What are the main points made in Reynold Spector’s article “Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice”?
The main points made in Reynold Spector’s article “Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice” include the following:
- Recently, adult nutrition research and practice have not kept pace with other disciplines in biology and medicine.
- Partly this is because adult nutrition research and practice often have not adhered to proper scientific procedures.
- The purpose of Spector’s own article
is to definitively (wherever possible) or tentatively (where the data are incomplete or nonexistent) answer a series of key questions about adult human nutrition using relevant rigorous scientific principles and methods.
- Many common assumptions and teachings about nutrition have not been shown to be accurate.
- There is actually some accurate knowledge about human nutrition – about the kind of eating the helps keep people healthy.
- The body is often impressively able to keep needed nutrients in balance.
- As people age, their nutritional needs change.
- There probably is an ideal weight for each person; generally, the heavier a person is beyond this ideal, the less healthy that person is likely to be.
- Many claims about the health benefits of certain nutrients are false.
- Claims for the benefits of megavitamins are generally false.
- Aristotle’s advice to be moderate and balanced seems sensible in the field of nutrition.
The notion that some diets (e.g., low-fat or low-carbohydrate) are better than others is not based on sound science . . . . The USDA food pyramid of the past (which prescribed what you should eat, how many portions, and disparaged certain nutritious foods like eggs and butter) was unscientific. . . . Similarly, recent attempts to create new food pyramids are also flawed, for example, those that disparage rapidly absorbed carbohydrates (e.g., processed rice and potatoes) and recommend megavitamin E.
- Weight-loss diets tend not to be effective for overweight persons.
- Academics and the nutrition industry have a vested interest in the publication of studies that are not rigorously scientific.
- Consumers, patients, doctors, and serious nutritionists are harmed by current methods and procedures in the field of nutrition.
- In short,
. . . the critics of nutritional research and practice suggest that much nutritional research and practice is, to paraphrase Thomas Hardy, science’s laughingstock, for two reasons: much of the research . . . is pseudoscientific for the reasons I have discussed and second, many practitioners and commercial interests do not readily acknowledge the truth.
- Current trends and procedures need to be reformed; Aristotle’s advice to use moderation should be followed unless there is sound scientific evidence to suggest otherwise.