Uncommon Sense

October 27, 2016

Good Science, Bad Science

This link is to a blog post that shows one aspect of our public health science that went wrong and is still not fixed (The Calorie Debacle). “Public science” is science mixed with politics. A very obvious example of this is the so-called “food pyramids” (USDA Nutrition Guides) we were shown as children. These were basic guides as to what to eat to be healthy. They were also heavily politicized by food industry lobbies. So, a governmental committee of scientists would come up with guidelines and then during a “review” stage bureaucrats would be pushed and shoved by lobbies to make changes, often substantial ones. An easy example is “dairy products.” No mammal “needs” dairy products after they have been weaned. But these nutrition guides always contained a substantial recommendation regarding the consumption of dairy products. Why? Well, the dairy industry was very powerful and the science was weak.usda_-_basic_7_food_groups

“The truth of the matter is we do not know what should be eaten to maintain good health.”

The truth of the matter is we do not know what should be eaten to maintain good health other than food recently prepared from fresh ingredients is generally healthier than processed foods. We also know that a wide variety of foods tends to be healthier than a very narrow diet (Morgan Spurlock’s movie Super Size Me being an example of what happens to someone who confines their diet).

We are primed to learn from stories and those of us who are overweight (including me) are attracted to quick weight loss schemes because they are: a) easy, and b) fast. They are also ineffective. These “schemes” are sold through the telling of stories. I am bombarded by Internet ads for weight loss schemes and they are larded (a carefully chosen word) with “before and after” photos of real people who have lost weight under the scheme. But the same is true for all of the other schemes and if they all “work” why is there an obesity epidemic? If you answer that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” you are falling into the “blame the victim” trap. People were exercising more and eating according to the guidelines (less fat, more vegetables, etc.) like crazy as our body weights spiraled out of control. We are now starting to realize our errors and correct our mistakes, but standing in the way of more rapid progress are our “friends” in the food lobbies.

If you want a detailed source of what went wrong in the public health recommendations regarding diet, read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taube.


  1. I’m glad to see that you have a healthy skepticism about weight-loss schemes. That will save you a lot of hassle for nothing in the long run, definitely.

    However: there is a way to be healthy. It’s true, people muddle the facts. Things are distorted and hard to follow, but real knowledge is out there. Try this:


    While I’d love to link to my own blog, the knowledge on it isn’t nearly as comprehensive as the knowledge on Lyle McDonald’s site. Good luck man.


    Comment by dobetterfitness — October 27, 2016 @ 9:50 am | Reply

  2. Timely post. For just these reasons the Minister of Health announced the Canada Food Guide is being completely revamped.


    Comment by tildeb — October 27, 2016 @ 9:56 am | Reply

    • It will be interesting to see if it is merely different or actually better. I wonder if they have done studies to see if anyone pays any attention to their recommendations at all.

      On Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 9:56 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 27, 2016 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  3. Pass the damn bacon!

    The food pyramid thing isn’t perfect I’ll grant you that, but it is a guideline. I think its intent was to explain to people that a more complex diet is better than eating at McDonalds six days a week.

    IOW, while we may not be sure exactly of what a great diet is, we have some indications as to what a bad diet is.

    I am sure though it is high time to revamp the guideline. With detailed, accurate, up to date information.

    Testimonials are worthless without knowing for sure that plan x or product x is what actually contributed to a positive outcome. I see a commercial claiming a person goes from flab to ripped in only 6 weeks! And I think anyone can do that without product x if they commit to a robust exercise plan. Product x is a gimmick. You aren’t going to quit smoking unless you really want to. You aren’t going to lose weight unless you commit to the proposition. And I could lose a few pounds myself 🙂


    Comment by shelldigger — October 28, 2016 @ 6:04 am | Reply

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