Why Diet Research Is So Spectacularly Thin

Another article in a long line that discusses the challenges of producing knowledge about human health. Despite scientific methods, producing knowledge is extremely challenging.

“High-quality trials are hard to do because diets, and the behavior of humans who consume them, are so complicated. A single meal might have dozens of nutrients and hundreds of other bioactive substances that interact in unknown ways. Furthermore, if the diet being studied increases intake from one food category, people may eat less from other food categories, making it difficult to attribute results to any specific dietary component.”

Click here for other related topics tagged “Diet”

Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.

This is another in a long line of medical reversals (salt, fat, sugar…). These cases raise a lot of good questions about the nature of scientific knowledge and its production. It also raises good questions about how scientific process can lead to conclusions that ultimately prove to be false.

Here are a bunch of articles on related dietary topics.

The evidence is too weak to justify telling individuals to eat less beef and pork, according to new research. The findings “erode public trust,” critics said.

But on Monday, in a remarkable turnabout, an international collaboration of researchers produced a series of analyses concluding that the advice, a bedrock of almost all dietary guidelines, is not backed by good scientific evidence.

How MSG Got A Bad Rap: Flawed Science And Xenophobia

Below are a few resources that explore the myth of MSG (food additive) being bad for you. This case demonstrates the intersection of various TOK concepts include how we produce knowledge in the natural sciences, the role of intuition in acquiring knowledge, and why we have such a hard time changing our minds once we believe something to be true.

That MSG causes health problems may have thrived on racially charged biases from the outset. Ian Mosby, a food historian, wrote in a 2009 paper titled “‘That Won-Ton Soup Headache’: The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, MSG and the Making of American Food, 1968-1980” that fear of MSG in Chinese food is part of the U.S.’s long history of viewing the “exotic” cuisine of Asia as dangerous or dirty. As Sand put it: “It was the misfortune of Chinese cooks to be caught with the white powder by their stoves when the once-praised flavor enhancer suddenly became a chemical additive.”

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-msg-got-a-bad-rap-flawed-science-and-xenophobia/

This American Life: The Long Fuse (prologue and Part 1)

In this episode, the hosts explore the the MSG myth and in the process also demonstrate the challenges we face when constructing knowledge about the past

Since the ’90s, the FDA has listed MSG as perfectly safe for its intended use, like vinegar, salt, pepper. Today on our show, we have three stories like this one, where people throw words out into the world that take on a totally unexpected life of their own. And in all these stories, the words wreak havoc for years.

Episode: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/668/the-long-fuse

Transcript: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/668/transcript

There’s A War On Sugar. Is It Justified?

Interesting podcast episode that delves into whether sugar should be regulated. In evaluating that claim, they delve into the difficulty of proving claims of about health and nutrition scientifically. What does good science look like in nutrition? How do you prove a causal relationship? Both relevant questions when we look at this issue.
“Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it’s addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make? We hear from  a regulatory advocate, an evidence-based skeptic, a former FDA commissioner — and the organizers of Milktoberfest.”

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/theres-war-sugar-justified/