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Beef Magazine Jul 30, 2020

DGAC plows ahead with dietary guidelines, despite growing concern

While the report is not comforting for the future of animal products, there are some glimmers of hope.

Far from delaying, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Report early, all 835 pages. The 18-page Executive Summary is enough to spark considerable concern for red meat producers, even though lean meat is still on the list of permissible foods. Going into the detail in Chapter 1 contains good news, bad news and confusion.

Considering the DGAC was actually weighing whether or not red meat would be actually allowed at all in the 2015 guidelines, its inclusion in the 2020 guidelines is a victory. That might be the result of assiduous work from associations providing research data to USDA.

While the report is not comforting for the future of animal products, there are some glimmers of hope. There are also contradictory impulses in the report, as it mentions some Americans not getting enough protein and iron, for example, or vitamin B-12 or calcium. Beef is one of the best sources of protein, iron and vitamin B-12 and diary is an excellent source of calcium. Yet these are discouraged by the DGAC.

Saturated fats

The hang-up seems to be saturated fats provided by animal products, palm and coconut oil. Despite the fact that human beings have been eating meat for millennia and getting smarter and living longer, the DGAC states that there is absolutely no Daily Recommended Intake for saturated fats. Indeed, allowing less than 10% of the daily intake as saturated fats is a capitulation for the committee.

Multiple times the report states that Americans would be better off with less red and processed meat, fewer added sugars, less sodium and alcoholic beverages in our diets. There are only three recommended diet patterns. One is a vegetarian pattern, devoted to the very small percentage of Americans following that pattern. That an entire pattern is devoted to possibly 5% of the population makes one wonder if the committee wants to encourage that pattern.

The committee seems unaware that the link between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol has been largely discredited and likewise the connection between serum cholesterol and heart disease. But they express concern that “In adults 20 years and older, the overall prevalence of high total cholesterol is still more than 10 percent.”

Ten percent. In other words, the DGAC would change the entire population’s diet for the 10% whose bodily feedback mechanism is faulty and overproduces a crucial bodily compound.

To further muddy waters, the committee notes that “Because dietary cholesterol is found only in animal-source foods that are typically also sources of saturated fat, the independent effects of dietary cholesterol on CVD [cardiovascular disease] are difficult to assess.”

More than 50 years of research and the committee’s own review has not resolved fault, so why is the committee recommending consumption limits?

The answer seems to be that the apparent war on saturated fats, animal products and cholesterol needs all the reasons, or alleged reasons, the committee can find...


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