Food fears: How anti-science myths—like ‘clean eating’ and GMO health risks—make eaters anxious

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[Editor’s note: Aaron Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is the author of “The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully,” from which this essay was adapted.]

We talk about food in the negative: What we shouldn’t eat, what we’ll regret later, what’s evil, dangerously tempting, unhealthy.

The effects are more insidious than any overindulgent amount of “bad food” can ever be. By fretting about food, we turn occasions for comfort and joy into sources of fear and anxiety. And when we avoid certain foods, we usually compensate by consuming too much of others.

All of this happens under the guise of science. But a closer look at the research behind our food fears shows that many of our most demonized foods are actually fine for us. Taken to extremes, of course, dietary choices can be harmful — but that logic cuts both ways.

Too often, we fail to think critically about scientific evidence. Genetically modified organisms are perhaps the best example of this.

G.M.O.s are, in theory, one of our best bets for feeding the planet’s growing population. When a 2015 Pew poll asked Americans whether they thought it was generally safe or unsafe to eat modified foods, almost 60 percent said it was unsafe. The same poll asked scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science the same question. Only 11 percent of them thought G.M.O.s were unsafe.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Relax, You Don’t Need to ‘Eat Clean’