Support Grows for PCRM's Challenge to Dietary Guidelines Bias
PCRM formally launched its push to rid U.S. government diet guidelines of racial biases on March 8, 1999. In testimony to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, PCRM president Neal D. Barnard , M.D., presented letters of support from the Congressional Black Caucus; former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, M.D.; Martin Luther King, III; Jesse Jackson, Jr.; Muhammad Ali; the National Hispanic Medical Association; and many others calling for major changes in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Guidelines embody the official diet policies of the U.S. government, dictating what is served in school lunches and food assistance programs, and setting the standard for diet policies of private organizations. The Advisory Committee will make recommendations for the year 2000 Guidelines.
In 1995, PCRM successfully pushed for vegetarian diets to be included in the Guidelines. However, the Guidelines still recommend two to three daily servings of both meat and dairy products for all Americans aged two and older.
The Guidelines have ignored the fact that many Americans get sick when they drink milk. Lactose intolerance (the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose) affects approximately 70 percent of African Americans and Native Americans, 53 percent of Hispanic Americans, and 90 percent of Asian Americans, but only 15 percent of Caucasians. In fact, African Americans have been excluded from nearly all studies investigating the effects of dairy products on bone health due to better bone density and a much lower prevalence of osteoporosis.
Moreover, diet-related diseases, such as prostate cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, take a disproportionate toll among minorities. Diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and vegetarian foods can greatly diminish the prevalence of these conditions. Yet the Guidelines still show biases favoring meat and dairy product consumption.
The Journal of the National Medical Association published PCRM's two-part scientific article on racial bias in federal nutrition policy in its March and April 1999 issues.
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), Stephen P. Jiang, Executive Director
The Black Vegetarian Society, Anthony King, Education Coordinator
Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, 105th Congress, Louis Stokes, Member of Congress and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust
Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, 106th Congress, Donna M. Christian-Christensen, Member of Congress and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO
National Black Nurses Association, Inc., Betty Smith Williams, Dr.P.H., R.N., F.A.A.N., President
National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), Elena Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H., President
National Indian Health Board, Yvette Joseph-Fox, Executive Director
Tanya Agurs-Collins, Ph.D., R.D., Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Howard University Cancer Center
Muhammad Ali, Athlete
David Allen, Ph.D., Quantum Connection, Inc.
Deborah L. Bernal, M.D., Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Chris Campbell, Executive Director of USA Boxing, Olympic medalist
T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University
David A. Catania, Councilmember, At-Large, Council of the District of Columbia
Noel Cazenave, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Connecticut
John T. Chissell, M.D., Baltimore, Md.
James Craner, M.D., M.P.H., Consultant in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Toxicology, and Internal Medicine
Ronald Cridland, M.D., Health Promotion Clinic
Richard DeAndrea, M.D., N.D., Medical Director of Health Syndicate Trust in Santa Monica, Calif.
Hans A. Diehl, Dr.H.Sc., M.P.H., C.N.S., F.A.C.N., Director, Lifestyle Medicine Institute
M. Joycelyn Elders, M.D., Former U.S. Surgeon General
Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., The Cleveland Clinic
Joel Fuhrman, M.D., Belle Mead, N.J.
Alan R. Gaby, M.D., Professor of Nutrition, Bastyr University, Bothell, Wash.
Dr. K. Dun Gifford, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust
Henry Heimlich, M.D., Sc.D., President, The Heimlich Institute
Donna G. Hurlock, M.D., Gynecologist
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Member of Congress
Mae C. Jemison, M.D., Founder of the Jemison Group, first African American woman astronaut in space
Martin L. King, III, President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Robert J. Lodato, M.D., Dexter Internal Medicine and Psychiatry
John McDougall, M.D., St. Helena Hospital, Deer Park, Calif.
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics, and Sports Medicine
David T. Nash, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse
John C. Pan, M.D., Director, Center for Integrative Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center
Rafael Perez-Escamilla, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Extension Nutrition Specialist at the University of Connecticut
David Perlmutter, M.D., Neurologist, Perlmutter Health Center
Robert Pritikin, Director of Pritikin Longevity Center
D. Ramkishan Rao, Ph.D., Department Chair, Department of Food Science and Animal Industries, Ala. A&M University
William C. Roberts, M.D., Editor in Chief, The American Journal of Cardiology
Mark M. Sklar, M.D., F.A.C.P., Endocrinology, Internal Medicine
Don Sloan, M.D., P.C., New York, N.Y.
Charles H. Spann, Ph. D., Director of Pre-Professional Health Careers at Jackson State University
Merlene Vassall, attorney
Alice Walker, Novelist and Poet, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple
Andrew Weil, M.D., Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Arizona
Peter D. Wood, D.Sc., Ph.D., Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention; Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Stanford University