Food theory

One magazine offers revisionist ideas

March 12, 2013

Sunday’s issue of the New York Times magazine bundled a number of otherwise unrelated articles under the topic of Revisionist Food Theories.

First up: A Gretchen Reynolds roundup assessing how the conventional dietary wisdom has changed over the past few decades, from shunning animal fats to (sort of) embracing them, from embracing vegetable oils to (sort of) shunning them, from thinking that optimal cholesterol levels and taking fish oil and maintaining a low weight will save your heart to thinking that well, maybe not so much. Her sum-up? “The truth is, at this point, we don’t truly understand how it all works.”

Second up: An Adam Davidson piece describing how the dieting industry manages to get so much of our money without actually getting us to lose weight: “Game theory suggests that if you want to truly change your behavior, commit and close off those options. But as basic marketing makes clear, the real money is still in the fantasy business.”

And third: Melanie Thernstrom’s profile of Kari Nadeau, a doctor who runs a desensitization treatment program for kids with food allergies. (The idea isn’t new, but it’s being applied systematically in clinics these days.) “One day, perhaps, fatal anaphylaxis may become a sorrow associated with an earlier age, like dying of appendicitis or polio,” writes Thernstrom.

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