Transcript: Dietary Guidelines: It’s All Greek to the USDA
When it comes to formulating dietary recommendations, what happens when there’s a conflict between science and commercial interests—when the science says eat less animal fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar, but the meat, dairy, egg, salt and sugar industries strongly protest any advice to consume less of their products?
“This put the USDA in a tough position: if it follows the science, it would violate its duty to promote the agricultural industry; if it protected the industry, it would violate its duty to issue science-based dietary advice [not to mention contributing to the deaths of millions of Americans]. The USDA has sometimes responded to this conflict by choosing industry over science.”
Here’s an idea: why not “have a health agency give health advice?”
Why is the agriculture department the lead agency on formulating dietary recommendations? Why not the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? “Just as many other nations do, the United States could put an appropriate health agency in charge of dietary advice.”
What about countries that do actually have health professionals in charge? What are their recommendations like? Take the dietary guidelines in Greece. I’m not saying they’re not without bias, but at least they were put together by the Ministry of Health and Welfare; what a concept.
This is what our guidelines could say: “Prefer fruits and nuts as snacks, instead of sweets and candy bars.” Radical! “Always prefer water over soft drinks.” The USDA could never get away with saying something like that.
Here’s their pyramid. First thing I noticed: non-refined grains. No pussyfooting around. Not “choose carbohydrates wisely.” Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, whole grains, period. And these guidelines were released back in 1999, when U.S. guidelines didn’t make any distinction between whole and refined grains at all. And our guidelines still condone half of grain intake as refined grains. Why? There’s no science to support that; it’s just a big gift to the processed and junk food industry.
What else? Avoid salt. Good strong message; replace with herbs. Nice. Nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day—including wild greens. I’m impressed.
Probably the most important thing about these guidelines is that the daily diet is vegetarian. A few times a week, if you want, according to the guidelines, you can have white meat and, at most, three times a week, eggs or candy. And the rest of meat is monthly. One serving a week—that’s like 25 times less meat than what the current USDA guidelines allow.
And of course, obligatory woman in a bathing suit, because of course that’s what women wear when they go jogging.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Peter Mellor.
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