Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #125: Dietary Dictocrats Double Down

The latest Executive Summary of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) makes what I infer is an admission of neglect and attempts to make up for it in that update. The admission: “Dietary Guidelines recommendations traditionally have been intended for healthy Americans ages 2 years and older” (emphasis mine). Previously, I infer from that, their recommendations applied only to “healthy Americans ages 2 years and older,” not to the “other than healthy,” as for example the insulin resistant, overweight, obese and Type 2 diabetes populations.

This new interest in all of us was further clarified for me by their next statement: “However, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is being released at a time of rising concern about the health of the American population. Poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to an epidemic of overweight and obesity affecting men, women and children in all segments of our society. Even in the absence of overweight, poor diet and physical inactivity are associated with major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Therefore, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 is intended for Americans ages 2 years and older, including those at increased risk of chronic disease.” To repeat, that’s all of us “unhealthy” Americans.

When I read this 2 years ago, I had hope of change. I hoped they would address the special needs of that segment of society that is insulin resistant, overweight and obese. I hoped they would recognize some special dietary restrictions, i.e. carbohydrates, for this population. I was disappointed. They do address the overweight and obese, but they do not associate it with what is the likely cause of most obesity: insulin resistance. And they do not associate overweight and obesity with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. In fact, they don’t even mention Type 2 diabetes or the association of the epidemic of overweight or obesity with the Type 2 diabetes epidemic.

In summary, on the next two pages they prescribe the same-old “fix” for the “unhealthy” overweight and obese population as they do for the healthy population: Calorie restriction, with macronutrient balance, and exercise.

“People who are the most successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight do so through continued attention to consuming only enough calories from foods and beverages to meet their needs and by being physically active.” This is of course patently untrue. It is a “diet delusion,” as anyone who’s done it knows.

“To curb the obesity epidemic and improve their health, many Americans must decrease the calories they consume and increase the calories they expend through physical activity.” The “calories in – calories out” redux.

Then, the “Key Recommendations” begins with “Balancing Calories to Manage Weight”

·         Prevent and/or reduce overweight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity behaviors.

·         Control total calorie intake to manage body weight. For people who are overweight or obese, this will mean consuming fewer calories from foods and beverages.

·         Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.

·         Maintain appropriate calorie energy balance during each stage of life – childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and older age.

The USDA and HHS, who jointly created this document, are jointly in denial. They decided to just double down.

They also recommend we eat less “sodium” (salt), less “dietary cholesterol” and less “solid fats” (read saturated ) and added sugars, and less “refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.” Notice their associations of saturated fats with sugars. Also, there’s not a word about carbs!

Food and food components to increase: monounsaturated fats like olive oil (okay) and polyunsaturated fats, like corn oil and soy bean and other seed oils (not okay!), fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fat-free or low fat-dairy.

The only specific population groups for which they have special recommendations are women capable of getting pregnant, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and individuals ages 50 years and older. For the latter, it recommends foods fortified with vitamin B12. Again, no mention of the pre-diabetic or Type 2 diabetic obese.
I know this is all “old news,” but I write about it again to illustrate institutional denial. As long as the dietary Dictocrats in Washington, together with the major medical associations and abetted by the self interest of agribusiness with its powerful lobby, continue to promote these recommendations, and the media trumpets it, we are left to go it alone. Self-treatment then becomes the modality of choice. Eventually, by culling, survival outcomes will reveal the wisdom of our course of action. Sadly, for millions it will be too late. Don’t let it be you!

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