Dr. Zoë Harcombe, Ph.D. – The Mess Money vs. Evidence

1 CEU Credit



Dr. Zoë Harcombe, Ph.D., is an independent author, researcher, and speaker in the fields of diet, health, and nutrition. Here, she addresses “the escalating disease (and) the escalating medical costs, which many people are profiting from but none are combatting effectively.” She outlines many factors that contribute to this growing problem — specifically, the role of dietitians and the food and beverage industry in influencing how and what we eat, accreditation that regulates who can offer dietary advice, and the disparity between what we are told to eat and what the evidence suggests we should eat.

Harcombe discusses the dubious back-door maneuvers multibillion-dollar food companies use to promote their products, including paying for studies that tout their products’ health benefits and adding public health advisors to the payroll. 

Harcombe also explains how dietitians, Big Food, and accreditation requirements lead to monopolies on who can offer dietary advice. To demonstrate how problematic this system is, she points to the gap between widespread nutrition guidelines and scientific research on nutrition. She discusses how to evaluate the credibility of a scientific paper then brings this to bear on the nutrition recommendations promoted by the Evidence for Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Commission for Dietetic Registration. 

Speaker bio:

Dr. Zoë Harcombe, Ph.D., is a Cambridge University graduate with a B.A. and M.A. in economics and mathematics. Harcombe enjoyed a successful career in blue-chip organizations before leaving corporate life in 2008 to pursue her passion. Her early career involved international roles in management consultancy, manufacturing, and marketing in global organizations, from FMCG to telecoms, before she began specializing in personnel and organization. At the peak of her corporate career, Harcombe served as Vice President of Human Resources for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Having written three books between 2004 and 2007 while serving as Head of People, Harcombe left employment to research obesity full time. This culminated in the publication in 2010 of The Obesity Epidemic: What Caused It? How Can We Stop It? 

Harcombe returned to full-time education in 2012 to complete a Ph.D. in public health nutrition (awarded March 2016). Her thesis was entitled An Examination of the Randomised Controlled Trial and Epidemiological Evidence for the Introduction of Dietary Fat Recommendations in 1977 and 1983: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. A number of peer-reviewed articles have emanated from this work. The first was the 64th-most-impactful paper in any discipline in 2015.

Harcombe was an independent board member for Cardiff Metropolitan University between 2006 and 2012. She was also an independent board member for the Welsh National Health Service between 2009 and 2012. 

Learning objectives:

  1. Understand how industry influence and accreditation requirements corrupt the scientific credibility of most nutrition recommendations.
  2. Understand why such recommendations are generally actually detrimental to human health.
  3. Learn how to quickly evaluate a scientific paper’s credibility as a reliable source of information about nutrition and human health.


Disclosures relevant to the speaker:

Commercial Support: 

This activity is not commercially supported.


Dr. Zoë Harcombe, Ph.D. reports no relevant disclosures related to the planning or presentation of this activity.

Non-relevant disclosures:

  1. Author – Publications can be found here.




  • $25.00
  • 1 year
  • Session Certificate

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