Nutritionist group pulls position statement on vegetarian diets for “inaccuracies and omissions”

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.57.38 AMWhat are the specific health benefits to skipping out on meat? We’re not totally sure, after the largest organization for nutrition professionals pulled its 2015 position statement on this issue only weeks after publishing it in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets” was removed earlier this year for “inaccuracies and omissions critical to the paper” — and the first author wasn’t told what they were. A “major revision” is forthcoming.

Here’s the removal note from the journal for the 2015 version:

This article has been removed at the request of the Academy Positions Committee (APC) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The APC became aware of inaccuracies and omissions in the position paper that could affect recommendations and conclusions within the paper. After further review, the APC decided it was appropriate to remove this paper for major revision.

We contacted the authors to ask for a copy of the publication, and details on what went wrong. First author and nutritionist Diana Cullum-Dugan got back to us:

We are not at liberty to release the original publication. The article is being revised and will be released sometime in 2016.

As to the nature of the “inaccuracies and omissions” in the paper, Cullum-Dugan said:

We were not told.

In June, the Academy posted a news release about the decision to retract its position statement on vegetarian diets, which provided some backstory to the decision:

Following the release of the “Vegetarian Diets” position paper, the Academy Positions Committee received correspondence from respected experts in the area of vegetarian nutrition, including Academy members, expressing concern about what they cited as inaccuracies in the paper. Upon receipt of the memoranda, the APC sent the paper out for a secondary external blind, unbiased review. Based on the result of these reviews, as well as the received correspondence from experts in the field, the APC voted to remove the paper from the Journal with the goal to revise and publish at a future date. Until then, individuals should refer to the “Vegetarian Diets” position paper published in the July 2009 Journal (Volume 109, Issue 7, pages 1266-1282).

The Academy is using the experience to strengthen future papers, they note:

The Academy publishes approximately 8-10 evidence-based position and/or practice papers per year. A fast-evolving landscape of research and information dissemination provide opportunities as well as challenges for authors and reviewers. The APC is using this experience as an opportunity to evaluate and strengthen processes and procedures involved in publishing evidence-based position and practice papers.

Here’s the most recently published position on not eating meat from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that we could find, from 2009:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

That statement, from the abstract of the 2009 paper, aligns with what the academy has on its website regarding vegetarian diets.

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