SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - North AmericaEU edition | APAC edition

'The fundamentals of good nutrition actually haven’t changed for decades'

Dr David Katz at reThink Food 2016: 'We're told nutritional advice keeps changing... that's just not true'

2 comments

By Elaine Watson+

08-Nov-2016
Last updated on 08-Nov-2016 at 01:10 GMT2016-11-08T01:10:24Z

Dr Katz: 'If people stay confused about what a healthy diet is, you can keep selling the next and the next and the next diet book...' Picture: istockphoto BVDC

Dr Katz: 'If people stay confused about what a healthy diet is, you can keep selling the next and the next and the next diet book...' Picture: istockphoto BVDC

“I don’t know what to eat anymore because the ‘experts’ keep changing their minds about what’s good for me…” It’s a common refrain, and a convenient one if you’re trying to justify a lousy diet, says one leading nutrition researcher. But it’s also plain wrong. We basically know what to do, he says, we just don’t do it. 

David Katz MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM, is the founding director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Speaking at the reThink Food conference in Napa Valley, he said: “Knowledge, alas, isn’t always power.

“The problem is translating knowledge into action. We already know that lifestyle is the best medicine, the question is how do we get the medicine down?”

Having problems playing the video? Watch it on YouTube instead.

While the conversation around dietary fats has become more nuanced, and there are scores of self-proclaimed experts and diet books telling us to eat more or less fat, carbs or proteins, return to the Paleolithic era, or ditch grains, the fundamentals of public health advice really haven’t changed, said Dr Katz.

It’s not as if when we were told to eat less saturated fat that we all started eating more beans and lentils instead of meat

He explained: “If people stay confused about what a healthy diet is, you can keep selling the next and the next and the next diet book. And our culture has been making a ton of money out of sowing confusion, while the food industry has been exploiting the messages of experts and turning them into nonsense.

“So it’s not as if when we were told to eat less saturated fat that we all started eating more beans and lentils instead of meat; we just started eating low fat junk food. And when we didn’t get thin and healthy, we blamed it on cutting fat, instead of eating junk.

“And instead of learning from this [with carbs], we repeated that and started eating low carb junk food, and then gluten-free junk food."

If people stay confused about what a healthy diet is, you can keep selling the next diet book

He added: "Actually it’s remarkable how much consensus there is about the fundamentals of healthy eating... diets that emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, water for thirst, and food that’s minimally processed.”

Epidemiological data, he says, consistently shows that avoiding tobacco, excessive stress and too much alcohol, refined carbohydrates and added sugar, and in turn eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and exercising more, is the secret to a longer, healthier life.

These findings have been reaffirmed again and again. The fundamentals are there. Now we refine them of course; [for example] we know a lot more now about the differential effects of different types of fat.”

Personalized nutrition is the icing on the cake

While personalized nutrition is an exciting new field of research, it’s really the icing on the cake when it comes to deciding what to eat, although we're learning more all the time about the interplay between diet and genes, he said.

"The science is early and evolving but I do think there is real value there. The fundamentals of a health-promoting diet for our species are common to us all... but the customization is the icing on the cake."

Personalized advice could also prove far more impactful than generic public health advice, he said: “Advice that’s unique to you is more motivating.”

Dr Katz caught up with FoodNavigator-USA editor Elaine Watson at reThink Food , a three-day conference organized by the MIT Media Lab and the Culinary Institute of America, on Nov 4-6. 

Watch our video from reThink Food with Perfect Day (animal free milk) co-founder Ryan Pandya HERE .

“It’s not as if when we were told to eat less saturated fat that we all started eating more beans and lentils instead of meat, we just started eating low fat junk food. And when we didn’t get thin and healthy, we blamed it on cutting fat, instead of eating junk. And then instead of learning from that, we repeated it [with carbs] and we started eating low carb junk food, and then gluten-free junk food."

David Katz MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM, is the founding director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Does Food Navigator want to host a debate?

I gave David a hard time in the previous comment because he was putting words i other people's mouths. The lines have been drawn for decades between low fat and low carbohydrate as the main generalization for therapy and to some extent for prevention. The failure of low fat has led to "slouching toward low carb" and the cop-out of "healthy fats." so there has been change but there is still much confusion. If Food Navigator would like, I know that David and I could provide a collegial and informative discussion.

Report abuse

Posted by Richard David Feinman
08 November 2016 | 18h182016-11-08T18:18:37Z

We don't keep changing our minds -we still disagree.

We have had tremendous differences and one opinion that I hold to is that David Katz is not knowledgable, is not an expert on anything. That's disagreement.

It's not the media, it's not the people don't follow general agreement. The USDA guidelines, since inception have been narrow minded, unscientific. I could actually find some agreement that on of our problems is arrogant guys like this who have limited knowledge. I could should you some agreement there.

Report abuse

Posted by Richad David Feinman
08 November 2016 | 17h572016-11-08T17:57:02Z

Standardized language for expiration dates will help reduce food waste

Standardized language for expiration dates should help reduce food waste, according to GMA

According to the nonprofit Feeding America, 126 billion pounds of food is wasted each...

Vox Pop: In sports nutrition, 'usually just protein'

Vox Pop: 'Protein, and that's pretty much it actually'

Sports nutrition is a booming industry, with Euromonitor estimating a value of $7.4bn in...

Food Starter helps entrepreneurs break into food and beverage industry

Food Starter helps entrepreneurs break into the competitive food and beverage industry

Launching a food business takes more than secret family recipe – it also takes...

Braskem packaging changes color if a product is unfit for consumption

Braskem packaging changes color if a product is unfit for consumption

Marcia Pires

polymer science researcher , Braskem

How to shift perception of GMOs from good vs evil to simply a choice

Could the biotech disclosure law help shift perception of GMOs from good vs evil to simply a choice?

In many ways, the conversation about GMOs has been a debate about good versus...

SmartLabel helps brands meet consumers’ mounting clean label demands

SmartLabel gains traction as a tool for brands to meet consumers’ mounting clean label demands

While SmartLabel is still in its relative infancy, manufacturers are flocking to the technology...

Potential for Nutrition Facts label delay should not slow compliance

The potential of a delay to Nutrition Facts label changes should not slow compliance efforts

Assuming FDA does not delay the deadline for the new Nutrition Fact label as...

Arctic Zero CEO: Clean Label not just low sugar, low calorie, low fat

Arctic Zero’s new social media video campaign shows how ‘clean label’ is more than just ‘free-from’

With the launch of four new varieties, Arctic Zero produced a video to tell...

Manufacturers navigate greenwashing allegations

Manufacturers walk tightrope between demand for natural products and greenwashing allegations

Today’s consumers want products that are natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly, but manufacturers hoping...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: What snacks are hot and where consumers buy them

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: What snacks are hot and where consumers are buying them is evolving

US consumers are snacking more than ever, according to IRI data, but an analyst...

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Confections hold steady in face of war on sugar

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Confections hold steady in face of the war on sugar

Despite significant headwinds generated by the escalating war on sugar and increasing consumer preferences...

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Driving ecommerce with omnichannel marketing

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Driving ecommerce sales with an omnichannel marketing approach

Sales of food and beverage online may be lagging significantly behind those of other...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Will Moringa steal kale's top superfood spot?

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Will Moringa knock kale out of the top superfood spot?

For years kale has reigned supreme as the go-to superfood for many Americans thanks...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Fair Trade certification tackles coconut supply

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Could Fair Trade certification help avoid a coconut shortage?

Ever since coconut water burst on to the US market several years ago, Americans...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Emerging class action litigation targets

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Emerging class action litigation targets

The number of class action cases filed against food and beverage companies continues to...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Threats to bees threaten whole food industry

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Industry stakeholders seek to take the sting out of threats to bees’ health

Spring has finally sprung, which means birds are chirping, crops are blooming and bees...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Top marketing strategies for natural products

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Clean label 2.0 and other top marketing strategies for natural products

When it comes to marketing products in the natural channel it seems like there...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The opportunity for medicinal mushrooms

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The rising opportunity for mushrooms in food and beverage

Growing awareness of the powerful health benefits of mushrooms as well as increasing demand...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Certified Transitional Organic

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Certified Transitional helps conventional farms make the switch to organic

Despite organic’s strong appeal with double-digit year-over-year growth since the early 1990s, and the...

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...