Recently a study found that most Americans don't know how many calories they are "supposed" to eat in a day.
"... some simple calorie know-how would go a long way toward helping people lose or maintain their weight. " Really?
It went on in the typical manner of "tsk, tsk, if the people only knew how many calories they needed to eat, we could finally tackle the obesity epidemic."
This is an example of a cultural belief that goes largely unquestioned that more information, more cognitive control, more knowledge of calories/fat grams would help. I would posit that it is as likely to be harmful. Are there any studies that show that when people know how much, or what kinds of food they "should" eat that they are more likely to do it? I would guess that many life-long dieters and disordered eaters know better than anyone how many calories they should eat, the exact calorie counts of foods etc and still struggle mightily with eating and weight. If only knowing how much to eat would solve the problem, then Weight Watchers Point System would work, when in fact they have a similar failure rate of most diets around 90-95%...
Another example of unquestioned assumptions is the general belief that if only parents KNEW their child's BMI, had that note or diagnosis labeling their child as 'obese' or 'overweight' that we would finally get this childhood obesity thing under control! It is this thinking that is pushing ever more aggressive screening at doctor's offices and schools. Intuitively it seems to make sense, but several studies suggest that labeling children with BMI leads to MORE dieting, MORE disordered eating, LESS physical activity and MORE weight gain for children. Handing that parent the red-slip is more likely to do harm than help the child.
I would just like to see a little intellectual effort in our public health arena and health reporting.
Can you think of other "assumptions" about eating, health or weight that go unquestioned but are highly questionable?