The Enormous Role of Politics in our Dietary

Dietary is a very important topic. Nutrition plays a great role in life every user and for LEENjoy followers too. There are a lot of interesting and useful courses about health care and diets too in catalogs of Levelnaut website.

But GetSmarter online training platform informs us about something different. And after reading the following information you will understand the reason.

What Is the Role of Politics in Food and Dietary Guidelines?

It might be strange to consider that politics could play a role in our food and dietary requirements, but according to Professor Christopher Gardner, it would be naive not to think so. In fact, when it comes to dietary guidelines and industry-funded research, political influence should be considered as much a factor (if not more) than the actual science.

We have dietary guidelines in the U.S. It’s informed by evidence, it’s these scientific studies that generate the evidence. So every five years we update our dietary guidelines for Americans. I know you were on that committee years ago. And the job is to look for the most recent evidence and see if there’s reason to change the guidelines.

And then they’re handed over to make dietary guidelines for Americans, and because that means maybe eating more of something and less of something else, that there’s money involved and there’s politics in this. So as much as it’s evidence-based, can you comment on the inherent role of politics in our dietary guidelines?

Well, dietary guidelines are enormously political because anytime you tell somebody what not to eat, the industry that makes that particular food or food product is going to lose money and they’re not going to like that. So the way the dietary guidelines process is set up is that a committee is appointed of nutrition experts, and they review the literature and look at all the studies.

And then they write a very long report that can be as long as 600 pages. And that report on the science is given to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services staff to boil down into a much, much shorter statement of the dietary guidelines. And so the committee can be as apolitical and as nonpartisan and as scientific as it wants to, but once it goes to the agencies, it’s a completely political process.

So selling more or selling less of something means lobbyists going before Congress and money being paid to enhance something or downplay another thing. So it’s almost naïve to think that there wouldn’t be politics in food.

Fair enough?

I think that would be extremely naïve because every food product, trade association for food product, major company, hires lots of lobbyists in Washington to make sure that dietary guidelines never say anything bad about their products. Uh, that’s one of the things they lobby about.

The big dairy example
I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on the dairy council and the dairy industry. For one, if you go back in history and look at how many food groups there were, there were four, there were five. Now we have a MyPlate. We had a pyramid. Dairy has always been one of those food groups. And as I understand it, I think from reading one of your books, early on the dairy council was very generous in providing educational material for schools.

And part of that educational material said dairy should be part of your absolute everyday diet. Despite the fact that 70% of the world is lactose intolerant, and we have a lot of different cultures and groups in schools. Can you comment on that? I don’t have as much background as you do.

Well, the dairy industry has always promoted dairy foods as high in calcium, high in protein, high in nutrients and essential food for children. Actually, dairy products are essential foods for cows, for baby cows. Um, you know, baby children are better off being breastfed, but dairy products are foods. And it’s not only milk. It’s yogurt, it’s cheese. It’s ice-cream. The dairy industry has been very effective in a unified approach to promoting its products.

It has convinced the American public and certainly the American government that dairy foods are their own food group, even though. I would argue, and maybe you would argue too, that dairy foods are foods like any other, if you like them and can tolerate them, they’re fine. But the nutrients that they provide can be provided by other foods.

And certainly, there are lactose intolerant societies that don’t eat dairy foods who flourish quite well, getting their calcium from vegetables or other sources. But the dairy industry in the 1940s began promoting the United States government’s four food groups. One of those four food groups was dairy products.

And so of course they made these beautiful handouts that you would distribute in school demonstrating that not only were dairy foods, one of the four food groups, but they were the number one food group. And that has stayed that way through these kinds of materials until the most recent MyPlate where dairy foods are still there, but they’re off to the side.

I really loved the way that you framed it, that dairy has some important nutrients for health, and they’re not unique to dairy. Well, the way the dairy and the meat industries promotion of dietary guidelines with their foods as food groups, the way that’s been explained to me is that every state has dairy cattle, and every state has meat cattle and every state in the United States has two sectors.

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