Monday, May 20, 2013

Former Salt Expert Weighs In

"These are your kidneys on salt," explains the venerable Dr. Sharma.

This from Dr. Arya M. Sharma's Obesity Notes blog:

While I have no illusions that this [Institutes of Medicine] report [on salt] will in any way put the century old debate to rest (indeed the report calls for further research), I think that there is a much bigger message in this report that should let us tread cautiously when it comes to dietary recommendations in general. 
Let us remember that associations (on which so many of our assumptions about healthy diets depend) simply do not prove causality, even when backed by seemingly plausible biological hypotheses derived largely from rodent toxicology. We should also remember that fancy statistical predictions on the vast number of lives lost or saved by altering the population intake of this or the other nutrient, are generally based on sometimes rather heroic assumptions that may well explain whey [sic] they are rarely (if ever) borne out by actual interventions. 
Thus, whether we are talking about salt, fat, carbs, sugar, fibre, gluten, calcium, Vit D, dairy or red-meat, a degree of humility in advocating for policies and other measures to reduce or increase this or the other is generally in order. 
Seldom in the field of nutrition are things as cut and dried as some will have us believe – if only food were as simple as tobacco.

It's for these reasons, and probably more, that I think the government should reduce its involvement in creating and enforcing nutrition policies. The science is just too tenuous, and lawmakers a little too susceptible to the political machinations of nutrition activists and businesses.

I mean, barring famines, our ancestors did pretty well for themselves nutritionally, all without the aid of governments, ad agencies, doctors, personal trainers, and so forth.

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