When you shouldn’t listen to nutritionists in the New York Times article

Maybe it was my love of pretty graphs, maybe it was the fact that 25% of “nutritionists” called pizza healthy, maybe butter needed to be defended. The itch was too strong: Must. Restore. Order.

The New York Times recently published an article comparing the “healthiness” of 50 common foods, as rated both by a panel of nutritionists and a representative sample of the US population. The results demonstrate that the average American believes sugary foods (like granola bars) are healthier than nutritionists rate them to be. So far, so unsurprising.

Big Food: 1                      Healthy Eating: 0


As I kept reading the article, things went from making perfect sense to perplexing me more and more. Then, it got really icky.

The panel of experts consisted of 672 nutritionists -all part of the American Society for Nutrition, and mostly academics. For what happened next, I blame an anomaly in the spacetime continuum (I can’t think of another explanation):

25% of these the nutritionists rated pizza as healthy, and 12% rated ice cream as healthy.

Still in shock, I decided to make my own comparison graph. I present to you the ratings of the NYT panel of nutritionists (data here) vs. my own view of what constitutes a healthy diet.

Let’s dig in, shall we?
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The Evolution of the USDA Food Pyramid: An Unsound Foundation

2015 is going to bring great things. Among others, HBO’s Veep season 4, the AppleWatch, but most importantly, the USDA is going to publish their new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Every 5 years, the institution graces us with a data-filled report, and a simple take-home message, usually in the form of a pyramid (or more recently, a plate) to tell us what diet to adopt in order to “maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health” (sic).

While we wait with bated breath, please allow me to take you on a trip down memory lane and look at the evolution of this dear Food Pyramid.

Let’s start in 1943. The USDA created the ‘basic seven’ food groups which they recommended every American ate on a daily basis.
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These were the first guidelines, and in my opinion, the best the USDA ever gave. It’s all down hill from here…
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