American Society For Nutrition

EB 2013: Diet relevancy vs drugs

EB 2013: Diet relevancy vs drugs

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 04/24/2013 at 11:32:16 AM by Suzanne Price
By David Despain, EB blogger

The balance is tipping from diet and lifestyle to use of drugs and bariatric surgery to combat obesity and chronic disease. However, new medical imaging technologies can help turn the tables.

University of Toronto professor of nutrition David Jenkins, MD, who is most well-known for developing the concept of the glycemic index, gave this year's Atwater Memorial Lecture co-sponsored by the American Society for Nutrition in Boston on Tuesday at Experimental Biology 2013. In his talk, he warned, “If diet is to be relevant, it should demonstrate the same effectiveness as drugs.”

The problem, he said, faced by diet and lifestyle recommendations has to do with a combination of their inconvenience, impracticality, and unproven results because of lack of well-designed trials demonstrating their effectiveness. The need for an adequate number of subjects that maintained compliance to studies also made them expensive to do. On the other hand, he said, “drugs are a story of success.” They are backed by strong evidence from randomized controlled trials. For example, statins are shown to generally reduce coronary heart disease risk by 20 to 30 percent.
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