PCRM 2005: The Year in Review: Good Nutrition
In 2005, PCRM’s nutrition experts worked hard to educate both the public and the medical profession, providing information and cutting-edge scientific research on good nutrition. Amid alarming obesity statistics and confusing fad diets, PCRM’s work helped millions of individuals take control of their health.
Battling Childhood Obesity
With nearly a third of American children battling weight problems, the issue of childhood obesity filled the news in 2005, and PCRM tackled the problem head on—providing helpful information for parents and educators about how a healthy vegetarian diet can help kids slim down. A popular new PCRM public service announcement featuring member doctors coming to the aid of a junk-food-eating child pointed thousands of viewers to the PCRM Web site www.kidsgethealthy.org, a clearinghouse of nutrition information.
Continuing efforts to encourage schools to offer more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat, cholesterol-free vegetarian entrees, PCRM once again recognized the nation’s healthiest school lunch programs with the Golden Carrot Awards. PCRM gave the top award to Poughkeepsie Day School in Poughkeepsie, New York, which offers a homemade vegan soup each day.
Meanwhile, PCRM’s Cancer Project provided free vegetarian Food for Life cooking classes for thousands of Americans.
Educating Medical Students and Other Physicians
One major project of 2005 was the development of PCRM’s Nutrition Guide for Clinicians to arm future doctors with the most current information on good nutrition. The guide will be distributed free of charge to all medical students in the United States and Canada in 2006. A comprehensive new Web site focused solely on nutrition information will provide online support for medical students, physicians, and patients.
PCRM’s top-notch nutrition staff—which includes dietitians Amber Green, R.D., Trulie Andkerberg-Nobis, M.S., R.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., Dulcie Ward, R.D., and associate director Tim Radak, Dr. P.H., R.D.—represented PCRM at numerous medical and health conferences in 2005, including those held by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Society of Preventive Oncology.
Exposing Food Industry Politics
When food industry interests promoted some not-so-sound nutritional advice to the American public this past year, PCRM was there to set the record straight. In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a confusing new food guide dubbed “My Pyramid,” which, despite the large amount of evidence of the harm these products can cause, heavily promoted meat and dairy products. PCRM immediately issued a statement criticizing the new guide, and PCRM nutrition director Tim Radak, Dr.P.H., R.D., was quoted in The Wall Street Journal and dozens of other media outlets.
PCRM also countered an absurd dairy industry campaign that claims that yogurt, milk, and cheese help dieters lose weight. In June, PCRM filed a lawsuit against dairy giants—including Kraft and Dannon—and the National Dairy Council and other industry groups. The lawsuit accused the defendants of false advertising for making claims about dairy and weight loss based on one study by a researcher who had accepted more than $1.7 million in grants from the National Dairy Council. Other researchers were unable to confirm the findings, and some found that dairy products cause weight gain. PCRM scored a victory for consumers when Kraft announced in August it was pulling its weight-loss ads.
Advancing Clinical Nutrition Research
Meanwhile, PCRM continued to study the benefits of a low-fat vegetarian diet in its own clinical research, publishing papers in respected journals, and releasing a number of reports on the availability of healthy food in various venues across America.
PCRM’s nutrition team spent much of the year collaborating with the University of Toronto and George Washington University on a landmark diabetes study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study tests whether a low-fat vegan diet helps patients control their disease better than the omnivorous diet currently recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
In September, the American Journal of Medicine published the results of a PCRM clinical research study on weight loss. Conducted in conjunction with the Georgetown University Hospital and George Washington University, PCRM’s study showed that women on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate vegan diet lost more weight than meat-eating dieters who followed a more typical low-fat regimen.
Publishing Ground-Breaking Clinical Reviews
In March, PCRM senior nutrition scientist Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., published important new findings about milk in the respected journal Pediatrics. Her review of more than 50 published studies found that evidence does not support the notion that drinking milk “builds strong bones” or that milk is the best source of dietary calcium.
Another major paper by PCRM, published in Nutrition Reviews, showed that a vegetarian diet can prevent and regulate high blood pressure.
In 2005, PCRM continued to survey venues across America for healthy food choices. In addition to its annual review of airport food, PCRM conducted a nationwide survey of 40 hospital cafeterias and issued a report in September showing that while more hospitals are offering fruit and whole-grain products, most have a long way to go before their food can be considered health promoting.
Given the chronic disease epidemics facing our country, raising awareness about the links between diet and disease is more important than ever. With our talented staff, dedicated volunteers, and loyal supporters, PCRM is poised to help millions more people discover the benefits of vegetarian diets.