Controversial nutritional blog post

For more than three decades the main focus of my intellectual life has been nutritional controversies regarding what constitutes healthy eating. Both governments and citizenry trust that scientists are working diligently to identify health hazards introduced through technological innovation. Unfortunately, where food technology is concerned, the development of the scientific tools needed to link cause and effect tends to lag behind the introduction of hazards into the food supply. A case in point is the spectrum of chronic inflammatory diseases.

I find it mighty peculiar that it has taken the better part of a hundred years for the nutrition science establishment to turn its attention to the two major ingredients in the food supply responsible for for the high incidence of chronic disease and mental illness. What ingredients? Fructose and omega-6 fats.

Fructose is finally getting the attention it deserves thanks to researchers such as Peter Havel, Richard J. Johnson, and Robert Lustig [1]. In fact, in July 2009 the American Heart Association finally issued a strongly worded warning to restrict added sugars [2].

Unfortunately, omega-6 continues to enjoy immunity from scientific scrutiny; at least by the mainstream nutrition research community. In fact, recent analysis of research indicating that saturated fat is not a factor in heart disease [3] appears to have generated efforts to make omega-6 appear more heart healthy than ever [4,5].

Meanwhile, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is taking nearly twice as long as usual to assess the the scientific literature and issue recommendations for changes to the Guidelines. The big question is, will their recommendations be in the best interests of the public health or will they continue to protect the interests of the edible oils industry? Note the cryptic comment in the closing sentence of this final paragraph from an article by Melinda Wenner Moyer entitled “End the War on Fat: It Could be Making us Sicker [6].”

“Will this new research on fat and carbs be reflected in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines? According to Meir Stampfer, a Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology who worked on the 2000 guidelines, scientists on this year’s committee know perfectly well what the evidence says. But few researchers want to shake the status quo or risk confusing the public. Robert Post, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, admits that when it comes to nutritional recommendations, ’simple messages, few messages, targeted messages, are very important.’ Ultimately, then, policymakers have to choose between keeping the message consistent and actually getting it right.”