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16 Oct

US National Health Survey Not Very Accurate, Report Finds

How skewed is the American notion of nutrition? How skewed is the American notion of nutrition?


In a scathing scientific review titled "The Validity of U.S. Nutritional Surveillance,” epidemiologist Edward Archer blasted the federal government for providing faulty nutrition data for nearly 40 years.

Each year, the National Center for Health Statistics conducts a nationwide health survey. Participants are purposefully selected through a complex statistical process via the national census as a representative of their community and approximately 50,000 other U.S. residents.

While those that partake in the survey undergo a series of medical evaluations like urine samples and blood tests, they must also answer personal diet questions in a private health interview. Archer's study reveals that most people during the interview lied about their eating habits, which in turn irreparably skewed the survey's results and subsequent national health policies for decades.

"[Energy Intake] data on the majority of respondents (67.3% of women and 58.7% of men) were not physiologically plausible," says Archer. His study reported that most participant's caloric intake was "not representative of the respondents’ habitual intakes."

Archer points out that in the interviews, participants are merely asked what they ate in the past 24 hours. Their diet is not monitored by a doctor over any period of time and interviewers more or less rely upon participants to answer honestly.

"Because these efforts provide the scientific foundation for many public health policies and food-based guidelines, poor validity in dietary measurement protocols can have significant long-term implications for our nation’s health," he added.

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This woman takes a look at US nutrition guidelines.
Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 22:23
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