Why eating by government guidelines keeps making more people fat and unhealthy.
The USDA is on schedule to release its new set of “nutritional guidelines” just as it has every five years since around the time President Reagan proclaimed ketchup a vegetable.
No wonder sickness has surpassed health with every new edition of these guidelines, and America now leads the modern world in illness.
I call it the “Gov.Diet” and it’s important to realize that it’s the brainstorm of an appointed committee, some of whom are no doubt highly influenced by lobbyists and politicians. Still they make the claim that, “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the Nation’s go-to source for nutrition advice.”
And since the U.S. is a trendsetter, much of the rest of the world follows our bad dietary recommendations and the road to poor health.
It began with the days of the famous four food groups, followed by the various Food Pyramid schemes, and other convoluted images that are really just different versions of the same Gov.Diet. Since then, some interesting things have happened:
- Obesity has more than doubled, and now even affects young children.
- At least 75 percent of the population is overfat (those who have excess body fat but don’t qualify as obese).
- Heart disease, stroke, hypertension, high blood fats and other disease risks and chronic illnesses have risen dramatically.
- Diabetes has exploded, with more than half of Americans suddenly suffering some form of it.
- U.S. healthcare costs have more than tripled since 1980, and this year are estimated to reach $4 trillion (about $50,000 for a family of four).
Every five years (not to mention the months of marketing hype building up to the release) I glance at the Gov.Diet and wonder how quickly that way of eating would turn me into a dysfunctional wreck of a human being, incapacitated both physically and mentally. And it would only take about a month or so to see an increase in my waist size and my blood lipids, while my energy levels plummet. This would only be the beginning.
It seems like the only people who pay attention to the revolving five-year-interval Gov.Diet are those who make fun of it because of how ridiculously unhealthy and dangerous it is — this small group generally eats well and knows the government’s game. Meanwhile, the media, in trying to make sense of the 571-page report, will uncover the usual uneducated headlines and sound bites.
The majority of Americans have never read the Gov.Diet. They are already overweight and unhealthy because they are eating very close to what the Gov.Diet recommends even without knowing the recommendations.
Basically, the government has always promoted junk food, and this edition is no different, allowing unhealthy products labeled as “whole grain” to be part of the whopping 75 percent recommended carbohydrate intake, and French fries to count as vegetables. Surely part of this is tied to grain subsidies. Unfortunately the fresh fruit and vegetable lobby has very little influence on the Gov.Diet.
Gov.Diet also promotes consumption of unhealthy vegetable oils, known to increase inflammation and promote most diseases.
A recent comment in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said the new nutrition guide “tacitly acknowledges the lack of convincing evidence to recommend low-fat high-carbohydrate diets for the general public in the prevention or treatment of any major health outcome, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or obesity.” The JAMA article author, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition, said, “We really need to sing it from the rooftops that the low-fat diet concept is dead, there are no health benefits to it.”
How many versions of the gov.diet did it take to reach this conclusion?
My mother always said to see the good in all things. While it’s not been easy in this case, there are two changes the Gov.Diet has quietly made.
First, they removed the upper limit on dietary fat claiming, “Reducing total fat (replacing total fat with overall carbohydrates) does not lower cardiovascular disease risk,” and emphasized “not reducing total fat.” What a contrast with previous recommendations.
Another important but quiet point is that the new Gov.Diet is lifting the ban on dietary cholesterol. After decades of trashing eggs and cholesterol because of the many “studies” that showed it was harmful, the government now quietly says there’s no evidence eating any amount of cholesterol is unhealthy. They still can’t avoid all the egg on their faces.
But the real problem, the reason the population keeps getting sicker while spending more on healthcare, remains the same. The carbohydrate content of the diet — both what is recommended in the Gov.Diet and what most people typically eat — is very high, with most carbs coming from processed forms.