Ever feel like “the government” is responsible for all your woes (or at least has a big part in creating them)? Living in DC, I’m particularly close to the bureaucracy, litigation, and law making that is part of our lives, for better or worse. And the sphere of nutrition recommendations is no exception: I’ve heard everything form conspiracy theories (“the government wants you to be unhealthy so the pharmaceutical industry makes money!”) to the everyday offhand comment about school lunches.
The primary means of communication about what we should eat (and how school lunches should be structured, and how food manufacturers should formulate food) from the government is communicated by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and they’re updated every 5 years. To keep a very long story short, the Dietary Guidelines (DG’s, I’ll call them) are formed from a two step process:
A committee (the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) reviews all the scientific research on various nutrition topics, and creates an advisory report
The Department of Health & Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture review the report and make the guidelines
What most people don’t realize is that not only are the recommendations the guidelines are based created by a volunteer (unpaid!) committee of esteemed food & nutrition experts, but there is open public commenting on both stages of guideline creation.
Open. Meaning you, me, and any other schmo or lobbying entity, for that matter, can give our input and point to reasons or research that back it up. And there’s already buzz about some of the recommendations that could be made, based on the committee’s report – that cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern (my take: we should have been focusing on fiber intake all along to lower blood cholesterol levels) and the highly controversial idea that we should focus more on a plant-based diet and eat less meat, red in particular (my take: not controversial, let’s focus on the plants!).
The report is long, and wordy – but it’s all up for you to read, and the commenting period to the government is open through May 8th at 11:59pm…so I encourage you to exercise your ability to give input! The commenting page also provides a link to the full report.