Dietary Research

Improving the Quality of Dietary Research

In Uncategorized by Michael WillisLeave a Comment

Diets are complex and variations are numerous, making meaningful dietary research a very difficult problem to address. 

In an article on dietary research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, authors David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, Cara B. Ebbeling, PhD, and  Steven B. Heymsfield, MD discuss a number of scientific challenges, including consistency, quality control, and interpretation and how these make conclusions from the research difficult and dubious.

For example, the authors point out “…for any diet type, many possible variations exist. For example, does a low-fat diet include high amounts of sugar? Is a high-protein diet plant or animal based? Does a ketogenic diet have unrealistically low saturated fat content? Whereas a drug typically acts through one or a limited number of biological pathways, even discrete changes in diet (such as the ratio of dietary fat to carbohydrate) will directly affect numerous hormones and metabolic pathways involving many organ systems. The lack of uniformity across studies and the difficulty in establishing mechanisms make translation into public policy exceedingly difficult, a problem now being addressed by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.” Not to mention the many environmental, psychological, and behavioral factors that influence how and what we eat.

The article concludes with 10 points that the authors argue would improve dietary research. The end goal being more and better science to help reduce the massive incidence,  damage, and cost of chronic diseases related to diet.

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