NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 22, 2010

It seems that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which revise dietary guidelines for Americans every five years, are even more reluctant to admit to a mistake than your average guy.  Indeed, there's increasing scientific evidence that past and current federal dietary recommendations are often wrong, says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and senior editor of "City Journal." 

For instance: 

  • In the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers analyzed the daily food intake of 350,000 people and found no link between the amount of saturated fat ingested and the risk of heart disease, even though Americans have been told since 1980 to supplant saturated fats with carbohydrates.
  • The diet-to-heart connection just isn't holding up; by recommending an increase in carbohydrates over fat, the government has actually contributed to the obesity epidemic, points out the American Council on Science and Health's (ACSH) Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.  

In its new recommendations, the FDA advises Americans to reduce daily sodium intake to a maximum of 1,500 milligrams. "This guideline is not consistent with good health for the majority of Americans, not to mention impossible to comply with, and is likely to do more harm than good," says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. 

"In the 1970s, the dogma was not to eat more than one visible egg per day, but now we know eggs are very nutritious and one of the least dangerous foods one can eat.  The FDA is just wrong, and their recommendations reflect popular wisdom more than science," says Dr. Whelan.  "They're just not willing to make modifications even when science shows the truth." 

Source: "Inaccurate Dietary Guidelines," American Council on Science and Health, July 20, 2010; and Steven Malanga, "U.S. dietary guidelines hard to swallow," Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2010. 

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