Herald & Review Op Ed: Stop Feeding Illinoisans Bad Nutrition Advice

By Betsy Goulet, Herald & Review, 2/11/18

From Chicago to Springfield, many Illinoisans have resolved to eat healthier and lose weight this year. Most will fail, and not solely because they're sneaking too many snacks.

Folks who scrupulously follow the federal government's advice on healthy eating often see their waistlines expand, not contract. How come? The government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans are based on flawed, half-century-old research.

A growing body of science suggests that the guidelines may have played a huge role in causing the current epidemic of obesity-related diseases. It's time for federal officials to revamp the guidelines so that they reflect the best available nutrition science.

The guidelines, jointly published every five years by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, are intended to help "reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes." By that measure, the policy has been a disaster.

Since the release of the first guidelines in 1980, the share of citizens who are either overweight or obese has soared from 48 percent to 75 percent. The share of Americans with diabetes, meanwhile, rose from 2.5 percent in 1980 to well over 7 percent today.

Here in Illinois, the health stats are especially grim. The obesity rate in Illinois has increased more in the last five years than almost every other state. Now, nearly one in three adults is obese. Roughly 13 percent of state residents suffer from diabetes, more than double the rate from 1994.

These dismal results are no coincidence. For years, the government has recommended carbohydrate-rich diets -- advising Americans to consume 6 to 11 daily servings of breads, cereals, and grains, while keeping fat intake low.

Read the full article at the Herald & Review. 

Betsy Goulet, DPA, is a Clinical Assistant Professor/CAST Coordinator at the University of Illinois Springfield's College of Public Affairs and Administration.