When the facts contravene conventional wisdom, go with the anecdotes?
I loved this quote from Gina Kolata's news analysis column in today's New York Times entitled "Maybe You're Not What You Eat":
"Whatever is happening to evidence-based treatment?" Dr. Arthur Yeager, a retired dentist in Edison, N.J., wrote in an e-mail message. "When the facts contravene conventional wisdom, go with the anecdotes?"The furious reaction to last week's JAMA report that low-fat diets don't lead to improved health outcomes reminds me of the current level of civility in Congressional discourse. "Partisan" anti-fat researchers opine in outrage reminiscent of Howard Dean. The situation reminds me of the hysterical rejection of the 1995 study in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension showing that hypertensive patients classified as "low-sodium" consumers had vastly higher risk of heart attacks. Critics flayed the methodology, yet all eight subsequent studies of health outcomes in populations with salt intakes typical of those in the U.S. have confirmed either no health benefit or an increased risk of lower salt intakes and the author subsequently was elected president of the American Society of Hypertension and, more recently, elected president of the International Society of Hypertension, a post he currently holds. Hopefully, our next Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will not ignore this powerful new evidence -- our only controlled trial of the health outcomes of low-fat diets -- in favor of mindless regurgitation of politically-correct policy pronouncements, as they greeted the new evidence on salt. Thank you Dr. Yeager (and Ms. Kolata) for spotlighting our options: follow the evidence or the "experts." We need to insist on evidence-based public health nutrition policies, not the anecdotally-consistent Guidelines being so loudly defended.