Often when I teach RESTART®, I get asked questions along the lines of “but I thought [xxx] was ‘healthy’?” and then I am tasked with the sad job of revealing how deceptive nutrition policy and health research has become in our country. While “Fake News” may be a relatively recent development in the political arena, when it comes to health and nutrition, Fake News has been a “thing” for far too long. Thankfully, with a growing field of real food nutritional therapists and functional medicine health care practitioners, consumers (you!) are starting to see the holes in what we’ve been fed by Big Food for so many years. On that note, I wanted to share with you some of the more recent News of Note that is starting to lift the veil on the manipulation of nutrition information…as well as how far Big Food is still willing to go to keep us sick (see links to articles in BOLD).
- “Funder Influence” is a term describing how too often research studies cannot be deemed reliable due to the fact that a study’s funding came from the very organization the results will benefit. Sadly, this has been rampant in the food/nutrition world and finally, the NIH is taking notice. In a move hoping to bring back some integrity to its research, the NIH is tightening its rules to minimize industry influence. Sadly, however, the new regulations do not go far enough as they stop short of banning corporate donations. Two steps forward, one step back?
- How far will Big Food go to bury research that doesn’t advance its interests? This is what former dentist and now UCSF professor Cristen Kearns wanted to know, and what she found is both horrifying and no surprise. Thankfully she didn’t keep what she learned to herself and instead created an archive revealing how Big Food mimics Big Tobacco to suppress science and influence public opinion.
- With their influence being questioned in the US, what is Big Food to do? Head to China, of course! After being caught suppressing research on sugar in the US a couple of years ago, Coke and its Junk Food brethren are now working through (and funding) a group called the International Life Sciences Institute. This group influences Chinese public health messaging to emphasize exercise as the key to fighting obesity and chronic disease while protecting processed food and sugary beverages from scrutiny. They have become so tight with Chinese officials that they even share offices.
- Along the lines of data manipulation, let me introduce you to Brian Wansink, a modern-day Ancel Keys. Wansink head’s Cornell University’s famed Food and Brand Lab, an influential research entity that has had its studies on our relationship with food cited more than 20,000 times and managed to change food policy in our country. Unfortunately for Wansink, his research has not stood up to scrutiny and over 15 of his studies have been retracted with dozen more under scrutiny. Maybe science reform is not as far away as it feels?
It’s Award Season!
In light of it being Academy Award season, let’s give out some awards in nutrition news:
- Let’s Do This Award – as much as I tell clients to read the ingredients on the BACK of a food’s label, maybe the front of the label will soon have something truly informative? AMA calls for FDA to bolster-labels on high sugar foods
- Put the Box Down Award – we all know what the herbicide Roundup is and hopefully, most have heard of Glyphosate, the active ingredient that makes Roundup so toxic. Not something we want to eat, right? Well, check your pantry because an FDA-registered lab has found alarming levels of glyphosate in major food brands.
- Facepalm Award – As encouraging as some of the pushback against poor nutrition policy science seems to be, Big Food is still one determined lot having managed this little shocker: GMO foods are soon to be (mis)labeled as “BioFortified”
- Thank-You-Captain-Obvious Award – filed under DUH!, a recent study has shown that ultra-processed foods accelerate your risk of early death.
If some of this news leaves you feeling discouraged, know that none of this has to affect you! Thankfully good health through proper nutrition is more simple than it seems – cut out sugar, eat quality proteins and healthy fats, and load up on your veggies! Vegetable fiber is crucial to your health as it is cardiovascular- and cancer-protective, cuts your risk of diabetes and obesity, balances your gut bacteria, and keeps you regular!
As always, if you’re struggling with an issue you would like some help with, please reach out to me and I would be honored to partner with you towards better health!