The whacko suggestion by Hope Warshaw on DiabetesHealth that people with diabetes should increase their carbohydrate intake — I don’t know whether she was serious or just trying to infuriate — obviously generated a rather large response, especially on the DiabetesHealth website itself. I was writing my own post on the issue when the editor Nadia Al-Samarrie published a piece which seems to have added to the discord. I decided to bypass the argument and I posted the following letter to her suggesting a way to introduce more information and fewer bad vibes.
I understand that publishing a popular site requires one to be provocative and I think you can see that many people had a strong response to Hope Warshaw’s article and your response. I think you will agree however that this is a serious matter and I want to suggest a mechanism for bringing the science out for the general public. I am suggesting a discussion between opposing points of view, less a debate that than a presentation of facts although one implementation might be to have a kind of jury of impartial scientists to present summaries. I would suggest that you and I be organizers and if DiabetesHealth would be one of the sponsors, I feel sure that I would be able to provide other sponsors. It would, of course, be imperative for the American Diabetes Association and the USDA Advisory committee to participate (send or endorse discussants) to establish that recommendations for people with diabetes conform to some kind of “sunshine law.”
The details of such a meeting could be worked out but as a starting point, I would suggest something along the lines of the following.
There would be two panels, one who maintains that a low-carbohydrate diet (definitions to be agreed upon in advance) is the default diet, that is, the one to try first, for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The other would conform to the very restricted view on such diets (only for weight loss, concerns about heart disease or kidney disease or whatever).
There would be, say, four representatives on each panel endorsed, again, by the ADA and USDA, DiabetesHealth and by the Nutrition and Metabolism Society.
Because of the voluminous literature, each side would specify ten papers in the literature, popular writings or book sections (max 30 pages each). Discussion would be restricted to these sources.
Participants would meet before hand to set up preliminary procedures to avoid a free-for-all or any “defenestration.”
Variations might include a second day in which both panels took questions from the public or press.
I feel sure that such a meeting would go a long way towards reducing the palpable bad feelings and I am sure you agree that the enemy is diabetes and related diseases and not people with other opinions. I would be glad to discuss, on the phone, how we can get started.
Richard David Feinman