American Elephants


Is It Time For The Federal Government to Stop Telling You What to Eat? by The Elephant's Child

mixed selection of fruit and vegetables

For 35 years the federal government has been issuing dietary guidelines, and they haven’t changed all that much. A revised bunch of recommendations released this month includes a new cap on added sugar. The guidelines have been a failure in checking the rise of obesity and diabetes. The problem, the Wall Street Journal article suggests, is a reliance on weak science.

I don’t know who relies on the federal government’s dietary guidelines, nor who even sees them. When I was in high school, admittedly quite a while ago, we still had home economics, which consisted of the basics, you could say, of ‘housewifery.’ Basic cooking and nutrition, a little sewing, maybe a bit of budgeting depending on the school , but I don’t think they’ve done that for years. The boys got ‘shop’ which was mostly coping with ‘man around the house’ stuff, making something with wood, and using tools. Forgive me if I’m not up to date, it was some time ago. I don’t think the boys ever saw the dietary guidelines either.

Congress, however is concerned about the continued toll taken by nutrition-related diseases. (The rising cost of ObamaCare is scaring everyone) They have mandated the first ever outside review by the National Academy of Medicine of the evidence underlying the dietary guidelines and the process that produces them.

I knew I’d written about the dietary guidelines before, but entering “dietary guidelines” in the search box over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar produced 8 cranky posts. This particular one concerned the Committee’s concern with “sustainability” and the environmental food activist the USDA had hired. If you know of anyone who has posted the federal guidelines poster in their kitchen, or who has shown interest, please let me know. I just don’t think anyone except possibly the heads of school lunch programs has any interest — and that has been taken over by Michelle who came up with a program universally hated by all school children, and that schools are abandoning as rapidly as possible.

Many of the wrongheaded recommendations reach home kitchens, like butter is bad, margarine good. Eggs bad, eat lots of pasta. In short, they are usually universally wrong. Of course there are all sorts of quacks telling you what to eat online, and our grocery stores are filled with organic food, natural food, GMO free, reduced fat, sugar free, gluten free, and acres of special drinks: Texas superfoods, liquid beets, anything any producer can think of as a possible selling point. Grocery stores cater to all the enthusiasms, because that’s what people want, which means multiple fads.

I am certainly no expert, but when the agriculture department starts hiring environmental food activists, they have crossed some sort of line. Putting the nation’s corn crop into our gas tanks makes no sense either, even if Iowa farmers like it.  We have too many unaccountable bureaucracies that should simply be abolished, but thinning out the swarm of agencies in the federal government and the repetitive and often useless things they do seems to be a needed but impossible task. The agencies exist because Congress palms off the execution of tasks onto the agencies which grow and fester.

Congress said, back in the day, that we want clean air and clean water, a straightforward, simple request, which gave us the EPA — possibly the most crooked agency in the government, intent only on their own power and growth. There are a lot of agencies competing for the title though — the VA, the IRS, HHS, and HUD are all prime candidates.  It will take a lot of public pressure to get any real action, and it may be impossible. There are supposedly 47 different federal job training programs, though there may be more. Is it hopeless?



The Federal Government’s Dietary Guidelines Are Bunk! by The Elephant's Child
June 17, 2015, 6:32 am
Filed under: Junk Science, Regulation | Tags: , ,

For decades, the federal government has been telling us what to eat — not that we pay that much attention — but nevertheless they regularly establish dietary guidelines. A new article by University of Alabama Birmingham researcher Edward Archer and colleagues Gregory Pavela and Carl Lavie and published this week in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, informs us that the conclusions drawn by the federal government’s -usdacontroversial Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) are bunk. They were more polite, they said their work rests on fatally flawed assumptions about usable data, and the research used to support their work is so far off base as to be scientifically useless.

The DGAC is a rotating group of academics who have been charged by Congress since the 1990s with meeting every five years to recommend broad federal dietary policies. Unlike experiments in the hard sciences of chemistry, physics and biology, most diet studies are based on self-reported data. Study subjects are examined for height, weight and health, then are questioned about what they eat. Their food choices are then linked  to health outcomes — cancer, mortality, heart disease etc,

Edward Archer says that’s a poor way of doing science. “The assumption that human memory can provide accurate or precise reproductions of past ingestive behavior is indisputably false.” Well, yes, can you remember what you had to eat on Friday? “An analysis conducted by Archer in 2013 found that most of the 60,000 + NHANES subjects report eating a lower amount of calories than they would physiologically need to survive, let alone to put on all the weight that Americans have in the past few decades.”

They’ve just been plain wrong as well. We were told never to eat butter, but to use margarine instead. Now we are urged to eat butter and not use margarine. The grocery stores are well ahead of the feds. They hardly carry any margarine at all anymore. The dietary guidelines mistakenly urged us to rely on lots of whole grains and other carbohydrates, and the stores stocked up on lots of tasty snacks, If they are wondering where the obesity came from — there you go. And pay no  attention to the healthy plate diagram shown above. That’s bunk too.




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