Dietary Guidelines: Advisory Committee Conflicts of Interest

Dietary Guidelines: Advisory Committee Conflicts of Interest
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The USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee has been made of up individuals funded by McDonald’s, Coca Cola, the Sugar Association, the American Meat Institute, candy bar companies, and the egg and dairy boards.

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The reason our federal dietary guidelines “may be more interested in protecting industry interests than adhering to the science” is not only because of conflicts of interest at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but also conflicts of interest on the official Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee itself.

On the 1995 panel, there was a guy funded by Mars, the candy bar company. He also served on McDonald’s Corporation’s Global Advisory Council on Healthy Lifestyles.

Dr. Garza was a visiting professor with the National Dairy Council—I didn’t even know they had professors.

He was also VP and on the board of Dannon Institute. Irwin served on Coca Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. I wonder what his thoughts are on sugar-sweetened beverages. And Dr. Schneeman has received money from the National Dairy Board, and the National Dairy Promotion Board. And was President of the Dannon Institute.

In 2000, our visiting professor was back, and we got someone else funded by the National Dairy Promotion Board, as well as the National Live Stock and Meat Board.

Joanna Dwyer, whom I know all too well having attended Tufts Med, served the American Meat Institute, the National Dairy Promotion Board, and “worked for Procter & Gamble as the company’s Duncan Hines ‘brand girl’ and then as its Crisco brand girl.” You know you’re in trouble when U.S. nutrition policy is being decided by a former brand girl of cake and Crisco.

Scrambling science for the American Egg Board; milking the National Dairy Council; milk; dairy; dairy; milk; dairy; and none other than the “the star of a new Anheuser move to publicize the health benefits of beer consumption.” That’s who was forming official nutrition policy in the United States.

In 2005, the Egg Board was back; the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, the M&M Mars Scientific Advisory Board; Sugar Association; Coca-Cola; Hershey’s; McDonald’s; Sara Lee; and the Snack Food Association. Give me a break.

Lots of drug companies; Campbell’s soup—wonder what his take is on sodium intake? A single can can exceed our entire daily upper limit. And dairy; dairy; dairy, milk, Kraft, dairy; dairy.

And finally, our 2010 committee: General Mills, Dannon, Kraft, Campbell’s, and another McDonald’s Global Advisor on Healthy Lifestyles.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to thetaxhaven / Flickr

The reason our federal dietary guidelines “may be more interested in protecting industry interests than adhering to the science” is not only because of conflicts of interest at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but also conflicts of interest on the official Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee itself.

On the 1995 panel, there was a guy funded by Mars, the candy bar company. He also served on McDonald’s Corporation’s Global Advisory Council on Healthy Lifestyles.

Dr. Garza was a visiting professor with the National Dairy Council—I didn’t even know they had professors.

He was also VP and on the board of Dannon Institute. Irwin served on Coca Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. I wonder what his thoughts are on sugar-sweetened beverages. And Dr. Schneeman has received money from the National Dairy Board, and the National Dairy Promotion Board. And was President of the Dannon Institute.

In 2000, our visiting professor was back, and we got someone else funded by the National Dairy Promotion Board, as well as the National Live Stock and Meat Board.

Joanna Dwyer, whom I know all too well having attended Tufts Med, served the American Meat Institute, the National Dairy Promotion Board, and “worked for Procter & Gamble as the company’s Duncan Hines ‘brand girl’ and then as its Crisco brand girl.” You know you’re in trouble when U.S. nutrition policy is being decided by a former brand girl of cake and Crisco.

Scrambling science for the American Egg Board; milking the National Dairy Council; milk; dairy; dairy; milk; dairy; and none other than the “the star of a new Anheuser move to publicize the health benefits of beer consumption.” That’s who was forming official nutrition policy in the United States.

In 2005, the Egg Board was back; the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, the M&M Mars Scientific Advisory Board; Sugar Association; Coca-Cola; Hershey’s; McDonald’s; Sara Lee; and the Snack Food Association. Give me a break.

Lots of drug companies; Campbell’s soup—wonder what his take is on sodium intake? A single can can exceed our entire daily upper limit. And dairy; dairy; dairy, milk, Kraft, dairy; dairy.

And finally, our 2010 committee: General Mills, Dannon, Kraft, Campbell’s, and another McDonald’s Global Advisor on Healthy Lifestyles.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to thetaxhaven / Flickr

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out all my other videos on dietary guidelines and industry influence

For more context, also check out my associated blog post: Dietary Guideline Graphics: From the Food Pyramid to My Plate, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, and PCRM’s Power Plate.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

18 responses to “Dietary Guidelines: Advisory Committee Conflicts of Interest

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  1. After watching the videos I can’t help but feel that America is some sort of evil (nutritional)
    Empire! It seems like other countries actually have in place people that care but we have food industries running things. Very disheartening.




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    1. I agree it is very disheartening but being aware and keeping ourselves and others informed may help change the way we do the politics and business in the US. If people demand better oversight and actually start to organize and vote for changes there are opportunities. I think so of this IS happening.




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  2. Hello Michael Greger, do you have experience in treating seborrheic dermatitis without the use of medical drugs? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the root cause of seb derm? Regards/ Hakan from Sweden.




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    1. Seborrheic Dermatitis although multifactorial seems to related to the presence of several yeast species. They are supported by saturated fatty acids. The process also seems to involve human sebum. Acne although different than seborrheic dermatitis also involves sebum and is helped by the proper nutritional approach. See http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/dairy-acne-2/. General skin health is also helped by proper nutrition… see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/produce-not-pills-to-increase-physical-attractiveness/. So pursuing a low-fat plant-based diet with B12 supplementation with particular attention to minimizing saturated fat intake by avoiding processed oils would be the first step. It is what I recommend. There are many effective topical agents in several categories. You should work with a physician who is familiar with the use of these agents and appreciates a minimalistic approach as far as medications occur. I have had patients see remarkable improvement in their condition with only the dietary change but some have required some topical therapy as well. Good luck.




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  3. So….what is the point here? Are you suggesting that the conflicts of interest indicate corruption? I think that rumours like this do circle around the internet, and I just think you have to be careful about turning people against health professionals. Suggesting corruption at the highest level creates doubt among the public that people’s health is a priority of HCPs [these board members are docs and dietitians after all]. As you can see above, people take from this video that guidelines are a result of greed, corruption ond “evil”. While I do recognise the conflicts of interest, their mere presence on these boards is not going to mean that mcdonalds french fries, m’n’m’s, or crisco will make it to the food pyramid. I try to avoid encouraging the potential paranoia-heads who go crazy extreme with this sort of info and jump to conclusions. How and ever, it is a very interesting video and thanks for sharing.




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    1. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the china study, was on the board for making dietary recommendations. He in fact saw a progression from caring about people’s health to corporate interests. “The authors of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid have had many political ties to animal agriculture. Their recommendations reflect this, and even when the guidelines are strictly followed, they still promote chronic disease.”
      http://www.tcolincampbell.org/courses-resources/article/get-the-real-story/?tx_ttnewsbackPid=76&cHash=c17f308268




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    2. WickedChicken: If you’d watched the previous videos you’d see how the guidelines became more watered down over the years and how the USDA guidelines compare with other countries where a Health department not the Ag department writes the guidelines… It’s called putting the pieces of a (disturbing) puzzle together.. Yes these people on the board are obviously a problem.. Just look at the guidelines and the lack of words like “avoid” for more positive ones that allow the USDA not to betray its aim of promoting industry while betraying science and the public’s lives.. And the intentional use of vague language like “eat in moderation” or “in healthy amounts” that only serves to leave the public confused.. What’s even worse is how few people are ACTUALLY even meeting the watered down guidelines.. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/nations-diet-in-crisis/

      This is from the transcript of that video: “And then, to top it all off, junk foods. You want to know how lax the federal regulations are, the federal guidelines? A quarter of our calories are allowed to be empty calorie junk foods. A quarter of our diet can be cotton candy, and we’re still okay under the government recommendations.

      Still, how many Americans couldn’t even keep it down to that? 95% of Americans exceed their maximum discretionary caloric allowances. And look at children. Only one in a thousand American children eats even marginally healthy, by ensuring less than a quarter of their calories aren’t completely wasted—the equivalent to eating less than 24 spoonfuls of sugar a day. Only one in a thousand American kids can evidently manage that. And we wonder why there’s a childhood obesity epidemic—and adults too!

      “In conclusion, nearly the entire U.S. population consumes a diet that is not on par with recommendations [even crappy recommendations]. These findings add another piece to the rather disturbing picture that is emerging of a nation’s diet in crisis.””




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  4. Are you suggesting that the conflicts of interest definately indicate corruption? I just think you have to be careful about turning people against health professionals. Suggesting corruption at the highest level creates doubt among the public that people’s health is a priority of HCPs [these board members are docs and dietitians after all]. As you can see above, people take from this video that guidelines are a result of greed, corruption ond “evil”. How and ever, it is a very interesting video and thanks for sharing.




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    1. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the china study, was on the board for making dietary recommendations. He in fact saw a progression from caring about people’s health to corporate interests. “The authors of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid have had many political ties to animal agriculture. Their recommendations reflect this, and even when the guidelines are strictly followed, they still promote chronic disease.”
      http://www.tcolincampbell.org/courses-resources/article/get-the-real-story/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=76&cHash=c17f308268




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  5. I agree that the public needs to be more knowledgeable about the conflicts of interests on the dietary advisory and decision-making bodies, and the lobbying that various industries are up to. Then, they can make up their own minds whether government is working in the best interests of the public or not.




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  6. Dr. Greger, thanks for much for sharing.  I just watched your video today on the Uprooting the Leading Cause of Death, and it prompted me to look back through some of your other videos.  When it comes to our government setting dietary guideline, that are taught in our schools, it seems in order to play the game the groups representing the vegetable farmers and nutrition science need to get on the committee. But who are those groups?  Who should we be supporting?




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  7. The writer of a vegan cooking blog wrote that cooking flax seeds (as in flax muffins) caused the seeds to be toxic and carcinogenic. Do you have any information on this? Thanks for all the nuitrition information – I really enjoy your videos.




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