Thursday, January 13, 2005

What they say about the new Dietary Guidelines

It's a democracy. Everybody in the market has a viewpoint about the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In all cases there is a logic, and in most cases there is an economic interest, behind the viewpoints. Here are some of them:

1. The organic folks: "Helping our children learn about where their food comes from and how it is grown is an important tool that every health-conscious parent can give their child." The Guidelines serve health-conscious conventional eaters quite well, but don't include many treats for the strict vegetarian or organic communities in particular.

2. The beef industry: "Along with colorful fruits and vegetables, non-fat and lowfat dairy products, and whole grains, beef is a premier naturally nutrient-rich food. Calorie-for-calorie, lean beef provides more nutrients in fewer calories than many other animal proteins." Read that last sentence carefully. It's pretty faint praise. Makes me want plant food.

3. The Center for Science in the Public Interest: "The new Dietary Guidelines is the most health-oriented ever." I thought they would approve.

4. Sanfaustino: "However, the section on calcium food choices missed a very important development in the food channel...." Haven't heard of Sanfaustino? Wondering what their gripe is? They make a bottled water supplemented with calcium.

5. The rice industry: "Enriched and whole grain products, like enriched white rice and whole grain brown rice, are among the food groups that should form the basis for a healthy diet, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans." There's a bit of me-tooism here. White rice is the industry's big seller, but whole grains were recommended in the guidelines. The rice industry opposed the new emphasis on whole grains. The headline on PR Newswire was, "Grains of Truth Show Rice Fits New Dietary Guidelines Recommendations."

6. The fish industry: "Today's announcement reinforces what many of us grew up hearing from our parents -- eat more fish." Delighted, just delighted. This industry benefits from new science that gives less emphasis to total fats and more strongly criticizes saturated fats and trans fats. Some kinds of fish are high in healthier omega-3 fatty acids.

7. The sugar industry (via Washington Post): "We stand firm in our assertion that every major scientific review, including the Institute of Medicine macronutrient report, has concluded that there is not a direct link between added sugars intake and any lifestyle disease, including obesity." This claim misleading. By "not a direct link," the industry means that they think the calories in sugar, as opposed to some sugar-specific phenomenon, are the main reason sugar intake is so strongly associated with obesity. That weak claim is disputed, and even if it were true, it would be quibbling with the Guidelines' sound advice. The sugar industry is the biggest loser this week.

1 comment:

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