Healthy eating is important, but much advice that filters down to the public has not stood the test of time: From columnist Jonah Goldberg:
For decades, the government has advised Americans on what they should eat. The advice isn’t just advisory; it drives everything from school lunches and agricultural subsidies to marketing for those bowls of candy we call breakfast cereal. But the science behind this enterprise has always been shaky.
In “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” Gary Taubes chronicled how the federal government went all-in for a low-fat, high-carbohydrate food pyramid. The man most responsible, nutritionist and epidemiologist Ancel Keys, was convinced that America’s fat-rich diet explained the rise in heart disease in the U.S.
It was a plausible theory, but there was scarce evidence it was true. In 1957, the American Heart Association concluded that the correlation between fat and heart disease “does not stand up to critical examination.”
Three years later, the AHA reversed course, without any new evidence. Keys had simply taken over the relevant committee and asserted that “the best scientific evidence” was on his side.
Armed with a government grant, Keys went off to prove what he already believed. He launched the Seven Countries Study, comparing the diets of populations he cherry-picked. The study — surprise! — confirmed Keys’ thesis. Left unmentioned: Keys had data from 22 countries, and his correlations vanished in that sample.More.
If you come here often, you know the rest. But interestingly put:
Even when everyone’s intentions are good, politics can get in the way of science. Scientists are not immune to fads and groupthink just because they claim to speak for science. Special interests work the refs, but the refs often have an agenda as well. Winners of policy fights hate to lose — or admit they’re wrong. And people who shout about a settled consensus are often only shouting to drown out those who might disagree.
So, we probably won’t go far wrong if we eat a varied, nutritious diet and tune out the food phobias.
See also: Nutritionist admits in The Scientist: Much nutrition research is “fatally flawed,” “willfully fraudulent” pseudoscience Wow.
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