A report published in the BMJ says that the new federal nutrition guidelines recommended by a health expert lack the most recent dietary research and reinforce bad advice that many believe is behind America’s obesity epidemic.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines have been released every 5 years since 1980. Carefully selected by an advisory committee, the guidelines play a pivotal role in the diets of millions of people. But Dr. Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, says the new guidelines aren’t based on science and encourage Americans to continue to eat the same old, unhealthy diet.

“The least we would expect is that they be based on the best available science. Instead the committee has abandoned standard methodology, leaving us with the same dietary advice as before: low fat, high carbs,” Dr. Godlee says.

The guidelines, which are currently under review by the U.S. government’s health and agricultural agencies, doesn’t use the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) reviews for 70% of the nutrition topics the library covers, a tool the committee has used in the past.

For the 2015 guidelines, the committee turned to reviews from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, both of which are financially-backed by the Food and Drug Administration. [1]

“Use of external reviews by professional associations is problematic because these groups conduct literature reviews according to different standards and are supported by food and drug companies,” the report reads.

The BMJ report takes the committee to task over its guidelines concerning saturated fats. The scientists says that there is a “strong” link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease, and recommends that Americans get no more than 10% of their daily calories from saturated fats. But some recent, prominent studies released over the past 5 years have been unable to confirm a link between saturated fats and heart disease. We shouldn’t be falling for the cholesterol myth anymore, either. [2]

“I think what we’ve learned from the last 15 years where we’ve taken fat out of many of the foods and provided fat-free versions of it — skim milk, yogurts, and things like that – that actually what we’ve done is … increased calories and America has gotten very fat on a low-fat diet,” says Richard Stein, M.D, a cardiologist with New York University Langone Medical Center.

The report also points out that the committee failed to conduct a comprehensive review of low-carbohydrate diets. Since 2000, clinical trials have shown that diets low in carbohydrates are equal if not better than other nutritional approaches for controlling Type 2 diabetes, boosting weight loss, and lowering the risk of heart disease.

The committee also put the combination of saturated fats and sugar in the “empty calories” category – a contentious classification, says journalist and author of The Big Fat Surprise Nina Teicholz, because:

“Saturated fats are consumed largely in foods like eggs, meat and dairy which contain lots of vitamins and nutrients necessary for health. And the incidence of heart disease has not gone down and the precursors of heart disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure, have actually gone up.”

The BMJ also shines light on committee members’ conflicts of interest, which that need not be disclosed under the law. For example, one member received research funding from the Tree Nut Council; another member was paid more than $10,000 from Lluminari, which produces content for General Mills and Pepsi Co.

The authors of the report also express frustration over the committee’s promotion of 3 plant-based diets: the ‘healthy Mediterranean-style diet, the healthy US-style diet, and the newly-introduced healthy vegetarian diet.’

“Growing evidence suggests that this advice is driving rather than solving the current epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The committee’s conflicts of interest are also a concern. We urgently need an independent review of the evidence and new thinking about diet and its role in public health,” says Dr. Godlee.

Additional Sources:

[1] Medical Daily

[2] Newsmax

[3] Time


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.