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Lauren Bliss


English 1010

07 October 2017

Analysis of What the Health

The choice for some people not be ignorant when it comes to what foods are healthy and

which ones should be eaten in moderation, yet many quickly drive to McDonald's or goes out to

fetch a pizza because of laziness or the lack of the desire to cook. The danger is what lurks inside

of what is consumed and how the human body handles it. Recently, there was an effective

documentary released to the public which exposes the possible danger in what is eaten.

How What the Health presents its information is effective through the use of logos, ethos,

and pathos separately and together. What the Health is a one hour and thirty-two minute food

documentary written and produced by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn to help uncover the

problems with the Western diet and how to help prevent and reverse chronic diseases through a

healthy diet. The documentary is made for the American society, especially for anyone who has

been diagnosed with any chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer.

Another audience would be all health organizations and their sponsors. This documentary

exposes financial connections between health organizations and certain sponsors and is meant to

show that there is a link between diet and disease, and how big companies and organizations are

not helping that cause. It goes into depth of how the body reacts to certain foods, especially

protein and dairy from animals. The film also examines the link between diet and disease. Many
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medical professionals were interviewed and explained their point of view. Average, everyday

people who experience problems that correlates to diet and food are interviewed. This

propaganda film is made to help persuade people with such diseases to change their lifestyle and

diet if they so choose.

According to, the basic summary of What the Health is “An intrepid

filmmaker on a journey of discovery as he uncovers possibly the largest health secret of our time

and the collusion between industry, government, pharmaceutical and health organizations

keeping this information from us” (para. 1). Anderson records his adventures and discoveries as

he searches to find a possible cure or perhaps just answers to his question about diet and disease.

Anderson grew up desiring to be healthy, and kept himself in good shape in fear in the thought

that he would one day contract the diseases that consumed his family and were in his personal

genetics. After some basic research, Anderson stumbled across some facts about processed meat

being a level one carcinogen, something equivalent to smoking. Through his findings, Anderson

decides to record and share his discoveries. What the Health is a compilation of interviews with

doctors and people with experience on diet and disease, discoveries about what big food

companies and health organizations are keeping secret from the public, success in finding

information, and failure and opposition that make up the Western diet and how it directly

connects with common diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. This

documentary exposes national health organization's corruption through their sponsors, such as

the American Cancer Society has Tyson and Campbell’s as some of their sponsors, the same

companies that use process meat that has a correlation to various cancers. This documentary was

released in March of 2017.

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The way that Anderson’s What the Health presents its information is exaggeratedly

effective based off of the way he uses logos, ethos, and pathos separately and together.

Logos is used throughout the documentary. Logos is the appeal to logic. The more

credible facts or ideas presented, the stronger logos may be. Many facts are presented

throughout What the Health to strengthen logos. “Harvard researchers looked at nine prospective

studies finding that just one serving of processed meat per day increases risk of developing

diabetes by 51 percent” (Anderson 11:24). That is an interesting and daunting fact. This fact

helps to increase logos by stating appealing information that can help strengthen the point that

diet correlates to disease. At the beginning, it takes into account that nine different studies were

conducted. By expressing a numerical number, in this case nine, more logos is used by stating

facts. This fact also contains a sense of ethos by stating that the research is from a credible

source, from Harvard research. Research and experimentation done by Harvard will be more

convincing than research done by a middle school science class. “Over seventeen million people

die every year from cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause of death around the world.

Nearly one out of every three people will die from this disease. The amount of people who die

from cardiovascular disease is equivalent of four jumbo jets crashing every single hour, every

single day, every single year” (12:16). That section is full of facts. The last sentence, “The

amount of people who die from cardiovascular disease is equivalent of four jumbo jets crashing

every single hour, every single day, every single year,” helps increase logos by making a fact

that most of society can connect with easier than plain numbers. Yet numbers, specifically

seventeen million, are effective to present just how large the problem is. Another numerical fact

is the every single hour, every single day, every single year. That is saying that there are 60
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minutes in an hour, and a day has 24 hours, and a year has 365 days and in each of the 60

minutes, up to four full jumbo jets crashing are killing that many people. Numerically, that is a

lot of people. That very sentence increases logos by stating numeric facts. The next sentence

shows that death is a fact. For every three people, one dies. That is having someone sit on both

sides and one of them dies from cardiovascular or diabetic related problems. That fact helps

realize how real this problem is which then increases logos. Every fact that is presented in that

section helps improve the logos. All logos is accumulated throughout the documentary through

basic facts and logic. This helps strengthen the effectiveness of the argument by presenting

evidence that appeal to evidence. This evidence shows that facts are just as important as feelings

and opinions attempting to convince the audience. Straight facts help strengthen the argument.

What the Health is effective throughout the film by using facts to strengthen their sense of logos,

or the appeal to logic and facts.

There is a sense of ethos in the documentary. Ethos is the appeal to credibility or

authority. Throughout the film various knowledgeable and high skilled people are interviewed

and recorded. These people include high qualified doctors, surgeons, dietitians, and other

significant persons with experience and credible knowledge. All of these people have

experienced first-hand the correlation between what they eat and their disease, or have seen it in

the lives closest to them. This increases the ethos in the documentary by having and showing that

their information is from credible sources. A critical care physician is more trustworthy on

information regarding diet and disease than a young adult going through film school. Having

information being presented through people with more authority than less credibility strengthens

ethos. In the documentary, they interviewed real people that are effective in their day to day lives
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from their diet and disease. This helped build their sense of ethos because their source was

appealing to authority, or people with knowledge and experience. These real people are

neighbors that understand how their own life experience has changed due to their diet and

disease. Interviewing people like this strengthens ethos by receiving, filming, and stating

information from a credible source. The documentary later discusses a study done in the 1940s.

“Dr. Walter Kempner from Duke University back in the 1940s was reversing some of our worst

killer disease with diet alone. And the diet he was using was not only strictly plant-based but, it

was made up of white rice, fruit, and table sugar. And he was reversing diabetes, he was

reversing malignant hypertension, reversing heart disease, the diabetic complications, reversing

diabetic blindness. So, these people basically had death sentences, went to him, and were given

basically sugar.” (Anderson 1:16:00). This use of this study helps increase ethos because it was

done by a doctor of credibility and had more knowledge in what he was doing rather than a

mathematician who understands nothing of how the human body works. This also increases

logos by explaining an experiment that worked that its data has been around for many decades.

What the Health is a film that interviews and films many different people to strengthen their

ethos so their argument about how food correlates with diet is strong because of their ethos.

Logos and ethos can be used together to make logos seem more appealing. By stating

certain facts increases logos, but using specific ideas from a credible source increases the validity

and credibility to the argument. What the Health does this effectively by recording those doctors

and scientists explaining facts to help strengthen the idea that a harmful, Western diet has a

direct link to disease. For example, “Diabetes is not caused by eating a high carbonated diet or

sugar” (Anderson 8:18). This fact is stated by Michael Greger, M.D. who is a doctor and is into
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nutrition. By having someone with high credibility stating a fact such as, “Diabetes is not caused

by a high carbonated diet or sugar” makes the persuasive device work so much more effectively

instead of having a random parent saying it in the street. Logos and ethos can be used hand in

hand to make arguments more effective.

Pathos is the biggest Aristotelian appeal that is used most effectively in What the Health.

Pathos is the appeal to emotion. Images of food help make the audience feel a certain way, like

savoring and are pleased with how they or what they eat, perhaps jealous because they are not

healthy as others, or by chance embarrassed by their diet. Images are edited in such a way that it

strikes emotion like want or an appetite. At the beginning, it talks about how processed meat is

the equivalent to smoking, so there were images of cigarettes mixed with sausages to feed to

children. This simple example evokes a feeling of disgust which makes the audience not want to

eat processed meats. This is an example of how pathos was used. When talking about plants, the

mood was brighter, more welcoming, making the audience feel better to help convince them to

not eat meat. When the movie wanted to evoke a darker feeling, dark images and music were

used to help make the audience feel bad. Lighting and bouncier music were played to evoke a

feeling of happiness and good when wanting to make a positive point, especially when trying to

convince that a plant-based diet is better than a serving of meat. The tonality shifts when trying

to persuade. When a positive feeling is attempting to be drawn out, the tone will be brighter,

will be more welcoming. This would help draw the audience in by making them feel more

welcomed, so they will have a higher chance of being persuaded. When the documentary desires

a negative feeling, the tone changes to something deeper, almost evil. This pushes the audience

away, giving them an idea that it must be evil based on the tonality shift. By toying with the
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audience’s feelings, pathos is increased to help make a point stand out. At the end, they were

interviewing athletes and other public figures, making the audience feel like they could be like

them. The audience’s feelings are powerful and a good drive to persuade. What the Health has a

strong sense of pathos to help persuade those who were watching it to be good. Feelings are

strong emotions that evoke drive or a sense of action. A good way to convince anyone is through

their feelings. The food documentary does a good job to poke at the audience’s emotion to give

them a sense that their lives need to change, almost a guilty sense to make someone change their

diet like when they give out statistics about disease or interview people who are suffering

because of their diet. This documentary has a strong sense of pathos through the way that

feelings were drawn out by the idea presented.

Ethos combined with pathos was a tool used throughout What the Health by interviewing

and recording various, average citizens to help strengthen ethos and pathos. In Duplin County,

North Carolina, there are big pig ranches and What the Health covers the issues there. In a

neighborhood and small community, residents were interviewed. A resident, Rene Miller was

quoted saying, “Now see if you live here and saw the way the do, we don’t eat no pork. Well, I

don’t eat bacon ‘cause I know where it come from. When they die, they go into a box, and they

decompose because they swell from the heat. A truck come and pick ‘em up, take ‘em to the

processing plant in Rose Hill, ground ‘em up into feed, and then feed it back to the hogs”

(Anderson 38:40). While she is talking solemnly, the camera records footage of decomposing

pigs in dumpsters. Ethos is being built through a local who lives in this environment and

understands more about this process than a child in New York City. Mrs. Miller knows what she

is talking about because she is living it. It is in her backyard, and her front yard, and it surrounds
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her daily. Pathos was used to evoke feelings of disgust while film of dead hogs are shown.

Pathos is also used in listening to Miller’s voice and how sad she sounds, which then makes the

audience feel pity or compassion for her. At another part of What the Health, another woman

was interviewed by the name of Jane Chapman who was a patient suffering from rheumatoid

arthritis. She had been on several different medications to help her with her crippling disease had

changed her diet. After changing to a plant-based diet after two weeks, she was recorded

replying, “From going from the walker, needing wheelchair assistance at the airport to strolling

down the street enjoying the fresh air, the sunshine... A lot of rapid healing occurred just by

doing the right things for your body” (Anderson 1:12:57). Her story involves ethos because she

is the one that the source and quote is coming from. She is sharing her personal experience and

nothing could deny that it truly happened to her. Pathos was also used when showing before and

after clips, drawing out an emotion of happiness or satisfaction. From feeling depressed and sad

for her to proud of who Chapman had become and how she had gotten to where she is now. At

the end of What the Health, various athletes were recorded their experiences. One particular

man, David Carter, former NFL Defensive Lineman explained, “Before I was vegan, I was only

bench pressing 315 like five times. Then, after going vegan, I was doing 400, 425, 465, and I

was like, this is amazing, I’m vegan and I’m bench pressing 465 pounds, this is ridiculous.”

Another athletic star, Tia Blanco, professional surfer, ISA World Surf Champion |x2| also

mentioned, “I travel all around the world for my surfing, and I’ve always been able to eat vegan.

I feel like if you want something you can make it happen. I just don’t make any excuses. I would

never not be vegan now that I know all the benefits and now that I know how it feels to be

vegan.” Other athletic idols were interviewed and they all explained their experiences that
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changing their diet. Ethos was used in a sense that these people appeal to many of the audience.

They are people of a credible source and understand how they feel and no one can tell them

differently. Pathos was used while watching them perform and how they act. They filmed doing

what they loved in correlation to how they ate and it could pull out a sense of longing for that

from the audience. It draws out an emotion of drive, like the audience should do something else.

Ethos and pathos can be great, and they are even more effective when used together.

The filmmakers were effective in their rhetoric. Anderson’s What the Health is a newer

documentary that exposes the correlation between disease and diet, as well as the contributors

and influences to the American diet. What the Health has a strong sense of logos, ethos, and

pathos through the way the filmmakers presented their information visually, aurally, and orally.

The producer was effective in his use of how he showed his information. The film that was

meant for the American society that are affected or know anyone that is affected with a bad diet

that results in bad health, as well as big health organizations that are sponsored by the very food

companies that contribute to illness. The documentary was effective when trying to persuade its

idea that diet reflects on diseases.

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Work Cited
“What the Health.” IMDb, Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,