Thursday, February 12, 2009

What do healthy eating and lifestyles have in common with woo?

All bad science is not confined to the area of climate nor to environmental policy issues: it proliferates in areas of medicine, especially those intended to "correct" lifestyles and enforce authoritarian lifestyle changes on the populace.
Recently, Sandy had this excellent post on the latest science on "healthy" lifestyle modifications, which have been shown to have:
  • ...little to no effect on reducing premature deaths from all causes or in reducing hospitalizations, but it didn't matter because it's really about getting people to change their lifestyles.
  • Perhaps, it's little wonder, then, that the results of every major randomized, controlled clinical trial of healthy eating and lifestyles to date have been ignored, downplayed, or explained away... or their benefits greatly overstated.
  • As incredible as it seems, they have failed to demonstrate significant benefit in preventing chronic diseases of old age, like the big three diabetes, heart disease or cancers, or in living longer.
  • Nor has any healthy eating intervention been credibly shown to give everyone a government-approved BMI.
The key is that:
  • The preventive health movement has become a major industry,... and the healthy eating and lifestyle ideology has been an easy one to sell.
This is another area where science is used as the rationale to sell the public on an ideology that has large aspects of social engineering as an integral component of its dogma, but where the science fails to sustain either the certitude of that ideology or its prescribed behavior modifications.

But no amount of refutation of the science seems sufficient to overcome the axiomatic status such junkscience has been accorded within government circles and ideological programs for social reform continue unabated: e.g. here and here.

Of course, indoctrination is easier when you are the government and can use the apparatus of the state to impose your message.