ACSH Morning Dispatch: Food for Thought

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Quote to Note: "The very idea that people could look upon food as medicine, that they might sit down to eat thinking only of their arteries or their risk of cancer appalled Julia (Child).” - Laura Shapiro, author of the biography “Julia Child.”

- For an article titled “Cafeteria Wisdom,” ACSH staffers found almost equal portions of fallacy as well as fact. Andrew Wolf’s sensationalistic Oped in the New York Sun attempted to dissect school lunches, calling them the biggest change for the new academic year. Referring to the “extreme” diet students are facing at lunchtime, he blames the “press-driven ‘childhood obesity epidemic’ spurred on by vegetarians, health nuts and activists.” ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava took particular issue with Wolf’s brush-off of an obesity problem. You don’t get such an increase in obesity in kids in a few years if there isn’t a problem, she said. “That editorial is so biased and so wrong.”
But then, as if by miracle, the Op ed shifted focus, albeit slightly, to the writings of Julia Child. Child, who once was a guest at an ACSH luncheon, was an early fan of bio-engineered foods, remembered Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. Child believed the dinner table is becoming a trap, and was disappointed by the idea that people can look at food only as medicine, something ACSH staffers agree on.
As far as Wolf’s article, besides the attributions to Child, Dr. Kava said she agreed with the author on one other point – perhaps too much emphasis is being placed on the food element in schools. They’d do a lot better by the kids if they taught them to be more active rather than worrying about every bite they put into their mouths,” she said.

- Another article gaining attention at the ACSH morning table was on B1 of the Wall Street Journal, a look at scientific studies that are all-too-often tainted by “sloppy” scientific analysis. ACSH staffers said they were pleased to see this in the paper. There are a lot of reports out there where analysis carry the results too far. One study does not make proof, Dr. Kava said.

Corrie Driebusch is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org, HealthFactsAndFears.com).