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Remembering Kevin Moore

2010 Dietary Guidelines Board Named, All Low-Carb Nominees Rejected


The upcoming 2010 dietary recommendations will likely change very little

Oh, I had such high hopes for the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services when Cornell psychology professor Dr. Brian Wansink was named the new executive director of the Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) late last year. The author of a fantastic book about how our perception influences our behavior in regards to our diet called Mindless Eating, Wansink came across to me as a highly personable and open-minded individual who was open to hearing from a variety of voices in the health arena.

I recall having a very delightful half hour conversation with Dr. Wansink after writing this blog post criticizing his research and then again in my blog interview with him in November 2007. On both occasions, he made it clear to me that livin’ la vida low-carb is indeed a good viable option for some people who desire weight loss and have been unsuccessful on other diets.

“I very much agree with your big point that if a person wants to lose a lot of weight a serious…low carb approach like the one you recommend can be very useful,” Wansink said.

Since Dr. Wansink has made it clear that he sees no real problem with the low-carb nutritional approach, one would think he’d be delighted to have at least one or more low-carb research experts on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, right? If you actually believe that, then you would be dead wrong!

Despite the fact that several prominent low-carb researchers and practitioners were nominated to be on this panel earlier this year, including Eric C. Westman, M.D., M.H.S from Duke University, Mary C. Vernon, M.D. from The University of Kansas, Richard D. Feinman, Ph.D. from SUNY Downstate, Stephen Phinney, M.D. from The University of California-Davis, and Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D. from The University of Connecticut, all of the low-carb nominees who were under consideration were summarily rejected for inclusion in this vitally important nutritional advisory committee. Did you get that? NOT ONE SINGLE REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE LOW-CARB RESEARCH WORLD WAS CHOSEN! What a slap in the face!

Instead, 9 of the 13 who were chosen are members of The American Society for Nutrition (ASN), an organization steeped in the high-carb, low-fat dogma of conventional wisdom as it relates to diet and health. The ASN President is James O. Hill, PhD and he should be a name you are familiar with. Dr. Hill is the founder of the heralded National Weight Control Registry which has made it quite clear their belief that a low-calorie, low-fat diet is the ONLY healthy weight loss method for people to follow. It’s not surprising to know what those nine individuals from ASN who are sitting on this 2010 Dietary Guidelines board will be promoting for Americans to follow in order to be “healthy.” UGH!

One of the ASN members–Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, LD–has been slated to serve as chairwoman over the committee. Looking through her research papers, you’ll find Dr. Van Horn has been keenly interested in “very low-fat diets” for health and weight loss for more than a decade and will no doubt bring this philosophy to the table when drafting the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Dr. Hill underlined how critical this committee is to the future of health in America.

“The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee plays a crucial role in the development of nutrition policy in the United States. Their work forms the foundation upon which the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are based, which provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases,” he explained.

And that is what is so disheartening about this glaring omission of the low-carb voice in this committee. Sure, a lot of people ignore the government recommendations about their health when they come out, but I believe there is a trickle-down effect that happens when these new dietary guidelines are enacted. It works like this–the new guidelines are shared with the public, presentations about the new guidelines are presented at various medical conferences attended by physicians, dietitians, nurses, and other medical professionals, the patients are shared this information when they visit their doctors, and the patients tell their family, friends, and co-workers about what they have learned.

Whether you realize it or not, this information seeps through and becomes a part of the health culture upon which people base their opinions about what constitutes a healthy diet. Just look at the way people react when you and I tell them consuming fat is healthy? They think you’re nuts. Why? Because that’s what they’ve always heard. Despite all the studies and research that has been conducted and published in peer-reviewed medical journals, fat-phobia in America is still going strong. What is most incredible about this view of fat is that it is not based on any substantive Level 1 evidence to support it as reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Gil Wilshire from Columbia, Missouri so brilliantly explained in an op-ed piece in 2006.

I’m not blaming Dr. Wansink for failing to include a low-carb research representative on this committee. That distinction belongs to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt who announced 13 members of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Taking nothing away from those who were selected, it just astounds me that they couldn’t even muster up enough courage to select a single one. The people who were chosen were selected for “their expertise in dietary intake, human metabolism, behavioral change, and health.” Does that not perfectly describe Dr. Mary C. Vernon? Dr. Eric Westman? Dr. Jeff Volek? Dr. Richard Feinman? Or how about anyone from the highly-qualified and prestigious American Society of Bariatric Physicians? Of course that describes any of these candidates, but they were not chosen.

Now why would that be? Several members of the low-carb community have been attempting to get the answer to that question and all we have received is the cold shoulder. I’ve even attempted to contact Dr. Wansink directly to bring him on my podcast show to talk about this, but he has not answered my e-mails either. I guess what’s done is done and there is no further discussion about it. Period!

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has already begun meeting over the past few weeks, reviewing the scientific literature, speaking with the public, and deliberating in open forums. A report will be submitted to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services soon which will be used in setting the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Interestingly, USDA Secretary Schafer says he welcomes the input of the public in these discussions about the nutritional recommendations.

“I want to emphasize that this will be an open and transparent process,” he said. “All meetings are open to the public, and all meeting minutes and transcripts will be posted online at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.”

Maybe if they’re so interested in transparency in this process we should arrange a caravan of people to camp out in Washington, DC to attend these meetings and voice our concerns. This wouldn’t have been necessary if they had simply given us a voice on that committee. Just when I think low-carb is on the brink of being accepted and finally given the proper due it is afforded, something like this happens to tear down that optimistic notion.

Nevertheless, I’m remaining encouraged about that prospect despite this apparent rejection of livin’ la vida low-carb on such an important panel. They can try to ignore us and the phenomenal results we have enjoyed from healthy low-carb living, but we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. When they flub up this 2010 dietary guidelines, then maybe we should start lobbying for a “change” to speak in the vernacular of our President-Elect Barack Obama. We SORELY need change to happen in the American diet–and SOONER rather than later!

Here are the 13 members of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee:

Linda V. Van Horn, PhD, RD, LD, (Chair) Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Preventative Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Dr. Van Horn has expertise extending across many areas of nutrition research and public health as a nutrition epidemiologist who has conducted population level research in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and breast cancer. She is currently the principal investigator in the Women’s Health Initiative Extension Study and the Dietary Intervention Study in Children.

Naomi K. Fukagawa, MD, PhD, (Vice Chair) Professor of Medicine and Associate Program Director of the Clinical Research Center, University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, VT. Dr. Fukagawa is a board-certified pediatrician and an expert in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism, including protein and energy metabolism; oxidants and antioxidants; and the role of diet in aging and chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus. She has chaired the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Centers’ Committee and is currently a member of the National Institutes of Health Integrative Physiology of Diabetes and Obesity Study Section.

Cheryl Achterberg, PhD, Dean and Professor, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. Dr. Achterberg’s research has evaluated the impact of behavior on the dietary patterns of populations, including low-income and elderly Americans. She has served on panels for numerous groups, including the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, and the United Nations as an expert in nutrition education and community interventions.

Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and International Health (Human Nutrition), Division of General Internal Medicine, and Director, ProHealth Clinical Research Unit, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD. Dr. Appel is a physician whose research pertains to the prevention of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, typically through lifestyle modification, such as dietary intake of sodium and potassium. Dr. Appel served on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as a member of the science review subcommittee and Chair of the electrolytes subcommittee. He has also served on several committees for the Institute of Medicine, including the Dietary Reference Intake Panel for electrolytes and water, which he chaired.

Roger A. Clemens, DrPH, Associate Director, Regulatory Science, and Adjunct Professor, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Science, The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Clemens has extensive experience in functional foods and technology with a special emphasis on probiotics and prebiotics. He has expertise in toxicology and food safety, as well as knowledge of food processing and the food industry. He is a spokesperson for the American Society for Nutrition and the Institute of Food Technologists.

Miriam E. Nelson, PhD, Director, John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Tufts University, Boston, MA. Dr. Nelson is a leading authority on physical activity and energy balance, with extensive research experience integrating the science of energy balance into behavior change programs. She recently served as Vice Chair of the first Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee chartered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, PhD, RD, Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Dr. Nickols-Richardson’s expertise focuses on dietary and physical activity determinants of muscle strength and bone density, as well as dietary interventions for obesity and nutrition over the lifecycle from child nutrition to older adults. She served the Institute of Medicine as a consultant on the Dietary Reference Intakes book “The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements.”

Thomas A. Pearson, MD, PhD, MPH, Senior Associate Dean, Clinical Research and Albert D. Kaiser Professor, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY. Dr. Pearson is an epidemiologist specializing in lipid metabolism and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. He contributed significantly to the American Heart Association’s guidelines for prevention of heart disease and stroke, and is as a founding member of the World Heart Forum for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.

Rafael Pe?rez-Escamilla, PhD, Professor, Nutritional Sciences and Public Health, University of Connecticut, and Director, Connecticut Center of Excellence for Eliminating Health Disparities among Latinos, Storrs, CT. Dr. Pe?rez-Escamilla is an internationally recognized scholar in the area of community nutrition for his work in food safety, obesity, diabetes, and food security, with a specialty in Latinos and low-income American populations. He is currently serving the Institute of Medicine in re-examining the pregnancy weight gain guidelines.

Xavier Pi-Sunyer, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Dr. Pi-Sunyer has expertise in obesity, type 2 diabetes, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and general medicine with over 250 research papers on these topics. He chaired a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute obesity committee and has served on the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intake Panel on macronutrients. He has also served on the Food and Drug Administration’s Science Board Advisory Committee to the Commissioner. He was also a member of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Eric B. Rimm, ScD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Dr. Rimm is an epidemiologist whose research evaluates the impact of lifestyle factors, particularly diet, that relate to the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. He is internationally known for his work on moderate alcohol consumption and health and has served on the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes Panel for macronutrients.

Joanne L. Slavin, PhD, RD, Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Slavin is an expert in carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Her research expertise focuses on the impact of whole grain consumption in chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, as well as the role of dietary fiber in satiety.

Christine L. Williams, MD, MPH, Vice President and Medical Director Healthy Directions, Inc., and former Professor, Clinical Pediatrics, and Director, Children’s Cardiovascular Health Center, Columbia University, New York, NY. Dr. Williams is an expert in nutrition in cancer prevention and preventive cardiology, especially hypercholesterolemia, in children. She received the prestigious Preventive Cardiology Academic Award from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health for her work in preventive cardiology for children.

Of these thirteen very distinguished and qualified members of the committee, only Dr. Lawrence J. Appel shows any promise for articulating the low-carb point of view. He released a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 that concluded a high-healthy fat, low-carb diet was best for improving heart health. Granted, he’s not convinced saturated fat is healthy and thinks whole grains are a necessary part of a good diet. But he’s not preaching a low-fat diet either. Here’s hoping Dr. Appel rubs off on the committee with some of his low-carb philosophy.

What do you think about the low-carb voices being snubbed for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee? Is it that big a deal to have no real low-carb experts on the committee or does none of this really matter in the grand scheme of things? I’m interested in what you think, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

11-19-08 UPDATE: I’m not the only low-carber talking about this and disappointed that nothing is really gonna change with the new 2010 recommendations–check out what Dr. Mike Eades wrote about this today and he makes a great point about how many people the government feeds everyday using the dietary guidelines that this committee creates–an eye-popping 50 million Americans! Can you see why they don’t want to change the guidelines too much?

  • I think it is time to file the lawsuits! Every new case of diabetes or other illness associated with overfeeding of carbohydrates according to the government promulgated guidelines is an unacceptable harm. There are a lot of these people, many of whom will be turned down for health insurance, fight hopelessly to lose weight, suffer heart attacks and shortened lives. I say it is time to fight back! (Take note class action lawyers — this could keep you well fed for a long time!)

  • Laila

    And THAT’S why I no longer pay attention to Dr.s unless they specifically talk to me about low carb benefits. That and my coconut oil (hehehe).

  • Jean

    I think LLVLC should have its OWN board lol surely you have the right connections and can pull strings, why not give the 2010 board a run for their ummm ‘smarts ?” Why cannot we have MORE than one board ? or Even MORE than one food pyramid ? I’m sure you can come up with (even if imaginary) a list of names (mentioned above, perhaps the ‘rejects’ ?) add them to YOUR LLVLC

    This is true, Jean. But again it comes back to who is being influenced by what this committee decides is healthy for the American diet and the “trickle-down” effect. There have been “low-carb” Food Pyramids before like this one: CLICK HERE.

    –Jimmy

  • Danielle (Noturningback)

    Cynthia nailed it on the head for me.

    I start thinking of things like: Alabama workers to pay for extra pounds (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26337794/)

    Is it fair to tax people for illnesses/diseases they, in large part, if not fully accrued, for lack of a better word, thanks to the powers that be?

    I just went to visit my GP for the first time since he diagnosed me as a type 2 diabetic. He was utterly floored that I lost 25 lbs + and brought my lipid profile and now blood pressure back to “normal”. He couldn’t get over it. He asked me what I did. I told him how I felt the ADA and the FDA – and others – have been giving the wrong advice and I think they are too worried about being liable to change things any time soon.

    I also told him to read Atkins, which he wasn’t against, thankfully. I also told him to read Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories as well as visiting your site Jimmy.

    There is at least one more physician rethinking things out there – Amen!

    Way to go, Danielle!

    –Jimmy

  • Jeanne Shepard

    I went to :

    http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm

    and it stated you could post comments. When I viewed them, they were typically pleas for more plant based diets, including a post from Neal Barnard of PETA.

    Low carbers need to organize and let them know what we think.

  • Dan (aka Renegadediabetic)

    After reading Dr. Mike’s post, I’m not sure if it really matters whether there are low carb advocates on the panel or not.

    After the politicians from sugar & grain states, plus the giant processed food interests get involved, any low carb elemets in the initial recommendations probably wouldn’t survive. As I keep saying, we would all be better off if the Government would get out of the nutrition business. It’s all about politics and $$$$, not about health.

  • I second Jean on that one! I want to see Jimmy’s smiling face on the guy scaling the pyramid as the icon for this new low carb board!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  • Katy

    I’m with Dan, above. Why do we need the goverment handing out guidelines every five years? It obviously isn’t helping Americans maintain/regain their health. I think it’s made people fatter and sicker. And notice that all of the food manufacturers then paste the pyramid on all of their products.

  • We are seen as a bunch of quacks. — Can hundreds of millions of processed and hybrid carbohydrate addicts possibly be wrong? Can they possibly all be high on carbohydrates and not know it? Can they possibly all be self sure of themselves, a trademark of stimulants. — Can carbohydrates be stimulants?

  • Lars Jonsson

    Like Dan said.

    This is the problem!

    …Department of Agriculture and Health…

    Also all these “frankenfoods” that are now in supermarket shelves all over the western hemisphere… I think it’s just about time people get their pitchforks and torches…

    I know it’s starting to happen here in Sweden.

    PS. Love the Blog!

  • Listening to Brian Wansink right now and he just said that 60 BILLION dollars in programs are based on the USDA dietary guidelines. Wow no wonder the sugar lobby has great influence over the results.

    PRETTY AMAZING, isn’t it, Pete! That’s why this is so important. I’m working on interviewing Dr. Wansink for my podcast show.

    –Jimmy

  • Steve L.

    The emperor is completely and utterly stark naked! Shame on him and his court.