Death By Food Pyramid

A favorable review by Michael Eades of what looks to be an interesting new book on the history of nutrition pseudoscience.

I hadn’t realized the degree to which George McGovern was responsible, and how much he was influenced by Pritikin. They and their junk science are responsible for millions of premature deaths, from the seventies on, likely including my father’s almost thirty-five years ago.

4 thoughts on “Death By Food Pyramid”

  1. The documentary, “Fathead”, which you can watch for free on Hulu, has excerpts of the McGovern hearings. I’m reluctant to quote from it because it’s been awhile since I watched it. However, I think McGovern says something like, we don’t have time for conclusive evidence on saturated fats and heart disease. (Someone could correct me on this if I’m wrong.)

    The impression the hearings gave me was that it was similar to the global warming debate, where we needed to push drastic, draconian and centralized measures right away, in case the science is correct.

  2. Rand, my condolences on your father.

    In the case of my own father, he was quite healthy until he decided to become healthier, and tried to do it by following the fad of ultra low fat (Pritikin included, for a while). His health decline over the next few years was quite steep, and culminated in the cancer that killed him. I have no idea if his cancer had anything to do with his diet, but I did notice the negative change in him within weeks of his decision to “eat healthier”, so I’ve often wondered if his dietary change speeded his decline.

    I’ve always considered the food pyramid to be every bit as valid as a Bernie Madoff style pyramid scheme. The only difference is, Madoff didn’t kill anyone.

  3. When I was a kid growing up in the 60s, we were taught about “the four food groups”: Meat, Dairy, Fruits/Vegetables, and Grains. The graphic used a circle divided into four compartments. I don’t recall that any category was rated as more important than any other. We were taught to try to eat something from each group at every meal. The idea of moderation made sense to me then, and still does.

    I am sure I remember reading somewhere that the food pyramid was developed at least in part under pressure from vegetarian activists who decried the “meat-centric” American diet. I’ve also heard that Big Agribusiness was also involved, in pushing more grain consumption.

  4. Several sources have placed some of the blame for the rise in obesity on the Food Pyramid, but there’s one thing I don’t quite understand…what is the connection between the Food Pyramid and actual eating habits? I can certainly understand the connection with venues such as schools where government sets the menu. But elsewhere?

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