Caught Our Notice: Oops — 10-fold error reverses heart warning for Ghanaians

Via Wikimedia

Title: Ghanaians Might Be at Risk of Inadequate Dietary Intake of Potassium

What Caught Our Attention: Potassium-rich diets are thought to be “heart-healthy,” and after examining the average dietary habits of Ghanaian adults, researchers determined the average potassium (K) intake to be well below global standards.  However, the authors’ calculations of potassium intake per capita were too low by factor of 10, resulting in the incorrect conclusion that the average potassium intake was only 856 mg per day, an amount substantially lower than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of 3510 mg/day.  The new calculations show an average K intake of 8,560 mg/day, well over the WHO guideline.  

We asked the corresponding author, David Oscar Yawson, about the source of the error, and he responded:

The potassium content of food in the food database was reported in mg/100g. Since food supply in the FAOSTAT is reported in kg per cap, we should have converted the K content to mg/kg by multiplying by 10. This was not done, by oversight. So the total K supply should have been multiplied by 10. That was the error (total oversight). Some colleagues were calculating nutrient supplies in foods (including K) for a bigger geographic region and their values were much higher than ours. So they contacted us and we noted the error. We contacted the Journal immediately. They asked for the data and the calculations, together with the revised calculations. The Journal then decided that we retract (instead of corrigendum) but gave us the option to resubmit a fresh manuscript with the corrected calculations. We have done that but it’s been under review for months. The new calculations show that there’s rather a risk of excess intake.

Journal: Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism

Authors: David Oscar Yawson, Michael Osei Adu, Benjamin Ason, Frederick Ato Armah, Emmanuel Boateng, and Reggie Quansah

Affiliations: University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Soil Research Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana; University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

The Notice:

Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism has retracted the article titled “Ghanaians Might Be at Risk of Inadequate Dietary Intake of Potassium” [1]. The authors have noted that the potassium values should have been multiplied by 10, and this will substantially alter the conclusion of the article.

Date of Article: October 2016

Times Cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science: Zero

Date of Notice: 7/12/2017

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