The science and politics of dietary advice
'Gyorgy Scrinis exposes the folly of the reductionist approach and proposes an alternative food quality paradigm, based on respecting traditional dietary patterns and reducing technological processing. It may offend nutritionists and will upset the food industry, but it could also herald a delicious revolution in our ability to eat well.' - Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Nutritionist
From the fear of 'bad nutrients' such as fat and cholesterol, to the celebration of supposedly health-enhancing vitamins and omega-3 fats, our understanding of food and health has been dominated by a reductive scientific focus on nutrients. It is on this basis that butter and eggs have been vilified, yet highly processed foods such as margarine have been promoted as being healthier than whole foods.
Gyorgy Scrinis argues that this ideology of nutritionism has narrowed and distorted our appreciation of food quality, while promoting nutrition confusion and nutritional anxieties. The food industry exploits these anxieties by nutritionally modifying their food products, and marketing them with nutritional and health claims.
Through a fascinating investigation into such issues as the butter versus margarine debate, the battle between low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie and low-GI weight-loss diets, the limitations of dietary guidelines, and the search for the optimal dietary pattern - from Mediterranean and vegetarian to paleo diets - Scrinis builds a revealing history of the scientific, social, and economic factors driving our modern fascination with nutrition, and explores alternative ways of understanding food quality.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
1. A Clash of Nutritional Ideologies
2. The Nutritionism Paradigm: Reductive Approaches to Nutrients, Food, and the Body
3. The Era of Quantifying Nutritionism: Protective Nutrients, Caloric Reductionism, and Vitamania
4.The Era of Good - and - Bad Nutritionism: Bad Nutrients and Nutricentric Dietary Guidelines
5. The Macronutrient Diet Wars: From the Low-Fat Campaign to Low-Calorie, Low-Carb, and Low-GI Diets
6. Margarine, Butter, and the Trans-Fats Fiasco
7. The Era of Functional Nutritionism: Functional Nutrients, Superfoods, and Optimal Dietary Patterns
8. Functional Foods: Nutritional Engineering, Nutritional Marketing, and Corporate Nutritionism
9. The Food Quality Paradigm: Alternative Approaches to Food and the Body
10. After Nutritionism
Appendix: The Nutritionism and Food Quality Lexicon
Dr Gyorgy Scrinis lectures in food politics at the University of Melbourne.