Inactivity and energy imbalance are scientifically established fundamental CAUSES of metabolic dysfunction (see: Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, NIH and NDIC). Any diet program that doesn’t address inactivity and energy imbalance is merely addressing the SYMPTOMS of metabolic dysfunction.
That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t address the symptoms. If I had a brain tumor that was causing headaches, you can bet I’d be taking painkillers for the pain. But I wouldn’t stop there, I’d treat the tumor as well.
Treating the symptoms of metabolic dysfunction is all well and good, but for true health to manifest, the CAUSES must also be addressed. It seems to me that a lot of dietary dogma is little more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the negative consequences of poor lifestyle choices: too much or too little food, inadequate physical activity, or in some more rare circumstances, overtraining (although I think most cases of overtraining could be resolved by simply eating enough calories to fuel the increased activity), inadequate sleep.
This is not to say dietary optimization is useless. Quite the contrary, maximizing the nutrient density of one’s diet can be very helpful, as can optimizing the macronutrient ratio to meet one’s unique goals and needs, just as painkillers can be helpful to the victim of a brain tumor. But far too often, dietary optimization is taken to an extreme, by dieter and guru, while simultaneously ignoring energy balance and physical activity, or worse, claiming that energy balance and physical activity don’t matter as long as a person is eating the ‘right’ foods. This is irresponsible in the extreme. It’s akin to prescribing painkillers alone as a treatment for a brain tumor. Helpful in the short term, but ineffective in establishing long-term health
My primary criticism of dietary dogma (aside from the divisiveness it breeds) is it’s general tendency to shift focus onto the symptoms of metabolic dysfunction, rather than the cause. Both are important. Without addressing and changing the behaviors and lifestyle factors that foster metabolic dysfunction, there will be no true healing.