I don't know what you're doing on this weekend before Christmas, but I'm about to head off on a whirlwind round of holiday parties. It's a hard burden to bear, so I'm looking around for a little encouragement. And I've found it! Here's the good news: All government dietary advice is literally worthless. You can ignore it completely. Indeed, it appears that in most instances you are best off doing the opposite of what they recommend, which is likely what you wanted to do in the first place if left to your own devices without their meddling.
I have previously posted on this topic multiple times, for example here back in January 2016. But it only gets worse. The latest salvo comes in an open letter today to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine from two guys named Edward Archer and Carl Lavie. The title is "Nutrition Has a 'Consensus' to Use Bad Science." This is scathing, to say the least. Excerpt:
'Nutrition' is now a degenerating research paradigm in which scientifically illiterate methods, meaningless data, and consensus-driven censorship dominate the empirical landscape. . . . Over time, the sustained funding of demonstrably pseudo-scientific research methods has subverted the self-correcting nature of science and suppressed skeptical scholarship. Consequently, many decades of politics taking precedence over critical inquiry produced contradictory dietary guidelines, failed public policies, and the continued confusion over 'what-to-eat'.
Yikes! Could this be as bad as climate "science"? That's a close call. But the essential problem is identical: an enforced "consensus" causing billions upon billions of federal taxpayer dollars to be spent on worthless research that is then used as a basis for coercive government policy.
The particular issue on which Archer and Lavie focus is the use of "Memory-Based Methods" of assessing diet, which they refer to as "M-BMs." It seems that most nutritional studies, as well as the government dietary guidelines, are based on assessments of diet derived from these "M-BMs," where people are surveyed and report from their own memory on what they have eaten over some period of time. It turns out that many people -- and particularly overweight and obese people -- dramatically underreport their caloric intake. So the nutrition scientific community has just developed protocols where they let researchers delete data that "look wrong" and go with the rest. How's that for "science"!
Archer and Lavie refer to one of their own studies from December 2015 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, titled "A Discussion of the Refutation of Memory-Based Dietary Assessment Methods (M-BMs): The Rhetorical Defense of Pseudoscientific and Inadmissible Evidence." A few choice quotes:
[T]he data generated by memory-based dietary assessment methods (M-BMs) of nutrition epidemiology are pseudoscientific and inadmissible as scientific evidence. . . . Nutrition epidemiology often uses statistical machinations and post hoc data exclusions to “correct” or simply delete implausible data and alter results. . . . These procedures are not merely correcting erroneous data entries or removing nonrepresentative data (ie, statistical outliers). The result of these machinations is to alter and/or delete the data of individuals most representative of the population of interest. For example, the US population is predominantly overweight and obese, and these individuals are the most likely to misreport. In other words, when the numbers did not add up, nutrition epidemiologists simply changed, ignored, or deleted the implausible data (regardless of the systematic biases they introduced) rather than acknowledge the invalidity of M-BMs.
So why is this important now? Because the government, through the National Academies, is in the process of developing a new round of dietary guidelines, and as a major step in that process has just come out with a Report titled "Redesigning the Processes for Establishing Dietary Guidelines for Americans." And of course, they've gone right ahead and relied on all kinds of research based on these "M-BM" studies. From today's open letter:
Briefly, the M-BMs employed in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and other major nutrition studies produced data that were physiologically implausible, incompatible with life, and inadmissible as scientific evidence. . . . Implausible dietary data should not be used to establish the DGA; yet that is exactly what the National Academies’ report recommends, and you as Presidents, endorse.
So the next round of government dietary guidelines is going to be just as worthless as all the previous rounds. No surprise there. I'm going to go on eating what tastes good and paying no attention whatsoever to government directives. I hope you do too!
I do find one thing to disagree with in the Archer/Lavie work. Commenting in their 2015 piece on use by nutrition researchers of data that has had inconvenient portions deleted and altered, they say this:
We are not aware of any research domain in which this type of data doctoring and consequent message distortion would be tolerated. We think that DGAC’s use of these manipulated data and consequent distorted messages to inform public health policy constitutes dubious scientific practices.
Apparently they are blissfully unaware of the field of climate "science." For a good day's worth of reading on data deletion and alteration in that field to create a surface temperature record that fits a political narrative, see my seventeen-part series "The Greatest Scientific Fraud Of All Time."