The importance of relying on sound science for dietary advice cannot be understated. Issuing food and nutrition policies on anything but the highest quality research is not helpful and can even be dangerous.
When it comes to the serious issue of obesity, many people are often too quick to jump to solutions based on studies that are sometimes far from the gold standard for research, says Dr. Arya M. Sharma, professor of Medicine & Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta.
“The danger of flawed research contributing to widely held misconceptions about obesity can directly lead to poor public policy and ineffective interventions that perhaps have a much broader impact than in other fields of health research,” he says.
Sharma acknowledges that flawed science isn’t unique to the nutrition field. But he says the impact of false claims in the field are riskier.
We’ve already seen cases where policies and dietary advice have changed because the recommendations were never supported by sound science. Just this year, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans retracted its long-standing warnings on cholesterol in foods.
The bottom line is that when it comes to government recommendations or those from public health professionals on science, there is no substitution for sound science. Much of what you read about may not be based on research that meets the high standards needed for making decisions on diet. It is only with policies based on the best science available that we will have an impact on obesity and other public health issues.