Saturday, May 5, 2012

Media Appearances

Last October, I participated in a panel discussion organized by the Harvard Food Law Society in Boston.  The panel included Drs. Walter Willett, David Ludwig, Robert Lustig, and myself, with Corby Kummer as moderator.  Dr. Willett is the chair of the Harvard Department of Nutrition; Dr. Ludwig is a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard; Dr. Lustig is a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCSF; and Kummer is a food writer and senior editor for The Atlantic

The Food Law Society recently posted a video of the discussion, which you can find here.  I commented on the discussion in a previous post.  This was the same meeting at which I gave my TEDx talk, "The American Diet: a Historical Perspective".  It's an informative 17 minutes if you haven't seen it.  Many thanks to the Food Law Society for inviting me to participate.  The Food Law Society is hosting the Ancestral Health Symposium in Boston this summer, at which I'll also be speaking.

I also did a short interview recently with Todd Whitthorne, CEO of Cooper Concepts, a division of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, which you can find here.  We talked mostly about obesity and food reward.  The Cooper Aerobics Center has been involved in quite a bit of interesting research on the effects of exercise on health.  Hint: it's good for you.  Todd is a nice guy and his enthusiasm is contagious.

19 comments:

James said...

"I am absolutely 100% sure that if you replace red meat with a combination of nuts and legumes you will reduce your risk of heart disease." A real scientist is rarely if ever 100% sure of anything. "I have approximate answers and possible beliefs in different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything" - Richard Feynman

Gys de Jongh said...

Just saw the latest on food reward :)

Hedonic Eating Is Associated with Increased Peripheral Levels of Ghrelin and the Endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoyl-Glycerol in Healthy Humans: A Pilot Study

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Published online before print March 22, 2012, doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-3018

ivat said...

Enjoyed it. Thought you were a bit bulldozed in places, Stephan--but I suppose that's what comes of being younger.

Willett was very informative; but you can tell his eminent position's given him an air of authority about matters on which there can be no authority. He's invested so much time and belief into (undoubtedly useful) large-scale surveys that he probably regards those as more conclusive than they have the ability to be.

His dismissal of historical and anthropological approaches was a bit patronising, I thought. Yes, we may identify healthy eating correlations among sections of our present society; but what's more arresting, surely, is when healthy patterns are identifiable in a society as a whole, as a cultural tradition. And when he talks of early mortality in such societies, might that not just as well owe historically to accidents, lack of health care, and so on? From what Stephan has told us, [i]contemporary[/i] Kitavans do not die early. I doubt they eat many apples, either.

Heath said...

I think that the biggest problem with Walter Willett is this:

He thinks that epidemiology is weightier evidence than it really is. He believes that observation can be controlled to such an extent that it becomes something more. And a lot of people do. And until that can be challenged and refuted sufficiently, he will always believe he has evidence for his views.

Heath said...

And I know that you were trying to show some deference to your panel members, but you shouldn't sell yourself short. The ancestral observations you had alluded to in your talk were a rare kind of "study". Now, forgive me if you are familiar with epidemiology. This may be redundant, but I think it bears repeating. To quote from my ancient edition of "Foundations of Epidemiology":

"Occasionally, the investigator is fortunate enough to observe the occurrence of a disease under natural conditions so closely approximating a planned, controlled experiment that it is categorized a "natural experiment." Any inferences about etiological factors derived from such situations are considerably stronger than if they had been derived solely from an observational study." - Page 10, second edition

Heath said...

The more times I see Walter, the more I appreciate his moustache.

Bog said...

But, Stephen, why on earth this society wanted to have you speaking at their event? You are an intellectual dwarf who inter alia thinks english teachers do better job with epidemiologic data than Sir Richard Peto, oxford-epidemiologist and founder of meta-analysis concept. You are cholesterol confusionist. I'd rather see you writing books about the benefits of injecting cholesterol straight to your arteries or speaking at Richard Nikoleys birthday party. Much suitable platforms for you to spread you pseudoscientific paleo, appeal-to-nature BS.

Heath said...

Is Denise teaching now? Good for her.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Bog,

Inexplicably, a lot of people seem to find value in what I write here. I've been invited to speak at three conferences this year, travel expenses paid (two of which I accepted), and I turned down several other speaking offers and interviews. And that is completely outside of my professional work. This blog receives over 70,000 unique visitors a month. I also have a number of peer-reviewed publications in the scientific literature, and I'm conducting high-level research at a respected academic institution. Not too bad for an intellectual dwarf!

It always makes me laugh when someone accuses me of lacking rigor, and then relies on ad hominem attacks without providing any evidence themselves. The Internet is full of anonymous knuckleheads, so join the club.

I'm going to leave your comment up, but this is your warning that I'll delete the next one that is disrespectful.

Mario Vachon said...

Hi Stephen. For what's it worth (not much) I've seen Bog on some other forums and the act is always the same. A lot of attacks and never a hint of an original thought.

Many of us certainly do value your blog and are thankful that there are people like yourself, Chris Masterjohn, Denis Minger, Kurt Harris etc... who are willing to share their knowledge with those of us less knowledgeable and less capable of dissecting research.

I watched that video this morning and you're the only one who didn't come off as a pompous you know what. Willett and Lustig are far too convinced they have all the answers.

Unknown said...

Stephen,
Good for you! You are a professional. And as a 62 YO guy, I had to wince at Lustig and Willette. A little humility, please. I'm not a paleo/LC type, but I can see why many think these guys (right or wrong) can come off as arrogant.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Thanks for your support everyone.

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Deirdre said...

Stephan,

Harvey S. Firestone said it best:
"The way of the pioneer is always rough."

The reality is, our world is a whole lot better with scientists like you in it. Thank you for making us all think a little harder.

Deirdre

Rok Osterman said...

It's funny how dr. Willett started talking nonsense as soon as the subject touched beef. If diet and health of the consumed food doesn't make any difference then I guess it doesn't matter if an apple is rotten - an apple is an apple after all!

Also, I think there was a misunderstanding between you, Stephan, and dr. Willett regarding the impact of beef on the environment. Willett's response makes sense if you keep conditions all the same but only switch diet of the cows (i.e. cows are still in stables). I assume you meant PASTURED (grass-fed) beef.

Whether Willett misunderstood that on purpose or not we can't be sure but at times it seemed as if he was bought (come on, Mediterranean diet to be the ideal? We all know that diet was used to promote "fats are bad *ALERT* cholesterol *ALERT*" campaign).

At the end, there is probably no ideal diet because it's not just the item and its nutritional value but how you prepare it as well. Let's take extra virgin olive oil as an example (for Willett's sake). If you let it sit on the sunlight for a year so it would get rancid, it wouldn't be a healthy food anymore, would it? Same thing if you heat it up past its smoke point .

Rok Osterman said...

Oh, and I loved how you were carefully choosing words (very professional). The part I loved the most was the subject of beef. You knew it would stir things up. :)

George Henderson said...

On the food quality front, I've foound a couple references in older literature (Set This House on Fire, by William Styron and Diary of a Nobody, by the Grossmiths) to poor people cooking with rancid, reused fat (1930s), and pinching second-hand kitchen fat from employers (1890s)respectively.

sharon parquette nimtz said...

Willett should never be too sure about anything. How many times has he apologized for pushing margarine over butter not only to patients but to other doctors. Many. He found himself in the wrong. He is also in the wrong about pastured meats.

Reijo said...

Interesting discussion. Many above seem to critizise prospective cohort studies. I think one should also be aware of a major problem wiith randomized trials, namely non-adherence to dietary instructions. After 6 months in a study, people tend to jump to old habits. This phenomenon is clearly observable in low carb and high protein trials. Typically a target difference ( in E %/ macro nutrient) is circa 15-25 % but only a fraction of this (like 2-10 %) is achieved at the end of the studies. Providing free food seem to be the only way around the problem.