Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 14 No. 1 • April 2011


The 2010 Dietary Guidelines
The Latest Dietary Advice From the Government is No Help At All

Good Advice:
Fire the USDA and the HHS
More Good Advice:
Fire the FDA

The “new” Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released January 31, 2011 by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) and—surprise, surprise—is not going to help anybody other than the bureaucrats whose salaries and plush benefits (extracted from taxpayers) depend upon their producing dietary advice and pretending it is valuable. Far better to fire these agencies, keep your money, and spend it on a more healthful diet, including expensive fruits and vegetables.

A commentary1 by Dr. Roger Clemens, President-Elect of the Institute for Food Technologists (a professional scientific organization) questioned the feasibility of the guideline “tip” that you should make half the food on your plate fruits and vegetables. He said that “[a] 2006 report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (based on 2002 data) indicates that an additional 8.9 million acres of cropland are necessary to support the guidelines’ vegetable intake recommendation and about 4.1 million more acres are needed to produce the advised fruit consumption. Independent modeling suggests that by 2015 an additional 10.3 million acres of cropland will be necessary to meet vegetable production needs and an additional 4.2 million acres for fruit production. Thus, total harvestable cropland would need to increase by about 3%,* or nearly 320 million acres, a level equivalent to 1997 acreage. Equally challenging is the production of fluid milk and milk products. The 2002 data suggest an increase of 107.7 billion pounds is needed [to meet the recommendation that Americans consume more low-fat dairy products], equivalent to a 66% increase in the number of dairy cows, feed grains, and grazing acreage.” All of this, of course, in the face of government subsidies for certain crops (soy, wheat, corn) which results in higher prices for these crops and much lower production of unsubsidized crops (farmers follow the money incentives, you know), as well as environmental organizations’ staunch opposition to opening up some of the federal government’s huge land estate (the feds control over 30% of the land area of the United States) to cattle grazing. Moreover, government mandates and subsidies have resulted in 40% of America’s corn crop being used to manufacture fuel ethanol, leaving less for human consumption and animal feed in the U.S. and export to a hungry world.


* It appears to us that this ought to be 30% rather than 3%.


In an article analyzing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines published in Food Technology,2the author asks: Does adherence to the Dietary Guidelines make us healthier? She notes that the cynical response is that no one adheres to the guidelines anyway so it doesn’t matter. More seriously, she adds, there have been NO intervention studies where people follow the Dietary Guidelines and are followed to observe long-term results. So much for a scientific basis for these “guidelines.” “Generally, adherence to the Dietary Guidelines is measured in epidemiologic studies by determining a healthy eating index (HEI), a measure of adherence to the diet recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines. McCullough et al (2000) found that the HEI was only weakly associated with risk of major chronic disease. Zemora et al (2010) determined the relationship between weight gain among black and white young adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study (1985–2005). The authors created a 100 point Diet Quality Index. They concluded that their findings do not support the hypothesis that a diet consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines benefits long-term weight maintenance in young adults in America.” (see references in paper #1)

Another point made by Dr. Clemens1 was that, since eggs are a primary source of choline (with approximately 125 mg of choline per whole fresh egg) and, since the Dietary Guidelines suggest that eggs be restricted to four per week (to minimize saturated fat and cholesterol), the required daily intake of choline (450–500 mg/day according to the Institute of Medicine) may not be achieved. Without adequate supplies of choline, memory, focus, and concentration will be subnormal, since choline is required for the brain to manufacture acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital for these functions. The supply of choline is particularly critical for older people, since the ability to transport choline across the blood-brain barrier into the brain decreases markedly with age.3 Of course, if you take a choline supplement (such as our sugar-free choline formulation), you needn’t be concerned about how much choline you get from your diet, but most people do not know about or take supplemental choline. The USDA or the HHS (parent organization of the FDA) would never recommend dietary supplements; in fact, the FDA will fine you, seize your “adulterated” (mislabeled) product, or throw you in jail and throw away the key if you dare to tell people on a label or in an ad for a choline-containing supplement or food (even eggs) that the choline in them might improve your memory, focus, and concentration.

References

  1. Clemens. Dietary guidelines may produce unintended health consequences. Food Technol Feb 2011, pg. 22.
  2. Slavin. Dissecting the Dietary Guidelines. Food Technol March 2011, pp. 40-7.
  3. Cohen et al. Decreased brain choline uptake in older adults. JAMA 274(11):902-7 (1995).

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