What are the main points made in Reynold Spector’s article “Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice”?   

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

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