New Dietary Guidelines Do Little to Help Americans
On January 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a revised set of the influential Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one of the country’s primary sources of nutrition advice and the basis for all government nutrition programs. Unfortunately, the agency—long criticized for being in the pocket of the food industry—once again seems to have let business interests take precedence. PCRM issued a news release the same day:
“The Guidelines will not stem our nation’s rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” said Neal Barnard, M.D., PCRM president. “The USDA must take the meat, dairy, and junk-food industries’ influence out of the guidelines process,” said Barnard. “We need to start talking real problems and real solutions.” Among them:
- Fatty foods—including meat and dairy products as well as sugary foods—are also high-calorie foods. They contribute to our growing obesity problems and to the rising rates of diabetes.
- Meat consumption increases the risk of colon and other colorectal cancers.
- Consumption of dairy products—milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream—increases the risk of developing ovarian and prostate cancer.
- Consumption of meat and dairy products makes heart disease and stroke more likely.
- Mercury and other toxins contained in fish are proven carcinogens and teratogens. The dangers of fish consumption far outweigh any benefits stated under the new guidelines.
- Low-fat, high-fiber diets built on whole foods from plant sources—vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit—are the healthiest sources of nutrition.
- The Guidelines should specifically recommend that Americans avoid meat, dairy products, and fish.
PCRM is one of the most influential critics of the USDA. In 2000, PCRM won a major lawsuit against the agency for violating federal law by withholding documents revealing bias among its last Dietary Guidelines advisory panel. Six out of 11 panel members were shown to have links with the meat, dairy, and egg industries.