Can We Trust Our Experts?
I haven’t had time to read more than the executive summary yet, but in, We’re Fat and Sick and The Broccoli Did It! – which I found on LinkedIn – David Katz MD defends the 2015 Dietary Guidelines and attacks the Nina Teicholz Op Ed I quoted in my previous post:
“That someone with book sales at stake might inveigh against the collective judgment of the diverse members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is also not much of a big, fat surprise. That the person in question might misconstrue her own, strong opinion for genuine expertise despite lack of relevant training is no big, fat surprise either. …
But that the New York Times would allocate its imprimatur and rarefied real estate to an infomercial masquerading as an Op-Ed is, well, a genuinely big, genuinely fat, and lamentably disappointing surprise. That journalistic standards are complicit in the death of expertise is a sad surprise. Oh, well.”
I suspect Katz and Teicholz primarily disagree about meat, but Katz claims that, as a population, we never really cut back on other fatty foods, either, we just ate around them:
” … the now famous notion that we decreased our intake of dietary fat, or even saturated fat, is mostly belied by national trend data. We actually kept our total fat intake, and saturated fat intake, nearly constant, but diluted it down as a percent of total calories by eating more low-fat junk food. The idea that cutting saturated fat doesn’t foster cardiovascular health is based on the antics of a population that never cut their saturated fat intake in the first place.”
But while he lauds the work of the current committee, Katz doesn’t address why the Dietary Guidelines established by previous committees had to be changed so radically:
” … they also chose to remove guidance against dietary cholesterol. This appears to be at odds with the gist of the report, but that’s the beauty of it. The committee members looked at a vast array of evidence, and did the hard work of research: considering conclusions they didn’t necessary hold at the start. …”
Teicholz probably has an agenda, but I do have to wonder if these guidelines are any more reliable than the last ones. The committee scientists may not work for the government, but they are probably not independently wealthy, either.