John A. McDougall

This article is about the American physician and author. For the Alberta politician of the same name, see John Alexander McDougall.
John A. McDougall
Born May 17, 1947 (1947-05-17) (age 69)
Nationality American
Education Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (M.D.)
Occupation Physician, author
Known for Treating degenerative diseases with a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based/vegan diet
Notable work The McDougall Plan (1983), The Starch Solution (2011)

John A. McDougall (born May 17, 1947) is an American doctor and author who has written that degenerative disease can be prevented and treated with a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based vegan diet—especially one based on starches which excludes animal foods and added vegetable oils.[1] McDougall's diet—The McDougall Plan—has been categorized as a fad diet that carries some disadvantages, such as a boring food choice and the risk of feeling hungry.[2]

Early years education and career

He was born on May 17, 1947.[3]

McDougall is a graduate of Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine.[4] He performed his internship at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1972 and his medical residency at the University of Hawaii.[4] He is certified as an internist by the Board of Internal Medicine and the National Board of Medical Examiners.

In 1965, at age 18, McDougall suffered a massive stroke, which he attributed to his high animal product diet.[5]

Between 1973 and 1976, McDougall worked as a physician at the Hamakua Sugar Plantation on Hawaii Island. Between 1986 and 2002, he launched a vegetarian dietary program at St. Helena Hospital in the Napa Valley, California. Between 1999 and 2001, he ran a dietary program for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[5]

McDougall is on the advisory board of Naked Food Magazine, for which he is also a regular contributor of articles espousing a plant-based diet.[6]

Diet programs and products

In 2002, McDougall began the McDougall Program at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, California. The McDougall Program is a 10-day residential treatment program based in Santa Clara, California which features a low fat starch based diet.[4][7]

McDougall is the co-founder and chairman of San Francisco based Dr. McDougall's Right Foods Inc., which produces dried and packaged soups, and is manufactured by the SF Spice Co.[4][8][9][10] He is also a member of the advisory board of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)[11][12] In 2016, McDougall was one of four named plaintiffs in a lawsuit by the PCRM alleging improper industry influence on establishing cholesterol recommendations.[13][14]

McDougall Plan criticism

McDougall's namesake diet, The McDougall Plan, has been categorized as a fad diet with possible disadvantages including a boring food choice, flatulence, and the risk of feeling hungry.[2] Reviewing McDougall's book, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss, nutritionist Frederick J. Stare and epidemiologist Elizabeth Whelan criticized its restrictive regime and "poor advice", concluding that the diet's concepts were "extreme and out of keeping with nutritional reality".[15]

Select bibliography

McDougall has written several books, with his wife Mary contributing recipes, that sold more than 1.5 million copies as of 2008.[7][16] As of 2012 six books remained in print:[17]


  1. McDougall, John A. "Dr. McDougall's Color Picture Book". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  2. 1 2 Alters S, Schiff W (22 February 2012). Chapter 10: Body Weight and Its Management. Essential Concepts for Healthy Living (Sixth ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 327. ISBN 978-1-4496-3062-1.
  3. "Dr. McDougall's Health & Medical Center » About Us". Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Stone, Gene (28 June 2011). Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health. p. 52-3.
  5. 1 2 "Dr. McDougall, Why Do You Act That Way?" (Vol.8, No.4). The McDougall Newsletter. April 2009.
  6. "Our Advisory Board". Naked Food Magazine. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  7. 1 2 Robin Asbell, “Practicing What He Preaches”, Better Homes and Gardens Heart Healthy Online, archived June 17, 2008
  8. "Executive Profile John A. McDougall". Bloomberg. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  9. Anderson, Mark (10 December 2014). "Bay Area food company to move operations to Woodland". Sacramento Business Journal. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  10. "John A. McDougall, M.D. & Mary McDougall". Dr McDougall's Health & Medical Center. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  11. "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine". Actifist Facts. Center for Organizational Research and Education.
  12. Sunny Aslam, “Vegetarian diet on solid ground, experts say”, USA Today, 28 November 2001.
  13. Tayna, Lewis. "A lawsuit claims government guidelines on cholesterol were tainted by the egg industry". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  14. "The Physicians Committee Sues USDA and DHHS, Exposing Industry Corruption in Dietary Guidelines Decision on Cholesterol". Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  15. Stare FJ, Whelan EM (1998). "Book Review:The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss by John A. McDougall M.D.". Fad-Free Nutrition. Hunter House. pp. 202–203. ISBN 9780897932363.
  16. Peterson, Diane (31 May 2012). "John McDougall a true believer". The Press Democrat.
  17. McDougall, John. "McDougall Business Card" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2016.
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