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In Reply—A Discussion of the Refutation of Memory-Based Dietary Assessment Methods (M-BMs): The Rhetorical Defense of Pseudoscientific and Inadmissible Evidence

      We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the letter submitted by Archer et al,
      • Archer E.
      • Pavela G.
      • Lavie C.J.
      A discussion of the refutation of memory-based dietary assessment methods (M-BMs): the rhetorical defense of pseudoscientific and inadmissible evidence.
      that was written in response to our editorial
      • Davy B.M.
      • Estabrooks P.A.
      The Validity of Self-reported Dietary Intake Data: Focus on the “What We Eat In America” Component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Research Initiative.
      accompanying their article published in the July issue of this Journal.
      • Archer E.
      • Pavela G.
      • Lavie C.J.
      The Inadmissibility of ‘What We Eat In America’ (WWEIA) and NHANES Dietary Data in Nutrition & Obesity Research and the Scientific Formulation of National Dietary Guidelines.
      We would like to first correct several statements made by these authors, which were either misquoted from our article
      • Davy B.M.
      • Estabrooks P.A.
      The Validity of Self-reported Dietary Intake Data: Focus on the “What We Eat In America” Component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Research Initiative.
      or misrepresented in their letter. Our position was not, as stated by Archer et al, to “admit” that their previously published results
      • Archer E.
      • Hand G.A.
      • Blair S.N.
      Validity of U.S. nutritional surveillance: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey caloric energy intake data, 1971-2010.
      were “well-recognized and acknowledged,” but rather to acknowledge that there are limitations of self-reported dietary intake methodologies in general, which are acknowledged by researchers who use these methods. The article by Arab et al
      • Arab L.
      • Wessweling-Perry K.
      • Jardack P.
      • Henry J.
      • Winter A.
      Eight self-administered 24-hour dietary recalls using the Internet are feasible in African Americans and Whites: the energetics study.
      was misrepresented in the letter by Archer et al, as this investigation
      • Arab L.
      • Wessweling-Perry K.
      • Jardack P.
      • Henry J.
      • Winter A.
      Eight self-administered 24-hour dietary recalls using the Internet are feasible in African Americans and Whites: the energetics study.
      studied the feasibility of Internet-based dietary assessment, and was not a study of the accuracy of self-reported dietary intake using the Automated Multiple Pass Method, although it is presented by Archer et al in that way. The final misrepresentation is the statement regarding the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report (DGAC) calling to “expand” the use of memory-based dietary assessment methods data collection, which Archer et al state is “illogical.” Rather, on the page cited, the DGAC
      • Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
      Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
      calls for expanded participation in the “What We Eat in America” survey by underrepresented or at-risk groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, older adults, and pregnant women.
      The article published by Archer et al
      • Archer E.
      • Hand G.A.
      • Blair S.N.
      Validity of U.S. nutritional surveillance: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey caloric energy intake data, 1971-2010.
      that was cited in this letter as evidence supporting their position has been very thoroughly critiqued in a previously published research article,
      • Hébert J.R.
      • Hurley T.G.
      • Steck S.E.
      • et al.
      Considering the value of dietary assessment data in informing nutrition-related health policy.
      and debated in a series of letters to the editor.
      • Archer E.
      • Blair S.N.
      Implausible data, false memories, and the status quo in dietary assessment.
      • Hébert J.R.
      • Hurley T.G.
      • Steck S.E.
      • et al.
      Reply to E Archer and SN Blair.
      Limitations of the approach used by Archer et al were thoroughly presented by Hébert et al.
      • Hébert J.R.
      • Hurley T.G.
      • Steck S.E.
      • et al.
      Considering the value of dietary assessment data in informing nutrition-related health policy.
      • Hébert J.R.
      • Hurley T.G.
      • Steck S.E.
      • et al.
      Reply to E Archer and SN Blair.
      A reiteration of the points already well presented in these articles would not add new discussion points to this dialogue.
      The letter by Archer et al refers to the DGAC report as “not scientifically sound” and “poor scientific advising,” which is notable, in light of recent media reports describing efforts by the food industry to fight proposed dietary guidelines (eg, see Reference 10). This media article,

      Food industry players fighting proposed dietary guidelines drop millions on lobbyists. Bloomberg News. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-29/food-companies-outgun-health-advocates-in-diet-guidelines-debate. Accessed August 14, 2015.

      which is just one example of several, specially mentions the Coca Cola Company as a major funder of efforts that criticize the DGAC report. Given the stated financial relationship of 2 of the 3 Archer et al authors to the Coca Cola Company, this financial relationship should be taken into consideration when reviewing their stated position. The sections that criticize the DGAC report are narrowly focused on a single issue—the committee’s use of some research that used memory-based dietary recall methods. Archer et al’s assertion that the DGAC’s process to develop recommendations “demonstrates a lack of epistemic humility that has significant public health consequences” is unjustified, when the DGAC does in fact highlight the need for randomized controlled trials in many subject areas (eg, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
      • Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
      Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
      (p12,13,18)) to strengthen the evidence base, as well as the need for dietary biomarker research, to better inform future dietary guidelines.
      Unfortunately, the letter by Archer et al fails to add anything substantive to this ongoing dialogue on the validity of self-reported dietary intake data and on the strengths and limitations of the DGAC report. No constructive directions for future research are suggested, but rather a repeated criticism of the committee’s approach to develop much-needed US dietary guidelines.

      References

        • Archer E.
        • Pavela G.
        • Lavie C.J.
        A discussion of the refutation of memory-based dietary assessment methods (M-BMs): the rhetorical defense of pseudoscientific and inadmissible evidence.
        J Mayo Clin Proc. 2015; 90: 1736-1739
        • Davy B.M.
        • Estabrooks P.A.
        The Validity of Self-reported Dietary Intake Data: Focus on the “What We Eat In America” Component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Research Initiative.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2015; 90: 845-847
        • Archer E.
        • Pavela G.
        • Lavie C.J.
        The Inadmissibility of ‘What We Eat In America’ (WWEIA) and NHANES Dietary Data in Nutrition & Obesity Research and the Scientific Formulation of National Dietary Guidelines.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2015; 90: 911-926
        • Archer E.
        • Hand G.A.
        • Blair S.N.
        Validity of U.S. nutritional surveillance: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey caloric energy intake data, 1971-2010.
        PLoS One. 2013; 8: e76632
        • Arab L.
        • Wessweling-Perry K.
        • Jardack P.
        • Henry J.
        • Winter A.
        Eight self-administered 24-hour dietary recalls using the Internet are feasible in African Americans and Whites: the energetics study.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2010; 110: 857-864
        • Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
        Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
        U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC2015 (Appendix E-1, page 1)
        • Hébert J.R.
        • Hurley T.G.
        • Steck S.E.
        • et al.
        Considering the value of dietary assessment data in informing nutrition-related health policy.
        Adv Nutr. 2014; 5: 447-455
        • Archer E.
        • Blair S.N.
        Implausible data, false memories, and the status quo in dietary assessment.
        Adv Nutr. 2015; 6: 229-230
        • Hébert J.R.
        • Hurley T.G.
        • Steck S.E.
        • et al.
        Reply to E Archer and SN Blair.
        Adv Nutr. 2015; 6: 230-233
      1. Food industry players fighting proposed dietary guidelines drop millions on lobbyists. Bloomberg News. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-29/food-companies-outgun-health-advocates-in-diet-guidelines-debate. Accessed August 14, 2015.

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