Just what is the deal with nutritionists/dieticians and their industry?
Hi all, new member, great to be here . Something has really been irking me since I started taking responsibility for my own nutritional/exercise knowledge over 2 years ago and I figured here might be a good place to ask. You see, I'm not the sort to say off handedly "nutritionists/dieticians/doctors/etc don't know what they are talking about. I'm currently doing a masters degree in counter terrorism, hopefully a doctorate eventually. I respect the concept of academic rank and the quest for knowledge and what it has brought us.
So why do I get the feeling that the "conventional" nutrition world is full of idiots? It all seems so obvious when you put all the pieces together of what is good for us and what isn't. I know industry, government and of course money has a big hand in this, but academics are supposed to be relatively free of such influences. Why are we being pushed the crap that we are being pushed by nutritionists/dieticians? These people are tertiary educated for god's sake, but everything I hear them say on tv just makes me shake my head and wonder what the hell they are being taught.
Here is a perfect example:
"She's basing her ideas on observations of primitive populations in isolated areas who eat traditional diets, and it's so far removed from Western civilisation," Dr Watson said. "In a population that is sedentary, there is no need to consume saturated fats."
Now, call me crazy, but wtf does that even mean? That is such a piss poor counter argument, it doesn't even mean anything! And it comes from someone with the highest academic qualification!
As Mugatu says in Zoolander "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here!"
Can anyone shed some light on my questions/observations?
Academics aren't any more free from the influences of corporate money than anyone else. They are totally dependent on funding in order to get published - and if you don't get published, your academic career kinda goes down the tubes. So who funds nutritional studies? Companies who want to put nutritional claims on their products, and the health-related branches of government, who are themselves heavily lobbied by Big Ag types.
Let's say you're a nutrition researcher working at a reasonable-sized university. You've heard of this "Primal/Paleo" diet thing and you'd love to do a long-term study on, say, its capability to reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. You'd need some funding, a good swack of doctors willing to get their patients to participate, and a couple of months, minimum, to invest in this. Where would the funding come from? There are no drugs involved, no manufactured foods, and it's too simple to require and significant medical oversight. So, unless you have an interested philanthropist onside, or you're sleeping with the dean/department head, you don't get funding for this. But, if a drug company came up with a pill that combined an omega3-6 balancing agent, vitamins D, K2, several B-complexes or whatever, a bunch of minerals and antioxidants, and you wanted to see if THAT would clear up a fatty liver, you would have funding thrown at you and you'd be enjoying expensive single-malts while your test subjects "inexplicably" ended up hospitalized.
Anyone of reasonable intelligence can learn to be a medical professional at University, but it doesn't mean that they can think for themselves or even be interested in anything other that what was on their syllabus.
I earned a doctorate in physics and know exactly how obligated academics are to federal funding.
An appalling example of how tight the food industry is with academics - read this article that was in the Chronical of Higher Education regarding Iowa State's search for a new director of their center of sustainable agriculutre. The faculty wanted/selected a "green" director but he wasn't hired. A very entrenched CW director was hired instead. http://chronicle.com/article/At-Publ...Sustain/66044/
Another side to this is that many CW beliefs on diet make logical sense. We know in reality the following is not true but I can see the logical mind following the steps and coming to the CW conclusions regarding cholesterol, saturated fat, etc. It makes logical sense to me that if a person consumes more cholesterol their cholesterol would go up. It makes logical sense to me that if a person consumes more fat they will get fatter. However, we know in reality this is not the case.
If you haven't watched it yet, watch Fathead. It's super interesting altogether, but it has a good deal of information about how these studies were done, and how they became "common knowledge" . Politics is interesting.
You can see it on hulu.com right now, though it will have a few commercials... still, very very interesting.
Also, there's a youtube video on aspartame and how THAT got through the FDA even though many many doctors protested and had research to back it up. I think that one's called Sweet Poison.
"Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
If you think academics are immune to groupthink, fuzzy logic, fads, camp followers, and influence of sponsors, you're relatively new to the academy, sorry. Speaking from experience.
Minxxa, were you referring to the documentary "Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World" ? Thanks for the recommendation; I just added it to my Netflix queue...
and not all free thinkers are intelligent enough to become medical professionals.
Originally Posted by StoneAgeQueen
It certainly takes a special kind of person to be a good medical professional.