The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the single most powerful influence on American food choices. They drive dozens of public and private programs, from school lunches to meals for the elderly, the military, hospitals and more. They’re also adopted as the “gold standard” by health-care practitioners for sick and well alike. When your doctor or nutritionist or diabetes educator hands you a diet to follow for a particular disease, you are given the guidelines. Yet at the kickoff meeting for the next Dietary Guidelines, government officials made clear that this policy is only appropriate for healthy people. The 60 percent of our population diagnosed with nutrition-related diseases — obesity, diabetes, dementia — is excluded. On this path, there’s little question that the government’s guidelines will do virtually nothing to reverse the epidemics of these diseases.
Dietary Guidelines Are Only for Healthy Americans…A Surprise from the 2020 Guidelines’ Kick-off Meeting
The advisory committee appointed to oversee the science for the next set of Dietary Guidelines, in 2020, held its inaugural meeting last month—with some startling surprises. Most extraordinary was the government’s assertion that at a time when 60% of the population is afflicted with some kind of nutrition-related disease, the Guidelines will continue to be a policy for healthy Americans only.
With such a narrow focus, this policy is on track to do virtually nothing to reverse the epidemics of disease that are causing enormous suffering as well as bankrupting our country. What’s more, this narrow scope could be illegal. A 1990 law states that the Dietary Guidelines must be for the “general public” (Sec. 301)—which is now rightly defined as those of us with nutrition-related diseases.
One committee member took issue with this narrow focus, querying the USDA staff: “But if you excluded such people [with a particular disease condition]…that would not actually be representative of who lives in this country” (Day 1, Afternoon, 47:00). Exactly.
Dietary Guidelines Only for “Healthy Americans”
It’s a secret of sorts that the Guidelines exclude people with obesity, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, or other diseases tied to nutrition. After all, the Guidelines virtually dictate feeding programs for people who are both sick and well—“captive” populations in settings such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes and more. The Guidelines are also downloaded as the virtual “gold standard” by medical doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, and nurses alike.
Thus, if you are suffering from obesity, diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure or more, professionals will hand you the government’s one-size-fits-all diet, designed exclusively for healthy people.