Dr. McDougall blows lid off of Dietary Guidelines' fear mongering & doubletalk | John McDougall MD | 07/12/10

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Conflicting recommendations for plant-food vs. animal-food consumption dominate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's recent report, meaning that real solutions for obese and sick Americans will, unfortunately, not be forthcoming. Except for a few hopeful sentences, the committee presents a report filled with fear mongering, doubletalk, omissions of major topics, consistently biased views of the scientific literature, and inexcusable factual errors that favor the livestock industries.

I believe the members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee know the truth about the role that animal products play in causing the vast majority of chronic diseases that afflict Americans today (heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and breast, colon, and prostate cancer, all of which are mentioned in their report). I believe they also know the solution to the health problems Americans face since they recommend taking steps to "Shift food intake pattern to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds." They should have stopped right there, but they didn't. Instead they continued on with the following recommendations: "In addition, increase the intake of seafood, and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs." With just this one industry-friendly sentence, the consumer is given permission by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to continue eating the animal foods (albeit in moderation) that have caused our nation's current health crisis.

Please take the time to read this report or, at least, the Major Conclusions. Your written comments to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee must be received before 5:00 pm EDT on July 15, 2010.

Doubletalk throughout the Report

On Animal Foods and Disease

In some statements, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee discourages meat and dairy consumption: "...deliberate public health efforts are warranted to reduce intakes of saturated fats to meet dietary guidelines for optimal health. Males older than age 12 years also are encouraged to consume less total dietary cholesterol." Then the committee contradicts these warnings by writing, "Americans may choose animal products as part of their diet based on the body of evidence showing a general lack of relationship between animal protein consumption and selected health outcomes."

Saturated fat and cholesterol are synonymous with meat, dairy, and egg products. Ample evidence establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that the consumption of animal products are a major player in the cause of osteoporosis, kidney stones, liver and kidney damage, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and common cancers.

On Dietary Fat and Obesity

When it comes to the main goal of the report, which is fighting obesity, especially in children, the committee warns, "Increased intake of dietary fat is associated with greater adiposity in children." Rather than cut down on the total fat intake, their contradictory recommendation is, "...replacing SFA with some combination of PUFA and MUFA should yield significant public health benefits."

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA) are equally as fattening for children and adults as are saturated fats (SFA). Other well-established adverse effects of PUFA, such as immune suppression, cancer promotion, gallstone formation, and an increased risk of bleeding, were not mentioned.

On Dairy Products and Health

Most interesting is that throughout the report the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee praises milk products for their health benefits without expressing any real concerns over the harms caused by this category of foods. This is especially contradictory since the committee does consistently express concerns about the harmful effects of the intake of excess calories, total fat, saturated fat, simple sugars, and sodium, which are the major components of milk products. They write, "Early signs of atherosclerotic CVD [cardiovascular disease] are also seen in children, and a number of studies indicate that the atherosclerotic process begins in childhood and is affected by high blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, reduction in SFA in children and young adults may provide benefits decades earlier than currently appreciated relative to both CVD and T2D [type 2 diabetes] incidence."

Even after recognizing the harmful effects of saturated fats and cholesterol, especially for children, the committee emphasizes the importance of hooking our youth early: "It is especially important to establish milk drinking in young children, as those who consume milk as children are more likely to do so as adults." Sincere interests in protecting our children would have resulted in clear and strong warnings about the harmful effects of fat-filled foods, such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.

Also note that low-fat milk products, labeled as 1% and 2%, actually contain 13% and 23%, respectively, of their calories as saturated fat. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends a reduction of saturated fat to less than 7% of daily calories. Low-fat milk products fail to meet this important goal.

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