider it less than objective. Barry examines the relationship of dietary factors with aspects of ill-health, and he come at from several angles. He examines alternate conditions in sequence and discretely points to cause(s). He doesn’t often describe causes in terms of certainty, he frequently tables a balanced argument, and he leads to consider a probability that certain factors have bearing. But as he advances from one condition to the next patterns begin to emerge. The same suspects keep recurring as being implicated in alternate diseases. What are these suspects? Well, lots of refined and highly glycaemic carbohydrates are repeated in the dock, and do are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) especially the omega-6 variety. We’ve been sold a lie, much of the healthy eating advice that is dispensed today, and has been dispensed for four decades, is actually making many of us quite ill.

Barry knew money played a part in this process. He probably had some idea how, but money is a thoroughly enigmatic entity that influences outcomes in odd ways. It has been heavy going, when I made mention of being side-tracked it was by virtue of being stimulated to want to study the workings of money in more detail. Slowly, and I do mean slowly, I have trended to an improved understanding of the systemic workings of money. In the first half of 2013 I have trended to becoming better able to explain it to others. Our money system has had a bearing upon peoples health, sometimes for the better, yet often-times for the worse, and Barry describes many of the instances where it has influence for the worse. It’s not complicated, it just isn’t readily explained in brief.

In April 2013 I was pressed to produce a piece of work intent at linking some pieces of a significant puzzle. Along the way of progress I had often wondered about meeting up with Barry to have a more meaningful conversation. Barry I thought, above many people, was equipped to grasp the advance I felt I had made, and I did think he would be genuinely interested. Tripping to the Cotwolds to pass some time in his company was something I hoped to do and soon.

Learning of Barrys’ passing was a great moment of sadness. I shed a tear for Barry and for Monica. I feel nothing less than heartfelt sympathy for Monica for being presented with her loss. But I feel sad for humanity. Barry set out to uncover the truth. He didn’t go about that with agenda or preference. He just wanted to be as assured about affairs as he could be, and he did a darned good that job he and other could be proud of.

Barry produced the kind of analysis I loosely envisaged and might have been guided to. He did it and I could never have. Soon after he began Barry committed to the project full-time and it easily occupied two decades of his life, perhaps three. I just could not commit those kind of resources of time and energy to that kind of project. I simply could not match his ability either. But for the small amount of progress I did make it was in broad accord with his findings., and then the advance I did make justified the portrayal of money as a part of the artwork on the cover of the book.

How I wish I could have told him, in his living years. Bless him, and the deepest of condolences extend to Monica.

Trick and Treat should be compulsive reading for any Health Secretary incumbent in any government. It is half the explanation why our health service is close to breaking point.

 

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