I started reading the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines this week. For those of you who hoped the federal government would finally wise up and dump the high-carb/low-fat nonsense … come on, you didn’t really expect that, did you?
Did you honestly believe the government would put together a panel of so-called experts who would announce that the government has been wrong for the past 40 years? That the food pyramid was a disaster? That billions of taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the same foods that are making us fat and diabetic?
Of course not. The new guidelines are, if anything, a perfect example of something I’ve said in previous posts (which I believe I may have borrowed from Milton Friedman): when a government program produces disastrous results, those results are offered as proof that we need to do the same thing again … only bigger!
That’s mostly what the new guidelines are: the same old $#@%, only bigger. Bigger reductions in saturated fat, bigger reductions in salt, bigger reductions in cholesterol, and of course (this is a government committee, after all) lots of “calls to action” … otherwise known as BIG federal programs to convince us poor fools in the public to finally start heeding their advice.
Yup, these folks know who’s spreading the polyunsaturated margarine on their whole-wheat bread. Nothing pleases the high-ups in government quite like being told that the only way we’ll stop runaway diabetes and obesity is to expand the role of government. It would never occur to these doofuses to wonder how our grandparents and great-grandparents managed to stay lean and (mostly) free of diabetes without a bunch of federal programs guiding their dietary choices. I’m not sure how I would track this, but I’d be curious to see how many of the committee members, after telling the government exactly what it wanted to hear, end up with juicy government grants for their future research.
There are hundreds of pages (this is a government committee, after all), and I probably won’t read them all for fear of putting a fist through my monitor. But so far, I’ve read the summary and several key sections … including the “methodology” section that explained how rigorously they collected, examined, and considered all the relevant science before writing their recommendations.
That’s hogwash. They cherry-picked the research. I’ve already seen a dozen or sentences that begin with “Studies show a moderate association between …” and end with a recommendation based on those moderate associations. If you read this blog regularly, you know what I think of association studies.
These people had their minds made up before they began. I knew that would happen when the committee was populated with nothing but the same old anti-fat, anti-salt hysterics, even though some top-notch researchers who’ve studied the benefits of carbohydrate restriction were nominated.
In a nutshell, here are the key conclusions:
- We’re getting fatter because we eat too much and don’t exercise enough, so we need to eat less and exercise more.
- Heart disease and Type II diabetes are caused by saturated fat, so the recommended intake of saturated fat should be reduced from 10% of total calories to 7%.
- Cholesterol also causes heart disease, so the daily limit should be lowered from 300 mg to 200 mg for people at risk for heart disease or diabetes.
- Salt also causes heart disease by raising blood pressure, so we need to severely restrict our salt intake.
- Carbohydrates are fabulous as long as they come from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and they’re essential for energy, so they should make up 45-65% of our diets.
- We consume too much sugar and need to cut way back. (Hey, they got one right!)
See anything new there? Any shift in thinking? Any recognition that our obesity and diabetes rates began going up around the same time we were told to go on lowfat diets? Any indication that the committee, in their efforts to examine all the relevant science, read anything by Gary Taubes or Richard Feinman? Any indication that they even examined the diets of Americans 100 years ago, when diabetes and heart disease were rare?
There’s far more nonsense in the official report than I can or should try to tackle in a single post, so I’ll keep reading and start writing posts on the topic next week.