Capable and credible? Challenging nutrition science

Bart Penders, Anna Wolters, Edith F. Feskens*, Fred Brouns, Machteld Huber, Els L.M. Maeckelberghe, Gerjan Navis, Theo Ockhuizen, Jogchum Plat, Jan Sikkema, Marianne Stasse-Wolthuis, Pieter van 't Veer, Marcel Verweij, Jan de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nutrition science has enriched our understanding of how to stay healthy by producing valuable knowledge about the interaction of nutrients, food, and the human body. Nutrition science also has raised societal awareness about the links between food consumption and well-being, and provided the basis for food regulations and dietary guidelines. Its collaborative and interdisciplinary research has accomplished much, scientifically and socially. Despite this, nutrition science appears to be in crisis and is currently confronted with a public reluctance to trust nutritional insights. Though deflating trust is a general phenomenon surrounding the scientific community, its impact on nutrition science is particularly strong because of the crucial role of nutrition in everyone’s daily life. We, a Dutch collective of nutritionists, medical doctors, philosophers and sociologists of science (http://www.nutritionintransition.nl), have diagnosed that nutrition science is meeting inherent boundaries. This hampers conceptual and methodological progress and the translation of novel insights into societal benefit and trust. In other words, nutrition science is facing limitations to its capability and credibility, impeding its societal value. We take up the challenge to halt the threatening erosion of nutrition science’s capability and credibility, and explore a way forward. We analyse limitations to capability and credibility, then argue that nutrition science is caught in a vicious circle, and end by offering some suggestions to transcend the limitations and escape the current deadlock. We invite nutritional experts as well as scholars from adjacent disciplines to engage in the discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2009-2012
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Volume56
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Capability
  • Credibility
  • Evidence
  • Inclusiveness
  • Nutrition science
  • Real-world experiments

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