Category Archives: Opinion

New USDA Food Guidelines

Somehow, we got the idea that bureaucrats, politicians and academics are qualified to tell us what to eat. The same people that brought you the line in the DMV, the spectacular efforts at mitigating things like Hurricane Katrina and the BP gulf oil spill, eugenics and forced sterilization have been recommending lower fat, higher carbohydrate changes to the American diet since Senator McGovern’s commission in the 1970s.

The value of their input over the last few decades: Americans today eat less fat, but have experienced rising rates of disease related to obesity, including type II diabetes (leading to heart disease and stroke). Oh, and giant subsidies for multinational corn producers that lead to below-market prices for things like high fructose corn syrup. Wonderful.

As Tom Naughton at Fat Head observes:

So the USDA has been issuing dietary advice every five years since 1980, and they’re responsible for enforcing consistency in federal dietary guidance. As they explain elsewhere in the document, their mission is especially critical now because

“The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the US has increased dramatically in the past three decades … The 2010 DGAC Report is unprecedented in addressing an American public, two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese.”

A dramatic increase in obesity in the past three decades … hmmm, let me do some math here … that would mean we’ve gotten a lot fatter since 1980, otherwise known as the first year the DGAC provided science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk of major chronic diseases through optimal diet and regular physical activity.

Laura Dolson at LowCarbDiets.About.com waded through the “new” guidelines to find some confusion on the part of our self-appointed Wise and Wonderful advisers:

What does this mean? To me it means that they recognize that the excess calories in the U.S. diet are mainly coming from high-carb foods, but are stopping short of saying that there is something about sugars in and of themselves that is causing overeating. I think it’s also important to remember that when they say, “healthy diets are high in carbohydrates”, what they are actually saying is “healthy diets are high in sugars”. Proponents of high-carb diets like to obscure the fact that to our bodies “it’s all sugar”, and that many of our bodies have a lot of trouble with this.

The comments section includes the obligatory response from a person signing their name with letters behind it … “MS, RD”. Those letters indicate that the poster has a master’s degree and is a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are, for the most part, a group of people who put forth the accepted wisdom without ever questioning it, or doing research themselves. My very low opinion of their advice is shared by some low carb doctors, so it is more than just jealousy or ignorance at work on my part. (I have been called worse by those that disagree with me, and often I’m surprised at the language they learned in college).

Laura is nice to her though. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be so nice. I would be respectful, because we are all God’s children, but you have to remember, dietitians are harming people. Encouraging type II diabetics and those “on the road” to that disease to eat “complex carbs” is more than counterproductive. It is harmful. It advances their disease. It kills people.

Some reports are that the USDA guidelines will establish even lower fat levels for the American diet, as low as 7% of daily caloric intake. To do this, you have to increase carbohydrate intake. Laura notes the new report advises up to 65% of your calories should come from carbs. For someone eating 2,500 calories a day, that’s over 400 grams of carbohydrates.

Let’s do an experiment. Take that one pound bag of sugar out of the cupboard and get a teaspoon. Scoop out a level teaspoon and pour it on the counter. How many carbs do you think that represents? About 4 grams. Do it another 100 times and you are just under the amount of carbohydrates the USDA is recommending.

That bag of sugar will be close to empty. Nearly one pound of it will be on your counter. Now, if I had “RD” after my name, I might suggest you eat it, but I won’t.

Wait, I’m being unfair. The “RD” people will tell you to eat “complex” carbohydrates, which means “whole grains” and other “slower to absorb” forms. OK, get several hundred empty medicine capsules that dissolve in your stomach. Put the sugar in that. Now you have the metabolic equivalent of “complex carbohydrates”, carbs that take longer to break down into sugar. “To sugar they will turn, they must”, as Yoda would say.

The USDA guidelines are more stringent this year, even with the conflicting messages that Laura observed. Like a light bulb’s light output increasing dramatically right before it burns out, the USDA is having one last hurrah with the low fat nonsense. The USDA, like all the “RD” folks out there, are ignoring the most recent medical research.

And because of that, more people will get fat, develop type II diabetes, and die.