On the 12th of September 2012 an organisation was inaugurated that will change the world.
It’s called the Nutrition Science Initiative, founded by Journalist Gary Taubes and Peter Attia, M.D., and has a plethora of highly influential individuals behind it, from Tim Ferriss (of Four-Hour fame) to Nassim Nicholas (Author of The Black Swan) and David Berkowitz (Ziff Brothers Investments)
So why is it so special?
Well, it proposes to permanently resolve nothing less than the train wreck of misguided, ever-conflicting nutritional advice that authorities around the Western World have been feeding us (excuse the cheap pun) for the last 40 or more years.
What am I talking about?
Have you stopped to think why obesity and diabetes are such epic problems today? Is it peoples lifestyles? Are we less active, TV and computer worshippers? Couch potatoes? Do we drive too much, and walk too little? Or rather, is our whole system of nutritional advice completely screwed up? We have a myriad of diet books which don’t work, frustrated overweight people becoming more ever more overweight, and struggling to lose it despite exercising and eating, as we are told to, low fat, dairy and basing our meals around grains. Surely we just don’t know what makes us fat?
The crux of the issue is that science, technology and medicine have come on leaps and bounds in the last 40 years or so, and yet our official nutritional advice, expounded by the like of big dog organisations such as the American Heart Association and the British Nutrition Foundation, and furthered by countless dieticians, nutritionists and general practitioners, is outdated, wrong and potentially dangerous.
Without going into too much detail in this post, an easily highlightable study which helped shape the way nutrition based science was to be done (poorly) for the next few decades was Ancel Keys’ Seven Countries Study, where, amongst other things, he linked Heart Disease to dietary fat intake, using a dubiously edited, cherry picked epidemiological study. The take home message with the study is that epidemiological studies show associations, not cause and effect relationships. See Gary Taubes’ excellent article on the fallability of many studies, past and present in which we base(d) a lot of faith. Nonetheless, “scientists” took the results he drew be the incontrovertible truth, and this started a war on fat in foods, leading to the conventional wisdom of today being to eat a diet low in fat, particularly saturated fat, because it leads to weight gain and increased mortality.
The thing is, this is just not true. Denise Minger objectively picks the study apart with panache on her blog, Raw Food SOS and as such it is well worth a read. A lot of the other dietary information available to us is also not true. In the interest of proper science, Tabues and Attia have taken the necessary step of creating a rigorously scientific, independent, truth seeking enterprise whose only target is to find out what constitutes a truly healthy human diet. They are uniting researchers from independent universities and institutions to settle for good our embarrassing nutritional mishap.
Not a moment too soon.
Check out their website. Whether you thought there was a problem with nutrition or not, it will astound you.