Nutritionism

Nutritionism, coined by the Australian academic Gyorgy Scrinis and popularised by the US journalist and food writer Michael Pollan, is a term used to describe and critique the dominant assumption of much nutrition science research – and often of mainstream dietary recommendations – that it is possible to understand the health implications of individual food products as well as dietary patterns in terms of their micro and macronutrient profiles. From this nutritionist perspective, foods are primarily viewed as interchangeable vehicles for the delivery of specific and isolated nutrients. Criticising ‘Big Food’ and the food products it provides, users of the concept tend to highlight the role of food in social and cultural life and argue that healthy dietary patterns mostly consist of home-made meals and dishes that are largely based on unprocessed food ingredients. Gyorgy Scrinis also argues that nutritionism has contributed to the food industry’s use of reformulation and nutrient fortification, which are aimed at improving a food’s nutrient profile.