Posts Tagged ‘objectivity’

The Challenge of Objectivity About Alcohol Risks

March 30, 2022 — Objectivity about the risks of drinking alcohol is not easy to find. Just like sweet beverages, alcohol has been part of human culture and a source of pleasure for thousands of years. An awareness of its health risks also has a very long history. Because humans can rationalize just about anything, we embrace assurances from […]

Still Looking for the Health Effect of SSB Taxes

March 28, 2022 — A new study in Health Economics reminds us we’re still looking for evidence for the health effect of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes. It hasn’t shown up yet. But we’re still waiting hopefully. This latest study comes from John Cawley, Michael Daly, and Rebecca Thornton. They estimated the effect of an SSB Tax in Mauritius on […]

Conflicted Interests in the Healthy Living Industry

March 6, 2022 — The law of the instrument suggests that the tool at hand when a problem presents itself seems like the right one to use. When all we have is a hammer, everything looks a bit more like a nail. So we pound it. And in the healthy living industry (aka wellness) we have quite a hammer. […]

Skepticism and Grace: Can They Coexist?

January 30, 2022 — You may have noticed. Evidence of skepticism, disagreement, and polarization is all around us. These phenomena are notably – sometimes disturbingly – present in dialogue about public health. We suppose that a pandemic puts stresses on people that explain some of this behavior. Healthy skepticism indeed is a good thing. Its roots lie in objectivity […]

Fighting Diet Culture with Sweet, Simple Answers

January 9, 2022 — “Know that BMI is BS.” On NPR’s Life Kit podcast, that’s the advice for coping with the boogeyman of diet culture. Whatever diet culture is, in this season of anxiety about weight and health, it certainly seems to be on the minds of many influencers. So if one defines diet culture as a preoccupation with […]

Twin Views of Obesity in Conflict

November 23, 2021 — “The way that fat people and thin people experience this conversation is worlds apart,” says Michael Hobbes on a recent episode of his Maintenance Phase podcast with Aubrey Gordon. He’s describing a heated debate about catastrophizing obesity that has been smoldering for almost two decades. This is a conflict between two views of obesity. One […]

Scorn for Scoring Foods for Health

November 9, 2021 — A few weeks ago, nutrition researchers at Tufts released Food Compass. It is a complex algorithm for scoring the healthfulness of foods on a scale of 1 to 100. I’ve not yet heard a positive assessment from RDN colleagues. The tool has generated anger and rage on Twitter, which is to be expected. Personally I […]

The Moral Hazard of Demonizing the Food Industry

September 5, 2021 — The global food industry is huge – so big that people have a hard time putting firm numbers on it. But roughly, it’s worth about ten trillion dollars. It’s also very diverse. The top ten multinational food and beverage companies add up to only half a trillion dollars of those sales. Nonetheless in public health […]

Blurring the Line Between Righteousness and Health

August 22, 2021 — Make no mistake about it, public health is a righteous cause. Overwhelmingly, people choose careers in public health because they believe in the mission and they want to make a difference in the world. But righteous causes can bring a loss of objectivity. It happens because strong, human feelings come into play. When we hear […]

Public Policy Based on Anger and Fear

August 8, 2021 — Anger is circulating freely these days. It’s nothing new. But harnessing anger and its close cousin – fear – is a skill social media algorithms seem to have mastered. Thus, politicians see an opportunity and anger grows. Punitive public policy scores points with constituents stoked by anger and fear. It seldom solves problems, though. In […]