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"Best Available Evidence" in Nutrition: What Is It and Who Decides?

Rowe, Sylvia MA; Alexander, Nick BA

doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e3181b0f6e3
Nutrition and Communications

Science communicators have long argued about how the quality of research should impact the interpretation and communication of the research findings. One paramount issue discussed is the relative virtue of epidemiological versus clinical research or animal studies. This column examines the considerations that go into establishing hierarchies or rankings of scientific evidence during the government-mandated, evidence-based scientific reviews in formulating nutrition policy

The Dietary Guidelines Committee is wrestling with these very issues

Sylvia Rowe, MA, is an adjunct professor at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also the president of SR Strategy, a health, nutrition, food safety, and risk communications and issue management consultancy located at Washington, DC. Previously, Ms Rowe served as president and chief executive officer of the IFIC and IFIC Foundation, nonprofit organizations that communicate science-based information of food safety and nutrition issues to health professionals, journalists, government officials, educators, and consumers.

Nick Alexander, BA, is former senior media counselor for the International Food Information Council Foundation, Washington, DC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. A former network correspondent with ABC News, Mr Alexander has been, for the past 7½ years, tracking and writing about science communications issues and the evolving challenge to public acceptance of credible science.

Corresponding author: Sylvia Rowe, MA, 1100 Connecticut Ave. NW, #1000, Washington, DC 20036 (

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.