What does “evidence-based” mean in the scientific community? It usually implies that a recommendation or finding is based on an unbiased, transparent process using the best clinical research available.

Yet many recommendations made lately by the public health community on diet and nutrition do not live up to this standard and it shows.

Just this year we’ve learned of the poor nutrition recommendations on cholesterol and fat by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, whose findings are the basis for federal nutrition advice.  We now know the reason we were given bad advice is because the DGAC’s research was agenda-driven and not based on the totality of sound science.

We at Sip & Savor believe in science-based nutrition advice. That means recommendations based on the weight of scientific evidence while also providing real world guidance that is achievable.

We are not the only ones.  In a recent conference, held in Florence by the Italian National Association of Hospital Cardiologists, leading international experts in nutrition and medical research, criticized the lack of quality in nutritional science.

The issue of fat is a particular example, as fat was often demonized in the past and its correct use has been redeemed only after 40 years of media terrorism,“ said Michele Gulizia, national president of the Italian National Association of Hospital Cardiologists and the director of the Cardiology Division of the Garibaldi-Nesima hospital in Catania, Italy.

“Disinformation about food also concerns carbohydrates, proteins and those weight-reduction diets which exclude some types of nutrients entirely or single elements even in such cases where they are not supported by any medical evidence,” Gulizia said. “This kind of news sometimes has an impact on the nutritional choices of some layers of the population."

“Free” sugar is the latest to be demonized without sound science. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended adults and children reduce their intake of “free” sugar (sugar added to a product) to less than 10 percent of their daily energy intake. WHO also “conditionally” recommended a further reduction in sugar intake to less than 5 percent of daily energy intake.

These recommendations were made despite the poor scientific quality used by the researchers selected by WHO to conduct the evidence review.  In fact, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology which highlighted that the recommendations issued by the WHO are often based on studies that are little to very little reliable.  The researchers of the study had examined all the WHO guidelines published between 2007 and 2012 and revealed that 289 out of 456 recommendations (more than 55 perfect) classified as 'strong' are based on low-quality to very-low-quality studies.

As Professor Carlo La Vecchia from the University of Milan pointed out: “Nowadays, the focus shouldn't be on the total amount of nutrients but the overall composition and quality of the diet."

We agree.  There are no “good” or “bad” foods.  Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle comes down to balancing all of the calories we consume daily with calories burned. Claiming otherwise will not make anyone healthier.

Please visit DeliveringChoices.org to see how our companies empower people and communities to find their balance by providing choice and meaningful information on our nutrients.