THE ONE-HUNDRED-PERCENT NATURAL, PURELY ORGANIC, MEGAVITAMIN, LOW-CARBOHYDRATE NUTRITION HOAX by Elizabeth M. & Frederick J. Stare Whelan

THE ONE-HUNDRED-PERCENT NATURAL, PURELY ORGANIC, MEGAVITAMIN, LOW-CARBOHYDRATE NUTRITION HOAX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From two luminaries (Panic in the Pantry) of the ultraconservative, medical establishment camp: a critical look at almost everyone else in the nutrition world--disputable on many points, but not irresponsible. Whelan and Stare's declared purpose is ""to expose some of the misbeliefs and fallacious notions that have permeated"" nutrition and introduce ""a common-sense, scientific approach to the subject""; their targets range, however, from such vulnerable sorts as Stillman and Atkins to Jane Brody (""a typical media viewpoint"") and McGovern and his expert-backed 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States. After explaining why all these are in the business (to make money), the authors take up various elements of the purported hoax. Americans aren't undernourished (except perhaps in iron). Obesity is a real problem--but sufferers just have to cut down. Heart disease owes far less to diet than the American Heart Association alleges. The so-called poison additives in our food aren't poisonous. Also: the diet and cancer connection is illusory; the sugar concern is exaggerated; vitamin supplements are unneeded. Though Whelan and Stare are thorough and careful in explaining their interpretation of the research, one can seriously challenge their basic contention that family physicians and organized medicine are the best source of nutritional information: the track record is just not that good. They legitimately cite inconsistencies and disagreements among less traditional investigators--but readers may still balk at putting their trust, as urged, in baby food manufacturers who used to load their products with sugar and salt; in experts who insist on the safety of insecticides (DDT, malathion) whose long-term effects are unknown; in anyone who maintains that an apple is an apple in nutritional content. And while some non-traditional nutritionists have indeed advocated dangerous, way-out treatments, that charge can be leveled equally against medicine. (The authors' acceptance of DES use in beef cattle raises uncomfortable comparisons.) Caution against nutritional quackery is always in order--but to similarly dismiss the likes of Brody (Jane Brody's Nutrition Book), Bennett and Gurin (The Dieter's Dilemma), Hausman (Jack Spratt's Legacy), and Hunter (The Sugar Trap) looks suspiciously like a backward step.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum