The new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) finally came out in 2016. They were held up an extra month because of the hostile and unexpectedly overwhelming response of the public to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Advisory Report. After political fiddling — which always happens in the face of an unexpected public outcry — and lobbyist diddling, the resulting report was something that pleased no one. An outcome that pleases no one is almost a perfect result in litigation in which both parties have viable claims, but it is not necessarily the best outcome in what claims to be a scientific endeavor. The science is either right or it isn’t. The DGA should be the best and most current thinking science has to offer, but it isn’t. The 2015 DGA is a politically driven piece of dreck designed to offend the fewest people and interest groups possible.
Worthless though they are, the DGA have at least provided some humor to me, if to no one else.
Take a look at the video below produced by Retro Report showing how the news media has reported the DGA changes over the years. Most of these talking heads, or newsreaders as the Brits more accurately call them, read whatever ends up on their teleprompters, usually put there by their puppet masters. What makes these folks good is their ability to read their lines as if they’re saying them spontaneously. I recommend you watch the entire video, but if you don’t want to watch the whole thing at least watch from 10:30 on, which is the part we’ll discuss below.
CBS newsreader Scott Pelley says:
Here we go again. Experts are changing their recommendations about what we shouldn’t eat.
Then the voice over talks about how the Advisory Committee had determined that there was little evidence that dietary cholesterol drives cholesterol in the blood. (The actual recommendation removed the upper limit for dietary cholesterol, and instead of a number says: “individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible,” which is hardly urging folks to go face down in it.)
Then the ABC doctor talking head, Dr. Richard Besser, practically gushes that
Cholesterol is still linked to heart disease, but what we’ve learned is that cholesterol in our blood, most of it doesn’t come from food, our body makes it on our own.
He says this as if it’s something we just learned this afternoon!
Which I find really amusing, since we wrote about this in Protein Power twenty years ago.
Where does cholesterol come from? Although some [serum] cholesterol indeed does come from food, the vast majority (80 percent) is produced by the body itself. In fact, every cell in the body is capable of making its own cholesterol. Most don’t, however, and rely instead on that made in the liver, intestines, and skin, with the liver responsible for the lion’s share of the production. Due to the body’s need for large amounts of cholesterol, a feedback loop exists so that whenever dietary intake decreases the liver’s synthesis increases. And, in opposite fashion, when the diet is rich in cholesterol, the liver synthesizes less. This self-regulation helps explain the baffling research finding that blood cholesterol levels vary only minimally in the face of enormous variations in dietary intake. As a matter of fact most people, contrary to what you read and hear daily, can consume almost unlimited amounts of cholesterol without significantly increasing their blood cholesterol levels. That being the case, people having excessive blood cholesterol levels—and many do—must have a problem with the ability of their bodies to regulate cholesterol levels internally. That is precisely the case. The key to lowering elevated cholesterol levels is not in the restriction of dietary cholesterol or fat but in the dietary manipulation of the internal cholesterol regulatory system.
Although MD and I shared in the writing of the book, I happened to write this part of Protein Power, and I can tell you I didn’t just make it up. I read the biochemistry and physiology textbooks of the time (it was written in 1994-5) and trolled through the medical literature in the same way I do today. The fact that dietary cholesterol doesn’t really affect blood cholesterol was in common knowledge then. It wasn’t a deep dark secret.
So I find it funny that 20 years later this fact is finally making its way into the Dietary Guidelines, and that talking heads are presenting it as if experts had just figured it out.
Another thing that would be funny if it weren’t so sad is the fact that the DGA are changing since their inception in 1980, though ever so slowly.
The human body hasn’t changed since 1980. Metabolism is still the same now as it was then. Ditto for biochemistry and physiology. Many old papers warn about the dangers of sugar consumption. John Yudkin wrote an entire book on the dangers of sugar back in 1972. Researchers from years ago didn’t have a problem with saturated fat, which, by the way, is still frowned upon in the 2015 DGA despite a number of current papers showing it to be harmless. And in 1980 when the DGA first came out, obesity levels had been stable for decades.
As many have noted, the first DGA in 1980 were based on ideology, not science. Real science has been chipping away at them since, but at a glacial pace. And sometimes even when changes are good, such as the tepid recommendation in the current DGA to reduce consumption of sugar (actually to limit “added sugar” intake), other changes are not so much so.
In the next post, I’ll go over some of the other problems with the Dietary Guidelines and tell you why, despite their advising a reduction in added sugar, these recommendations might make their followers fatter than ever.