Friday, March 13, 2020

Retrospective #391: The U. S. Dietary Guidelines: “11 Points for Change”

A couple of years ago, while chatting with attendees at the 2 Keto Dudes’ 1st Annual Keto Fest in New London, CT, I learned about the Nutrition Coalition. The Nutrition Coalition was founded in 2016 by Nina Teicholz, author of the 2014 blockbuster NYT best seller, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.”
The Coalition’s objective then was to affect “11 Points for Change” in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).
1.      Undertake a communications campaign to let Americans know that the low-fat diet is no longer recommended
2.      Ease or lift caps on saturated fats
3.      Offer low-carbohydrate diets as a viable option for fighting chronic disease
4.      Offer a meaningful diversity of diets
5.      Make the DGA diets nutritionally sufficient, with nutrients coming from whole foods
6.      Stop recommending aerobic exercise for weight loss
7.      Stop recommending “lower is better” on salt
8.      Stop telling the public that reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be accomplished by choosing “an appropriate calorie level”
9.      Stop recommending vegetable oils for health
10.   Recommend regular meat and milk rather than the low-fat/lean alternatives
11.   Don’t issue population-wide guidelines based on weak data
Each of the Coalition’s “Points” is supported by explanatory sentences and is linked to a reference.
My first reaction to the idea of a petition supporting this manifesto was to be cynical. I was skeptical that such an effort would be effective. But on reading the “11 points for change,” I realized that it was so cogent and so comprehensive, so right-on on every point, that the Coalition deserves our support. The Manifesto perfectly embodies the reforms that are needed now.
This plain language “manifesto” encapsulates a fix for everything that is wrong with the dietary advice that the American Heart Association has been giving us for 60 years. And with particularity since the “experts” 40 years ago provided supporting testimony to the politicians at the 1977 Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. It was that lay committee that produced the “Dietary Goals for the United States,” aka the McGovern Report, and which the USDA/HHS institutionalized as the Dietary Guidelines in 1980 and every 5 years thereafter.
As the Nutrition Coalition points out, these U. S. Guidelines “are the single-most important determinant for how people eat.” They say, “Our Guidelines determine” 1) Federal food programs, 2) Nutritional advice, 3) Military rations (MREs), 4) Packaged foods, 5) K-12 nutrition education, and 6) non-packaged foods.” Their hyperlinked text supports with more detail each of these aspects of Federal food policy. The influence of the DGA is far reaching.
If you agree with these 11 points of change, PLEASE join and support the Nutrition Coalition and add your name to their petition for “11 Points for Change.” At least you’ll feel good. And the added momentum will help with the Nutrition Coalitions’ current efforts to reform the 2020 Dietary Guidelines currently in formation.
The chat I had when I learned about the Nutrition Coalition occurred when I was talking to the father of an adult Type 2 diabetic, who was just then talking to Richard Feinman, PhD, a conference speaker and nutrition icon. They were discussing a scientific paper published in Nutrition & Metabolism in January 2015, popularly titled “12 Points of Evidence,” in which Dr. Feinman was lead author. Directed at medical doctors, the full title is, “Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base.”
As Gary Taubes admitted in the Afterward to his paperback edition of “Good Calories - Bad Calories,” he was disappointed by the medical community’s response to his “Carbohydrate Hypothesis.” As a cynic, I am more inclined to accept Max Planck’s dictum, “Truth never triumphs. Its opponents just die out.”

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