How strong is the science behind the U.S. Dietary Guidelines?

News Brief by Rumzah Paracha

           Many leading journalists and researchers are questioning the authenticity of the US Dietary Guidelines. Nina Teicholz, a food journalist, wrote a critique in the British Medical Journal that condemned the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for ignoring recent research regarding the correlation of saturated fats and heart disease. Jeff Volek, a professor and researcher at Ohio State University, and Teicholz claim that the Committee purposefully overstated the medical risks of saturated fats and understated the value of a low-carbohydrate diet. While chairwomen of the current Advisory Committee, Barbara Millen, stated that research used in the creation of the Dietary Guidelines must meet a long list of criteria and is representative of the most relevant and current studies, Teicholz claims that ulterior motives and biases may influence the Guidelines. Several members of the Committee receive research funding from companies that make products, like vegetable oil, which are encouraged by the guidelines. Edward Archer, an obesity theorist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, believes that the Committee is pressured to maintain the status quo and agree with previous guidelines rather than evolve with new information. While most critics agree that the 2015 Guidelines made some positive improvements, such as not recommending a total fat limit and acquitting cholesterol of its bad reputation, they fear that possible bias and the lack of thorough representation of new research will negatively impact the public’s dietary decisions. In contrast, Jeanne Goldberg, a nutrition professor at Tufts University, does not think that the Guidelines will have much of an influence on consumption because they are hard for the average person to adapt into their daily diet. Additionally, professionals already have distinct opinions about diet that are not likely to change. 

Storrs, Carina. (2015, October). How Strong Is the U.S. Dietary Guidelines' Science? CNN. Cable News Network. Retrieved October 26, 2015 www.cnn.com/2015/09/24/health/dietary-guidelines-science/index.html