Doctors group demands probe into diet guidelines


A group of doctors is calling for an investigation into financial pressures from the food industry it says nearly eviscerated the cholesterol warnings from the federal dietary guidelines.

The nonprofit group, known as the Physicians Committee, threatened to sue if the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to recommend Americans limit their cholesterol consumption.

{mosads}After the federally appointed panel of nutritionists that helps the USDA and HHS draft the guidelines nixed the cholesterol warnings from its report last year, the Physicians Committee used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents that they claim reveals a money trail from industry groups to the universities where members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee were employed.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released Thursday morning ultimately left the warnings about cholesterol consumption intact. The guidelines recommend Americans eat at as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern.

“The key recommendation from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day is not included in the 2015 edition, but this change does not suggest that dietary cholesterol is no longer important to consider when building healthy eating patterns,” the guidelines say.

Although the administration rejected the advisory committee’s recommendation, the Physicians Committee said it still wants to know how the advisory committee could be so easily swayed by industry.

“Cholesterol in eggs, poultry, cheese, and meat contributes to heart attacks and other health risks,” said Neal D. Barnard, MD, President of the Physicians Committee. “We praise the Government for resisting industry pressure to weaken the warnings. It has actually strengthened them.”

The guidelines have drawn the biggest backlash from environmental groups that claim the USDA and HHS caved to pressure from the meat industry and failed to recommend people eat less meat.

“USDA and HHS did not include explicit recommendations about the risks of red meat and the benefits of plant-based diets, ignoring clear scientific evidence from their own advisory committee,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Center for Science and Democracy, said in a news release. “Sustainability issues related to dietary choices are absent from these guidelines entirely. That’s a missed opportunity for informing consumers so they can make up their own minds.”

Tags Cholesterol Diets Egg Nutrition red meat Saturated fat and cardiovascular disease controversy

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