The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting through the Hype about Your Health

The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting through the Hype about Your Health

The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting through the Hype about Your Health

The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting through the Hype about Your Health


It happens every day: we pick up a newspaper or magazine or turn on the television and are bombarded with urgent advice about how to stay healthy. Lose weight! Lower your cholesterol! Early detection saves lives! Sunscreen prevents cancer! But in many cases, pronouncements we rarely think to question turn out to be half-truths that are being pushed by various individuals or groups to advance their own agendas. The Healthy Skeptic explores who these health promoters are--from journalists and celebrities to industry-funded groups and consumer activists--what their motives are, and how they are spinning us in ways we often don't realize.

This treasure trove of little-known facts, written by a seasoned health reporter, provides invaluable tips, tools, and resources to help readers think more critically about what they're being told. Becoming a healthy skeptic is vital, Davis argues, because following the right advice can have a profound impact on overall health and longevity.


• Diets and why they don't work

• Dietary supplements

• The campaign to reduce cholesterol

• Celebrity exhortations to "get tested"

• Sunscreen and its promoters' claims

• The antichemical activists


Nearly all of us can point to particular moments, often seemingly inconsequential at the time, that ended up affecting our lives in profound and lasting ways. For me, such an instant came during my sophomore year of college and involved, of all things, milk. When the topic somehow came up at lunch one day, I bragged to friends that my highly enlightened family had always shunned whole milk and restricted ourselves to 2 percent, the type that’s low in fat. Basking in my own virtuousness, I couldn’t stop there. As they downed their glasses of whole milk, I advised my friends that they would be smart to follow my example and switch to 2 percent.

Overhearing all this was a know-it-all kid from New Jersey named Marty. “Actually,” he said, inserting himself into our conversation, “2 percent milk is not really low in fat.”

“Yes, it is,” I shot back. “It says so on the carton.”

Armed for battle, Marty didn’t miss a beat: “Well, the carton lies. The fat content in 2 percent is closer to whole milk than to skim milk. If you want low fat, you need to drink skim or 1 percent.”

My friends watched in silence. Now it was my turn. Unable to present any facts to refute Marty’s argument, all I could come up with was, “I think you’re wrong.”

That afternoon, I headed to the library in search of the truth. (Believe it . . .

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