Why Nutrition Science Is So Confusing

From a certain perspective, nutrition science can seem like a mess. From another, it illustrates the very nature (and beauty) of the scientific process. Here we’ll explain why nutrition science is so confusing at times. We’ll also explain why, in the grand scheme of things, that’s okay.
  1. Nutrition research is still young. It takes time to master a science. Compared to Chemistry which started before 1200BC, researchers realised in mid 1800 that body oxidises Fat and Carbohydrate for energy.
  2. Most funding goes to disease treatment, not preventive nutrition.
  3. Most studies are funded by interested parties. Two studies on ‘Can Sugary drinks lead to weight gain?’ had two different results. The one funded by someone with financial conflict of interest found ‘No’ in case of 84% subjects. The other with no finial conflict of interest found ‘Yes’ for 84% subjects.
  4. Confounding variables make it hard to prove foods’ effects. Even in the best controlled trials it’s hard to isolate the effects of nutrition from all other factors that effect your health.
  5. Most nutrition studies are observational.
  6. Measurement tools always have limitations
  7. What you eat doesn’t effect your health right away. For e.g., if you want to know if red meat causes cancer, you may have to keep the subject in a hermetically sealed metabolic chamber for 30 years. Where would anyone get such subjects?
  8. You can never assume a study finding apply to you. Even if you find a subject to seal in the chamber for 30 years, there is no surety that the finding will apply to you.
Nutrition science will eventually grow up.
Perhaps not as quickly as we’d like. Yet over time, the scientific method will cut and prune and do its work.

January 23, 2022

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