Killing Us Slowly

Why it’s a bad idea to put the government in charge of our nutrition (and health care in general):

According to Scientific American, growing research into carbohydrate-based diets has demonstrated that the medical establishment may have harmed Americans by steering them toward carbs. Research by Meir Stampfer, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, concludes that diets rich in carbohydrates that are quickly digestible—that is, with a high glycemic index, like potatoes, white rice, and white bread—give people an insulin boost that increases the risk of diabetes and makes them far more likely to contract cardiovascular disease than those who eat moderate amounts of meat and fewer carbs. Though federal guidelines now emphasize eating more fiber-rich carbohydrates, which take longer to digest, the incessant message over the last 30 years to substitute carbs for meat appears to have done significant damage. And it doesn’t appear that the government will change its approach this time around. The preliminary recommendations of a panel advising the FDA on the new guidelines urge people to shift to “plant-based” diets and to consume “only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs.”

This seems like part of the general war on science. I think that the disastrous FDA food pyramid is driven by a combination of political correctness (it’s evil to use grain to feed cattle when children are starving in India), and corporate lobbying by Big Grain (funded by us, of course, via farm subsidies). But it’s one thing to have FDA recommend things — we can always ignore them if we inform ourselves. Much more troubling is having fascist nannies like Nurse Bloomberg force us to follow their recommendations.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Glenn has a question:

In an age when aggressive government agencies in places like New York City seek a greater hand in shaping Americans’ diets, the next set of guidelines, published later this year, could prove more controversial than usual because increasing scientific evidence suggests that some current federal recommendations have simply been wrong. Will a public-health establishment that has been slow to admit its mistakes over the years acknowledge the new research and shift direction? Or will it stubbornly stick to its obsolete guidelines?

Can we sue them and jail their executives, like we’d do if they were drug companies . . . .?

No, because you see, the drug companies are all about corporate greed and profits, whereas the bureaucrats have nothing in mind but our good health.

8 thoughts on “Killing Us Slowly”

  1. What I have been saying for years. Maybe someone will pay attention this time….yeah right. At least people seem to be getting the message about whole grains. It is a start.

  2. Rand, I agree with you on the awful food pyramid, it’s atrocious.

    The fact is that all fats are not equal. For example, olive oil is quite healthy, whereas meat fat may be less so. But, the food pyramid treats them the same. That’s why I call it the FDA Pyramid Scheme.

    I’d like to add that there are even worse examples of government meddling in health. One that affects me personally; Diabetes guidelines.

    Carbs turn to sugar when digested, and though this may come as a surprise to the government, avoiding sugar is a good idea for diabetics. Yet, the government come up with diet guidelines that emphasize carbs for diabetics. Potatoes, rice, etc. This is insanity for any diabetic who is not a type one. (About 10% are type one, and they can get away with that kind of a diat via adjusting the insulin dosages. *IF* they are on a DAFNE system (Dosage Adjusted For Normal Eating). For the other 90% of diabetics, a high carb diet is madness. A lower glycemic high carb diet is not as bad, but it’s still a bad idea.

    My personal view; the Food Pyramid Scheme and the anti-dietary-fat crusade are prime causes of the diabetes epidemic, and the government guidelines then channel the diabetics to an early grave.
    Gee thanks, government.

  3. I am always impressed by how amazing the US government appears to be at forcing people to do things. I’m equally amazed at the number of times the US government appears to be able to get people do terrible things to themselves, when other countries with similar guidelines have different results.

    Anybody would think that there were other factors at work… perhaps an increase in high calorific food sweetened with sweetening agents that aren’t easily metabolized by the human body leading to insulin resistance…

    Hey, I wonder if that might be what we observe? I also wonder if the average portion size in the last 40 years has increased too?

    But please, don’t let facts get in the way of opinion chaps and chapesses.

  4. Look, over there! It’s a tank-car of that evil HFCS I’ve heard so much about. RUN AWAAAAY!

  5. I have to say, every aspect of this — the Sci American article, and your aye aye response to it, is idiotic. There has never been any push to get people to eat a diet of simple carbohydrates — white rice and white bread, and sugars. The recommendation to weight the diet toward carbohydrates has always been toward WHOLE and NON-simple carbohydrates. The very pull-quote you use proves this: “Though federal guidelines now emphasize eating more fiber-rich carbohydrates, which take longer to digest, the incessant message over the last 30 years to substitute carbs for meat appears to have done significant damage.” There is no appearance of damage from this message–which has not been about simple carbohydrate in the past either. The “now” is inappropriate.

    And people have not taken such a message to heart, either. We have a meat-centric diet filled with fat and dairy and simple carbs in highly processed foods—that is what most Americans eat. It is what kills more than half of Americans. Not “carbohydrates”—an omnivorous diet that is heavily weighted toward meat, dairy, and the simple carbs in processed foods and desserts. The latter has never been recommended by anyone, including the food pyramid.

    These do NOT push people toward heart disease, but away from it.

    And it’s idiotic to claim that nutritionists’ recommendation of plant-based diet because nutritionists want to push the PC belief that “it’s evil to use grain to feed cattle when children are starving in India.” That has only recently sprung up, and is easily dismissed as well.

    But no more easily than the idea that there is some “Big Grain.” Who would that be, exactly? No one in Big Grain would not also be part of “Big Dairy” or “Big Meat” or “Big Processed Foods” or “Big Sugar.”

    The ignorance on display here is mammoth. “Carbs turn to sugar.” Yes, they do–because that’s what the body uses; that’s where energy is. When the body is forced to convert fat and protein for use as energy, THEY turn to sugar too, but in a far less efficient and far more damaging way for the body. They create a high proportion of ash, and high protein–made of acids–has to be buffered by dissolving bone. (This is not controversial or someone’s weird theory. This is utterly conventional knowledge.) Your brain uses ONLY sugar to work. Think you can get by without carbohydrates? You’re not thinking without them.

    I am not advocating a nanny state or a government-approved nutritional profile like any of the pyramids. But the fact that government had one does not make it erroneous. And it doesn’t justify ludicrous conspiracy theories (“Big Grain” did it!). Most Americans die from their meat, dairy, and simple carbs diets’ long-term effects, and suffer ill health for decades prior to death.

  6. the government also, for decades, recommended margarines over butter as ‘healthier.’ But we now know that butter was and is far safer than the margarines, loaded with trans-fats.

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