What to Eat: Science vs. Politics

Marion Nestle

Marion Nestle

Advice about diet and health is extraordinarily controversial for reasons of science and politics. Human nutritional science is difficult to conduct and interpret. Advice about what to eat affects the ability of food companies to sell products. The result is cacophony in the marketplace and unnecessary confusion about dietary matters. Will better science solve this problem? Does the food industry have a role to play in promoting healthful food choices? Or are food companies analogous to cigarette companies in the way they deal with nutrition advocacy? This presentation addresses such questions through relevant examples.

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003. She is also Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition from University of California, Berkeley. Previous faculty positions were at Brandeis University and the UCSF School of Medicine. From 1986-88, she was senior nutrition policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services and editor of The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. Her research examines scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice, obesity, and food safety, emphasizing the role of food marketing. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health; Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety; and What to Eat. She also has written two books about pet food, Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine and Feed Your Pet Right (with Malden Nesheim). Her most recent book, to be released in March 2012, is Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics (also with Dr. Nesheim). She writes the Food Matters column for the San Francisco Chronicle, blogs daily (almost) at www.foodpolitics.com, and twitters @marionnestle. In 2011, the University of California School of Public Health at Berkeley named her as Public Health Hero, Time Magazine included her Twitter among its top most influential 140 and its top 10 in health and science. Writing for Forbes, Michael Pollan ranked her as the #2 most powerful foodie in America (after Michelle Obama), and Mark Bittman ranked her #1 in his list of foodies to be thankful for.

This event is part of the Distinguished Women in Science Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the Hughes Science Pipeline Project and BCRW.