American’s Dietary Guidelines Need a Brazilian

February 23, 2015 2:41 PM

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Surely you’ve heard: America’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has come out with a new report and some new advice. Cholesterol and coffee are in; sugar and saturated fats are out. You’ve probably also heard that the guidelines have been getting things all wrong for years. Maybe you even read Nina Teicholz’ recent New York Times op-ed explaining that the reason why everything’s been wrong for so long is because, to paraphrase, nutritional epidemiology – the study of the impact of diet on chronic disease – is a discipline that’s almost impossible to do well. The reason it’s so challenging is that unlike captive lab animals with short lifespans, we humans are complicated, we rarely do what we’re told for very long, we’re terrible at keeping accurate records of what we’re eating and we live an awfully long time before we develop diet-relatable diseases.

As far as research goes, that’s all rather problematic, especially the part about not being able to accurately keep track of what we’re eating. How can we possibly come to any meaningful conclusions about the impact of diet on the development of chronic diseases if we can’t meaningfully account for ...

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