The Physicians Committee

Updating the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

  March 24, 2015    

A Chance for Physicians to Comment in Favor of Sustainable, Science-Backed Solutions

As a nation, we’ve never been more confused about which food choices lead to optimal health. With the recent controversy surrounding cholesterol, it’s easy to see why. This is one reason I presented today at the Public Meeting for Oral Testimony on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee at the National Institutes of Health. The final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will come out later this year, but the public now has an opportunity to weigh in on the Dietary Guidelines Committee’s recommendations. The Dietary Guidelines have an extraordinary impact on food choices consumers will make and dietary habits our next generation will form. The guidelines manifest into meals purchased for our nation’s schools, senior centers, and hospitals, not to mention choices you’ll see readily available at the local corner market and grocery store.

Sustainable PowerPlate Twitter 506x253 We should be supporting sustainable, healthful foods that fall into these four food groups.


Unfortunately, these menus often fall short on painting the picture of perfect health. Instead, they still serve a surplus of fat, sodium, and cholesterol, which, despite recent headlines, is still a nutrient of concern. If we want to combat metabolic syndrome—the perfect storm of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess weight, and elevated cholesterol—we have to act now. Nearly 70 percent of Americans struggle with weight, a risk factor for many forms of chronic disease, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. And half of Americans who maintain a healthy weight are still at risk for at least one metabolic risk factor. While the expert report for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is heading in the right direction with a focus on plant-based dietary patterns, it still needs some work. Especially when it comes to educating the public about the dangers of dietary cholesterol, the “necessity” of dairy products, and explaining the leading sources of saturated fat, in plain language: high-fat cheeses, meats, oils, and dairy products. Click here to read my testimony, and make your voice heard by submitting a public comment. The deadline is extended until May 8, 2015.

Dr. Barnard presenting his testimony on the Dietary Guidelines.

Dr. Barnard presenting his testimony on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

Follow the conversation on Twitter by searching for #DGAC2015 and #PlantBasedRx.


the science is established that dietary cholesterol is associated with raising LDL. So please inform public to eat from non cholesterol foods. I.e. Plants!

For the health of our bodies, for the health of our planet ... a completely plant based diet is the answer. As a healthy vegan I am not missing anything about my old way of eating. My wakeup call was the book, "Comfortably Unaware" by Dr. Richard Oppenlander. Thank you to Dr. Barnard for his work in getting the message out there. Awareness is the first step to change.

Thank you Dr Barnard. I hope minds, if not hearts, will open to making better changes in our dietary needs that can save many lives, both human and nonhuman. Best wishes for your success.

I believe there are people on the committee that truly want to do what is in the best interest of the people of our nation. Thank you Dr. Barnard for your work and sharing the science in such an easy to understand way. Penny McGuire

George McGovern in the late l970's tried to get resonable guidelines passed. He had a strong commitee of very promiment experts. Let fat, sugar, salt. It was fought against so vigorously by all the powers that be. Those that make a profit by encouaging us consume, animal protein and fat, cows milk, sugar and salt, should not be part of the discussion. I habe been a vegan foe about 40 years. I don't take and supplements and tak3 no meds. I have no health issues. I get plenty of health6 plan5 based protein and obviously all that I need.
Do we follow a diet for our health, the health of the earth, and the health of animals which continues to impact our heath, or for someones pocketbook. Are we following what our bodies need or big business greed.

Thank you for sharing, I have gone vegan/vegetarian off and on during my 62 years on this planet. Now I'm totally low/no fat vegan and feeling great. It is nice to hear from someone who has embraced a vegan diet for 40 years on their optimal health.
Thank you,
Kate Larson

Really, Dr. Barnard? Cholesterol is the issue, and not inflammation (caused by stress, processed foods, and simple carbs - especially sugar - amongst other factors)? Don't get me wrong. I believe PCRM does a fantastic job, in so many different ways. But I do believe you're behind the times on this matter. Our bodies actually NEED cholesterol to fill tiny cracks in our arteries and for proper hormonal functions. The whole cholesterol myth was purported by Big Pharma, as statin drugs continue to be one of their biggest money-makers.
I admit that I don't remember all the facts. But there are many insightful articles about cholesterol on sites such as (amongst others), that cite studies which were NOT funded by Big Pharma.
Although I believe you're mistaken about this matter, I truly want to thank you for all the great work you and your organization do for people, animals and our planet.
May God bless you for all you do.

I am so happy to find another reader who actually does their research! To expand on the above comment:
New WHO guidelines on added sugar:

4 MARCH 2015 ¦ GENEVA - A new WHO guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.
“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. “Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases.”

Also, there are many physicians and studies out there discussing the flaws in Ancel Keys' study of cholesterol, as well as ones showing older adults with lowest cholesterol having higher rates of morbidity/mortality.
The physiology has been right in front of us - look at what insulin therapy does in diabetics - weight gain, metabolic syndromes. It is a hormone functioning to protect the body from the harmful effects of toxic glucose (glycation of proteins, free radical generation) by making sure there is room for it in all the fat cells (and muscle cells if you don't exercise, which f.y.i allows muscles to take up glucose without the aid of insulin). In a truly healthy diet, most ingested glucose would replace hepatic glycogen that was used by the individual in exercise or fasting of some sort, but in overfed people like most Americans, the liver glycogen stores never get emptied, because of lack of exercise and never fasting more than ~8 hours, and the sugar has to be stored as fat. The hormone insulin is obviously not meant to be released into the body multiple times per day as corresponds to the eating pattern and dietary composition of Americans (eat at least 3 meals plus snacks and dessert and for some people, eating every few hours, foods containing sugar or sugar with fiber also known as whole grains), because we know very well, seeing it in younger and younger people, this pattern leads to disease like diabetes, or 'insulin resistance' and later pancreatic endocrine burnout. Think about it. Also, please stop blaming hypertension on dietary salt. In a truly healthy diet, kidneys excrete any excess dietary salt. In a high carb diet and constant eating causing constant insulin release, insulin stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which causes constriction of blood vessels, which perhaps when combined with salt and a relatively dehydrated individual (caffeine, soda, lack of drinking water, misinterpreting hunger for thirst) can contribute to hypertension.
The last things to address are obesity and metabolic syndrome: Sugar and the dopamine response - sugar may be more addictive than cocaine - please look into the studies before dismissing. Leptin resistance is associated with fructose consumption in animal studies. Fructose may disrupt communication between endocrine system and the gut, essentially turning a person into a bottomless pit where they don't have a signal of fullness or that they have eaten enough calories. The body is fooled into thinking it has eaten less than it actually has. To summarize the vicious cycle: with frequent high sugar consumption, we tell our body to store the energy in fat cells, which in a person who is used to metabolizing sugar, leads us to have less energy readily available for immediate use, making us hungry again in 45 minutes. On top of that our body can't tally what we have eaten and keeps signalling hunger. By the way, all the fat in our diet is not metabolized when we eat sugar in tandem. It continues to circulate in our vessels and basically rust and oxidize in there (normally it would be used as primary fuel in a truly healthy diet), which along with carbohydrate induced hypertension is a perfect recipe for atherosclerosis. I forgot to mention early that insulin and sugar ingestion also contribute to systemic inflammation, which is another key ingredient in vascular disease (heart disease). So there you have it, we may be able to chock up Type II diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease and metabolic syndrome to excess dietary carbohydrates.
References that I can recall off hand (among many others):
Eric Westman
Robert Lustig
Peter Attia
Jeff Volek
Tim Noakes
Gary Taubes
Robert Atkins

thank you Dr. Barnard! I changed to a plant-based eating plan almost 6 years ago. We are wonderfully complicated beings, and eating from the wonderfully intricate variety of plants not only promotes our health, but the health of everyone and everything, including our planet. No one, no thing, exists in isolation. Yet, while focusing on one thing and then another, we are also able to become aware of all that is connected to that one thing, none of which can exist separate from all things. The messages that abound in and around the food industry are often focused on ONE thing, as if the others don't exist. We allow ourselves to become blinded by believing that any ONE thing is more important than the other.

Thaddeus please. All pro-cholesterol propaganda has been thoroughly chewed and spat out on, and as well as by Dr Barnard himself. Please do us all a favour and update your records.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Connect with Dr. Barnard



Stay Connected

Receive action alerts, breaking medical news, e-newsletters, and special offers via e-mail. Sign up >