Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Are Nutrition Scientists Communicating Worse or Has the Situation Just Gotten More Complicated?

Rowe, Sylvia MA; Alexander, Nick BA

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000005
Nutrition Communications

The article’s authors describe recent movement in science communications and research to embrace a broader approach than has been utilized previously in reaching understanding of modern, complex issues facing scientists, policy makers, and the public today, such as obesity and climate change. Referring to what social anthropologists have called “distanciation,” “disembedding,” and “unresolved trust issues,” between scientists and the public, the authors cite recent calls by academicians, policy analysts, and health professionals for a greater scientific inclusionary focus to research and communication. They argue that the physical sciences alone may not describe the food and lifestyle behaviors or the food system that have led to alarming increases in noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and other modern health conditions. They point to increasing participation by experts in the social sciences and humanities in conferences, research, and communications, regarding contemporary critical nutrition and health issues, a move to transdisciplinarity.

Public confusion may be not the only casualty of science communications that lag behind scientific/technological progress: public trust may also be at stake.

Sylvia Rowe, MA, is an adjunct professor at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, Massachusetts, and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also the president of SR Strategy, a health, nutrition, food safety, and risk communications and issue management consultancy located at Washington, DC. Previously, Ms Rowe served as president and chief executive officer of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and IFIC Foundation, nonprofit organizations that communicate science-based information of food safety and nutrition issues to health professionals, journalists, government officials, educators, and consumers.

Nick Alexander, BA, is former senior media counselor for the IFIC Foundation, Washington, DC. He holds a bachelor’s of arts degree from Harvard University. A former network correspondent with ABC News, he has been tracking and writing about science communications issues and the evolving challenge to public acceptance of credible science for the past decade.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Sylvia Rowe, MA, 1100 Connecticut Ave NW, #1000, Washington, DC 20036 (

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins