Dietary guidelines used to be a relatively easy process. They were considered authoritative, mainstream media dutifully portrayed them as such because they had government backing, and people obeyed.

But since 1980, when people began to obey them, obesity has skyrocketed. With public education being freed from the shackles of corporate journalists, the public had access to information outside hand-picked nutrition scholars chosen for their beliefs.  And skepticism reigns.

2016 is a much different scenario. Before the guidelines were even out, nutrition academics like Dr. Marion Nestle were berating them for not banning soda - probably just coincidence that she is selling a book on that very topic. In the Washington Post, she advocated school lunches have guidelines like rediscovering the 'joy of food', which had to have made even her ardent anti-GMO allies shake their heads in wonder.

The big problem remains that nutrition is not science. It is not science to look at a far or thin person and ask, 'what did you eat last week?' and it is certainly not science to block anyone who has ever consulted for any company from participating, as U.N. IARC groups do when saying bacon causes cancer, and the American government does quite often.

Two Letters to the Editor of Mayo Clinic Proceedings criticize data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a widely-cited source within the nutrition community, and the validity of memory-based dietary assessment methods (M-BMs) in formulating dietary policies and recommendations for the general public.

The main source of dietary information used by the U.S. government's 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is scientifically inadmissible because it is based on M-BMs and people do not accurately report what they eat. The solution is to use multiple sources, say proponents, a sort of 'two wrongs make a right' rationalization.

While not specifically addressing the use of M-BMs, the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture met on October 7, 2015, to discuss the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Both Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), testified about the DGAC, the Guidelines, and the more than 29,000 public comments that were submitted. A significant number of questions from the committee concerned the credibility of recommendations that have changed over time.

The authors of the new op-ed maintain that M-BMs are scientifically invalid and further that defenders of their use have ignored repeated empirical refutation and have not presented valid counter-arguments.

Archer, Pavela, and Lavie reiterate that M-BMs are "are pseudoscientific and inadmissible in scientific research and the formulation of national dietary guidelines." They continue, "it is time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health to recognize and acknowledge the empirical refutation of M-BMs and reexamine the extensive utilization and funding of these data collection protocols." 

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences