Are the Dietary Guidelines REALLY So Radical?
Politics swirled this week, and as a scientist I wept.
Much more to come here, check out recent posts if you missed them! As billionaire pescatarians Laura and John Arnold bankroll meat industry spokesperson Nina Teicholz via their lobbying 501(c)s Action Now Initiative & Nutrition Coalition it is easy to lose sight of the actual nutrition surveys and science we are talking about.
The hand-wringing, panty bunching, and other various "ings" going on over the impending issue of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines is almost assuredly not about the scientific rigor of the process or the guidelines themselves. Are they perfect? No. Are they really all that radical or far off from what would be healthful eating, on a population-wide basis, for the United States of America? Again, no. Setting aside the particular foods themselves for the time being, the main argument is that this grand low-fat experiment has been a giant failure. Critics go further to make the ridiculous claim that the "wrong advice" is responsible for the obesity epidemic. I present here a collection of data and statistics that show reducing fat -- any fat -- is hardly some grand experiment from the point at which we here in the United States began. HARDLY.
Let's recap what the actual guidelines were in 1980:
|Left: 1977 McGovern Committee Right: 1980 Guidelines|
|Absolute fat and protein intake remains constant, carbohydrate intake increases|
|Due to increase in calories and carbohydrates, percentages change|
% carb increases, %fat decreases
|Under-reporting is clearly evident in this data|
Was this all the doing of the 1980 Guidelines?? I say no. From the data in Yerushalmy & Hilleboe (blog post) -- favored "gotcha" paper of Nina Teicholz, Gary Taubes, Tim Noakes, Richard Feinman, Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek, Eric Westman, and basically every other low carb promoting decepticon out there -- here is the global picture circa the early 1950s.
You can click to view and resize in browser. Note that carbohydrates range from 48% to 80%, total protein from a (surprisingly rather low) 10% to 14%, and total fat from 8% to 40%.
The United States was consuming:
49% carb , 12% protein , 39% fat
How ANYONE can look at that data and claim there is anything radical, experimental, unfounded, misguided, etc. about bringing the US diet moderately "in line" with this admittedly skewed sampling of countries is beyond absurd.