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Experts vs. the American Public
Old 07-09-2016, 05:01 PM   #1
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Experts vs. the American Public

I was just reading a fascinating (to me, at least) article called Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? What About Granola? Where Americans and Nutritionists Disagree about a survey the NY Times ran where they asked people and nutrition experts their opinions on the healthiness of a bunch of different foods. There were a number of points of agreement, a surprising number of points of disagreement, and an interesting number of points of disagreement even amongst the experts. It really didn't prove anything, but was a fun read.

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The results suggest a surprising diversity of opinion, even among experts. Yes, some foods, like kale, apples and oatmeal, are considered “healthy” by nearly everyone. And some, like soda, french fries and chocolate chip cookies, are not. But in between, some foods appear to benefit from a positive public perception, while others befuddle the public and experts alike. (We’re looking at you, butter.)

“Twenty years ago, I think we knew about 10 percent of what we need to know” about nutrition, said Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “And now we know about 40 or 50 percent.”
Personally, I doubt they are even as high as 40 to 50% at this point.

Looking through the choices, I saw a number of points where I disagreed with the experts (sushi). Also a number where I disagreed with the public (granola). And definitely bacon should be listed higher on the healthy scale. What do y'all think?
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:10 PM   #2
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Bacon! You really need to ask. Top of my list for sure.
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:16 PM   #3
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I am surprised there was so little difference between the nutritionists and the public. I could not see a correlation coefficient, but looking at the graph, my guess is that it might be somewhere in the range of 0.6-0.7. That's pretty good.
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:35 PM   #4
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Is "healthy" ever defined? I don't see a definition, without a standard it's about perception not facts. To me most foods are healthy. I need calories to continue to exist. How is eating anything at the elementary level unhealthy? Sure after basic calories are met nutrition starts to play a role. Until you have sufficient calories you can't be selective about your macro balance. You can't worry if your foods "super" if you are starving, even trans fat sounds great then. Do we think it's healthy?
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MRG View Post
Is "healthy" ever defined? I don't see a definition, without a standard it's about perception not facts.
+1

I cringe anytime someone says "____ is health!" It's usually a tell that someone has no idea what they are talking about. I try (try, not always successfully) to change the subject.
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:46 PM   #6
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I think that when it comes to individual foods it is all about balance and moderation. Overindulging in something in particular, lets say soda, is likely to not be "healthy" in the long run. Maybe there can even be too much bacon! ()

I tend to more faith in population diets such as a "Mediterranean Diet", "Asian Diet", etc. I think there is pretty good evidence from the recent past to indicate the relative "health" of these diets.

It may be the case now that globalization is making this distinction less and less the case now.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:12 PM   #7
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Another aspect of food that wasn't covered is "unhealthy". For example, I doubt anyone in their right mind would say a diet coke is healthy, but I think there would be wide disagreement if the question was worded "is a diet coke unhealthy?" Many people think anything carbonated is unhealthy, and many others (like myself) think it's a flavorful neutral, definitely better than a sugary soda. I'd like to see a similar survey worded for the unhealthy option.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:26 PM   #8
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The only issue with much of the expert opinion is it has changed over time. consider butter vs margarine or eggs in general. Opinion has changed over time and it may change again. The biggest issue is that some humans like other animals such as some dogs and cats (at least) if given access to to much food will overeat and gain weight. The animal kingdom evolved in an environment of food scarcity and its really only the last 100 years or so that food has gone from scarce and expensive to plentiful and cheap. Our bodies have not been able to change to handle the situation.
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Old 07-09-2016, 07:06 PM   #9
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Saying "sushi" is very broad.

Thin slice of Hamachi on a rice ball? Check.
Deep fried salmon skin wrapped in a hand roll drizzled with sweet eel sauce? Yeah no
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