Wednesday, December 30, 2020

U.S. food guidelines draw criticism

A Canadian researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton is among a large number of academics critical of the new dietary guidelines the United States Department of Agriculture issued this week.

Dr. Andrew Mente, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at McMaster is critical of the advice to limit meat consumption. He is head of an international organization of epidemiologists who study the impact of nutrition on health.

“To date, the collective data on saturated fat do not support existing recommendations of limiting intake to 10 per cent of calories. 

“In fact, the most recent data indicate that restricting saturated fat intake to low levels is not needed and may even be harmful, he said.

Meats and dairy products “also contain a multitude of other nutrients that the body needs including monounsaturated fat, quality protein, vitamin B, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and vitamin D. 

“Instead, relaxing current restrictions on saturated fat intake but limiting intake of refined carbohydrates, added sugar, and ultra-processed foods is a better bet for improving the health of populations,” he said.

The Nutrition Coalition in the U.S. criticized the guidelines for failing to address the general public which includes significant percentages of people afflicted with diabetes and other chronic diseases.


The coalition said 60 per cent of the population now suffers one or more diet-related disease, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes and “the expert committee did not review any of the body of science on how to successfully treat these diseases with nutrition—not even any studies on weight loss.”

The coalition said the guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture are the single most important factor for dietary advice.

They are followed by most healthcare practitioners, kindergarten to grade 12 educators, media outlets, and the military, are used in the $100 billion spent by the USDA on Nutrition Assistance Programs for school lunches, feeding assistance for the elderly and women with infant children and food for disadvantaged communities.