Reductionist Science in Nutritionism

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In analyzing this week’s materials what stands out the most for me is the concept and practice of reductionist science in nutritionism. While I recognize in myself a belief and/or trust in science and it’s processes, I am concerned about the limited nature of reductionist science, or the breaking down into components a whole system whose purpose is not completely understood, such as in the case of living and social systems. In researching my own global health concerns and interests I normalize a ‘holistic’ approach and subscribe to the medical “first, do no harm” Hippocratic Oath and an environmental “Precautionary Principle”.

While systems science can’t help but be an evolutionary process, by turning living organisms into commodities, be that food resources or labor, we seem to have lost a level of connection with the planet, life’s processes, one another, and our individual health.  There are vast amounts of culture and knowledge ultimately being replaced by what some would identify as a cultural hegemony of incomplete science and the forceful adoption of capitalistic ideology. I am left with many questions surrounding journalism and the position of science in an economical framework, especially with regard to the interconnectedness of the worlds food system, the prevailing economic system, bodily systems, and our planet.

As a depiction of journalism, scientific evolution, and systems science I would like to offer some “food for thought”, a video in which a well respected endocrinology specialist explains in simple terms why high fructose corn syrup is not the same as sugar as food manufacturers would have us believe.

“Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” YouTube, Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD, University of California Television, 30 Jul. 2009,

Still Image by UserName: Kitt_KS, “Lab, Science, Tube” Pixabay – NO ATTRIBUTION REQUIRED, public domain, 2 Jun 2016.

1 thought on “Reductionist Science in Nutritionism

  1. aaa11

    The method behind reductionist theories are intriguing, the only thing that I suspect to be a weakness to this entire framework is the degree the human brain is capable of reducing the parts of a given sum. Meaning, how can an individual claim to understand the dynamics of each part when there are always smaller parts that are impossible to account for with the human senses alone. In terms of Nutritionism, reductionist theory fits most analyses of foods. Reducing a food to its parts is beneficial towards understanding more about how they interact with our bodies. In a time when obesity is on the rise, it is imperative that individuals have an understanding of food from the reductionist perspective.

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