Dietary Guidelines: Just Say No

Dietary Guidelines: Just Say No
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What happens when the twin mandates of the USDA—to both promote agribusiness, and protect our nation’s health—come into conflict?

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The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 200mg of cholesterol per day for individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Given that it’s the #1 cause of death in America, that’s a pretty sizable 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 me “limit cholesterol” is what’s misleading; “consume fewer eggs” would actually be pretty straightforward.

Instead of “Reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages”—what? Two cans of Coke instead of three? How about “Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages”? These, after all, are supposed to be dietary guidelines.

In the minds of food corporations, though, 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 meal has any health consequences whatsoever.”

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Thanks to Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 200mg of cholesterol per day for individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Given that it’s the #1 cause of death in America, that’s a pretty sizable 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 me “limit cholesterol” is what’s misleading; “consume fewer eggs” would actually be pretty straightforward.

Instead of “Reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages”—what? Two cans of Coke instead of three? How about “Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages”? These, after all, are supposed to be dietary guidelines.

In the minds of food corporations, though, 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 meal has any health consequences whatsoever.”

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Thanks to Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out all my other videos on dietary guidelines and the standard American diet. And be sure to check out my blog post: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board accused of making illegally deceptive claims

For more context, 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.

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

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