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US Dietary Guidelines Ignore Latest Nutritional Research: Study

US Dietary Guidelines Ignore Latest Nutritional Research: Study
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By    |   Wednesday, 23 September 2015 10:03 PM

New federal nutrition guidelines recommended by an expert health panel ignore the latest dietary research and reinforce bad advice that some believe has fueled the nation’s obesity epidemic.

That’s the upshot of a new study in the British Medical Journal – the latest in a series of analyses to question the legitimacy of the influential 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In a newly published investigation, the journal accuses the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – a 14-member expert panel which produces the scientific report that forms the basis of federal nutrition recommendations – of systematically ignoring recent evidence that could reverse decades of erroneous nutritional advice.

The report takes special aim at the committee’s verdict on saturated fat, which concludes that there is a “strong” link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease and recommends that saturated fat account for no more than 10 percent of total calories. But several prominent studies published over the past five years have failed to confirm any connection between saturated fats and heart disease.

The BMJ study also faults the committee for failing to conduct a comprehensive review of low-carbohydrate diets, even though clinical trials published since 2000 show that such diets are at least equal to if not better than other nutritional approaches for controlling Type 2 diabetes, boosting weight loss, and improving most heart disease risk factors.

In both cases, the committee has produced a “misleading picture” that may compromise the health of millions of Americans, states lead researcher Nina Teicholz, a renowned nutrition expert and journalist.

“The omissions seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice,” she said.

“Given the growing toll taken by these conditions and the failure of existing strategies to make meaningful progress in fighting obesity and diabetes to date, one might expect the guideline committee to welcome any new, promising dietary strategies.”

The first dietary guidelines, which are issued every five years under the auspices of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, were published in 1980. Concerns about the committee’s current report, which has yet to be adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture, have prompted Congress to schedule a hearing in October, when two cabinet secretaries are set to testify.

The dietary guidelines have consistently cautioned Americans to avoid full-fat animal products such as red meats, eggs, and dairy, and have recommended a low-fat, carbohydrate-heavy diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

Critics have long condemned these recommendations as unhealthy. Since 1980, they note, U.S. adult obesity rates have doubled and childhood obesity rates have tripled. A full two-thirds of American adults are now either overweight or obese, and 25 million have diabetes.

Richard Stein, M.D, a cardiologist with New York University Langone Medical Center, tells Newsmax Health that the saturated fat in butter, dairy products, poultry, and meat isn't as big a problem as once believed in terms of cardiovascular risks. On the flip side, he says, the low-fat craze has had dire consequences.

"I think what we've learned from the last 15 years where we've taken fat out of many of the foods and provided fat-free versions of it — skim milk, yogurts, and things like that – that actually what we've done is … increased calories and America has gotten very fat on a low-fat diet," he says.

"And the incidence of heart disease has not gone down and the precursors of heart disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure, have actually gone up."

Some experts have praised the committee for quietly dropping the outdated 35 percent restriction on total calories from dietary fat and for eliminating warnings about dietary cholesterol, which has been wrongly blamed for decades as a cause of cardiovascular disease.

But the British Medical Journal investigation faults the committee for failing to keep up with current research on the benefits of saturated fat and low-carbohydrate diets. It also blames panel members for an over-reliance on systematic reviews from professional bodies such as the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, both of which are supported by food and drug companies.

The investigation notes that the committee’s report deletes meat from its list of recommended “healthy” foods and advises reducing consumption of red and processed meats. The investigation also questions the committee’s promotion of three plant-based diets: the “healthy” Mediterranean-style diet, the “healthy” US-style diet, and the newly-introduced “healthy” vegetarian diet.

“These guidelines are hugely influential, affecting diets and health around the world,” says Fiona Godlee, M.D., editor in chief of the British Medical Journal. “The least we would expect is that they be based on the best available science. Instead the committee has abandoned standard methodology, leaving us with the same dietary advice as before - low fat, high carbs.

“Growing evidence suggests that this advice is driving rather than solving the current epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The committee's conflicts of interest are also a concern. We urgently need an independent review of the evidence and new thinking about diet and its role in public health.”

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New U.S. nutrition guidelines recommended by an expert health panel ignore the latest dietary research and reinforce bad advice that some believe has fueled the nation's obesity epidemic. That's the upshot of a new study in the British Medical Journal.
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015 10:03 PM
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