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article imageBritish Medical Journal says U.S. dietary guidelines flawed

By Karen Graham     Sep 27, 2015 in Health
A debate has been created after a paper was published in the British Medical Journal, suggesting the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines, to be published this fall, are biased and based on an incomplete survey of current studies.
It seems the whole brouhaha started after an article published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal said the reports used to set the U.S. Dietary Guidelines might be biased and were not based on current research surveys, according to CNN.
The guidelines are updated and published every five years, with the new guidelines coming out later this year, says the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). The committee leader says only the latest and best research is used, and all committee members are thoroughly vetted.
But food journalist Nina Teicholz wrote in the British Medical Journal that the new guidelines "used weak scientific standards (which) seems to have made the report vulnerable to internal bias as well as outside agendas." Whether her remarks will change the way Americans eat is at least, questionable, but she has sparked a debate on the question: "What does a healthy diet look like?"
The debate over saturated fat consumption
One particular aspect of the new guidelines that drew criticism was the advice given on the consumption of saturated fats. Teicholz, who wrote the book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet," stated the clinical trials and observational studies used in writing the guidelines, and the explanation for whether there is a link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease, show conflicting results.
Teicholz claims the studies cited overstate the links between saturated fats and heart disease and understate the importance of a low-carbohydrate diet. She failed to mention the new report did say that saturated fats should not exceed 10 percent of our total daily calorie intake.
Jeff Volek, a professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, and a frequent critic of the dietary guidelines, perhaps because his research is never given the credit it deserves, said, "I think (Teicholz) has really put her finger on something important here."
Volek points out that while people have been educated to reduce saturated fat in their diets, they have replaced them with carbohydrates and sugar, resulting in rising rates of obesity and diabetes in this country. He says a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar, and without any limits on saturated fats should be an option, particularly for people with diabetes or who are prediabetic.
Criticism of the BMJ article was published in the Verge, who argued that some of the studies cited by Teicholz were not relevant and outside the purview of the report. Verge pointed out quite succinctly, that the guideline's focus is on maintaining health, and not preventive medicine.
Conflict of interest accusations
According to the Tech Times, in 2010, the USDA set up the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL). These guidelines, for use by the DGAC, were supposed to set the course in determining, choosing, and reviewing significant research, but the committee stated that for the 2015 report, they did not use the NEL protocols for more than 70 percent of the topics, including some of the most controversial.
Instead, the DGAC used external professional groups such as the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. In Teicholz's article, she points out these two institutions "are heavily supported by food and drug companies," and knowing this, she says this raises the potential for conflicts of interest.
These articles relating to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for 2015 may be of additional interest:
Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?
More about us dietary guidelines, British medical journal, food journalist, Biased, no strong evidence
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