Last updated on April 18th, 2017
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is age-old advice that’s hard to argue with. The problem is, people often disagree about whether a thing is broken or not. That’s the case with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, first foisted on American citizens by their federal government in 1980, and since revised every five years. This year will see the release of the next revision. But will it be a fix?
Many see the Dietary Guidelines as seriously flawed and in need of fixing. I’m in that camp — no surprise there! The low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet that I follow is the opposite of the diet recommended by the feds.
At one time, I tried to follow the Dietary Guidelines, eating a diet much lower in saturated fat and much higher in refined carbohydrates than the one I now eat. During that period of my life, roughly from 1983 to 2011, I got progressively fatter. It wasn’t until I stopped listening to the official dietary advice of my government that I lost significant amounts of weight and was able to keep it lost.
Before I began ignoring the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, I was obese. Now, I am not obese. I’m not exactly thin, but I’m not obese. That’s all the proof I need to tell me that Guidelines are broken and need to be fixed.
But there is a lot more proof available. My experience is far from unique. Since 1980, when the low-fat guidelines were first issued, the obesity rate in the United States has sky-rocketed.
And yet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have stuck to their low-fat, high-carb dogma.
The question is, why? One expert asking that question is Jeff Volek, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and Full Professor in the Department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University, with 270 professional articles to his credit. In a recent opinion article published by Newsweek, Volek takes the Dietary Advisory Guidelines Committee to task for sticking with an obviously broken approach. (Update: also see “New Article Blasts Feds’ ‘Pseudoscientific Methods’ For Establishing Dietary Guidelines” at Reason.com.)
He argues that science and fact are on the side of change, of a low-carb fix, and that the main force opposing such a fix is bureaucratic face-saving.
Unfortunately, as Volek well realizes, bureaucratic face-saving is a powerful force. Even with millions of lives and billions of dollars at stake, it will be all-but impossible for the government to admit that it has been wrong for 35 years.
So here’s my advice to the bureaucrats.
Don’t admit anything. Say it was all a misunderstanding. Hell, stonewall. You’re good at that.
But just fix the Dietary Guidelines. Issue guidelines that will actually help people reduce their chances of becoming diabetic or obese, instead of the opposite.
Your country will be thinner for it.