Thinking About Health From A Scientific Point Of View

July 25, 2013

The subject of diet always stirs up arguments.  But despite the fact there are streams of infomercials and new best-selling diet-fad books, science is advancing in this area.  I wanted to share two items, because they relate to education, to science and to ethics and integrity.

I recently watched “The Skinny on Obesity,” a 7-part series from UCTV Prime.  It featured Professor of Clinical Pediatrics Dr. Robert Lustig, at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who argues that sugar is a toxin that’s fueling the global obesity epidemic.  It provided the science teacher in me with information I found very useful and clear, and a lot to think about.

Then I watched a TED video about the search for a cure for diabetes and its precursor metabolic resistance.  Dr. Peter Attia is now dedicating his life to this research topic.  Please watch or listen to his talk.  He closed with a fantastic and moving note about intellectual and scientific integrity because earlier in his life he found himself blaming patients for being obese, while his new research is now taking him in another direction.   (I added the bold.) :

“I don’t know how this journey is going to end, but this much seems clear to me, at least:  We can’t keep blaming our overweight and diabetic patients like I did. Most of them actually want to do the right thing, but they have to know what that is, and it’s got to work. I dream of a day when our patients can shed their excess pounds and cure themselves of insulin resistance, because as medical professionals, we’ve shed our excess mental baggage and cured ourselves of new idea resistance sufficiently to go back to our original ideals: open minds, the courage to throw out yesterday’s ideas when they don’t appear to be working, and the understanding that scientific truth isn’t final, but constantly evolving. Staying true to that path will be better for our patients and better for science.  If obesity is nothing more than a proxy for metabolic illness, what good does it do us to punish those with the proxy?”

I think this is a vital message and a compelling story about ethics and integrity in the field of science (and life).  The educator in me hopes all of us can instill this level of integrity in our students.

Posted by Mr. Mark Siegel on Thursday July 25, 2013

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