PHOTO: Dr. Sarah Hallberg is part of the newly formed The Nutrition Coalition.
Just as the House Agriculture Committee hearings get underway today to look at the proposed changes to the U. S. Dietary Guidelines, a new group has banded together in the fight against the science used to determine them.
First, a reminder of why the Dietary Guidelines — and getting them right — is so important: they play a role in everything food-wise in our country. Your child’s school lunch is based on them. The labels on the side of foods that we study before making a purchase are based on them, Nutrition textbooks are based on them. You get the drift: they are the basis of nutritional advice we all are urged to follow to maintain or reach a healthy weight, so they darn sure should be accurate.
Anyway, back to The Nutrition Coalition. It brings together doctors, scientists, academics and other nutrition experts who are concerned that the Guidelines and their proposed changes “have not reflected the most conclusive and current science available,” according to a statement released by the newly formed non-profit.
Basically, as I wrote a couple weeks back, there are those in the nutrition community who are very upset with the science that has been used to determine the Dietary Guidelines. In the past data from the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) solely was used, so the information would be uniform. In this set of Guidelines, data from outside organizations was relied on, and that data often is funded by industry, which, let’s face it, can have a vested interest in how things pan out.
The Nutrition Coalition has been formed with no money from industry groups, according to its website. At this point its sole source of funding is the Action Network Initiative. The ANI supports efforts that work to make sure public policy is based on sound science. It is supported by philanthropists Laura and John D. Arnold. In case you forgot, I wrote about them and the study they are helping fund on sugar and its impact on the liver.
The 16 names of those included on The Nutrition Coalition are some of the most prominent in nutrition. (See them all here.) Among them is Dr. Sarah Hallberg. She created a medically supervised weight loss clinic and spends her days counseling those who are overweight and/or diabetic. As she said in a great talk she gave as part of the TedXPurdue Talks last spring, the first thing diabetics need to do is ignore the nutritional guidelines give you. I keep saying this, but I mean it: I have got to get myself down to Lafayette, Ind., where she is based, just to soak up some of her wisdom. Check out the good doctor’s talk below:
And, on TNC’s governing board is Nina Teicholz, author of the New York Times best seller “The Big Fat Surprise.” Honestly, if I had been the person in charge of putting together the panel on nutrition experts for the Dietary Guidelines, Teicholz would have been one of the first I included. She spent nine years going over every word in nutrition studies. She did extensive interviews with all the prominent experts in the field. Her conclusion is that saturated fat not only is not harmful but actually good for us. “Big Fat Surprise” shows how the low-fat/high-carb diet that has been pushed on us all has done nothing but made us fatter and sicker. (Plus, readers of “The Big Fat Surprise” ee how personalities and personal agendas often played a bigger role than actual science in how much of nutrition policy has been determined.)
Remember, the same tired food recommendations have resulted in only one-third of Americans being at what’s considered a healthy weight. And two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. How can anyone think we should continue on this same wrong path?
The Nutrition Coalition sounds like just what we need right about now.