U.S. News & World Report Annual Diet Cover Based on Outdated, Weak ScienceMon, 06 Jan 2020 06:43:20 CST
Today, the Nutrition Coalition, a group that aims to bring rigorous science to nutrition policy, responded to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 story on best diets by releasing the following statement from Executive Director Nina Teicholz:
“Once again, U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Diets” cover story favor approaches based on weak science while rejecting others backed by far more rigorous evidence. U.S. News’ top-ranked diets, DASH and Mediterranean, are supported by little evidence proving their benefit to the American public.”
In fact, the DASH diet, ranked second, has only been tested on about 2,000 subjects, nearly all of whom were hypertensive middle-aged adults (a population that cannot be generalized to all Americans), and in experiments lasting no longer than six months.
Meanwhile, the data on the Mediterranean diet listed first by U.S. News, is backed by only “uncertain” evidence that it can prevent heart disease, according to a large and comprehensive review on the diet just last year, conducted by the authoritative Cochrane Group, which specializes in systematic reviews. Another 2019 comprehensive review of the diet found that it had “no effect” on cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.
It’s something of a mystery why U.S. News continues to promote these same diets despite multiple articles and review papers pointing out the lack of evidence for such choices. “The magazine seems unable to respond to the evolving science,” said Teicholz, who wrote about the magazine’s non-evidence-based “Best Diets” choices last year, in an op-ed for the L.A. Times.
“The DASH and Mediterranean diets may be popular, but they are simply not backed by the kind of rigorous evidence that could give the general public confidence,” said Teicholz. “The DASH diet may be helpful for middle-aged people with hypertension eating high-salt diets, yet there are no long-term trials to show that this diet is safe in the long run, and the Mediterranean diet simply hasn’t panned out, in clinical trials, to demonstrate the kind of benefits researchers had hoped for. The biggest trial on this diet, called PREDIMED, conducted in Spain, showed a mere .2% benefit in cardiovascular outcomes for the intervention group, compared to the control group.”
Meanwhile, U.S. News continues to give low rankings to low-carb diets despite nearly 100 clinical trials on this diet, including several that lasted 1 year or longer, and altogether show superior results for blood glucose control and reduction in most cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, as recently acknowledged by the American Diabetes Association. Moreover, it is the only diet, other than a starvation liquid regime, that has been demonstrated in a long-term experiment to reverse the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
“It’s clear that U.S. News continues to recapitulate unreliable dietary advice that is not supported by strong evidence. With the rates of diet-driven chronic disease persisting at record highs, it is imperative that nutrition leaders begin to adequately—and honestly--consider the latest and strongest scientific evidence available. Otherwise the public will only continue to be confused by outdated, weak science that will do little-to-nothing to improve their health.”
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