By: Jennifer Frediani, PhD
The advisory committee utilizes survey data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), specifically the data that comprise the “What We Eat in America” report. Data from 2009-2010 was used and concluded that, essentially, Americans have not changed their diets since 2001. We still consume the majority of our calories from processed foods laden with saturated fat and refined sugars. Americans have been warned against the consumption of cholesterol since the very first Dietary Guidelines in 1980.
My thoughts are that when you tell the population to reduce a nutrient of interest they will replace it with something else, and THAT is what is important in health and chronic disease. We have been telling people to lower their fat intake for decades and what did they replace it with? Sugar! Refined Grains! When you make a food product low fat it ultimately becomes high sugar. This, in combination with the modern lifestyle that promotes convenience and the absolute need for immediate gratification, has put us in the health crisis we find ourselves. Moderation! Moderation! Moderation! If in fact the advisory committee has come to their senses and has put the focus on a plant-based diet (which would negate the need for a specific cholesterol recommendation anyway) instead of an animal-based one, we still need to get federal government approval. Yes, that is right folks- just because the nutrition experts recommend something based on scientific evidence does not mean that recommendation will actually make it to the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To quote Marion Nestle, “Too bad politics trumps science in this Congress.”
Jennifer Frediani is a post doctorate fellow in the Center for the Study of Human Health and has been a registered dietitian for 13 years. She has worked in various aspects of nutrition including as a clinician, counselor and researcher. Her current research involves the use of metabolomics to differentiate a variety of chronic and infectious diseases.