Scientists, nutritionists critical of Dietary Guidelines
July 13, 2010
WASHINGTON – The U.S.D.A.’s Dietary Guidelines are a leading cause of the American health and obesity crisis, according to scientists, nutritionists and consumers who testified July 8 at a U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) public hearing on the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (D.G.A.C.). This group argued that the proposed 2010 revisions to the Dietary Guidelines are worse than the current guidelines, and will not prevent obesity and will only increase degenerative disease in the U.S.
Those testifying against the Guidelines were focused on the committee’s alleged misuse of scientific data to justify a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. Dr. Jeff Volek, scientist and academic researcher at the University of Connecticut, noted that the D.G.A.C. report ignored scientific studies showing the effectiveness of low carbohydrate diets for weight loss.
“Americans deserve to have official support for the low-carb dietary option,” he said.
"I have followed the work of the D.G.A.C. all the way through this process as an academic project,” added Adele Hite, a graduate student in nutrition and public health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “I have dug into their nutrition evidence library. Time after time, the scientific evidence the D.G.A.C. cited to oppose low-carb diets actually says the exact opposite of the committee’s conclusions." Ms. Hite testified to losing 60 lbs. on a low-carbohydrate diet.
Morton Satin of the Salt Institute blasted the committee’s recommendation to reduce sodium consumption to 1,500 mg per day. "The committee is suggesting that Americans consume less than 4 grams of salt per day,” he said. “No modern society consumes so little salt, making this proposal nothing less than a call for an uncontrolled experiment on more than 300 million Americans.”
Mr. Satin provided references showing the critical role of salt in digestion, blood pressure regulation and brain development.
Four dissenters presented the views of the Nutrition and Metabolism Society, a group of nutrition researchers and medical professionals who have studied the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, insulin regulation and protection against chronic disease.
“We expected the new guidelines to recognize current research that vindicates saturated fats as a cause of heart disease and weight gain, and to acknowledge the demonstrated benefits of lower carbohydrate diets,” said Dr. Richard Feinman of Downstate University, New York.
In response to the D.G.A.C. report, the Nutrition and Metabolism Society recently launched the Committee for a Healthy Nation (C.H.N.), which is a working coalition of professionals who oppose the low-fat, plant-based thrust of the D.G.A.C. report. “We feel strongly that the scientific evidence omitted from or misrepresented by their report must be considered in the final outcome," Mr. Feinman said.
"Five years ago, I was the lone voice testifying against the guidelines,” said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and member of the C.H.N. “This year, I was happy to be joined by members of the medical and research community in opposition to U.S.D.A.’s unscientific prescription." Ms. Fallon Morell’s testimony focused on nutrient deficiencies common in those following low-fat diets.
Dr. Feinman challenged the D.G.A.C. panel to an open public debate on the scientific evidence underpinning the Guidelines. "Our nation's citizens need a range of dietary options to choose from, not a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “We must allow for lifestyle, activity levels and metabolism as factors in choosing an optimal diet for each individual.”