Scientists – leave your ego at the door!

“We have epidemics of diet-related disease that are threatening life expectancy, that are going to bankrupt the healthcare system. We need to get out of this egotistical debate about who’s right and who’s wrong, and try to work together with our scientific opponents to come up with a bigger view.”

David Ludwig is a practicing endocrinologist, researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. He also directs the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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“Unfortunately, increasingly in the US and around the world, the majority of the population has insulin resistance, if not pre-diabetes, if not diabetes, and these conditions are going to do best with a more intensive intervention, which involves not only paying attention to the quality of the carbohydrates but reducing them overall and replacing them, mainly with fat,” he says.

Ludwig says back in the 1970s diet wasn’t as “disastrous” as it has become in the last couple of decades in the US.

“If you have a home-cooked family meal every night you are substantially protected – kids these days are eating fast food for every meal and there is no family dinner.”

As little as 20-25 years ago, society-consensus statements focused on the importance of reducing fats, all fats – olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, the foods that we know today are among the healthiest you can eat – and dismissing sugar, Ludwig says.

We now know processed carbs are driving metabolic dysfunction, he says.

“Sugar, refined grains and potato products top the list for weight-gain and risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes.”

There are a lot of ‘egos’ in science and that’s a big hurdle for moving us forward, he says.

“I think we can all agree, regardless of where you are on the low-fat versus low-carb debate, that reducing processed carbs, if you’re eating carbohydrates, and substituting them with vegetables, whole fruits, legumes and minimally processed grains, is going to be helpful.”

“There is so much to be done.”

David Ludwig