Conflicting Dietary Advise

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Conflicting Dietary Advise

 Laurence T. Gayao MD

For the last few years we have received conflicting dietary advise from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetic Association and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Don’t we have enough studies on nutrition to establish guidelines for good nutrition? What causes the conflicting information regarding good nutrition guidelines? A closer look at   these studies shows there are a good number these studies that have been sponsored by different sectors of the food industries are skewed to promote their business interests and not that of us the consumers.

Major Health Organizations With Conflict of Interest

I googled for example the company sponsors of the American Dietetic Association and found among them are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Abbott Nutrition, General Mills, kellogg’s, Mars,  SoyJoy, Turivia, Subway, Jamba Juice, Monsanto Funds and many different pharmaceutical companies. These are large multibillion corporate food manufacturers. Pharmaceutical companies sponsors who produce antibiotics, growth enhancing products for animals and other chemicals used in pesticides. Event sponsors for meetings were American Beverage Association, ConAgra Foods (producers of and assortment of processed foods for stores, restaurants and food service establishments), Post Cereal (cereal manufacturer) and Safeway (a grocery retailer).

food politics Conflicting Dietary Advise
Marion Nestles book showing the influences in the US nutritional government policies and guidelines. Image from Amazon

I checked  American Cancer Society, among their sponsors are: Tyson Foods (the largest supplier of poultry meat, Redners (retail food company), Walmart, Kroger and several large pharmaceutical companies.

Influence of Pharmaceutical Industry

to Barbara Roberts, M.D. and Martha Rosenberg “The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) released new cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines. They are a gross example of much that is wrong with medicine today.

The new guidelines propose a vast expansion of the use of statins in healthy people, recommending them for about 44 percent of men and 22 percent of healthy women between the ages of 40 and 75. According to calculations by John Abramson, lecturer at Harvard Medical School, 13,598,000 healthy people for whom statins were not recommended based on the 2001 guidelines now fall into the category of being advised to take moderate or high intensity statin therapy.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to “build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.” Yet in its 2011-2012 financial statement, the AHA noted $521 million in donations from non-government and non-membership sources and many well-known large drug companies, including those who make and market statins, contribute amounts in the $1 million range.”

Instead of recommending lifestyle changes in diet and exercise they recommend the use of pharmaceuticals for heart disease prevention. In short, support pharmaceutical products of their sponsors on bases studies that were sponsored by the same companies.


Influence of Food Industry Lobby

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture has an advisory committee that releases nutritional guidelines every five years. The latest released was in 2015.  But a number of leading nutrition experts—including some tasked by the government to advise it on the latest research—say the guidelines are influenced too much by food manufacturers, food producers, and special interest groups.

“It’s upsetting to see cycles of misinformation coming back over and over again,” says Dr. David Heber, founding director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Human Nutrition. “The public has been confused and will remain confused by these guidelines.”

Dr. Frank Hu one of members of the committee says the food industry has a very strong influence especially in the advice on red meat consumption, which lobbied not to especially strongly advice from staying away from eating processed meats (hotdogs and salami) which has been known to be linked to high incidence of cancer, and  the heavy eating of red meat which repeatedly in studies shows a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The committee instead recommended eating process meats, but to just cut down on the amount. It is just like saying it alright to smoke just cut down on the amount

See this documentary that exposes food politics causing misleading information 

The guidelines still recommends high intake of carbohydrates and avoid fats. “This advice to eat more carbs and avoid fat is exactly backwards if you want to improve health and lower body weight,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco. He and other nutrition researchers say the popularity of anti-fat, pro-carb guidelines helped fuel a rise in diet-related health problems. The fats that need to be avoided are the trans-fats. A recent report from Harvard School of Public Health lists lower trans fat consumption as one of the major reasons rates of premature death and disease fell among Americans adults from 1999 to 2012.

The guidelines also say’s the average American don’t consume enough dairy products and recommended the increase their intake of dairy products. “There’s just no scientific evidence to support such large amounts of dairy consumption,” Harvard’s Dr. Walter Willett says, adding that dairy industry influence may have played a role in that as well.

On closer examination of these guidelines reveals the evidence of the underlying food politics. The Department of Agriculture supports the meat and dairy industries with subsidies on one side and there is the scientific knowledge on the other. The the advisory committee are under pressure by the business interests of the food industry which undermines public interests for their advantage.

Consumer Beware

There is indeed conflicting nutritional advise out there. A Canadian study found that government-run sites were consistently accurate in the Canadian system in their health advice, but news sites were right only 55 per cent of the time and those that were sponsored by a product or service gave no helpful advice. The Canadians offer free universal healthcare to its citizens, so there is greater incentive for the government to keep its citizen as hearth as posible. This just shows us to be discriminating on the source of our information. Total Fitness Medicine try’s to bring you as accurate information to avoid conflicting dietary advice that is promoted by those primarily to create more profits for their businesses but to the detriment of the consumers.

Your fitness Doc


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2 thoughts on “Conflicting Dietary Advise

  1. I did a presentation on this subject, and during my research came to the same conclusions: You cannot trust the U.S. Food Industry, American Medical Association, or the U.S. Government when it comes to health and nutrition. Each has ingrained financial interests that go beyond proper health advise. I believe that many people have come to understand this, and is why Chinese Medicine, Yogaic, Organic, Qi (chi), and other ancient-natural practices have become popular and acceptable in Western Culture and Civilization. These practices, combined with an organic, low calorie, higher fat diet, and proper supplementation is the first best step in avoiding these industries.

    1. Duane, I am glad to have allies like you who are in the forefront helping promoting health fitness sound advice, based on evidence based and without conflict of interest. More power to all of us. Thank you.

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