Industry Statements versus Science at the Public Meeting for Oral Testimony on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee

The Physicians Committee
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Industry Statements versus Science at the Public Meeting for Oral Testimony on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee

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Join us in urging the government to keep industry interests out of the Dietary Guidelines.

On March 24, 2015, the public had an opportunity to weigh in on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations on which foods should be included in the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – and which foods should be left out. The Advisory Committee’s report cited clear scientific evidence in support of plant-focused guidelines that deemphasize animal products and processed foods. At last week’s Public Meeting for Oral Testimony on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee, an overwhelming majority of doctors and public health organizations – who had nothing to sell or gain – provided testimony in support of these recommendations. But one outspoken group of speakers vehemently disagreed.

One industry group after another weighed in on the recommendations, from the International Dairy Foods Association and the North American Meat Institute to the Sugar Association and National Confectioners Association. Overall, nearly half of the speakers – who had overtly obvious industry ties and stand to profit by having their products included in the final guidelines – stood up to deliver their sales pitches. Meat for iron, milk for calcium, eggs for protein, and candy for an occasional treat, they said. But does the science really support their statements?

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INDUSTRY STATEMENT: I worry about the families struggling with overweight children. They’re the ones who need red meat the most. – May Family Farms, cattle ranchers

SCIENCE: Overweight people who cut down on meat and cheese lose the most weight. Vegan diets are associated with lower weight, while a large review shows that vegetarian diets lead to weight loss, even without exercise or calorie limitations.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: Red meat and processed meats should be a focus to countermeasure diseases. – American Meat Science Association

SCIENCE: Plant-based foods have proven most powerful for preventing and, in some cases, reversing heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, while animal foods have consistently been linked to the development of these chronic diseases.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: Many Americans are not getting enough protein, so advising people to cut back on their red meat intake can have harmful consequences. – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

SCIENCE: Most Americans consume double the protein they need.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: Americans don’t need more plants. – Ties to the American Egg Board

SCIENCE: Nearly 90 percent of Americans fail to meet recommended daily amounts of vegetables.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: Dairy is an important source of calcium, and consumption of dairy is associated with lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. – International Dairy Foods Association

SCIENCE: Dairy products do not support bone health and may even be linked to an increased risk of bone fractures. Dairy products are the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, increasing the risk for both cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: Lean meats, which can include red meat and processed meats, are nutrient-dense proteins that are necessary for a healthy life. – North American Meat Institute

SCIENCE: People who consume the most red and processed meat products face an increased risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and early death. On the other hand, people who avoid meat increase their longevity.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: Seafood contributes to a healthy heart, brain, and weight. – National Fisheries Institute

SCIENCE: Fish and shellfish are high in fat, cholesterol, and pollutants.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: The nutrient package of dairy foods is virtually irreplaceable in the diet. The Dietary Guidelines should recommend that people increase their consumption of dairy foods. – National Milk Producers Federation

SCIENCE: Leafy greens contain calcium, the sun provides vitamin D, magnesium is found in grains, and tomato products are an optimal source of potassium. Dairy products have been linked to diabetes, certain types of cancer, bone fractures, the development of acne, and even an increased risk of death.

INDUSTRY STATEMENT: There is no evidence supporting that a switch to plant-based patterns would be more sustainable. The pork industry can demonstrate the sustainability of the product. – Heartland Marketing Group, pork producers

SCIENCE: Pork production is a far more inefficient use of resources and greater contributor to environmental damage, compared with the production of plant foods for human consumption. Some estimates show that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for up to half of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.