A new investigation released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) discovered that the U.S government dietary guidelines are not taking into account the latest relevant scientific evidence, such as the new data provided from saturated fats studies. Nina Teicholz, a food journalist from New York City, released the information in BMJ.
Every five years, the U.S. government releases the dietary guidelines for Americans, which technically should be adjusted with new medical findings, suggesting what is better for a healthy life with a balanced diet.
The dietary guidelines are based on the collection of the latest suitable evidence provided by scientific investigations. In such manner, this information is reviewed by a team of 14 experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), whose work is to analyze the best papers that promote health and fight chronic diseases.
Consequently, the dietary guidelines have a big influence on the diet in the United States and also helps scientists for future investigations. The new guidelines, which are currently under analysis by the U.S. government’s health and agricultural agencies, will be revealed this season, but are already being criticized.
The scientific evidence left behind
Teicholz found that the committee for the 2015 dietary guidelines did not use the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) reviews for 70 percent of the nutrition subjects it included – and alternately the experts team based primarily on reports done by outside professional organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).
“The dietary guidelines advisory committee that provided the report meant to inform the new guidelines was reluctant to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice,” said Nina Teicholz in the report.
Conflict of interests
BMJ states that the possible conflict of interests include decades of support from vegetable oil manufacturers, whose products are being backed by the AHA, suggesting that they are favorable for cardiovascular health. Teicholz brings up that this reliance on industry-backed groups decreases the credibility of the dietary guidelines report.
“Use of external reviews by professional associations is problematic because these groups conduct literature reviews according to different standards and are supported by food and drug companies. The ACC reports receiving 38% of its revenue from industry in 2012, and the AHA reported 20% of revenue from industry in 2014,” according to the paper.
For instance, the committee did not ask the NEL to report a formal review of the investigations from saturated fats in the past five years. According to BMJ, when government experts started investigations in 2012, there had been numerous relevant paper works that failed to confirm an association between saturated fats and heart disease. However, the committee recommended an extension of the current limit on saturated fats, which should not exceed 10 percent of calories, based on a review by the AHA and ACC.
Adding on, The Verge criticized the article from the BMJ, by saying the studies Teicholz acclaimed were not relevant, and that they were outside of the approach of the committee’s report. The Verge reporter said that the committee is targeting health-maintaining and not disease-preventing.