U.S. dietary guidelines restricted by Trump administration, won’t look at red meat consumption

The dietary guidelines released in the United States next year will be limited to certain studies and may not include anything on red and processed meat consumption.

The 2020 guidelines will be overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

They will have predetermined topics, according to the Washington Post.

The questions they will answer do not cover the consumption of red and processed meat.

Marion Nestle, a nutrition scholar at New York University, said:

“The cutting-edge issues in dietary advice in 2019 are about eating less meat, avoidance of ultra-processed foods, and sustainable production and consumption.
“Guidelines that avoid these issues will be years behind the times.”

The USDA has said they will not be covering topics that aren’t mentioned.

David Katz, author and founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, added:

“The dietary guidelines are under assault from multiple directions.
“This time around, veiled organizations representing the interests of beef, dairy and Big Food are pretending to use science to argue against the actual science and to expunge key recommendations.
“Of course sustainability should be included. Of course we need to eat less meat.”

In a statement, the USDA said its own reviews “will capture all relevant research studies that pertain to the specific scientific question being answered.” On its website, the USDA notes that outside science may not use the same rigorous standards, may be out of date or have different outcomes than government work. And it cited a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report as its justification for the decision to not use outside science.

But the report does not suggest the committee restrict its science in this way.

“With limited resources, it would be advantageous to leverage existing systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and reports to minimize unnecessary replication of efforts and to share results with others,” it reads, concluding with, “the use of existing systematic reviews and meta-analyses is encouraged.”

Jerry Mande, a nutrition science and policy professor at Tufts who was at the USDA during the Obama administration, said some of the USDA’s actions might make sense — for example limiting outside science to make sure research is unbiased. But he said it’s hard to tell the USDA’s motive given other anti-science actions taken by the Trump administration.

The USDA has taken other pro-industry moves, for example, such as relaxing restrictions on processed foods and sodium levels in the school lunch program.

“The question is, is [USDA] promoting science or restricting science?” Mande said.

Others defend the administration’s decision to rely on internal science.

Nina Teicholz, the author of “The Big Fat Surprise,” which challenges whether saturated fat causes heart disease, a matter of ongoing nutritional debate, argues the dietary guidelines process has long had a problem of relying on outside science that may be influenced by industry.

“There has been an effort to portray [the 2020] guidelines as a product of Trump’s anti-science policies,” Teicholz wrote in an email. “However, the problems have been an issue for the guidelines going back to their launch in 1980. ”

Some independent experts say the USDA’s recent decisions reflect industry pressure and controversy that surrounded the 2015 dietary guidelines.

That year’s committee, for the first time, proposed strict limits on added sugar (no more than 10 percent of total calories), identified a strong correlation between the consumption of processed and red meat and certain kinds of cancer, such as colorectal, and suggested addressing diet and sustainability (what is good for human health as well as planetary health). The North American Meat Institute, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the dairy industry and other influential stakeholders pushed back strongly.

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