2010 Dietary Guidelines: Fat Made Us Fat

After enjoying myself while on vacation in Chicago, I decided to do penance by reading more of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.  (Our house, meanwhile, imposed its own penance by developing a plumbing problem that caused the toilets to back up into the downstairs bathtub.  I’m not sure which was more nauseating:  scooping sewage from the tub, or reading the Dietary Guidelines.)

The 86-page section I just finished is titled “Energy Balance,” but could’ve been titled “Let’s Put Our Heads Together and Save The Reputation of The Carbohydrate” or perhaps “Nobody Who Blames Carbohydrates Gets Out of Here Alive.”

In a nutshell, this is what the committee concluded:

  • We’re fat because we consume too many calories and don’t move around enough, period, end of story, so would everyone please shut up about macronutrient balances and just go on a low-calorie diet for Pete’s sake, and then maybe go jogging.
  • We consume too many calories because we eat too much fat … uh, and sugar too.
  • We eat too much fat (uh, and sugar too) because there are too many fast-food establishments and not enough grocery stores and produce markets.

For the two or three people living in civilized society who are unfamiliar with the theory that consuming more calories than you burn will make you fat, the committee generously took the phrase “consuming more calories than you burn will make you fat” and translated it into impressive-sounding Engfish:

Energy balance refers to the balance between calories consumed through eating and drinking and those calories expended through physical activity and metabolic processes. Energy consumed must equal energy expended for a person to remain at the same body weight. Overweight and obesity will result from excess calorie intake and/or inadequate physical activity. Weight loss will occur when a calorie deficit exists, which can be achieved by eating less, being more physically active, or a combination of the two.

So there you have it:  the key to losing weight is to base your diet on a theory that has less than a 2% success rate.  But hey, if you’re one of the 98% who tried to lose weight and failed, don’t feel bad.  It’s not your fault, really.  As the committee explains:

Examining shifts in the food environment over the past 40 years is helpful in understanding why Americans have difficulty meeting the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

As someone with working tastebuds, I always assumed most people had difficulty meeting the U.S. Dietary Guidelines because they don’t like bland, low-fat, low-salt, tasteless grain-based foods.  Turns out I just didn’t have the intellectual capacity to fully grasp the many complexities involved.  You can read about those complexities in the official report if you want to give yourself a serious headache, but just to give you an idea, I copied the helpful graphic provided in the report:

 

Wow … and to think some people still believe in the concept of free will.  Clearly, this amazingly complex set of environmental influences can only be solved by an equally complex set of government initiatives.  The committee offers just a hint of things to come.  (Those “things,” since this is a government committee, would be regulations.)

In order to reduce the obesity epidemic, actions must be taken to improve the food environment. Policy (local, state, and national) and private-sector efforts must be made to increase the availability of nutrient-dense foods for all Americans, especially for low-income Americans, through greater access to grocery stores, produce trucks, and farmers’ markets, and greater financial incentives to purchase and prepare healthy foods. The restaurant and food industries are encouraged to offer foods in appropriate portion sizes that are low in calories, added sugars, and solid fat. Local zoning policies should be considered to reduce fast food restaurant placement near schools.

Yup, we need those regulations and financial incentives because poor people don’t have enough access to grocery stores and have too much access to fast food.  Here’s how the committee figured it out:

The presence of supermarkets in local neighborhoods and other sources of vegetables and fruits are associated with lower body mass index, especially for low-income Americans, while lack of supermarkets and long distances to supermarkets are associated with higher body mass index. Finally, limited but consistent evidence suggests that increased geographic density of fast food restaurants and convenience stores is also related to increased body mass index.

An economist would say that a lack of supermarkets is associated with a lack of community support for supermarkets, while a high concentration of fast-food restaurants is associated with strong community support for fast food.  But apparently the committee has figured out that supermarkets are avoiding low-income areas because they just don’t want the extra business.  So now we need to bribe them … or the people in the community … or … well, dangit, I don’t know, but SOMEBODY needs to be bribed, or that graphic explaining all the complexities will look exactly the same when the 2015 committee meets.

My graphic of the problem would look something like this:


The committee, empanelled by a government that spends billions of dollars subsidizing grains (and millions more subsidizing research conducted by anti-fat hysterics), heartily disagrees.  Okay, it’s impossible to express anything “heartily” in Engfish, but you get the idea.  They assure us that fat is a major culprit behind the rise in obesity.

To make the document impressively large, they included long sections discussing food production figures, adolescent screen time, who eats breakfast and who doesn’t, maternal weight during pregnancy, calorie counts of various beverages, caloric expenditure for various forms of exercise, methodologies for gathering data on all the above, etc.  I’ll skip those because they’re more boring than C-SPAN and don’t contain anything useful. 

The real story for me was how they managed to blame fat for making us fatter while exonerating carbohydrates.  To accomplish this, all they had to do was cherry-pick, ignore, or explain away the actual evidence.  Here’s a sample from the section on childhood obesity:

The relationship of dietary fat to adiposity in children has been studied more extensively than for other macronutrients, primarily because of its high energy density and palatability, both qualities likely to promote passive overconsumption of energy if not regulated (Parsons, 1999). In addition, studies suggest that fat intake induces less potent satiety signals and less compensation with respect to subsequent energy intake, compared with dietary protein or carbohydrate (Doucet, 1997; Bray, 2004), and that fat oxidation is not as highly regulated as carbohydrate utilization.

Okay, I have to interrupt the committee at this point.  Are they actually telling us that fat doesn’t provide satiety, but carbohydrates do?!  Does anyone makes jokes about how an hour after eating at a steak house, you’re hungry again?  Sometimes when I have sausage and eggs for breakfast, I forget to eat lunch.  That never, ever happened when I ate Grape-Nuts.  Even some of the most strident anti-Atkins hysterics admit people lose weight, but then explain that it’s only because all that fat is satisfying, so people eat less.  They call it a “low-calorie diet in disguise” — usually just before warning that you’ll die of a heart attack.

But back to the committee:

In metabolic studies of children, meal induced thermogenesis increased more after a high-carbohydrate meal than after a high-fat meal; and although fat oxidation increased after the high fat meal, postprandial fat storage was greater after the high fat meal compared with the high carbohydrate meal (Maffeis, 2001).

Ah, I see.  So it’s the fat that’s making our youngsters fat, while carbohydrates keep them lean.  I guess if somebody created a list of what kids actually eat, fatty foods would be at the top. 

Oh, wait … somebody did create that list.  In fact, the committee created the list.  Here, as published in their own report, are the top 10 sources of calories for males between the ages of two and 18:

1. Pizza
2. Grain-based desserts
3. Soda/energy/sports drinks
4. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
5. Yeast breads
6. Reduced fat milk
7. Dairy desserts
8. Pasta and pasta dishes
9. Ready-to-eat cereals
10. Burgers

Here’s the same list for females between two and 18:

1. Grain-based desserts
2. Yeast breads
3. Pasta and pasta dishes
4. Pizza
5. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
6. Soda/energy/sports drinks
7. Reduced fat milk
8. Potato/corn/other chips
9. Dairy desserts
10. Mexican mixed dishes.

Call me crazy, but that looks like a list dominated by carbohydrate-rich foods.  I wonder why the heck all that highly regulated carbohydrate utilization isn’t producing satiety and massive thermogenesis in our kids and keeping them thin.  By the way, whole milk, beef and cheese are pretty far down on the list for both genders.  Pork products were at 17 for both genders, and eggs didn’t make the top 25 in either group.

In another major section on Fat and Cholesterol (which I’ll get to in another post), the committee lists our average fat intake over the decades.  Check out these figures:

1977:
Total fat grams per day – 84.6
Fat percent of total calories – 40

1996:
Total fat grams per day – 71.4
Fat percent of total calories – 32.8

2006:
Total fat grams per day – 81.9
Fat percent of total calories – 33.6

Anyone care to read those figures and then explain to me how it’s too much fat that sparked a rise in obesity?  Were we fatter in 1977, when we ate more of the stuff?  Amazing … these people can see the evidence right in front of their academic faces, then draw conclusions that have nothing to do with it. 

Here’s an another example of explaining away results they don’t like:

One longitudinal study found no association between dietary energy density and adiposity among children who were followed annually from age 2 to 18 years (Alexy, 2005). Participants in this cohort were classified by dietary pattern into clusters based on percent energy from fat, with dietary energy density lowest at 3.7 (0.4) in the low fat cluster; 4.0 (0.4) in the medium fat intake; and highest at 4.1 (0.4) in the high fat cluster. Mean BMI during the study period differed significantly, with the highest BMI in the low fat, low dietary energy density cluster, a result the investigators suggest may have reflected under-reporting of energy intake among overweight participants, difficulty in detecting minor over-consumption of energy, and lack of power due to small sample size.

Get that?  In this study, kids who ate the diet lowest in fat had the highest BMI … but by gosh, we can dismiss this one because the investigators suggested the fat kids (and only the fat kids) didn’t report their intake accurately.  How convenient.  I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that if the low-fat group had the lowest BMI, the investigators wouldn’t have felt any need to pooh-pooh their own results.

The examples of explaining away or completely ignoring the evidence get even worse.  If you can stay awake long enough, read this paragraph carefully:

Three of the four RCTs found no association between percent energy from dietary fat and adiposity. The STRIP clinical trial, which tested the effects of a fat-modified diet from 7 months of age (Hakanen, 2006), reported less obesity among intervention girls compared with control girls at age 10 years, but no differences for boys; while at age 14 years, Niinikoski et al. (2007) found no difference in obesity between treatment groups, for either males or females. Caballero et al. (2003) reported no change in percent body fat in a 3-year school-based nutrition and physical activity intervention among 1,704 Native American children, who were age 7 years at baseline. Results showed that percent body fat and BMI did not differ by treatment group at study end. However, children in the intervention group reported lower total energy intake (1,892 vs. 2,157 kcal/d) and percent energy from total fat (31.1% vs. 33.6%) compared with the control group, and percent energy from fat was lower in the intervention school lunches compared to the control schools (28.2% vs. 32.0%).

So in several trials, kids who were put on a low-fat diet didn’t end up any leaner than the kids in the control groups.  And in the last study cited, the kids on a low-fat diet consumed less fat and fewer calories but STILL didn’t end up any leaner.  Now, if you have a functioning brain, you’d probably look at that as evidence that low-fat diets aren’t the key to making kids leaner.  But unfortunately, having a functioning brain would also disqualify you from serving on a government nutrition committee — as evidenced by their conclusion:

In summary, the combination of evidence from methodologically strong studies in the NEL and ADA reviews supports a conclusion that dietary fat and adiposity in children are positively associated.

Yes, you read that correctly.  No, it doesn’t make any sense.  I’m starting to wonder if they made the document long and boring in hopes that no one would bother to analyze it.

Since this committee was no doubt given the task of justifying the Food Pyramid, they did their best to dissuade people from attempting to lose weight by giving up grains and other subsidized carbohydrates:

There is strong and consistent evidence that when calorie intake is controlled, macronutrient proportion of the diet is not related to losing weight. A moderate body of evidence provides no data to suggest that any one macronutrient is more effective than any other for avoiding weight regain in weight reduced persons. A moderate body of evidence demonstrates that diets with less than 45 percent of calories as carbohydrates are not more successful for long-term weight loss (12 months). There is also some evidence that they may be less safe.

Hmmm, I wonder which evidence convinced them low-carbohydrate diets may be less safe?  It certainly wasn’t the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that concluded women who ate a high-fat diet showed less progression of heart disease than women who ate a high-carb diet.  Or the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that concluded that women who followed the Atkins diet lost the most weight and had the best metabolic markers.  Or the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found zero association between saturated fat and heart disease or stroke.  Or about a dozen more I could name.

Well, let’s just set aside the safety issue and look at their evidence on weight loss:

Twenty studies found no difference in weight loss between diets differing in macronutrient proportion. (Arvidsson, 2004; Avenell, 2004; Benassi-Evans, 2009; Capel, 2008; de Luis, 2009; Frisch, 2009; Gordon, 2008; Jenkins, 2009; Johnston, 2006; Leidy, 2007; Lim, 2009; Lopez-Fontana, 2009; McLaughlin, 2006; Miller, 2009; Noakes, 2006; Sacks, 2009; Tay, 2008; Viguerie, 2005; Wal, 2007; White, 2007).

Thirteen studies found that lower carbohydrate diets reduced weight significantly more than low-fat or higher-carbohydrate diets (Buscemi, 2009; Halyburton, 2007; Hession, 2009; Johnstone, 2008; Keogh, 2008; Krieger, 2006; Mahon, 2007; McAuley, 2005; Nickols-Richardson, 2005; Nordmann, 2006; Rankin, 2007; Shai, 2008; Volek, 2009).

Isn’t that interesting?  First they tell us it’s fat making us fat.  Then they tell us 20 studies showed the macronutrient content makes no difference in weight loss.  And finally they tell us 13 studies showed people lost more weight on low-carbohydrate diets. Notice they didn’t cite any studies showing that low-fat diets — the type they recommend — produce more weight loss.

Interestingly, in a document full of research citations, I didn’t find a single reference to the Stanford study conducted by Dr. Chris Gardner — a vegetarian who admitted he was a bit dismayed when his own results showed that people on the Atkins diet lost the most weight and had the biggest improvements in health markers.  Somehow, a committee that brags about its efforts to review all the relevant evidence managed to skip that one.

If 20 studies showed no difference, while 13 other studies showed greater weight loss for people restricting carbohydrates, then the obvious conclusion is that low-carb diets are more effective for quite a few people.  (Heck, let’s make it 14.  I’ll throw in the Stanford study, even if they didn’t.)  But you can read the report forwards, backwards, and sideways, and you’ll never find that possibility even mentioned.

And if you were to dig into the 20 studies that showed no difference, I promise you’d find many of them used a loosey-goosey definition of “low carbohydrate.”  The committee, for example, defines it as less than 45% of calories.  That’s a common trick employed by researchers who set out to prove low-carb diets don’t work. (See this post for an example.) 

Anyone who reads the Atkins books, the Protein Power books, or any other book on low-carb diets knows you’re supposed to kick-start the fat-burning process by reducing your carbohydrate intake to 20-40 grams per day for a couple of weeks, then gradually raise it to perhaps 60-100 grams per day, depending on your reaction to carbohydrates.  At 1800 calories per day, a diet that’s 40% carbohydrates would work out to 180 grams.  Even 30% percent carbohydrates would work out to 135 grams. 

Most of the people I know who lost weight by restricting carbohydrates limited their carb intake to somewhere between 5% and 20% of total calories.  So the “low carb” diet in many of these studies wasn’t even close to what Dr. Atkins or Drs. Eades and Eades advised … it’s just lower in carbs than what the federal government recommends.

Just to make sure we didn’t miss the point, the committee tossed in this paragraph near the end:

The macronutrient distribution of a person’s diet is not the driving force behind the obesity, rather it is the overly large amount of total calories eaten coupled with very low physical activity. There is no optimal proportion of dietary fat, carbohydrate, and protein to maintain a healthy body weight, to lose weight, or to avoid weight regain after weight loss. It is the total amount of calories eaten that is essential. While weight can be reduced with diets where the macronutrient proportions vary widely, the crucial issue is not the macronutrient proportion but rather the compliance with a reduced-calorie intake.

We’re just plain eating too much, you see.  As Gary Taubes noted in Good Calories, Bad Calories, saying fat people are fat because they eat too much is about as illuminating as saying alcoholics are alcoholics because they drink too much.  It doesn’t begin to explain why.  It doesn’t even ask the question.

We eat too much because we’re too hungry.  And we’re too hungry because the federal government decided to tell us how to eat and helped turn us into a nation of carbohydrate addicts.  Isn’t it comforting to know they’re coming to save the day?


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94 thoughts on “2010 Dietary Guidelines: Fat Made Us Fat

  1. hans keer

    Thank you for spitting through those dietary guidelines. Your summary is strong, funny and sad making at the same time. I wonder how these hypocritical committee members do feel. They deceive and get paid for it. I think we should, worldwide, bring this under the attention of governments and politicians. The shore needs to turn the ship. I wrote this small post on the subject: http://bit.ly/9Ld7jC VBR Hans

    The sad part is, they may even believe their own nonsense. Once researchers fall in love with a theory, they have an amazing ability to rationalize away contrary evidence.

    Reply
  2. Jo

    Great post

    Let’s hope that this document will one day be used as evidence of the incompetence of these people. Our Government is going to ask private companies to pay for providing dietary advice! I guess they think it can’t be that difficult to tell people to eat less and move more. Simple really (sarcasm). I am hopeful another alcoholism analogy applies here: You have to hit bottom before you can quit. Let’s hope the low fat bottom is not far off. Certainly seems like it.

    Millions of Americans are leaving the bar, even as the government offers subsidized cocktails. I don’t know if they’ll ever change their policies, but we’re free to ignore them … for now.

    Reply
  3. Scott Moore

    What an amazing job of analyzing the data and presenting coherent results! No, I’m not talking about the committee, I’m talking about you! I can’t believe that you have read as much of that garbage as you have and that your head hasn’t exploded. I bet you were grumpy as could be while reading that. I would have been calling my wife over the whole time: “Hey, honey, listen to this garbage…. Can you believe what they wrote this time?… Does any of them even have a brain?” I would have gotten a ton of “yes, dears”, for sure.

    Anyway, thanks for doing such a nice job on this report. It’s a pleasure reading your blog.

    The worst part is when I start to daydream and have to go back and read a section again. That’s how boring it is.

    Reply
  4. hans keer

    Thank you for spitting through those dietary guidelines. Your summary is strong, funny and sad making at the same time. I wonder how these hypocritical committee members do feel. They deceive and get paid for it. I think we should, worldwide, bring this under the attention of governments and politicians. The shore needs to turn the ship. I wrote this small post on the subject: http://bit.ly/9Ld7jC VBR Hans

    The sad part is, they may even believe their own nonsense. Once researchers fall in love with a theory, they have an amazing ability to rationalize away contrary evidence.

    Reply
  5. Jo

    Great post

    Let’s hope that this document will one day be used as evidence of the incompetence of these people. Our Government is going to ask private companies to pay for providing dietary advice! I guess they think it can’t be that difficult to tell people to eat less and move more. Simple really (sarcasm). I am hopeful another alcoholism analogy applies here: You have to hit bottom before you can quit. Let’s hope the low fat bottom is not far off. Certainly seems like it.

    Millions of Americans are leaving the bar, even as the government offers subsidized cocktails. I don’t know if they’ll ever change their policies, but we’re free to ignore them … for now.

    Reply
  6. Bruce

    I love the Engfish. I reminds me of ME in the 7th grade writing a 3 page book report.

    Where do kids get the money to buy from the fast food restaurants by their schools? I can understand high school, but by then the horse has left the barn. Do grade school kids walk around with a couple of bucks on them now?

    Now that you mention it, I’ve never seen grade-school kids buying lunch at McDonald’s without a parent. Maybe it happens, but it has to be rare — and yes, someone would have to give them the money first.

    Reply
  7. Sean

    Thanks for taking the hit for all of us and actually reading and dissecting this homicidal pile of crap. My hypothesis is that future generations will view this diet madness in the same incredulous way we now look at curing disease with bloodletting, burning witches and wearing giant hats with feathers in them.

    I think that’s exactly right. We tend to see ourselves as sophisticated and thus immune from quackery, but sadly that’s not the case. The low-fat diet will (I hope) be a laughing matter 50 years from now.

    Reply
  8. Scott Moore

    What an amazing job of analyzing the data and presenting coherent results! No, I’m not talking about the committee, I’m talking about you! I can’t believe that you have read as much of that garbage as you have and that your head hasn’t exploded. I bet you were grumpy as could be while reading that. I would have been calling my wife over the whole time: “Hey, honey, listen to this garbage…. Can you believe what they wrote this time?… Does any of them even have a brain?” I would have gotten a ton of “yes, dears”, for sure.

    Anyway, thanks for doing such a nice job on this report. It’s a pleasure reading your blog.

    The worst part is when I start to daydream and have to go back and read a section again. That’s how boring it is.

    Reply
  9. Amy Dungan

    I still say they were all drunk when they wrote the guidelines. 🙂 Who can look at the science and end up with these conclusions with having some kind of impaired thinking?

    Next time, somebody should get them drunk to the point that they say, “@#$% the federal grants — let’s just tell the truth!”

    Reply
  10. Jenny

    Thanks for doing the hard reading so we don’t have to! And we all know fat is addicting – if I eat one stick of butter, I have to eat two.

    That’s why you see kids sneaking butter into schools.

    Reply
  11. labrat

    Thank you Tom – I am so enjoying this series of posts. Reminds me of the time I tried to slog through the NCEP guidelines about 5 years ago. I think I learned my lesson then. I think they make navigating these reports so impossible so that no one has the patience to try to unravel the absurdity of their nonsense. They fill it with so much gobble-de-goop hogwash. My favorite from that NCEP report was when I found them claiming that the lower is better LDL recommendation is safe because infants have LDL’s as low as 40 – I kid you not.

    It’s the governmnet of version of “If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your @#$$%##.”

    Reply
  12. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Impressive research, Tom.

    Have trends in technology over the last 25 years continued to reduce the energy expenditure needed to get through our days? Alternatively, are we exercising less? Either explanation would tend lead to weight gain if caloric intake remained the same.

    Researchers recently studied populations in Europe and North America, examining trends in physical activity energy expenditure over time, since the 1980s. Energy expenditure was evaluated with a highly accurate method called “doubly labelled water.” They found that physical activity energy expenditure actually increased over time, although not by much. The investigators conclude that the ballooning waistlines in the study populations are likely to reflect excessive intake of calories.

    I doubt they considered the possibility that a high-carb/high-insulin milieu contributed to weight gain.

    [Ooh! I got to use “milieu”! Hadn’t used that since college days.]

    -Steve

    Reference: Westerterp, K.R., and Speakman, J.R. Physical activity energy expenditure has not declined since the 1980s and matches energy expenditures of wild mammals. International Journal of Obesity, 32 (2008): 1256-1263. Published online May 27, 2008. doi: 10.1038/ijo2008.74

    According to the committee’s figures — which I’ve seen elsewhere — we consume 400-600 more daily calories on average. They of course blame that on the complex environmental influences. I blame it on carbohydrate addiction.

    Reply
  13. Bruce

    I love the Engfish. I reminds me of ME in the 7th grade writing a 3 page book report.

    Where do kids get the money to buy from the fast food restaurants by their schools? I can understand high school, but by then the horse has left the barn. Do grade school kids walk around with a couple of bucks on them now?

    Now that you mention it, I’ve never seen grade-school kids buying lunch at McDonald’s without a parent. Maybe it happens, but it has to be rare — and yes, someone would have to give them the money first.

    Reply
  14. Sean

    Thanks for taking the hit for all of us and actually reading and dissecting this homicidal pile of crap. My hypothesis is that future generations will view this diet madness in the same incredulous way we now look at curing disease with bloodletting, burning witches and wearing giant hats with feathers in them.

    I think that’s exactly right. We tend to see ourselves as sophisticated and thus immune from quackery, but sadly that’s not the case. The low-fat diet will (I hope) be a laughing matter 50 years from now.

    Reply
  15. Katie

    Now we’re apparently trying to export our idiocy. Have you seen this: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/09/south.africa.diet.heart/index.html?hpt=Sbin

    I love how they blame the “high fat” organ meats, but yet admit that people are eating lots of fried foods (breaded), drinking sugar-laden sodas, and eating everything with bread.

    If you eat nearly 100% carbs, but you’re starving, you’re not going to be fat. Keep eating lots of carbs and add lots of fat + meat, and you pretty much get the SAD. No wonder they’re getting fat…

    Like I’ve said before, it reminds me of the joke about the Irishman who eats a potato and drinks several pints of Guinness … when he wakes up the next day with a hangover, he says, “Just my luck! I got a rotten potato!”

    Reply
  16. Amy Dungan

    I still say they were all drunk when they wrote the guidelines. 🙂 Who can look at the science and end up with these conclusions with having some kind of impaired thinking?

    Next time, somebody should get them drunk to the point that they say, “@#$% the federal grants — let’s just tell the truth!”

    Reply
  17. Jenny

    Thanks for doing the hard reading so we don’t have to! And we all know fat is addicting – if I eat one stick of butter, I have to eat two.

    That’s why you see kids sneaking butter into schools.

    Reply
  18. labrat

    Thank you Tom – I am so enjoying this series of posts. Reminds me of the time I tried to slog through the NCEP guidelines about 5 years ago. I think I learned my lesson then. I think they make navigating these reports so impossible so that no one has the patience to try to unravel the absurdity of their nonsense. They fill it with so much gobble-de-goop hogwash. My favorite from that NCEP report was when I found them claiming that the lower is better LDL recommendation is safe because infants have LDL’s as low as 40 – I kid you not.

    It’s the governmnet of version of “If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your @#$$%##.”

    Reply
  19. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Impressive research, Tom.

    Have trends in technology over the last 25 years continued to reduce the energy expenditure needed to get through our days? Alternatively, are we exercising less? Either explanation would tend lead to weight gain if caloric intake remained the same.

    Researchers recently studied populations in Europe and North America, examining trends in physical activity energy expenditure over time, since the 1980s. Energy expenditure was evaluated with a highly accurate method called “doubly labelled water.” They found that physical activity energy expenditure actually increased over time, although not by much. The investigators conclude that the ballooning waistlines in the study populations are likely to reflect excessive intake of calories.

    I doubt they considered the possibility that a high-carb/high-insulin milieu contributed to weight gain.

    [Ooh! I got to use “milieu”! Hadn’t used that since college days.]

    -Steve

    Reference: Westerterp, K.R., and Speakman, J.R. Physical activity energy expenditure has not declined since the 1980s and matches energy expenditures of wild mammals. International Journal of Obesity, 32 (2008): 1256-1263. Published online May 27, 2008. doi: 10.1038/ijo2008.74

    According to the committee’s figures — which I’ve seen elsewhere — we consume 400-600 more daily calories on average. They of course blame that on the complex environmental influences. I blame it on carbohydrate addiction.

    Reply
  20. Shelley

    Hi Tom, I thought you might like to take a look at this clip from NZ’s version of 60 Minutes.
    http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz/Randells-Revolution/tabid/59/articleID/599/MCat/22/Default.aspx
    It is about turning around the health and lives of people in one of our most impoverished towns, involving a number of things including encouraging a low-carb diet (not that it is ever referred to as that!). The nutritionist makes things more difficult than they need to be by talking about genetically specific diets, but at the end of the day by increasing fat and decreasing carbs, incredible results are being achieved. And even the spokesman from the NZ Diabetes Association is impressed, so in a tiny part of the world at least, the message is getting through.

    I couldn’t get the clip to play in either browser — regional licensing, perhaps — but that’s good news. Little bits of sanity are sprouting all over.

    Reply
  21. Katie

    Now we’re apparently trying to export our idiocy. Have you seen this: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/09/south.africa.diet.heart/index.html?hpt=Sbin

    I love how they blame the “high fat” organ meats, but yet admit that people are eating lots of fried foods (breaded), drinking sugar-laden sodas, and eating everything with bread.

    If you eat nearly 100% carbs, but you’re starving, you’re not going to be fat. Keep eating lots of carbs and add lots of fat + meat, and you pretty much get the SAD. No wonder they’re getting fat…

    Like I’ve said before, it reminds me of the joke about the Irishman who eats a potato and drinks several pints of Guinness … when he wakes up the next day with a hangover, he says, “Just my luck! I got a rotten potato!”

    Reply
  22. Lynda

    As usual Tom, I love your work!! I was just going to leave a message about our TV3 doco 60 Minutes but I see the above poster has beaten me to it! Great post as usual from you.

    Thank you, Lynda.

    Reply
  23. Shelley

    Hi Tom, I thought you might like to take a look at this clip from NZ’s version of 60 Minutes.
    http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz/Randells-Revolution/tabid/59/articleID/599/MCat/22/Default.aspx
    It is about turning around the health and lives of people in one of our most impoverished towns, involving a number of things including encouraging a low-carb diet (not that it is ever referred to as that!). The nutritionist makes things more difficult than they need to be by talking about genetically specific diets, but at the end of the day by increasing fat and decreasing carbs, incredible results are being achieved. And even the spokesman from the NZ Diabetes Association is impressed, so in a tiny part of the world at least, the message is getting through.

    I couldn’t get the clip to play in either browser — regional licensing, perhaps — but that’s good news. Little bits of sanity are sprouting all over.

    Reply
  24. Lynda

    As usual Tom, I love your work!! I was just going to leave a message about our TV3 doco 60 Minutes but I see the above poster has beaten me to it! Great post as usual from you.

    Thank you, Lynda.

    Reply
  25. Lynda

    Hi again Tom – here is a story about the 60 minutes documentary which explains what it was all about. I also can’t get the video to who and I’m in NZ so not sure what the problem in there. Anyway, interesting to see stories like this making their way to mainstream viewing.

    http://paleozonenutrition.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/taine-randell-maori-eating-like-their-ancestors-losing-weight-improving-health-60-minutes/

    Excellent. Sounds very much like “My Big Fat Diet,” in which Native tribes in Canada returned to their ancestral diets (full of meat, fat, etc.) and experienced great improvements in health. Very good documentary if you can get ahold of a copy.

    Reply
  26. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    Excellent analysis of a perfect example of more government waste of taxpayer money giving us more bad health advice!

    Thank you, Dr. Tamesis. And just think … after they tax us to pay for all those nutrition programs, they can tax us again to pay for the health problems that result.

    Reply
  27. Todd

    I saw “My Big, Fat Diet” and thought it was a really good production. One thing that always bothers me is the disclaimers on the website:

    Anyone taking medication for diabetes or high blood pressure should consult their doctor before starting a low-carb diet.

    That’s probably the last person you should be consulting.

    I agree, but it’s to protect themselves legally. We had a similar disclaimer at the end of Fat Head … although I made a bit of a joke of it.

    Reply
  28. Josiah

    Its a shame scientific evidence and innumerable real world examples aren’t enough to get the government stooges to change their tune. I cant believe they want to tax food and drink that they subsidize for use as a deterrent which has been proven not to work.

    I didn’t have the chops to wade through the guidelines, I am glad you did. Thanks a million.

    This way, they get to tax us twice. That’s music to the ears of people in government.

    Reply
  29. mezzo

    “Let’s hope the low fat bottom is not far off.”

    In fact, and without wishing to brag – ever since I went low carb, my bottom has gone nearer and nearer to being low-fat….

    Reply
  30. shaf

    Have you seen this yet, Tom?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7877541/Over-eating-not-lack-of-exercise-to-blame-for-childhood-obesity-research.html

    Now they just have to figure out WHY they overeat! LOL
    Still, it’s nice to see that one piece of the puzzle has been put in place.

    I’m glad to see someone concluding that inactivity is the result of fat accumulation and not the other way around. Who wants to run around when your body is storing your energy supply as fat? And when I became a fat kid, I played outdoors less because it was embarrassing to be fat and slow.

    Reply
  31. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    Excellent analysis of a perfect example of more government waste of taxpayer money giving us more bad health advice!

    Thank you, Dr. Tamesis. And just think … after they tax us to pay for all those nutrition programs, they can tax us again to pay for the health problems that result.

    Reply
  32. Todd

    I saw “My Big, Fat Diet” and thought it was a really good production. One thing that always bothers me is the disclaimers on the website:

    Anyone taking medication for diabetes or high blood pressure should consult their doctor before starting a low-carb diet.

    That’s probably the last person you should be consulting.

    I agree, but it’s to protect themselves legally. We had a similar disclaimer at the end of Fat Head … although I made a bit of a joke of it.

    Reply
  33. Sue

    Tom, I can’t take it anymore – it just depresses me to read how stupid these so called experts are!!

    That’s why you have to laugh at them to keep your spirits up.

    Reply
  34. Josiah

    Its a shame scientific evidence and innumerable real world examples aren’t enough to get the government stooges to change their tune. I cant believe they want to tax food and drink that they subsidize for use as a deterrent which has been proven not to work.

    I didn’t have the chops to wade through the guidelines, I am glad you did. Thanks a million.

    This way, they get to tax us twice. That’s music to the ears of people in government.

    Reply
  35. mezzo

    “Let’s hope the low fat bottom is not far off.”

    In fact, and without wishing to brag – ever since I went low carb, my bottom has gone nearer and nearer to being low-fat….

    Reply
  36. shaf

    Have you seen this yet, Tom?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7877541/Over-eating-not-lack-of-exercise-to-blame-for-childhood-obesity-research.html

    Now they just have to figure out WHY they overeat! LOL
    Still, it’s nice to see that one piece of the puzzle has been put in place.

    I’m glad to see someone concluding that inactivity is the result of fat accumulation and not the other way around. Who wants to run around when your body is storing your energy supply as fat? And when I became a fat kid, I played outdoors less because it was embarrassing to be fat and slow.

    Reply
  37. Jimmy Moore

    Tom, you don’t even know the half of it. I sat in that meeting at the USDA on Thursday and the Director of Nutrition and BLAH BLAH BLAH was boasting about how the process of coming up with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines was highly vetted by distinguished scientific professionals in the field of health and nutrition and that nobody could possibly disagree with the conclusions of such a highly intelligent group of experts. Well, that’s exactly what happened with about 20% of us (myself included) who challenged them to take a closer look at the results of their recommendations and act accordingly. I’m not holding my breath that they are going to change anything this time around, but perhaps hearing so much feedback will at least give them pause. I’ll be blogging my experience when I return home from DC, but this has been quite the trip to say the least.

    Looking forward to that blog post, Jimmy. It would be nice if vigorous dissent made them think twice, but I remember talking to Dr. Kilmer McCulley about the how the National Cholesterol Education Campaign’s recommendations were created … there was vigorous dissent by him and many others, but the NCEP ignored them and then wrote a document claiming all the qualified scientists agreed. It was manufactured consensus.

    Reply
  38. Sue

    Tom, I can’t take it anymore – it just depresses me to read how stupid these so called experts are!!

    That’s why you have to laugh at them to keep your spirits up.

    Reply
  39. Ailu

    Thanks Tom soo much for this report, it took a lot of effort to bring it to us. What lunacy! But it sure makes great material for you! LOL

    Btw, been crazy busy taking care of my elderly Momma and haven’t had time to post as I like. But rest assured I never pass up reading my favorite blog. 🙂

    I appreciate that, and best wishes dealing with your mom.

    Reply
  40. Lori

    Tom, you are really doing a public service reading, interpreting and distilling these government publications. I proofread financial statements and business valuations, so I have an idea.

    Nevertheless, I think the demise of big, feathered hats is regrettable.

    I could go for big, feathered hats. As a balding man, I’d be happy just to return the styles of the 1940s, when nearly all men wore hats.

    Reply
  41. Jimmy Moore

    Tom, you don’t even know the half of it. I sat in that meeting at the USDA on Thursday and the Director of Nutrition and BLAH BLAH BLAH was boasting about how the process of coming up with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines was highly vetted by distinguished scientific professionals in the field of health and nutrition and that nobody could possibly disagree with the conclusions of such a highly intelligent group of experts. Well, that’s exactly what happened with about 20% of us (myself included) who challenged them to take a closer look at the results of their recommendations and act accordingly. I’m not holding my breath that they are going to change anything this time around, but perhaps hearing so much feedback will at least give them pause. I’ll be blogging my experience when I return home from DC, but this has been quite the trip to say the least.

    Looking forward to that blog post, Jimmy. It would be nice if vigorous dissent made them think twice, but I remember talking to Dr. Kilmer McCulley about the how the National Cholesterol Education Campaign’s recommendations were created … there was vigorous dissent by him and many others, but the NCEP ignored them and then wrote a document claiming all the qualified scientists agreed. It was manufactured consensus.

    Reply
  42. Ailu

    Thanks Tom soo much for this report, it took a lot of effort to bring it to us. What lunacy! But it sure makes great material for you! LOL

    Btw, been crazy busy taking care of my elderly Momma and haven’t had time to post as I like. But rest assured I never pass up reading my favorite blog. 🙂

    I appreciate that, and best wishes dealing with your mom.

    Reply

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