Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Food to die for?

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 27 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:723
  1. Benjamin Caballero, professor of nutrition, paediatrics, and international health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore
  1. bcaballe{at}

    Obesity could be solved if only we returned to the non-processed foods of our great grandmother’s days. This is naive in the extreme, argues Benjamin Caballero

    There is no question that the general public has been increasingly frustrated by the advice it receives about diet and health. The perception is that, instead of clarifying things, new research only adds confusion by contradicting previous “evidence.” For example, we were told to avoid butter because of its saturated fat content and use vegetable oil instead, only to learn later that vegetable oils contain trans fatty acids, which are as bad as saturated fat. Scientists blame the media for this confusion, because they hype “hot” results, regardless of their quality or relevance, and cite partial results out of context. In turn, the media blame scientists, and some journalists accuse them of “nutritionism”—of having reduced food to lists of chemicals, in the process providing justification to a food industry that is eager to create more, ever changing products that end up having little resemblance to natural foods. …

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