Impact/consequences of slightly incorrect data

Along with most people here, I'm pretty picky about the correctness of the nutrition data that Cronometer brings up, and I've submitted corrections for more than 70% of the foods I've scanned so far (a bit shocking how many were inaccurate).

But I'm also aware of my OCD tendencies. And the data is not THAT far off. A few percentages here and there. Compared to not tracking at all, Cronometer is a massive improvement. And since calories are the only determinant of weight loss, micronutrients matter for general health rather than weight loss. General health is far less quantifiable, and we have daily variations in how we feel and function far greater than what we think some micronutrient balance could cause - due to sleep, daily events, social interactions and a host of environmental factors other than nutrition.

So how big can be the actual consequences of nutrition data being slightly off? I'm talking about verified (as humanly possible in your experience) consequences that you could personally vouch have been due to incorrect (but not egregiously so) nutrition data?

Comments

  • TL;DR - maybe good enough is good enough.

  • edited January 10

    I think that if you consider the impact that the soil has on grown foods nutrition along with the fact that nutritional labels on packages are allowed a 20% error in either direction, just use what is given as a base line and learn to live with it. It's suggested that you use the generic version vs the mfg. label-you'll also get more nutritional info. Read this if you really want to worry about accuracy: https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/article/can-you-trust-calorie-counts

    "I've never considered excessive sanity a virtue" Mike Uris, San Antonio Express-News, 2002

  • Excellent points @comanchesue.

    Plus if you eat out, you have pretty much no information on the micronutrients.

    And if you take an "insurance" vitamin or supplement like Athletic greens, then it doesn't really matter that much if your diet is top notch micronutrient-wise.

  • Just a couple points:

    1. The data on packaged foods is not 100% accurate, so I wouldn't automatically assume that the label is right and the database is wrong. You can look up the rounding rules elsewhere, but they aren't as straightforward as you might assume.

    2. Little of the data anywhere is 100% accurate for any single serving of a food. The most chemically pure foods, like sugar, salt, and oil, may be exceptions. It's all tabulated based on averages of repeated testing over time. Your particular chicken breast may have a little more or less fat. Your particular carrot may have a little more or less beta-carotene. Then of course cooking methods or biological factors can affect the final consumption content or absorption, so there's another source of "innaccuracy."

    3. The quantities of nutrients we need are, themselves, estimates which sometimes change over time. Dietary guidelines are not 100% consistent across all countries. This is because of how very much we are still learning, like any science.

    If you have a particular concern about a particular nutrient, I'd say that a nutrition professional is a safer bet for advice than a stranger on the internet. But, as a general observation, everything we do with regard to our diets is, at best, a well-informed estimate based on the data we have at any given time. There is no path to complete accuracy, and most generally healthy people seem to get on fairly well without it.

  • edited January 17

    Excellent points, @PamelaH.

    My view so far of nutrition tracking is that it has a significant amount of guesswork involved, and it's unrealistic to aim for "complete accuracy". Track the macros, take some form of multivitamin insurance, and you'll gain more by spending time optimizing other aspects of your wellness (sleep, exercise), than obsessively trying to track food perfectly. So this is a good value, but slightly misguided in my opinion:

    Cronometer values complete and accurate nutrition data

    The corollary is that I'd rather pay for an app that makes it as easy and fast as possible to track at all, rather than one that tried to be accurate at the expense of making it painful to track. Fortunately, the two aren't at odds. It's just a matter of prioritizing development efforts right.

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