Diet science is “nearly baseless,” but it rules

From Real ClearScience:

Recently, my colleagues and I published research in Mayo Clinic Proceedings that examined dietary data from almost 50 years of nutrition studies. What we found was astounding; these data were physiologically implausible and incompatible with survival. In other words, the diets from these studies could not support human life if consumed on a daily basis. The reason for this is simple; the memory-based data collection methods (M-BMs) used by nutrition researchers are unscientific because they rely on both the truthfulness of the study participant and the accuracy of his or her memory. Stated more simply, these methods collect nothing more than uncorroborated anecdotal estimates of food and beverage consumption.

Importantly, vast amounts of taxpayer dollars are directed away from rigorous scientific investigations and squandered every year on the collection of uncorroborated anecdotes via M-BMs. Approximately 80% of the data in the USDA’s National Evidence Library consists of uncorroborated anecdotes as well as 100% of the dietary data from every major epidemiologic study over the past 50 years (e.g., Nurses’ Health Study, Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, REGARDS project, and EPIC study). In other words, most of what nutrition researchers call “scientific evidence” is in reality a vast collection of nearly baseless anecdotes.More.

Baseless anecdotes are used to make public policy.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPGHere in a single well-justified diatribe, the authors nail the problem with government-sponsored food wars: They lack evidence.Retro Biscuit Tin

New York City soda wars? White House-directed school lunches half a block down the street? The real problem with these programs is the lack of clear evidence from nutrition studies as to whether they do or could make any difference.

Few people mind government-directed services when the need or benefit is beyond reasonable doubt. But what if it’s just unclear? Vast industries grow up promoting chimaeras in the name of science. And this deflation was bound to come.

The human being is a tricky life form. For one thing, he thinks. Note to Utopians: Fix that bug.

See also: Use salt? Here we thought you need to do more to be a denialist


Whole Foods and falling skies

  • Waffle

    None of this surprises me. In the past several years, I have had interactions with dietitians because of failing body parts and the need for proper nutrition to stave off the inevitable adverse effects. Hence, restricted amounts of red meat (too much is hard on the kidneys), careful attention to cholesterol-rich foods (rarely eat lobster, no longer use whole milk), Having had to endure several sessions in cardiac rehab with so-called dietitians, I ask myself why I would want to take advice from someone who doesn’t even know how to boil an egg.

    I do not obsess over food (like some people). I don’t eat a lot of sugar or salt-laden “foods”. I never (well, hardly ever) buy processed foods which contain huge amounts of chemical additives and I no longer buy cheap eggs produced by those poor, tortured chickens. I eat very well, thank you.

  • The Butterfly

    Don’t eat transbutterflies, they are very bad for you.

  • WalterBannon

    Another junk science industry, just like climatology.

  • Results speak louder than words.

    72 years old and gorgous.

  • Surele Surele

    I stopped listening to ‘scientific research’ regarding food years ago, right after they decided that butter is bad for you. So, hydrogenated oil is the healthy choice?!? No, Nope, Neva!!!!
    I eat everything, EVERYTHING, in moderation. Of course this does not include some outrageously gross food/non food stuff.

  • DavidinNorthBurnaby

    Pass the cheesies, Ethel.