Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Diet Research Built on a House of Cards

The next time a headline about diet and disease catches your eye, check the fine print of the study. If it is based on a food questionnaire — and there's a good chance it will be — then the conclusions should be handled with caution.That's because people don't tell the truth, not even to scientists. Scientists know this. Research has proven it. It's been an awkward problem in nutrition science for more than 40 years. And that's long enough, according to an international group of nutrition researchers. They've launched a campaign to end the use of one of the most common research tools in nutrition science. "All of these studies, if they are based on self-report estimates of energy intake, really don't contain scientifically meaningful information," said David Allison, a prominent obesity researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead author on a report signed by 45 scientists from around the world. This matters, the expert group warned, because the flawed data could result in public health policies that are not science-based, but built on a "house of cards," Allison said. "We're talking about hundreds if not thousands of papers published every year." more

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