Evolution Of Dietary Guidelines For Americans And How They Have Impacted Consumption Of Food From Animals
In the 38 years that we have followed the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGFA), consumption of animal fat, red meat, eggs, and whole milk decreased by 17%, 17%, 17%, and 73%, respectively, while consumption of grain, vegetable oil, fruit, and vegetables increased by 41%, 91%, 13%, and 23%, respectively. So–as a nation– we’ve done everything we’ve been told to do. But, according to the National Academies of Science (NASEM), “The rate of Type 2 diabetes has quadrupled and that of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.” The inevitable conclusion is, there must be something wrong with the Dietary Guidelines because we’re getting sicker and fatter.
In 1961, the American Heart Association (AHA), and in 1980, the USDA-USDHHS, advised US citizens to “limit consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol in order to prevent heart disease” based on the deeply flawed “Diet Heart Hypothesis” of Ancel Keys (University of Minnesota). Since then, study after study (involving hundreds of thousands of subjects, and billions of dollars) either failed to support or patently disproved the premise that low-fat diets and/or avoidance of saturated fat were effective at fighting obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
Independent scientists (i.e., those not financially dependent upon biased companies and/or organizations) like John Yudkin, Robert Atkins, Alessandro Menotti, John Ioannidis, Tim Noakes, Georgia Ede, and Andrew Mente) and uninhibited journalists like Ian Leslie, Gary Taubes, and Nina Teicholz, have warned us. Ian Leslie (The Guardian) advised us of four 2008 to 2010 investigations: (1) A Europe-wide study showed that the higher the intake of saturated fat, the lower the rate of heart disease; (2) A British study of 192 countries showed that lower cholesterol correlated with higher rates of death from heart disease; (3) A UN-FAO meta-analysis of all studies of low-fat diets found “no probable or convincing evidence that a high level of dietary fat causes heart disease or cancer”; and (4) A landmark American Society for Nutrition study stated that, “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”
Gary Taubes (Science) informed us that: (a) Harvard University, UC-San Francisco, and McGill University determined that people who consume a lifetime diet following DGFA standards (less than 10% of calories from saturated fat; less than 30% of calories from total fat) can add only 3 days to 3 months to their life expectancy; (b) The MRFIT diet study showed that if anything, eating less fat might shorten your life; and (c) The Lyon Diet Health Study showed that 3 times as many people suffered cardiac death if they followed the AHA Prudent Diet, compared to those following the Mediterranean diet.
Nina Teicholz says, “There never has been solid evidence for the idea that saturated fats in butter, cheese, and red meat cause heart disease. We only believe that because nutrition policy has been derailed for 50 years by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics, and bias. In cutting backs on fats (those dropped by 11%), we now eat lots more carbohydrates (those rose by 25%). The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin–a hormone that is fantastically effective at storing fat. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.”
It is now widely believed that Ancel Keys’ worshipers–plus vegetable oil and cane/beet sugar companies and trade associations–exerted undue political influence on early AHA and DGFA decisions, that a “deep state” developed within the federal bureaucracy, and that members of the DGFA Advisory Committee had “conflicts of interest,” “an agenda,” “bias,” and/or “outside influence”. The most recent Advisory Committee largely favored vegetarianism, with 11 of the 14 members having consistently published work in favor of plant-based, low-animal-fat, vegetarian diets. All of this has resulted in calls by NASEM and the US Congress to redesign the process by which the DGFA are developed. Nutrition Coalition has said, “In the midst of a worldwide obesity and diabetes crisis, we don’t need more input from ‘experts’ who are not paying attention to the latest science.” Ian Leslie (The Guardian) said “The 2015 edition of DGFA makes no references to any of the research reported in the last 10 years because the members of the Advisory Committee neglected to discuss it in their report. Why? If you are seeking to protect your authority, why draw attention to evidence that seems to contradict the assertion on which that authority is founded.”
As an example of “the latest science” not considered by the 2015 DGFA Advisory Committee: Some results from the two largest controlled trials of diets ever undertaken (Women’s Health Initiative and Framingham Study–both funded by the National Institutes of Health) were not published when the trials were completed because “the analyses failed to link saturated fats with heart disease”. Unearthed in 2010, none of nine subsequent independent-scientist reviews could find any evidence in the data that saturated fats had an effect on cardiovascular mortality or total mortality. Several researchers stated in their conclusions, such results clearly do not support the government’s DGFA or AHA’s cap on saturated fat consumption.
And now, there is new data to consider. Using results of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, involving 135,335 subjects in 18 countries from 5 continents, Dehghan et al. (2017, 2018) concluded that: (a) High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality. (b) Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease or mortality. (c) Decreased consumption of saturated fats was associated with increased risk of stroke. (d) Increased consumption of dairy products was associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular and total mortality rates. (e) Global dietary guidelines should be re-considered in light of these findings.
So, now, a new Advisory Committee for the 2020 DGFA is being assembled. Unfortunately, “establishment thinking” (the “Deep State”) in the federal bureaucracy has been joined by animal-rights activists, environmentalists, vegetarians, and–lately–by plant-based food advocates who have swallowed the Ancel Keys’ Kool-Aid in their quest to vanquish–forever–consumption of food from domesticated animals. The last Advisory Council’s vice-chairperson laughed heartily about “sending Ronald McDonald™ to the guillotine”.
The original proposed 2015 DGFA intended to: (a) Include a recommendation on environmental sustainability (as a backdoor approach to pushing for plant-based foods–especially as meat substitutes), (b) Propose taxes on sugars and sodas (as a prelude to taxes on meat), and (c) Eliminate meat from the list of healthy foods (to make space for more plant-based foods). USDHHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell Matthews, testifying to the US Congress on August 21, 2018 announced that “With the rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in America, we are on the wrong trajectory” and said that sustainability and taxes are not in the mandate of the DGFA, and that there is no scientific basis for deleting meat as a healthy food from the DGFA.
We had hoped that USDA Secretary Perdue and USDHHS Secretary Matthews would exercise strong due diligence and oversight of the Advisory Committee (AC) members and of the USDA and USDHHS employees assigned to work on the project. So far (as of April 14, 2019), they haven’t. In choosing AC members: “Nearly all of the 20 AC members have a long list of conflicts of interest with food, pharmaceutical, or supplement companies. And, it is problematic that a majority (11 of the 20) of members of the AC either work in, or have been trained in, the field of epidemiology (a decidedly weak science for identifying cause-and-effect relationships),” says Nina Teicholz.
It’s hard to tell what will actually transpire, but I was impressed that the Advisory Committee: (a) claimed that it intended to recommend dietary patterns that are not prescriptive and will–instead–provide for flexibility; (b) announced a change from use of a Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to a Nutritional Evidence Systematic Review (NESR), but the success of that endeavor will depend on how objectively and inclusively the NESR support staff (all from the “Deep State”) assembles the evidence; (c) announced inclusion of a new Peer Review process, headed by Agricultural Research Service officials, that could serve as a Verification/Validation step in the process; and (d) promised not to consider “outside-the-scope topics” (e.g., sustainability, antibiotics, hormones). Time will tell.