Preventive Medicine: Diet science, weaponized –

All too often, we impede the critical truths of science, about climate change, most urgently, for want of respect. But we err concomitantly in the other direction, subordinating our judgment to assertions about science that make no entry-level sense. In a world of click-bait, sound bites and crowded competition for our fleeting and assaulted attention, science is being weaponized against us. Nowhere is this more flagrantly and frequently on display than with all matters of diet and health.

You heard recently, for instance, that its fine to just keep eating processed meat. You were inclined to believe it, perhaps, for one or both of two reasons: (1) you like bacon and pepperoni; and/or (2) you have come to believe that nutrition science is lost, confused and unreliable. The former is your call; the latter is not, and its entirely false.

But it seems true, doesnt it? For instance, youve likely heard reports about studies saying that eggs are good for you, and that eggs are bad for you. Youve heard the same about dairy. So, nutrition science must be lost and confused, right?

Wrong. Rather, and please remember this bit if nothing else, science cannot generate a good answer to a bad question. Science is the power of a freight train directed toward truth, but sense must lay its tracks. Otherwise, a train wreck is in the offing.

Lets consider what would happen to our understanding of exercise if we subjected the study of it to the diverse, tortured obfuscations that bedevil nutrition.

One week, a study ( Study A ) shows that walking promotes fitness and is thus absolutely vital to health and of course, gets very little media attention specifically because it aligns with what we already know. The very next week, we get breathless news cycles telling us that in another study ( Study B ) walking is associated with lower fitness, not higher, and that everything we have heard about walking up until yesterday is in doubt! This spawns headlines around the world, naturally.

A third study ( Study C ) a meta-analysis, perhaps might follow in time, telling us walking is in fact neither good nor bad for fitness, but neutral, so take it or leave it. We might even get alternative guidelines - with sponsorship ties to The Chair Manufacturers of America telling us there is no need to do any walking for our good health.

You might think the benefits of walking make the above far-fetched, but you are wrong. If scientists are motivated to ask contrived, devious or misguided questions as they so clearly are about diet just the above answers could ensue. In Study A , walking was compared to sedentariness in a randomized trial, and we got just the result we all know to expect.

In Study B , conversely, devoted, extremely fit distance runners were randomly assigned to keep running, or to replace running long-distances routinely with walking 5 minutes daily instead. After 3 months, the runners who kept running retained their original fitness, but it declined substantially for those who replaced lots of running with very little walking. And thus, the headlines: walking REDUCES fitness! In Study C , walking on a treadmill was compared to a comparable dose of riding a stationary bicycle. So, yes, walking was neutral.

Now back to eggs, and dairy, and carbs, and any other dietary scapegoat or silver bullet du jour. Yes, my friends, this is exactly how the weaponized science-media-contrarian expert-Big Food-industrial complex can so effectively propagate the notion that we are perennially confused about diet and health when we so emphatically are not. That platform subtends their profits at the expense of your well-being, and that of your children, and everyone else you love.

The instead of what? factor utterly crucial to understanding is ever and always relegated to the dietary fine print. You have been conditioned not to think about it.

Think about it.

My advice is simple. Before you board the food train of any given news cycle, apply that rarest of attributes- common sense- and make sure you see tracks. Otherwise, walk away, secure in the knowledge that walking, truly, is good for you.

Dr. David L. Katz is author of The Truth about Food and president of the True Health Initiative.

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Preventive Medicine: Diet science, weaponized -

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