Where Does Confusion About Nutrition Come From?

The always astute Gary Taubes notes in the New York Times that, "nearly six weeks into the 2014 diet season, it’s a good bet that many of us who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight have already peaked. If clinical trials are any indication, we’ve lost much of the weight we can expect to lose. In a year or two we’ll be back within half a dozen pounds of where we are today". This dismal observation underlines the fact that nutrition science has provided little benefit to the public, because the work has never been undertaken to understand what constitutes a healthy diet.

While the assumption exists that we know "how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight", the reality is that rates of obesity and diabetes have been increasing for decades. 

Taubes concludes by taking a stand for humility with what we do know regarding nutrition and for making a concerted effort to fill in the blanks on what we don't know:

It’s an unacceptable situation. Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

Where does confusion about nutrition come from? It comes from the lack of a clear understanding on what constitutes good nutrition. Gary Taubes continues to do great service by insisting that the only way forward is to learn the answer to this question.