Beyond ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’…

Not long ago, I posted information about an opinion paper authored by several leaders in the field of obesity and energy metabolism. In it, among other things, they argued that self-reported dietary data was, in general, of low quality and not very useful in the study of energy balance. They pushed for more methodological rigor and sophistication in the field.

Not surprisingly, a counter-point paper was recently published. In it, an independent group of researchers supported a different position (basically, ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’), which encourages the continued use of self-reported dietary data, but with caveats….including enhanced efforts to improve the quality of data collection as well as the application of self-reported dietary data in specific contexts.

The collection, analysis, and interpretation of dietary data is often a complex undertaking. These two thoughtful perspectives provide good ‘food for thought’ about many of the issues and assumptions made in this field of research.


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