“It is a good divine that
follows his own instructions: I can easier teach
twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the
twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may
devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps
o’er a cold decree: such a hare is madness the
youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the
Jimmy Moore, over at the Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Blog, had a fantastic week’s worth of podcast interviews recently. Included were some of the most influential individuals in the low-carb, Paleo arena. And while all of the interviews were both interesting and informative, I found this interview, with Gary Taubes, to be the “best of the best”. Give it a listen and you’ll come to better understand why diet and obesity research in this country is in such sorry shape (pun intended).
And really, from a practical standpoint, it’s easy to understand. Research, and the interpretation of that research, is heavily influenced by funding, be it government or private. Now everyone needs to put food on the table and shoes on the kids (even research scientists), and, therefore, the “what results do you want to see” phenomenon is perpetuated. To put the matter bluntly, no one stands to make any money whatsoever – and, in fact, many entities stand to lose enormously – if the success of the Paleo/TTP/EvFit type lifestyles are documented, published, and (eventually) adhered to by the masses. Think about who stands to gain from this revolution – ranchers of grass-fed cattle, organic farmers, food co-ops – not amongst the most powerful of the movers-and-shakers and the well-connected on K Street. Who stands to lose? The pharmaceutical industry (which I, by the way, am a part of), grain growers, and sugar growers to name a few. Yikes, there are some heavy-hitters in that group. We’re talkin’ government promotion and farm subsidies here; congressional influence via lobbying efforts. Quite a taught web, to say the least.
But how do we, as a nation, break free from this detrimental, symbiotic relationship between research and “tainted” funding? I flirted a bit with the subject in this post. Note, as well, Dana’s knowledgeable comment to the post, and my response to her comment. Of course, to proclaim that there’s an easy fix out there just waiting to be had is, at best, naive. My own (and, admittedly jaded) take on this is that money and influence will never be removed from the equation. Therefore, if the government truly places the health of the citizenry first and foremost, it would redirect government funds, funneling more toward the education and educational opportunities end of the spectrum. Empower and enable the citizenry to make their own informed and intelligent decisions, and the nation as a whole will be so much the stronger. On the personal side, we, as a society, have (and have to teach our kids, as well) to embrace the fine art of politely, eloquently, questioning authority. The educational emphasis can be shifted away from rote memory and “teaching to the test”, and more toward reasoning and problem solving. We can all take full responsibility for our own health instead of adopting the role of “pawn” or “victim of circumstance”. This is only scraping at the outer layers of a multi-dimensional problem, of course; it could be considered the initial steps, though, to turning the obesity tsunami.