In an extraordinary editorial and feature article, Nature, one of the world’s pre-eminent scientific journals, has effectively admonished the chair of the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition department, Walter Willett, for promoting over-simplification of scientific results in the name of public health and engaging in unseemly behavior towards those who venture conclusions that differ to his.
Dr. Willett was a key promoter of the Mediterranean diet as one of the healthiest back in the 90’s. He worked closely with Oldways on their original Mediterranean diet pyramid.
He has come under fire for being rudely critical of Katherine Flegal, who promotes the idea that people who are overweight (but not obese) tend to live longer than those who are at a normal weight. (By overweight, I mean having a body mass index of 25-30.) I think Flegal is right; her major point has been well-known in the nutrition science community for at least a decade.
Worse than being rude, Dr. Willett is sounding anti-scientific. He seems to think it’s not worth even looking into. Regarding Flegal’s work, the Forbes article quotes him:
“This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it,” he told National Public Radio.