Dietary guideline recommendations leave hunger pangs

Dietary guideline recommendations leave hunger pangs

The long-awaited recommendations from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have been submitted to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and the secretaries have released the advisory committee’s recommendations report online, making it available for public review and comment.

Not all parties are thrilled with the recommendations coming forward from the committee.

Nutrient-dense food, like pork, necessary
The National Pork Board takes exception with the “science-based” recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggesting that lean meat play a lesser role on America’s dinner tables.

NPB says:
“… reminds Americans that meat, including pork, is a nutrient-dense food that is not over-consumed on average in America. More than 60% of the U.S. population is consuming the Protein Food Group at or below recommended intake levels. Scientific evidence shows that eating lean, high-quality protein like pork can help people lose or maintain weight by contributing to feeling full and by preserving lean muscle. … Ideally Americans will seek information from their health professional or registered dietitian to choose lean cuts of meat such as pork. A lean meat for labeling purposes is defined as a meat with less than 10 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat.”

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee also based its recommendations on the sustainability of the foods Americans are putting in their bodies. To which the NPB says:  

“On the important subject of sustainability, pork production’s carbon footprint is a small fraction (0.35%) of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Compared with 50 years ago, farmers are now using less land (78%) and water (41%) per pound of pork produced.

Learn more at the NPB website.

Lean meat a headliner, not a footnote
North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter issued a statement appreciating the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recognition of lean meat’s place in a healthy diet, but he felt its role was being downplayed too much.

Carpenter says:
“Lean meat’s relegation to a footnote ignores the countless studies and data that the Committee reviewed for the last two years that showed unequivocally that meat and poultry are among the most nutrient-dense foods available. Nutrient-dense lean meat is a headline, not a footnote.

“The committee’s contradictory advice to reduce processed meats is also nonsensical, especially given data the committee reviewed about the Mediterranean diet. Followers of the Mediterranean diet – the diet hailed by so many for its good nutrition and health outcomes – consume twice as many processed meats as included in the USDA’s food patterns.

“Meat and poultry products are nutrient-dense foods that satisfy hunger and help control weight and are an excellent source of iron, a nutrient of concern specifically highlighted by the DGAC. Processing meat and poultry so that it can be more readily consumed – and consumed in styles and flavor profiles that people around the world savor – helps ensure that people can make these products part of their healthy balanced diet.”

Carpenter’s full comments can be read here

Recommendations inconsistent, misleading
Of course, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association isn’t taking these recommendations lightly either, calling the report misleading, and if adopted will lead to conflicting dietary advice.

The NCBA says:
“On one hand, the Committee has endorsed the Mediterranean style diet, which has higher red meat levels than currently consumed in the U.S.; and on the other hand, they have left lean meat out of what they consider to be a healthy dietary pattern.”

Shalene McNeill, registered dietitian and nutrition scientist with the NCBA, says the committee’s recommendation that a healthy dietary pattern should be lower in red meat is not consistent with scientific evidence and would be unsound dietary advice.

McNeill says:
“Lean meat is red meat. Today’s beef supply is leaner than ever before with more than 30 cuts of beef recognized as lean by government standards. The protein foods category, which includes meat, is the only category currently consumed within the current guidelines, and it is misleading to conclude that a healthy dietary pattern should be lower in red meat.”

Read the full NCBA response here

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will consider the report, as well as take into consideration input from other federal agencies and comments from the as they develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, to be released later this year.

“For decades, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been at the core of our efforts to promote the health and well-being of American families,” said Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack in a joint statement. “Now that the advisory committee has completed its recommendations, HHS and USDA will review this advisory report, along with comments from the public-including other experts-and input from other federal agencies as we begin the process of updating the guidelines.”

The public is encouraged to view the independent advisory group’s report and provide written comments at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov for a period of 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. The public will also have an opportunity to offer oral comments at a public meeting in Bethesda, Md., on March 24. Those interested in providing oral comments at that public meeting can register at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. Capacity is limited, so participants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans was first published in 1980. Beginning in 1990, Congress mandated that HHS and USDA release a new edition at least every five years. The Dietary Guidelines contain the latest, science-based nutrition recommendations for the general public with the goal of preventing disease and promoting healthy, active lifestyles. It is written for and used primarily by nutrition and health professionals, policy makers and educators, and is the foundation for federal nutrition efforts, including education initiatives and food assistance programs.

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