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Are Radical Nutritionists Hijacking Federal Dietary Guidelines?

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“The federal committee crafting the 2015 ‘Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ features radical nutritionists who favor Americans moving to ‘plant-based’ diets and a vice chair that laughs about sending Ronald McDonald to the guillotine.” –The Washington Free Beacon, March 12, 2014.

The federal committee being described is the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which is a joint venture between USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. Every five years it meets to make official nutrition recommendations to the American public.

Several publications claim that “green radicals” want to plan your food menu and have stacked the Committee with radical green activists who are pushing veganism. This argument is made by the Capital Research Center.

Federal committee may be more concerned with social engineering than food science

According to reports, the DGAC meeting on January 13, 2014, featured a speaker from the University of Minnesota who claimed that Americans should become vegetarians in order to achieve sustainability in the face of climate change.

The speaker from the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture declared: “What pattern of eating best contributes to food security and sustainability of land, [sic] air and water? The simple answer is a plant-based diet.”

A committee member, Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, has stated, “Eating red meat is associated with a startling increased risk of death, from cancer and heart disease.” Back in March of 2012, Dr. Hu told ABC World News, “We should switch from a red meat-based diet to a plant-based diet with healthier protein choices.”  

The DGAC is a taxpayer-funded committee given the task of updating the nation’s nutrition guidelines which are used to develop meal plans in cafeterias, military facilities, prisons, schools, and the food stamp program.  It’s composed of 15 career academics.

The Capital Research Center claims: “The professors of the DGAC have a unique view of the world of nutrition and it has more to do with the ‘green’ movement’s quest for nirvana than food science and common sense.”

This is the committee which recommends the famous Food Pyramid.

One committee member, a professor at the University of North Carolina, called for direct government intervention to force Americans to lose weight.  The DGAC was advised that direct government intervention is required to help Americans who are obese through weekly contact with federal agents, comprehensive diet monitoring, multiple face-to-face contacts per month, a daily internet weigh-in program, and sending obese individuals morning text messages – all in an effort to undertake a

comprehensive lifestyle intervention.

Dr. Miriam Nelson, Chair of the DGAC, claims that Americans should eat less meat “…to limit their carbon footprint.”

According to a Washington think tank, Dr. Nelson is the founder of the “Strong Women Initiative” which seeks to create social change by empowering women in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention. Dr. Nelson has been quoted saying “Eating fewer animals but choosing them wisely and reducing sugar, refined grains [and] things like that.”

Another member of the committee, Rafael Perez-Escamilla, is identified by the Center for Consumer Freedom as being involved in the “food justice movement.” This DGAC member is involved in food security issues “…to shape much healthier, fairer food systems from the local to the global level.”

The vice chairman of the DGAC, Alice Lichtenstein, also praises former New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban and Mexico’s soda and junk food tax.

A history lesson
According to Capital Research, the first food guidelines from the U.S. Government were issued in 1894. In 1916, five main types of food were recommended, and in 1974, Sweden developed the Food Pyramid which USDA uses to this day. In 1992, USDA published the Food Pyramid which a number of experts have called a nutritional disaster because it recommended a high carbohydrate low protein diet.

Several commentators following the members of the DGAC and its conclusions believe there is a distorted view being prepared by the committee. One publication said: “An examination of the committee’s roster reveals that many of its members are far more concerned with social engineering than with food science and sound nutrition.”

Remember Dr. Hu and his attack on red meat? A Harvard colleague of Dr. Hu’s, Dr. Mathieu Lalonde, criticized Dr. Hu on November 26, 2013, saying “…there is no research that can adequately link red meat consumption and increased risks for mortality.”  

(This article first ran in Farm Futures on September 15, 2014)

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