The U.S. Dietary Advisory Committee is set to release an updated version of Dietary Guidelines for Americans later this year.  Even though they are released every five years, this particular set of guidelines is becoming a source of controversy. As a CNN article by Carina Storrs reports, much of this conflict stems from the guidelines’ suggestions regarding saturated fats. Previous reports, as well as the one soon to be released, recommended that Americans avoid saturated fat consumption, which is associated with heart disease. Studies such as those done by Jeff Volek, a professor at Ohio State University and critic of the past dietary guidelines, have asserted that saturated fats may not be harmful to your health.  An increasing number of studies are questioning whether a link with heart disease exists at all. In addition, this recommendation has caused many Americans to substitute saturated fat with carbohydrate and sugar consumption, which could prove more detrimental.

Studies such as those done by Jeff Volek, a professor at Ohio State University and critic of the past dietary guidelines, have asserted that saturated fats may not be harmful to your health.  An increasing number of studies are questioning whether a link with heart disease exists at all.

Critics have accused the committee of only examining studies whose claims support previous guidelines.  Conflicts of interest within the committee, however, may be responsible for these oversights. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture may be recruiting individuals who are uninterested in challenging previous guidelines. Furthermore, some committee members have received funding for research from companies, such as those that produce vegetable oil, that would benefit from a saturated fat-wary consumer base.

While the conflict around these guidelines is being made a source of public attention through articles such as CNN’s, this may not be for the better. Discontent between the Dietary Advisory Committee and the scientific community could make science seem less accessible to the public. Ultimately, issues such as this could cause many people to reject all scientific recommendations regarding dietary habits.

 


REFERENCES

Storrs, C.  How strong is the science behind the U.S. Dietary Guidelines?  In CNN. Retrieved October 19, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/24/health/dietary-guidelines-science/index.html

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