Pete Evans slams fluoride, sunscreen and milk while promoting divisive new study

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
A new study has drawn a link between high levels of fluoride in pregnant women and low IQ scores in their kids. Photo: Getty Images

Pete Evans has thrown his weight behind a controversial new study out of Canada that is suggesting drinking water with fluoride while pregnant could lead to a drop in your baby’s IQ.

The study has caused division among professionals, many who have dismissed it, some who say it warrants further investigation, and all of whom agree it is not a definitive finding.

The study was conducted over two years from 2017, to 2019 and involved 601 mothers who gave birth between 2008 and 2012.

It found that an increase in fluoride intake was associated with a 3.66 lowering in IQ scores.

Pete Evans weighs in

Pete Evans has thrown his support behind a controversial new findings. Photo: Instagram/ chefpeteevans

Pete Evans has been a long time critic of fluoride, among a host of other things, and the celebrity chef spoke out enthusiastically on the research, telling The Herald Sun he wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“This has been known for ages, and this is just the tip of that iceberg,” Pete told the paper.

“Fluoride is a known neurotoxin and it should not be put in our water supply. If people choose to add fluoride then it should be their choice to do so. I cannot wait for it to be eliminated from being added to Australian water supplies.”

Predictably, the chef prompted heated outcry over his support, to which he responded with a lengthy Instagram post in which he mocked ‘group think’ around medical findings.

“...the cancer council says lather these toxins into your skin to protect you from the dangerous sun, or the dairy association says drinking milk will give you strong bones,” he said as part of a status reminding fans of medical ‘lies’ similar to dated pro-smoking advice from the mid-20th century.

Official findings

Fluoride continues to divide official opinion, but the consensus around the globe is that low levels of fluoride added to waterways does far more proven good than than theoretical harm.

The latest data cited by Evans has been criticised by several medical bodies who point out that actual measurement of fluoride levels in households weren’t done, and that the findings fly in the face of other long term studies.

“I would be very cautious about over interpreting this data. Statistical significance does not equal 'importance'," Professor Grainne McAlonan of translational neuroscience told the ABC.

There is also the argument that IQ scores remain a debated method for measuring cognitive function, and range on a total points scale of around 55 to 140+, meaning the reported 3.66 disparity is significant but not life-changing.

The study’s authors did acknowledge this controversy, while maintaining the importance of continuing studies with an open mind and reiterating their findings of a possible link.

JAMA Paediatrics is committed to disseminating the best science based entirely on the rigour of the methods and the soundness of the hypotheses tested, regardless of how contentious the results may be,” they said in an editor’s note attached to the study.

Response to Pete

Pete is a judge on MKR, where his expertise - cooking - is on display. photo: Instagram/chefpeteevans

Fluoride has been directly linked to significantly improved dental wellbeing in consumers.

“In children younger than 6 years fluoride is incorporated into the enamel of permanent teeth, making the teeth more resistant to the action of bacterial and acids in food,” a 2015 study found.

Meanwhile critics have blasted Pete Evan’s whole-hearted promotion of the study with the chief executive of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch telling the chef, ‘should probably stick to the celebrity cheffing and leave public health policy to the experts’.

Pete Evans frequently comes under fire for recommendations and health tips that fly in the face of official medical advice.

His recent book has raised eyebrows with recommendations to avoid sunscreen, and eat a purely animal product diet to fix gut problems.

He has however got a strong following with over 200k followers and is one of the most recognisable faces in Australian cooking thanks to his role as a MKR judge.

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