Springfield College Prof. Wood and Scientists Criticize U.S. Dietary GuidelinesOctober 27, 2010
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 27, 2010 -- As the obesity epidemic in the United States continues to grow, Springfield College Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Richard J. Wood, Ph.D., and a national study group of five other scientists are sharply criticizing the report of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).
Read the article: In the face of contradictory evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee
“These guidelines are a disservice to many Americans. I am alarmed at how little progress has been made since the previous revision in 2005. Their strong recommendations in the absence of reliable data are likely to fuel confusion and negatively impact the public trust,” Wood said. Wood is also coordinator of the Springfield College Center for Wellness Education and Research.
In an article in this month’s issue of the journal “Nutrition,” Wood and colleagues call the DGAC to task for failing to consider recent scientific results and confusing the public. They argue that the 2010 report does not conform to the standards of evidence-based medicine, despite its claimed reliance on the newly created USDA Nutrition Evidence Library.
The guidelines are the basis for the USDA food pyramid, and are widely considered the most reliable definition of a healthy diet. They strongly influence nutrition education, research funding, and governmental meal programs including school lunches, and provide a fiat for the food industry, regulatory agencies, consumer advocates, news media and others.
Established in 1977 and updated every five years, the guidelines originally proposed that Americans increase carbohydrate intake and decrease fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and salt consumption. Those recommendations are carried further in the 2010 report.
Wood pointed out that the American diet has been shifting in this direction for 30 years. At the same time, overweight, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes have skyrocketed.
“These guidelines haven’t worked well. What is needed is an entirely new process by an external panel of scientists to impartially evaluate the data,” Wood said.
A theme of the DGAC report is that Americans should reduce excessive calorie consumption. Yet, data show that Americans’ caloric intake remains within recommended levels and leisure-time physical activity has increased slightly. The slight increase in calories in the American diet during the past 30 years is primarily due to carbohydrate intake.
Americans’ average daily caloric intake from such protein sources as meat, fish, eggs and nuts has increased about 20 calories since 1970, but intake from such carbohydrate sources as flour and cereal products has increased by almost 10 times that amount.
Wood and other co-authors of the “Nutrition” journal article point out that the 2010 DGAC report does not provide sufficient evidence that increasing whole grain and fiber consumption and decreasing saturated fat, salt and animal protein consumption will lead to positive health outcomes.
They contend that the report inaccurately represents scientific papers on macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) in the DGAC Evidence Library, makes conclusions that do not reflect the quality of science, and does not consider some relevant studies.
“The dietary guidelines are a one-size-fits-all approach that does not fit the needs of a large percentage of Americans. The guidelines could result in an unintended negative impact on public health.
“For the dietary guidelines to be reliable, it is vital that rigorous standards for evidentiary support be developed and utilized. My colleagues and I believe it is unreasonable to ask the DGAC to audit its own work. We advocate for an impartial panel of scientists to evaluate the data,” Wood said.
Co-authors with Wood of the “Nutrition” journal article, “In the Face of Contradictory Evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee,” are Adele H. Hite, M.A.T., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Richard David Feinman, Ph.D., Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Gabriel E. Guzman, Ph.D., Triton College, River Grove, Ill.; Morton Satin, M.Sc., Salt Institute, Alexandria, Va.; and Pamela A. Schoenfeld, R.D., College of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, N.J.