When “M.D.,” “Dr.P.H.” or other equally impressive letters come after a person’s name, our natural inclination is to trust that said individual is a well-educated expert in their field. We trust that they have earned their credentials through years of vigorous schooling and endless research, and they have. However, it is important to remember that in front of those credentials is a human, and just like the rest of us, even with the best education and intentions, personal opinions and biases often creep in. From Forbes:
In an extraordinary editorial and feature article, Natureone [sic] of the world’s pre-eminent scientific journals, has effectively admonished the chair of the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition department, Walter Willett, for promoting over-simplification of scientific results in the name of public health and engaging in unseemly behavior towards those who venture conclusions that differ to his.
Willett, who is one of the most frequently quoted academic sources on nutrition in the news media, appears to have crossed a Rubicon when he denounced Katherine Flegal, an epidemiologist at the US National Center for Health Statistics, for publishing a study that showed people who were overweight (but not obese) lived longer than those deemed normal weight. “This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it,” he told National Public Radio.
“Studies such as Flegal’s are dangerous, Willett says, because they could confuse the public and doctors, and undermine public policies to curb rising obesity rates. ‘There is going to be some percentage of physicians who will not counsel an overweight patient because of this,’ he says. Worse, he says, these findings can be hijacked by powerful special-interest groups, such as the soft-drink and food lobbies, to influence policy-makers.”
Here at Sip & Savor, we regularly share findings proving that our industry’s products are not unique contributors to obesity. We don’t “hijack” them to promote our own agenda. We simply provide the truth backed up by evidence like government data. That is what our readers expect and deserve. Likewise, Americans deserve to hear the truth about obesity and nutrition, and “experts,” such as Willett, should feel obligated to do so.
Click here to read more about why Willett’s my-way-or-the-highway approach to science is being condemned by his peers.