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.

9 responses to “Dietary Guidelines: Just Say No

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  1. 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!

  2. 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”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. I looked for the answer to this question as to conflicts of interest among members of the 2015 committee. This is all I could find so far.

      2015 DGAC Members
      Brief Biographical Sketches of the DGAC
      http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-binder/2015/biographicalSketches.aspx

      Who will decide what’s in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
      http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/R-D/Who-will-decide-what-s-in-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-for-Americans

  5. Dr Greger,

    Is it a coincidence in your opinion that the USDA started making these lengthy dietary recommendations in 1980, and that the McGovern report, which I believe was started as part of Nixon’s war on cancer, came out in 1977? The McGovern report as you know put A lot of the blame for America’s skyrocketing increase of cancer on the food we eat, and was watered down due to political pressure from the senators from the big meat producing states. Are the proximity of these two dates a coincidence in your opinion?

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