Ralph Benko, writing at Forbes magazine, takes Paul Krugman to task for wanting to give government "experts" more control over our food choices even though obesity rates have skyrocketed because the American people listened to...government "experts:"
Krugman, in an ensuing column Pepperoni Turns Partisan, makes a public spectacle of his Big Government Fundamentalism. Krugman studiously ignores the widely reported story (including in his own flagship venue, the New York Times) that it was not Big Food but Big Government that caused America to get fat. He states:
Why should pizza, of all things, be a divisive issue? The immediate answer is that it has been caught up in the nutrition wars. America’s body politic has gotten a lot heavier over the past half-century, and, while there is dispute about the causes, an unhealthy diet — fast food in particular — is surely a prime suspect.
At a still deeper level, health experts may say that we need to change how we eat, pointing to scientific evidence, but the Republican base doesn’t much like experts, science, or evidence. Debates about nutrition policy bring out a kind of venomous anger — much of it now directed at Michelle Obama, who has been championing school lunch reforms — that is all too familiar if you’ve been following the debate over climate change.
Yes, Paul. We are very familiar with your venomous anger. With your inversions of fact.
And with your celebration of the perversion of science.
Journalist Nina Teicholz, in her book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (tabbed by The Economist as one of the best books of 2014) makes a compelling case. It is a thorough, and shocking, piece of investigative reporting. Meanwhile, her inquest on the matter of the questionable bans isn’t merely a retrospective. This is not an academic dispute. It has urgency.
As the New York Times recently reported:
A nutrition advisory panel that helps shape the country’s official dietary guidelines eased some of its previous restrictions on fat and cholesterol on Thursday ….
“For many years, the cholesterol recommendation has been carried forward, but the data just doesn’t support it,” said Alice H. Lichtenstein, the vice chairwoman of the advisory panel and a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University.
Adele Hite, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the nonprofit Healthy Nation Coalition, said that in the decades since their inception, the guidelines had played a direct role in the explosion of obesity and chronic disease by steering people away from nutritious whole foods like meat, eggs and butter.
Since the 1980s, Americans over all have been eating more grains, produce, cereals and vegetable oils, while generally lowering their intake of red meat, whole milk and eggs, Ms. Hite said, and yet the population is fatter and sicker than ever.
“Despite the unavoidable conclusion that the guidelines have failed in some fundamental way,” she said, “the response from the advisory committee seems to be that an even more restricted list of acceptable foods will, this time around, do the trick.”
The (dietary fat) hypothesis became accepted as truth before it was properly tested. Public health bureaucracies adopted and enshrined this unproven dogma. The hypothesis became immortalized in the mammoth institutions of public health. And the normally self-correcting mechanism of science, which involves constantly challenging one’s own beliefs, was disabled. While good science should be ruled by skepticism and self-doubt, the field of nutrition has instead been shaped by passions verging on zealotry. And the whole system by which ideas are canonized as fact seems to have failed us.
Once ideas about fat and cholesterol became adopted by official institutions, even prominent experts in the field found it nearly impossible to challenge them. One of the twentieth century’s most revered nutrition scientists, the organic chemist David Kritchevsky, discovered his thirty years ago when, on a panel for the National Academy of Sciences, he suggested loosening the restrictions on dietary fat.
The whole piece is worth reading.
Despite the clear evidence of the failure of government nutrition “recommendations”, nanny statists have not given up trying to "improve" our diets. One of their latest recommendations is that we reduce consumption of red meat in order to reduce global warming....seriously.
Tags: nanny state, Paul Krugman