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Federal Food Fiasco

Federal Food Fiasco
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The government is not qualified to give you nutritional advice. Action Alert!

Every five years, the federal government is supposed to release a set of dietary guidelines for Americans. The report contains a number of recommendations to “improve” Americans’ eating habits. While it may sound like a laudable goal, the very nature of the project dooms it to failure: the American public simply cannot trust the government when it comes to dietary advice. The process to set the guidelines, like most other government programs, is rife with cronyism, with various interest groups—from Big Food to vegetarian groups—vying to influence the guidelines and to get their slice of government cheese.

This has been true since the very first “Dietary Goals for Americans” was released in 1977. A draft of the report called for a reduction in sugar, fat, and cholesterol in the American diet to stem the tide of the growing obesity epidemic. As documented in the film “Fed Up,” the egg, sugar, dairy, and beef industries, which saw their bottom lines threatened, demanded the guidelines be re-written. They got their wish: the goals were revised to suggest that Americans, rather than reduce sugar, fat, and cholesterol intake, instead buy food with less fat, spawning the “low-fat” junk food market.

This isn’t to say that we agree with the original dietary guidelines. Even without the influence of special interests, the government is not equipped to decide what good nutrition is.

Recently, the US Department of Agriculture put out a call for public comments to get the ball rolling on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

As we reported when the previous iteration of the dietary guidelines were released, the report had some major issues: its vitamin D recommendations were absurdly low; it failed to recognize the importance of dietary supplements to achieve optimal nutrient levels; it relied on outdated and largely disproven research to recommend a reduction in saturated fat; and it suggested eating as little cholesterol as possible, despite what the best research says about the importance of dietary cholesterol.

These missteps prove the point: the government should not be in the business of telling us what to eat.

Action Alert! Write to the USDA and tell them that 1) they have no business telling us what we should or shouldn’t eat, especially given special interest influence of the guidelines, and 2) if they are nevertheless going to continue with this process, the next dietary guidelines should correct the mistakes in the previous report. Please send your message immediately.

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