Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Demise of NuSI

 I don't know how many people have been following this, but NuSI (the Nutrition Science Initiative) was founded in 2011 with the goal of improving the quality of nutrition research, which would allow clarification of which diet was best for weight loss.

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories and Bad Calories as well as many articles in various media supporting low-carb diets for weight loss, and Peter Attia, a physician interested in longevity, were the founders, and thanks to the John Arnold Foundation, they were able to throw a lot of money at studying the issue. They completed a few studies, but the results were not earth shaking.

 Unfortunately, like so much these days, the organization soon became embroiled in controversy and science politics, and Taubes has just announced its dissolution. 

This won't have much effect on most of us patients. What we want to do is find an eating plan that controls our blood glucose levels and lets us lose weight if we need to, or maintain our weight if we don't need to lose. Diet politics is of less importance to us.

If I were a physician prescribing diets to patients, I'd want to know the results of big controlled trials on many people, so I could first prescribe a diet with the greatest chance of succeeding and then if that didn't work, prescribe something else. But I'm not. So although it's too bad, the demise of NuSI doesn't have much effect on people like me. 

The success of any diet depends on many factors. No diet works well if the subject doesn't follow it, and different people have different tastes. A diet of 100% sea slugs might work 100% of the time, but how many people would be willing to eat nothing but sea slugs? A more reasonable diet might work most of the time if people adhered to it, but even then adherence would vary.

So although the demise of NuSI is sad, it won't have a huge effect on most of us patients. We'll just keep plugging away with the knowledge we have now.



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