Just Read: Diet: Less a Debate, More an Interest to Know What a Healthy Diet Is

I had the good fortune/pleasure of meeting Will Yancy, MD (@DrWillYancy) who’s the Program Director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center (@dukedfc).

He’s also widely published in the field of nutrition science, which is how I got to know him, from the number of peer-reviewed articles carrying his name as author, back as far as 2003 (I looked).

Because I am far newer to the study of modern day nutrition science than he is, I had many many questions about what the science shows and how physicians should communicate it to each other and the people we serve.

In my review of his work, I read this conversation in the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The referenced article above is a response to this one:

Pagoto SL, Appelhans BM. A Call for an End to the Diet Debates. JAMA [Internet]. American Medical Association; 2013 Aug 21 [cited 2017 Nov 8];310(7):687–8.

This is a topic with an unsurprising amount of a lot of emotion attached to it, and the dialogue in the pieces (there’s a response to Will’s response) is interesting to me.

As I talk to more and more physicians (and people) in general, I find the commonality that we have a desire to know, rather than a desire to end debate. It’s because, as I’ve posted on this blog many many times, across many subjects, sometimes we think we know and we don’t. In looking at the status quo of the SAD (Standard American Diet), a call to end the diet debate without questioning may not be the healthiest approach & there’s enough evidence to support this point of view.

The various diets that are commonly studied (eg, low-fat, Mediterranean, low-carbohydrate, low-glycemic index, vegetarian) can have widely different metabolic and health effects, particularly when adherence is high and even if weight loss is ultimately similar.3 More importantly, despite voluminous research on diet and health, there is scant high-quality evidence (ie, randomized controlled trials) to support any diet’s beneficial effects on clinical events.

Will referred me to a few key studies he’s conducted that I’m going to review and post more about here.

I’m a family medicine specialist; we’re built to embrace curiosity, not at the expense of the people we serve, in service to them.

Ted Eytan, MD