We are missing the big picture when it comes to nutrition

David L. Katz in KevinMD:

Trans-fat-free-constructionOn the matter of food, we have the law of unintended but perfectly predictable consequences working against our hopes and dreams. The truth about food and health is quintessentially like the forest obscured by those darn trees. Embracing the notion that we actually have to eat well, overall, and be active, to optimize our health suppresses magical thinking in ways we seem unwilling to sanction. So, instead, we continue to focus — as we have now for calamitous decades — on one food, nutrient, nutrient grouping, or ingredient at a time, all the while missing the big picture.

I have written before, more than once, about how egregiously misguided this is. It does nothing but play into the designs of Big Food, which is delighted to reshuffle their very short list of favorite cheap ingredients into new versions of junk and profit from our preoccupation du jour. If we fixate on cutting fat, we can have low-fat cookies. If we fixate on carbs, we can have low-carb brownies. If we fixate on fructose, we are privileged to trade not up but sideways to equally sugary but now “high-fructose corn syrup free” versions of the same rubbish. If we focus on sugar, we have the opportunity to keep runnin’ on donuts, but now sweetened with aspartame. If we focus on aspartame, well, then it’s back to sugar.

If we fixate on gluten, we can have gluten-free junk. If grains are bad, there are innumerable ways to eat badly without them, just as there are with them. If meat is the enemy, there is a whole universe of variations on the theme of vegan junk food to explore.

This is not theoretical. We have been inventing new ways to eat badly for literal decades, with the profound ills of modern epidemiology to show for it. The suspended animation of common sense and an apparent unwillingness to learn from the follies of nutritional history consign us to repeat them again and again.

More here.