Is Nutrition Research Broken? An interview with Dr. Taylor Wallace

My guest on today’s podcast is Dr. Taylor Wallace. Taylor is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University and CEO at the Think Healthy Group, Inc. His research and work focus on how we can use diet as a tool to prevent chronic disease. In this interview, Taylor and I discuss the current state of nutrition research and policy and what we can do to improve it. 

Dr Wallace recently published an opinion piece in USA Today calling for the establishment of a National Institute of Nutrition. He argues that nutrition research is grossly underfunded by the federal government, which has a cascade of negative effects on the nation’s health.

The economic impact of managing diet-related chronic conditions, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, is estimated at $583 billion. Yet only about 5% of the National Institutes of Health annual budget is allocated to nutrition research.

Dr. Taylor Wallace

Here’s an example. Every five years, a board of experts convenes to update the nation’s Dietary Guidelines. Each time, they identify questions requiring further research. But there is no funding for this research. As a result, our dietary recommendations lag decades behind the emerging science on diet and nutrition. Dr. Wallace proposes establishing a National Institute of Nutrition as a way of prioritizing this important research and improving the nation’s health. There’s also been a lot of criticism that the nutrition recommendations we do have are overly dependent on observational studies, correlations, and people’s notoriously imperfect ability to remember or estimate what and how much they ate over the last 24 hours or 6 months. Taylor shares his views on the role of epidemiological research and industry-funded research in shaping nutrition recommendations. We also explore what part agricultural interests (should) play in our nutrition policy.

Click the audio player to listen to our conversation around these big questions:

Can the USDA simultaneously promote agriculture and the nation’s health?
Can industry-funded research be trusted?
How can we lessen the effects of bias on nutrition research?
What role does the food industry play in solving (or causing) our health challenges?
What is the future of nutrition research? 

Learn more about Dr. Taylors work on his website or follow him on Instagram or Twitter @drtaylorwallace.


Comments or questions on this week’s topic or suggestions for a future episode? Send me an email or give me a call on the Nutrition Diva Listener line at 443-961-6206. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to listen and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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