The Good, the Bad, and the Omit­ted

An ex­plo­ration of the 2015 US Di­etary Guide­lines

Eating Naturally - - Contents - BY TEDDI MARZOFKA

We com­pare and con­trast pub­lished sci­en­tific re­search and the 2015 US Di­etary Guide­lines with David Katz, MD.

Af­ter look­ing over the newly-re­leased 2015-2020 Di­etary Guide­lines, we were taken aback by the dif­fer­ences be­tween the pub­lished guide­lines and the Sci­en­tific Re­port of the 2015 Di­etary Guide­lines Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee— the sci­en­tific re­port given to the gov­ern­ment to help in­form the di­etary guide­line de­ci­sions. So what were the big agree­ments, dis­crep­an­cies, and pit­falls?

The Good

SCI­EN­TIFIC RE­PORT: • Ad­vises every­one to nor­mal­ize in­take of sat­u­rated fat, to­tal fat, and added sug­ars • Rec­om­mends every­one ad­here to a con­sis­tent ex­er­cise reg­i­men • Ex­plains choles­terol is no longer to be feared, and is im­por­tant to var­i­ous body pro­cesses

DI­ETARY GUIDE­LINES: • Ad­vises every­one to limit sat­u­rated fat, to­tal fat, and added sug­ars • Men­tions ex­er­cise is im­por­tant, and rec­om­mends weekly ac­tiv­ity • Ex­plains choles­terol is not worth the worry as­signed to it

We are pleased to see the di­etary guide­lines ad­here to what we have known for years: added sug­ars de­stroy your health, and ex­er­cise is vi­tal to over­all well­ness. It’s also very grat­i­fy­ing to see the truth about choles­terol printed in na­tional rec­om­men­da­tions.

The Bad

SCI­EN­TIFIC RE­PORT: • Rec­om­mends every­one should cut down on meat con­sump­tion • Rec­om­mends every­one should avoid pro­cessed meat when­ever pos­si­ble due to car­cino­gen con­cerns

DI­ETARY GUIDE­LINES: • Rec­om­mends only men and boys should cut down on meat con­sump­tion • In­sists pro­cessed meat is okay within “nu­tri­ent thresh­olds”

It is hard not to see the gov­ern­ment and meat in­dus­try canoodling here. De­spite rec­om­men­da­tions in the sci­en­tific re­port and nu­mer­ous stud­ies that show plant-based di­ets with small amounts of meat are ben­e­fi­cial for every­one, the fi­nal di­etary guide­lines do not com­mit to rec­om­mend­ing less meat. Ad­di­tion­ally, they do not com­mit to a cau­tious stance on car­cino­genic pro­cessed meats.

Round 3: The Omit­ted

SCI­EN­TIFIC RE­PORT: • Calls out spe­cific prod­ucts and food choices that are bad news bears (like soda), gives specifics on sug­ars to avoid, and gives spe­cific ad­vice on how to im­prove health through diet • Lauds sus­tain­able food sources as an easy way to get more nu­tri­ents while con­sid­er­ing the re­sources we have on our planet and in our country

DI­ETARY GUIDE­LINES: • Avoids specifics at all costs, and in­stead re­lies on terms like “nu­tri­ent thresh­olds,” and “shift­ing” eat­ing pat­terns • Fails to men­tion sus­tain­abil­ity en­tirely

COM­MEN­TARY: Un­for­tu­nately, the di­etary guide­lines are awash with vague terms and non­specifics. Yes, they men­tion lim­it­ing sugar, but the guide­lines fail to men­tion how to do so, leav­ing con­sumers with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of de­cid­ing if a 20-ounce soda fits into “nu­tri­ent thresh­olds.” The guide­lines have also shifted fo­cus away from “food” and to­wards “nu­tri­ents” as if the protein con­tent in ba­con will some­how defeat any car­cino­gens in­gested.

Sus­tain­abil­ity is a grow­ing prob­lem. In the United States, 92 per­cent of our wa­ter us­age is at­trib­uted to pro­duc­ing our food, and then more than 40 per­cent of food pro­duced is thrown away. Why didn’t the di­etary guide­lines guide con­sumers about the sus­tain­abil­ity of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts? Lentils and beans take only 5 gal­lons of wa­ter per gram of protein, fol­lowed by eggs at 7.7 gal­lons/ gram, milk at 8.2 gal­lons/gram, and chicken at 9 gal­lons/gram. Beef top­ples the scale, re­quir­ing 29.6 gal­lons of wa­ter per gram of protein.

Sum­mary:

While there are mer­its to the 2015 di­etary guide­lines, ul­ti­mately we will be wait­ing on specifics, a solid stance on meat, and sus­tain­abil­ity rec­om­men­da­tions for the next five years. Here’s to 2020!

Sources: Wa­ter Foot­print Net­work, Di­etary Guide­lines 2015-2020, and the Sci­en­tific Re­port of the 2015 Di­etary Guide­lines Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee

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