[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 28,015
Citations 0
Viewpoint
October 18, 2019

Neglecting Major Health Problems and Broadcasting Minor, Uncertain Issues in Lifestyle Science

Author Affiliations
  • 1Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA. 2019;322(21):2069-2070. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.17576

Proper communication of scientific messages to the general public and by the media is both an opportunity and a challenge.1 Accurate communication acquires even more relevance for public health issues and lifestyle choices. If the disseminated messages pertain to major problems with large burden of disease, such as obesity or hypertension, and the messages are true, the benefit can be substantial. Conversely, confusion arises when minor and uncertain issues occupy more attention than the key problems and higher certainty solutions. Lack of proportionality may blur what is essential and what is known.

Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    2 Comments for this article
    EXPAND ALL
    Disseminating Science-Based Medical Advice
    William Wilson, Family Physician | Primary Care
    As a practicing family physician with over 40 years of clinical experience, I found this article to be quite insightful and engaging. The author states: "Effective dissemination of public health messages may need to focus on a few, powerful, easily understood, uncontentious pieces of advice. For example, uncontested, major recommendations include the following: do not smoke (or quit smoking), exercise regularly, do not eat too much, do not become obese, do not drink alcohol in excess, and sleep well." I completely agree with this statement, and this is what I convey to my patients. When it comes to avoiding overeating and obesity, those of us responsible for advising patients in these matters have been buffeted by every conceivable trendy diet including the Atkin's diet, the Pritikin diet, low carbohydrates diets promoted by the likes of Gary Taubes, the Gundy diet, the Paleo diet and recently ketogenic diets as well as many others. This trend has left many of us running in circles trying to advise our patients on the healthiest way to eat.

    I recently read "The Resolution Zone" by Barry Sears of Zone Diet fame, and the book blew me away with its science-based approach to healthy eating and reversal of the inflammation that drives many common chronic diseases. Now I recommend that my patients read this book and follow the science-based program outlined in the book, saving me a great deal of time and effort.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
    READ MORE
    The Scientific Method
    Michael Mundorff, MBA, MHSA | Integrated Healthcare System
    No doubt those who thrive in the environment of fake controversy, trivial effects, and unsupported scientific claims masquerading as “expert opinion” will pillory this Viewpoint for suppressing their right to “free speech”. Advertising should not be conflated with investigation. Those people can retreat to Facebook, which has just stated that they will allow objectively false political advertisements.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
    ×