The popular science of dietary recommendations - a sociological study on the credibility of diets

Research project
Active research
Project size
1 820 000
Project period
2016 - 2019
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Forte: The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Short description

This project examines how different diets understands and describes health and how they argue for their scientific merit. By examining argumentation and recommendation in popular discourse such as newspapers, TV, blogs and books, an image emerges of contemporary dietary debate. The project is especially interested in how scientific credibility is made and unmade in popular dietary recommendations, and in what understandings of health, both individual and public, are made.

The project is based on a research perspective taken from Science and Technology Studies where popular understandings of scientific knowledge and scientific controversy have long been prominent objects of research. The project analyses the diets, and the recommendations they put forth, as complex cultural phenomena. By comparing the diets and analysing their interactions in controversies and debates about what a healthy diet should be, it becomes possible to understand them as meaning making practices in a public discourse where issues about food and diet are central – not least so in light of growing concerns over the spread of an obesity epidemic.