Great example of terrible science/fitness writing, by that paragon of political correctness NPR. You have to read nearly the entire piece to get to the deeply buried lede, which is quoted below.
The reality about healthy eating is that the number one thing you need to do is roughly match caloric intake to output…in other words how much or how little do you need to eat to maintain a healthy body weight. Second, within that framework, how do you maximize the quality of what you eat; eat mostly minimally processed foods, but don’t go nuts over this. Most foods you buy are at least minimally processed, and they are still fine to eat. Consider the simple examples of peanut butter, canned tuna, whole grain bread, and brewed black coffee. Every one is a processed food, but also fine in a well thought out diet.
One of the most important and damaging boondoggles of the past 40 years is the insertion of the government and the medical profession into the daily lives of Americans with nutrition and exercise advice that is often just flat-out wrong. So little of what they advise comes from controlled feeding trials. And the reporting about the medical industry’s nutrition advice is often worse than the advice itself.
Take, for example, this article by NPR’s Allison Aubrey. She conflates Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes when talking about deaths and healthcare spending; she buys into the pastiche that the correlation of recall-based food consumption information is sufficient to draw conclusions about causation; and, she doesn’t understand that marginal increases in the relative risk of death frequently mean that the absolute risk of death has barely nudged. It’s absolute risk that matters more in most cases. Of course, Ms. Aubrey needs to remain in the good graces of the high profile academics whose work she supports and reports; otherwise, which names would she drop at social events.
The reality is that we will all die of something. If you maintain a high level of fitness, eat sensibly enough to sustain a relatively healthy body weight, don’t smoke, and wear your seat belt every time you drive, you have a very high likelihood of living into your 80s (barring other familial risk factors, such as premature cancer or cardiovascular disease).
Mozaffarian acknowledges the limitations. “At the end of the day, our findings might modestly over – or under-estimate the health burdens,” he told us.
He says the bigger point is this: “Whether poor diet is causing 1,000 cardiovascular and diabetes deaths per day, or 500, it remains among the leading causes of preventable suffering.”