9 votes

US Federal nutrition research is underfunded, even as the costs of diet-related diseases are skyrocketing. Does Washington hold the key to solving the obesity crisis?

12 comments

  1. patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    The article really doesn't go into much of the supporting detail for the headline thesis, but there's ample evidence for the proposition that regulatory capture and executive interference at the...
    • Exemplary

    The article really doesn't go into much of the supporting detail for the headline thesis, but there's ample evidence for the proposition that regulatory capture and executive interference at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is biasing its recommendations towards choices that don't promote human health.

    As the article discusses, though, the fragmentary and underfunded approach to national nutrition research is burying a sorely needed conversation about U.S. industrial food systems and the epidemiological evidence that We're Doing It Wrong.

    For instance, I stumbled on some research today linking proportions of different Vitamin E isoforms in cooking oils to allergic disease. The heavy dietary use of agribusiness soybean, corn, and canola oils, as opposed to olive or sunflower seed oils, may be contributing to increased asthma incidence here. I can't imagine that Archer-Daniels Midland or Cargill will readily consent to reduce their production of those oils, however unsafe their products may be for human wellbeing.

    While there's extensive nutrition research at academic centers all over the U.S., there's a long path to get any of these findings translated into policy, and a broad array of vested interests that will dilute any regulation before it impacts the bottom line of the players.

    8 votes
  2. CALICO
    Link
    Note: the Tildes word-count shows 125 words, for me, but the article is more accurately approx. 4.6k words.

    Note: the Tildes word-count shows 125 words, for me, but the article is more accurately approx. 4.6k words.

    3 votes
  3. [10]
    skybrian
    Link
    Snarky response: How a clickbait headline denies agency to people making choices about what to eat. But moving past the headline, the article is actually about federal funding for nutrition research:

    Snarky response: How a clickbait headline denies agency to people making choices about what to eat.

    But moving past the headline, the article is actually about federal funding for nutrition research:

    A POLITICO review of federal budget documents reveals that at the National Institutes of Health and the Agriculture Department — the two agencies that fund the majority of government-backed nutrition science — the share of research dollars devoted to nutrition has stayed largely flat for at least three decades, and pales in comparison to many other areas of research.

    2 votes
    1. [5]
      CALICO
      Link Parent
      The title is not the best. I thought the title per url—Why We Don't Know What to Eat—was better, but given the US-centric perspective I went with what was given.

      The title is not the best. I thought the title per url—Why We Don't Know What to Eat—was better, but given the US-centric perspective I went with what was given.

      3 votes
      1. [4]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        The article is US-centric so the title should definitely reflect that, but that could just be solved by changing "We" in the URL slug title to "Americans". It's up to you if you would like me to...

        The article is US-centric so the title should definitely reflect that, but that could just be solved by changing "We" in the URL slug title to "Americans". It's up to you if you would like me to change the submission title to that though, since even though the current title isn't the best, it's not completely horrible or anything either, IMO.

        1. [3]
          CALICO
          Link Parent
          I don't prescribe myself the wisdom for effective or efficient title editorialization, but I don't repudiate that talent in others; do as you see fit, I have no qualms with alteration.

          I don't prescribe myself the wisdom for effective or efficient title editorialization, but I don't repudiate that talent in others; do as you see fit, I have no qualms with alteration.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            cfabbro
            Link Parent
            kk... I'll change it just to hopefully prevent any more offtopic discussions about the headline rather than the substance of the article. p.s. I decided to go with a shortened version of the...

            kk... I'll change it just to hopefully prevent any more offtopic discussions about the headline rather than the substance of the article.

            p.s. I decided to go with a shortened version of the article sub-heading, since that's far more descriptive of the article contents and less clickbait. Let me know what you think. :)

            3 votes
            1. CALICO
              Link Parent
              Reads just fine by my eyes ✌️

              Reads just fine by my eyes ✌️

              2 votes
    2. [3]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [2]
        skybrian
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It's complicated. I'll make an analogy to gambling: one possible solution to gambling is to decide not to gamble. This works for many millions of people. In theory, if everyone did this, Las Vegas...

        It's complicated. I'll make an analogy to gambling: one possible solution to gambling is to decide not to gamble. This works for many millions of people. In theory, if everyone did this, Las Vegas would be out of business. But in reality, Las Vegas isn't going anywhere. Successful individual action, even by many millions, seems not to be enough to make much of a dent in a culture that supports gambling.

        Similarly, although many people can and do improve their health through individual action, collective action seems necessary to change the trend. Maybe more federal funding of nutritional research would help? It would be welcome, but it seems like it's neither necessary nor sufficient.

        I think there's a lot the federal government could do, but given that things are kind of crazy at a national level and there are many other important problems, maybe we need to look at alternatives?

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            Yes, I edited and also the headline is fixed on Tildes. I completely agree that it's complicated for the reasons you reference. Maybe one way to think about this is that apparently some people can...

            Yes, I edited and also the headline is fixed on Tildes. I completely agree that it's complicated for the reasons you reference.

            Maybe one way to think about this is that apparently some people can make good decisions sometimes but it doesn't just happen by itself and we can't stop there. By treating that as "individual responsibility" we would be ignoring all the support needed to make it happen. Fixing the system would mean changing a lot of things discouraging or preventing good decisions.

            I don't think of success stories as a small, unattainable minority because I'm not just thinking about weight loss. It seems like helping lots of people avoid too much weight gain would be easier if you have the right support, catch it early enough and don't demand perfection? But easier said than done, sure.

            I think we're pretty far removed at this point from "Washington did it."

            2 votes
    3. [2]
      DanBC
      Link Parent
      Snark probably isn't compatible with Tildes commenting. ...especially when it's so ignorant of all the research we have about obesogenic environments and the power these multi-billion dollar...

      Snarky response:

      Snark probably isn't compatible with Tildes commenting.

      How a clickbait headline denies agency to people making choices about what to ea

      ...especially when it's so ignorant of all the research we have about obesogenic environments and the power these multi-billion dollar industries have over individuals.

      2 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Well, I did signpost it for a reason. See my other response for how I really think about this.

        Well, I did signpost it for a reason. See my other response for how I really think about this.

        1 vote