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J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Dec;103(12 Suppl 2):S28-33.

An evidence-based approach to the development of national dietary guidelines.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology/Nutrition, Program in Metabolism, Research Institute, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, Hospital for Sick Children, Ontario, Canada.


It has become apparent that confusing and conflicted nutritional advice from the media in combination with a quick reversal of policymakers' national nutrition recommendations have the potential to lead to public disbelief and cynicism for both the process and the conclusions. Consequently, poor design of policy can lead to ineffective communications with health professionals and the public. The ultimate result is that the public will ignore the recommendations with potentially adverse outcomes. Formal evidence-based clinical practice guidelines are being used regularly in the medical community. The methodology used to develop these guidelines includes a systematic review of the literature, filtering the literature for relevant articles, assessing the scientific quality of the available evidence, and rating the strength or weakness of the final recommendation. This article suggests that national dietary guidelines may be improved if they are based on a more formal evidence-based approach. Current research that is being conducted to test components of a generic, standardized methodology for developing evidence-based population targeted dietary guidelines is described.

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