Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Orthorexia, the SWPL eating disorder

A Natural News site complains that others think that the health food freaks have a mental disorder:
Do you avoid foods that contain artificial colors and sweeteners, and stick to whole, unprocessed foods instead? If so, you just might have orthorexia, an imaginary "disease" created in 1997 by Dr. Steven Bratman that appears to be gaining more attention in recent days. According to a recent report in Yahoo! News, restricting one's diet to healthy, pure foods is a compulsive disorder that requires cognitive behavior therapy in order to cure.

Written about in so-called respected health journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association and Psychology Today, "orthorexia nervosa," which means "nervous about correct eating" in Latin, allegedly causes malnourishment, anxiety, and social disorders. Its creators claim it stems from a type of obsessive compulsive disorder, and that it can lead to anorexia.
Obsession with so-called natural and heathly foods is a mental disorder as much as many others in the official DSM-IV-TR. The SWPL folks who shop at Whole Foods are not any healthier than anyone else. There is no research that shows such food to be any better.

The bad science behind popular diet and nutrition advice is explained by Gary Taubes in the current Bloggingheads science show. He is right that the whole field is filled with quacks, and physicians are leading with the misinformation.

The healthiest food ever invented is the grilled cheese sandwich. Today's WSJ reports:
Over the years, his appetite and admiration grew, eventually culminating in the annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, which attracts fans eager to display novel takes on the ultimate American comfort food.

The event is a testament to the nation's grilled-cheese renaissance. That the humble gooey sandwich has gone gourmet is evidenced by trendy grilled-cheese trucks that tweet their whereabouts, the advent of top chefs divining grilled-cheese creations and the appearance of cookbooks devoted entirely to grilled-cheese recipes. The L.A. invitational has spawned regional competitions across the country.

"It's the power of cheese," says Mr. Walker, 38, unquestionably the Head Cheese at the invitational. "Cheese moves people," he said, an orange fez on his head.
The nation's grilled-cheese renaissance is the best news since the death of bin Laden.

Update: One of Taubes's more striking claims was that the data from studies show that (sodium) salt does not cause hypertension, contrary to what all the supposed experts say. This is confirmed by a new study, as reported in today's NY Times:
A new study found that low-salt diets increase the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes and do not prevent high blood pressure, but the research’s limitations mean the debate over the effects of salt in the diet is far from over.

In fact, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention felt so strongly that the study was flawed that they criticized it in an interview, something they normally do not do.
Wow, I was skeptical about Taubes on this point. I have mentioned before in 2005 that advice about salt may be wrong, but this goes beyond that.

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