Dietary Guidelines And Global Warming

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In February, 2015, the Final Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) was released. This report will serve as the basis for the next revision of the official U.S. Dietary Guidelines, due to be published later in 2015.

Since the last edition of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines was published in 2010, much of the public has come to recognize that public health experts have been “mistaken” about some of the dogma they have urged upon us for decades regarding dietary fat.

Since the 1970s it has been “settled science” (that is, beyond questioning by any right-thinking individual) that low-fat diets are vital to our health; that avoiding cholesterol in our diets is critical; that saturated fat is poisonous to our cardiovascular systems; and (until a few years ago) that substituting trans fats for saturated fats would be healthful.

But we now know that low-fat diets do not prevent cardiac disease.

We know that dietary cholesterol has only a minimal effect on our blood cholesterol numbers.

We know that the evidence against saturated fats is (and always has been) quite shaky.

And we know that trans fats are quite toxic to our cardiovascular systems.

What Does The 2015 DGAC Report Say?

Now that the evidence is overtaking the experts, how did the DGAC address dietary fat issues in their 2015 report?

1) They simply neglect to mention low-fat diets at all. Low fat diets?

Who ever said anything about low-fat diets?

2) They forthrightly changed their stance on dietary cholesterol. Eating eggs is healthy again.

3) The DGAC dutifully notes that four major meta-analyses have been published in the last few years failing to show any association between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease.

However, the committee essentially brushes this evidence aside (speculating that the people in these studies who restricted saturated fats must have eaten refined carbs instead - likely true, since the experts themselves pushed low-fat, high-carb diets for decades). And thus, the DGAC continues to urge us to strictly avoid saturated fats.

Saturated Fats and Global Warming

Sensing that their most fundamental dietary pillar - that saturated fats are bad for us - is rapidly crumbling, the DGAC in 2015 has taken the most extraordinary step of broadening its mandate. Instead of concerning itself solely with the health of Americans, it now chooses to also work toward solving the problem of global warming. So: If we don’t really need to avoid saturated fats for the sake of our health, we still need to avoid them to save our planet.

To quote from the 2015 DGAC report:

“Moderate to strong evidence demonstrates that healthy dietary patterns that are higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods are associated with more favorable environmental outcomes (lower greenhouse gas emissions and more favorable land, water, and energy use) than are current U.S. dietary patterns.”

Regardless of whether you believe in man-made global warming (or on the other hand are a denier of settled science as defined by hand-picked panels of experts), you should take note of this fundamental change in the purpose of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

The dietary recommendations our government is now promulgating for us may or may not have anything to do with helping us to maintain our optimal health. They may, instead, be aimed at achieving some other, completely unrelated, goal.

And if it’s your own health that is your primary concern when you decide what food to eat, you should understand that official dietary recommendations may or may not be giving you the best advice. However, upon further reflection (given the recent history of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines), this fact may not represent such a radical change after all.


Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee,

Rohrmann S, Overvad K, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, et al. Meat consumption and mortality–results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. BMC Med. 2013;11:63.

Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160:398–406.

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