Saturday, March 21, 2020

Retrospective #399: WebMD and Walgreens, a new collaboration

While waiting in my wife’s doctor’s office some time ago, I picked up a FREE magazine, “WebMD diabetes, at Walgreens.” I’ve been a Type 2 for 34 years, and treating it as a dietary disease for the last 18, so I didn’t expect that the magazine would have much to offer me, but…was I in for a surprise! It was loaded with material for my blog!
The featured article was “Savor Summer,” with a recipe section: The subtitle was “New ways to bring SWEET corn to your table” (my emphasis). But to a carboholic, the added emphasis is unnecessary. The brain sees “SWEET” and translates it to “SWEET.  And the food photography was great! Really mouth-watering stuff!
The article begins, “You can almost taste sunshine when you bite into a freshly picked ear of corn,” adding, “It’s also nutritious” because it’s “chockful of Carotenoids.” (No mention of sugar.) But then, unabashed, it says, “It’s also a starchy vegetable, easily rounding out your plate with more fiber than a refined grain.” Okay, so sweet corn is not a refined grain. That’s good. But corn is a starch. It is all sugar. For a diabetic, that’s almost as bad as a refined grain.
And if that weren’t enough, 2 of the 3 corn recipes in the special Web MD magazine for diabetics added honey! Added honey, for diabetics! As if corn wasn’t sweet enough! What’s worse is the recipes had all been reviewed by an MD, the WebMD medical editor, and she could do it with a clear conscience because, by the U. S. Dietary Guidelines “MY PLATE, a healthy meal plan for everyone, even diabetics, – includes ¼ starches. But should a magazine for diabetics, intended to help both type 2 diabetics and pre-diabetics make healthy food choices, suggest and feature recipes that will assure that pre-diabetics progress to full blown diabetes and Type 2 diabetics remains in a diseased state? C’mon!
Why would the medical community and Big Pharma encourage people who are diagnosed Type 2s, with Insulin Resistance, which equates to Carbohydrate Intolerance, suggest, recommend, and even encourage people to eat a diet comprised three-quarters of carbohydrates (¼ starch and ½ non-starchy vegetables)? Why? One-size-fits-all!!! For 37 years the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” have ordained that one-size-fits-all. The Guidelines have gone through various iterations, from various food pyramids to today’s “My Plate,” but every iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have one thing in common: by following them, you, the Type 2, most assuredly will get sicker and sicker.
Who benefits from this whack-a-mole recommendation? I know, I know. It’s easy to conclude it’s the doctor’s and the pharmaceutical industry, including retailers like Walgreens. And they certainly do benefit. We all get sick, and they all take care of us. And that’s their business. And it’s a perfect collaboration. And they’re just doing what they are in business for. Altogether, the 23-page Diabetes magazine included 4 pages of corn recipes, 8 pages of other content, and 11 pages of ads, 4 for Walgreens products and 4 for diabetes meds from Lilly and Pfizer, available at Walgreens.
But that’s not where the problem lies. The problem for most Americans accelerated forty years ago when the U. S. government got into the nutrition business. In 1977 a U. S Senate select committee convened and held hearings. So-called “experts” testified. Later, the lay staff of the Committee produced the “Dietary Goals for the United States.” In 1980, and thereafter every five years, HHS has produced the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” It’s been a disaster.
The Nutrition Coalition, founded in 2016 by Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise,” is campaigning for the Guidelines to be reformed. See Retrospective #391. She says, “Americans have followed the Guidelines, but their health has not improved.” “The Guidelines have not always provided the best dietary advice.” “The science is not settled and, in some cases, has been reversed,” and “(T)he process of drafting the Guidelines needs reform.”
I certainly agree. We need Guidelines based on sound scientific evidence. And as the 2020 Dietary Guidelines are now, as we speak, currently in preparation, now is the perfect time for my readers in the U. S. to get involved. Write the USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and tell them what you think about carbs and Type 2 diabetes.
 And there will still be plenty of ways in which WebMD and Walgreens can collaborate. And then my wife’s doctor won’t have the shame of having this awful magazine in his waiting room.

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