Amalgamating Scientific Evidence and Non-epistemic Values – The Case of Nutrition Guidelines

Dr. Saana Jukola (postdoctoral project, completed in 2020)

The aim of the project is to study the interplay between evidence and non-epistemic, e.g., cultural, financial, and ethical, factors in nutrition research. The focus is on how different non-epistemic interests are reflected in population-level nutrition guidelines. Research on nutrition bears direct social relevance, and the results of studies are avidly reported in popular media. Because of the practical implications of the field, it is essential that the research is considered to be unbiased and accurate also by the general public. However, the objectivity of mainstream nutrition science is frequently disputed and the advice given by academic experts is questioned. The project sets out to examine the conditions for producing thrustworthy information on nutrition. The main question is: How can we evaluate the objectivity of research interwoven with ethical, cultural, and political concerns? In addition, the project addresses the sources of the public’s distrust in official nutrition guidelines and seeks for means of building up the trust.