Friday, January 08, 2016

You aren't what you eat

Is It Time for the Dietary Guidelines to Die?

Posted by Ross Pomeroy on January 8, 2016, RealClearScience

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines were officially released yesterday. Put out every five years, the guidelines urged Americans to limit salt intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, consume less than ten percent of their calories from added sugar, and restrict saturated fat intake. They also suggested eating less red and processed meat. Unlike years past, the guidelines eased up on eggs, following research showing that dietary cholesterol isn't as bad as was once thought.

Overall, the new guidelines are a shift in the right direction -- slightly more science-based -- but the difference is minimal. The guidelines still mostly ignore growing evidence that low-carbohydrate diets can be just as, if not more, healthy as so-called "balanced" diets. They also continue to tout the notion that sodium intake needs to be limited, contrary to recent evidencethat it probably doesn't.

For thirty-five years, the dietary guidelines have offered middling advice. The fact that they are slightly better is little consolation to the millions of Americans who've tried to follow them and have found themselves overweight and unhealthy.

"Americans in general have been following the nutrition advice that the... US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have been issuing for more than 40 years," a team of researchers reported last year in the journal Nutrition. "Consumption of fats has dropped from 45% to 34% with a corresponding increase in carbohydrate consumption from 39% to 51% of total caloric intake."

You know what's happened over that same time period. Obesity has skyrocketed to epidemic proportions. Of course, there's no way to tell if this is due to or in spite of the guidelines, but few would disagree that the guidelines have had little effect in curbing the rise in obesity.

That begs an important question: If the dietary guidelines are so ineffectual, why even have them? Is it time for the dietary guidelines to die?

(Continued here.)

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