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February 10 2015

Butter Is Bad...and Other Government-Endorsed Food Myths

Julie Gunlock

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is set to release new government dietary recommendations any day now. Reports after a December 2014 meeting of the committee confirmed they are likely to recommend Americans eat less meat.

Sorry, Paleo devotees! Time to load up on those carbs or fall into the rather unhealthy trap of becoming a cheese and bread vegetarian!

But get this; it really has nothing to do with healthier food decisions or recommending a healthier diet for Americans. Instead, it’s all about melting ice caps, stranded polar bears, climate panic, and Al “I take fossil fuel-burning fancy jets to earth summits” Gore’s goals of making us all pay for his and his Hollywood buddies’ extravagant lifestyles.

This was all quite evident at a DGAC hearing last summer when Kate Clancy--billed as a “food systems consultant” (whatever that is)--advised the DGAC that they must integrate environmental concerns into the food guidelines. And it appears; they’ve taken her advice. I wrote about her appearance for NRO last year:

As her speech went on, I heard phrases like “environmentally friendly food choices” and making “low impact food choices” and looking at things with an “ecological perspective.” Her point was clear: Americans must not only make nutritious food decisions, they must make environmentally responsible food decisions even if that means Americans’ food costs increase. And food prices most definitely will go up if her recommendations are included in the final guidelines.

According to Clancy, environmentally responsible food decisions include switching to a “plant-based diet” – which is food-systems-consultant talk for “vegetarian,” but she fails to mention that when it comes to total calories, it takes much more plant-based food to equal what lean meats can offer. Are Clancy and the DGAC suggesting people with scarce financial resources spend all of their money on a high-priced plant-based diet? After all, kids need things besides food. School supplies, clothing, and a place to live seem vital elements of a child’s life.

Now, consider these latest “no meat” recommendations as you read about a new study out of the UK, which says dietary fat isn’t as bad for you as previously thought. Time reports:

“…in the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and causes of death, researchers say the guidelines got it all wrong. In fact, recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made.

When the recommendations were made, in the 1970s, heart disease claimed more U.S. lives than any other cause of death (and has retained that distinction for most of the ensuing years), so public-health and government officials were eager to get on the low-fat bandwagon. National guidelines, endorsed by health experts and expected to be followed by physicians in doctors’ offices around the country, sent word to the American public — trim fat to about 30% of your total daily calories, and cut saturated fat, from red meat and dairy products like milk, egg and cheese, in particular down to no more than 10% of total calories.

Zoe Harcombe, the lead researcher of the study said that those first U.S. guidelines advising Americans to cut the fat did not provide any support for the idea that eating less fat would translate to fewer cases of heart disease, or that it would save lives.

So, will these newest government dietary recommendations be like the ones made in the 1970s—implemented only to be reversed decades later?

Heck yes! Considering that this time around, the DGAC isn't even pretending to consider dietary or medical research, the recommendations are sure to be a total disaster and later reversed much to the confusion and frustration of the millions of Americans who changed their diets to be in line with these government guidlines.

Of course, no one is suggesting environmental issues aren't important, but to mix it up with nutrition issues is simply insane.

Many shrug at this issue, thinking “meh, who cares if the government issues flawed recommendations…does anyone listen?” It’s a good point and given the wide variety of resources available to people (in the private sector) who want diet advice, these government recommendations probably are largely ignored.  Yet, people should know the consequences of the federal government endorsing a certain way of eating. The government has great influence over the population and their seal of approval goes far to change eating trends. In addition, government food programs are run using the DGAC’s recommendations as a food guide. So, if the DGAC recommends this low protein diet, school lunches will reflect these changes. Our military men and women will also get fewer calories from protein and potentially, those who rely on food stamps won’t be able to purchase as much protein with their benefits.

That’s why these recommendations are so powerful and why they must se based on science and evidence, not environmental concerns and the influence of green lobbyists.

But mostly, these recommendations should be done away with. Privatization of the school lunch program is one way to separate school feeding programs from these constantly changing and flawed (and now quite political) dietary guidelines.  Ensuring that our military men and women have diets that are designed by food scientists and medical professionals instead of government bureaucrats with an environmental agenda to further. And we should allow people to buy, within reason, what they want with their benefits instead of holding them to DGAC recommendations, which may not allow them to make the best individual dietary decisions for them and their family.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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