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BMJ Article Questions Scientific Rigor of DGAC Recommendations

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

(North American Meat Institute)

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a new report by Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, which questions the scientific rigor of studies used by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and argues the DGAC reversed recent efforts by the government to strengthen the scientific review process. Teicholz stated the DGAC failed to use the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) for more than 70 percent of topics, and was reluctant to consider new evidence that contradicts the past 35 years of nutrition advice. NEL is a resource that helps conduct systematic reviews using a standardized process for identifying, selecting and evaluating relevant studies. Instead, the DGAC relied heavily on ad hoc examinations and reviews by outside professional organizations, such as the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, which may be subject to bias and do not adhere to consistent scientific standards.

Teicholz also cites numerous research findings and studies that were excluded from consideration to underscore the lack of strength and scientific backing of many of the DGAC’s recommendations. Specifically, the report targets the DGAC’s recommendation to extend current caps on saturated fats, despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting this conclusion, and takes issue with the Committee’s decision to combine saturated fats and sugar in a category called “empty calories.” Teicholz stresses the important nutritional value of foods containing saturated fats, like eggs, meat and dairy, which contain critical vitamins and other nutrients necessary for good health. The report questions the DGAC’s efforts to delete meat from the list of recommended foods despite the lack of systematic studies reviewing meat’s impact on health. Meanwhile, the three diets recommended by the DGAC, which emphasize plant-based foods over animal products, contradict current, relevant science and are not supported by the preponderance of research.

USDA and HHS are currently reviewing the DGAC’s recommendations, which will be used to produce the upcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 , set to be released this fall.

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