Obesity and obesity-related diseases are complex challenges driven by many varying factors, including genetics, a lack of physical activity and the over consumption of calories from all sources. Yet public health activists try to focus on pushing one-size-fits-all solutions to address obesity.
Recently, an article on ConscienHealth questions the public health activists’ oversimplified solutions to address a complex public issue. ConscienHealth highlights a study published in the International Journal of Obesity where the authors Martin Binks and Shao-Hua Chin argue that, “many obesity policy interventions are focused on influencing a narrow range of factors that fail to account for the complexity of the disease of obesity, have had minimal to modest impact and frequently fail to consider adequately the potential detriments to personal autonomy and empowerment.”
That’s right. Obesity is a complex issue that cannot be solved by singling out a single food, beverage or nutrient. We need to look at the whole diet and consider the totality of science on how the body may or may not be impacted so Americans get nutritional advice that is achievable and accurate.
“Failure to attend to these challenges has the potential to erode the public trust in obesity policy initiatives and harm the very population we seek to make healthier,” concludes Binks and Chin.
We’ve seen this happen before when previous U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees (DGAC) told the American public to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol-laden foods, dietary advice that unfortunately prompted millions of Americans to stay away from foods that were beneficial to their diets. Instead of trying to demonize one food or nutrient, dietary advice should be based on the totality of scientific evidence available to us. That way, the public will get real world dietary guidance that is also achievable.