We all know that government officials have gone overboard in their nannying of our food choices. This post won’t re-hash all of that — here’s a good summary. Besides the obvious fact that this is not acceptable in a free society, there’s also the fact that the government officials and their consultants are terribly inept at deciding which foods are unhealthy and which are not.
Over the years, we have heard a variety of different messages from the various governmental departments on this subject. The Department of Agriculture chimes in with their $.02., which turns out to be more like $155 billion (proposed 2013 budget). Then, there’s the other huge department offering their advice as well, the Department of Health and Human Services, which has 14 agencies under its umbrella (Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Aging, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Medicaid, Medicare, National Toxicology Program, and Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration).
Yet, all of this money and all of these agencies collecting and dispensing information don’t end up giving us clear information. Instead, they often try to influence public policy and private behavior through mandating in various ways that we, the citizenry, behave in a healthful manner.
We are left with what we already knew — we should make our own health decisions because there is conflicting information on health. Some people will tell you never to eat butter (see example here), and other people will tell you to find ways to add it into your diet (see example here). The bottom line is that nobody knows exactly how every substance will affect the human body. Our bodies are complicated. Even doctors and nutritionists disagree about these things, and they’ve dedicated their professional lives to this topic. So, you should never trust someone in government to make your nutrition decisions for you.
If you think nutrition is an exact science, think again. Even being obese isn’t always bad.
Kahlon says the research supports the ‘obesity paradox’ — that in some circumstances being obese may be better for your health, even though obesity is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, death and catching infections like pneumonia.
“The thinking usually is obesity equals bad and this research demonstrated something different. It shows that perhaps we’re not looking at obesity in the right way. Is all fat bad? Is all fat equal? For acute illnesses, maybe we’re not looking at the right indicators for body mass index and obesity.”
That quote is from a study where overweight patients had higher survival rates than those of regular weight after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
So, while that goes against what we might have believed about obesity, it just goes to show you that we don’t know everything, and we certainly don’t know enough about it to start taking away private food choices.
Though not related to nutrition, please check out my podcast episode about how we’re constantly discovering new things: We Aren’t As Smart As We Think We Are.