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Dietary Guidelines: Just Say No

What happens when the twin mandates of the USDA to both promote agribusiness and protect our nation’s health come into conflict?

October 26, 2011 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

US Department of Agriculture. 2011. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

All written public comments submitted and posted on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 process as well as the written comments posted on the Advisory Committee Report can be found at http://bit.ly/publicdietarycomments. Let me know if you find any other doozies.

Acknowledgements

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Transcript

The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day for individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Given that it's the number 1 cause of death in America, that's a pretty sizeable chunk of the population. But if the limit was 200 then how could people ever eat eggs? A single jumbo egg… 234. So you could eat just like celery for the whole rest of the day and still be over the limit.

When the guidelines say limit cholesterol, that’s code for limit eggs and chicken, by far the two largest sources of cholesterol in the American diet.

Now the egg industry argues that “the Dietary Guidelines should avoid any inference that most Americans should consume fewer eggs, an inference that would be misleading to the average consumer.” Seems to be "limit cholesterol" is what's misleading; "consume fewer eggs" would actually be pretty straight forward.

Instead of "Reduce intake sugar-sweetened beverages"—what, 2 cans of coke instead of 3? How about avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. These, after all, are supposed to be dietary guidelines.

In the minds of food corporations there’s no such thing as a bad food, just bad dietary patterns. "We have to get off this good food/bad food dichotomy." This coming from the Salt Institute, which represents pure salt. Instead, argues the Salt Institute president, focus on dietary patterns to “derail the biggest deception and misdirection that has been undertaken by those who would have Americans believe that a single nutrient, a single food, or even a single meat has any health consequences whatever.”

In the same vein, Cadbury— yes, that Cadbury, complained that the dietary guidelines committee had the gall to recommend less frequent consumption of sugar-containing foods. See, we should recognize they say that current lifestyles in the United States are not conducive to supporting a “less frequent” consumption of these foods.

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.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on dietary guidelines and the standard American diet. And be sure not to miss Monday's blog post Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board accused of illegally deceptive claims. And as always, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Dietary Guideline Graphics: From the Food Pyramid to My Plate, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, and PCRM’s Power Plate and Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on dietary guidelines and the standard American diet. And be sure not to miss Monday’s blog post Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board accused of illegally deceptive claims. And as always, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/HeidiWoodruff/ Heidi Woodruff

    Hilarious ! What is truly outrageous is that people listen to these corporations! The home economics teacher at my school told a group of students “eating eggs does not effect your cholesterol level at all, you can eat as many eggs as you want”

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/wickedchicken/ wickedchicken

    I agree, too much fluffing about. Avoid fizzy drinks, there is no benefit. It’s hardly that extreme, I don’t see why guidelines bother saying limit this, limit that. For the general population, avoid. If you are underweight, ill, dying, these may help you to increase calories/pleasure [if that's your thing]. Generally there are always much better ways to get calories than sugary drinks.

    That last quote by Cadbury’s made me LOL! Really LOL. They are some chancers.

  • Michael Greger M.D.
  • rick

    I understand that the PCRM sued the USDA for access to info. on the committee of 11 that makes dietary recommendations. I also understand that 6 of the 11 members have financial ties to companies that would benefit from the public receiving bad information. Do we have access to that document? I would like to publish info. from it in our local newspaper.