I don’t care that David Katz wrote the fake review. Fiction about fiction, all very meta.
What I do care about is the Big Lie he repeats in his defenses – that those criticizing the dietary guidelines and the DGAC process “are the very group employing every means at their disposal to scuttle dietary guidance dedicated to public (and planetary) health to serve their own pecuniary interests”.
This is the paranoid underside to the grandiose self-image that Katz displayed in the reviews. Those critiquing the guidelines have few pecuniary interests and I would be surprised if any of them are as wealthy as Dr Katz. That Dr Katz sees fit to call them for “want of qualifications” begs a question – why is it that PHD students, engineers, psychologists, cell biologists, hard-working journalists, and auto-didacts can see and point-out glaring omissions and bias in the way the DGAC selects and interprets evidence, yet someone like Dr Katz, with enough letters after his name to write another novel, refuses to see them? (Indeed, why, with all these qualifications, did Dr Katz get involved with pseudocience in his practice?).
Katz, the CSPI, and the DGAC committee themselves have brought great guns to bear to find a few minor inaccuracies in Nina Teicholz’ long analysis, none of which seem to affect the conclusions. Yet nowhere do we see them addressing the countless accuracies, which surely need to be addressed if the DGAC is to recover its credibility.
Whatever the DGAC may end up recommending in the near future, it will be different from what they currently recommend, meaning that the current recommendations are not supported by current science. If the science is this labile, why were such far-reaching recommendations being made at all? Why not stick to the basics of nutrition – eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals, not refined foods – get enough protein and essential fats, preferably from natural protein-and-fat foods rather than refined foods or grains – and be aware that diabetes and obesity usually indicate an intolerance to carbohydrates, especially refined ones. These are choices that will improve or maintain health in the present. Theories about what will reduce this or that disease at the end of our lives, based on interventions that do not reduce mortality, should never have been allowed to distort nutritional advice.
Nor should unproven theories about what is best for the planet. Someone who wants what is best for the planet won’t tell us to remove the fat from meat and not cook with animal fat – this advice wastes most of the energy produced by raising animals, which then needs to be replaced with energy derived from growing additional plants. In the case of the unsaturated fat energy these experts are so keen on, these nutritionally unnecessary plants need to be processed in an environmentally damaging and industrially hazardous way.This inane suggestion comes from people who claim to be dedicated to planetary health (another grandiose Sci Fi claim when you think about it). Surely it would be better to leave the effect of diet on planetary health aside until it can be addressed by someone with more information, better sense, and no other axe to grind.
This is why I do not accept the notion of consensus peddled by Katz, Hu, Willett and others after their recent Oldways celebration. It fails to address any of the inconsistencies in the advice given by most of the attendees. In the case of Paleo expert Boyd Eaton's presentation, it is plainly compromise rather than consensus that is being offered. No doubt this is the price Paleo needs to pay to enter the elite plant-based bullshit club, but the idea of "fat-free" dairy replacing whole meat in a future-paleo menu suggests the price is too high, and not even consonant with mainstream nutritional research in the present day.
Perhaps what sticks in the craw most is the call for the media to avoid reporting research with fear-mongering headlines that contradict each other. This is priceless when one of the signatories is Walter Willett, who feeds this stuff to media outlets verbatim.
But not always.
It is really the question of context that bedevils
I'm sure there is plenty of room for agreement between all of us - absolutely no-one here thinks that commercially processed food, frequent deep-frying, and a high content of added sugars are a good idea. But people need to eat, and used to cook meals based on meat, eggs, animal fats, and dairy which were easy to prepare using knowledge handed down in families. A media campaign that painted those foods as killers for decades is one factor behind a tragic and damaging decline in basic cooking abillity and increased reliance on a well-and-truly depraved food industry. Industry can place products with added fibre or low in saturated fat as "healthy" with the backing of epidemiological nutritionists, and sell the alternatives as "treats" which are fine in moderation as part of a balanced diet according to the dietitians. With what results we see.
And, seriously, you want to fix this by feeding Americans (and by extension, the English-speaking world) a watered-down but still costly Mediterranean diet, when there are other foods their grandparents ate which will do the job equally as well?
Everyone in nutrition is influenced, more-or-less unscientifically, by their own dietary choices or those of their culture. On the one hand we have a clique of mandarins who were "born on second base and think that they've hit a home run" with regard to diet and metabolic health. On the other hand we have people such as Tim Noakes, on trial for his opinions as I write, who have overcome metabolic disadvantages with the help of diets that have included the prohibited elements. By any objective test, the second narrative should be the more convincing, but perhaps not in a society that worships unearned success. It is obvious enough that the selection and appreciation of evidence in the DGAC process is distorted by unthinking acceptance of the first narrative. We owe a real debt to Nina Teicholz for bringing this out to be debated in the public domain.
What is the right thing to do when this happens? To blame it on "the very group employing every means at their disposal to scuttle dietary guidance dedicated to public (and planetary) health to serve their own pecuniary interests”? To call in the sponsors, circle the wagons, and manufacture consensus for the media?
Or to hold a full and frank investigation into the reasons for the debacle, one which includes the evidence gathered by those who don't think your conduct of operations has met a satisfactory standard?