Interesting reactions to yesterday’s launch of the Nutrition Science Initiative, whose purpose “is to facilitate and fund rigorous, well-controlled experiments targeted at resolving unambiguously many of the outstanding nutrition controversies — to answer the question definitively of what constitutes a healthy diet.”
Co-founder Gary Taubes:
NuSI was founded on the premise that the reason we are beset today by epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the reason physicians and researchers think these diseases are so recalcitrant to dietary therapies, is because of our flawed understanding of their causes. We believe that with a concerted effort and the best possible science, this problem can be fixed.
Board of Advisor member Tim Ferriss equates NuSI with the Manhattan Project (hyperbole much?):
Imagine what could be done if we had an X-men-like group of the world’s best scientists, independently funded and uninfluenced by industry, tackling the most important questions in nutrition?
Starting today, we have such a group.
Low-carb doc Andreas Eenfeldt is impressed:
After spending some time discussing it with Taubes and Attia at the AHS conference recently I was extremely impressed by their thinking and plans. I do believe that this could change the world.
Obesity clinician Yoni Freedhoff is skeptical:
Mr. Taubes thinks that study design is the broken paradigm that’s crippling weight management. He thinks that nutritional research hasn’t asked the right questions or used the right methodologies and so that’s why we’re mired in this mess. And while it’s easy to agree with him that there have been libraries filled with poorly designed studies, as far as clinical weight management utility goes, more effectively asking or studying whether low-carb diets have better outcomes than low-fat or other diets isn’t likely to help much.
Obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet is cautiously optimistic:
I may not always agree with NuSI’s funding priorities (although I suspect I often will), but the bottom line is that it will increase funding for top scientists in a tough economic/political climate, potentially make experiments possible that were formerly inaccessible due to excessive cost, and add to human knowledge about diet and health. That’s why I support it.
Me, I’m probably somewhere between Yoni and Stephan … pretty skeptical about Gary Taubes and his agenda, but hopeful that we could get some new understanding about the causes of obesity.
Update, 9/14: Some additional responses.
Blogger Evelyn aka CarbSane doesn’t see how NuSI will accomplish their stated goals:
NuSI is characterizing existing science as inferior. Their mission is to improve the quality of the science. …
So what exactly do they propose to do to fix this? Are they planning on funding year long metabolic ward studies on 35+ subjects per group? That’s what would need to be done and hope to at least have groups of 30 remaining at the end. The cost of ONE such study would be enormous … which is why it hasn’t been done.
Integrative medicine practitioner Chris Kresser echoes Stephan Guyenet:
I absolutely support the goals and mission of NuSi. Sure, I may not always agree with them on the studies they decide to fund, but I think we need a concerted effort like this. The more reliable, unbiased research we have on the connection between nutrition and health, the better position we’ll be in to make meaningful changes that reduce the social and economic burden of obesity.