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Follow the money: peering into our dietary recommendations (with lots of links!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I was reading about Zoe Harcombe's book, The Obesity Epidemic, and in her videoed introduction she asked a few pointed questions (http://www.theobesityepidemic

"We want to be slim more than anything else in the world, so why do we have an obesity epidemic? If the solution is as simple as ‘eat less and do more’, why are 90% of today’s children facing a fat future? What if the current diet advice is not right? What if trying to eat less is making us fatter? What if everything we thought we knew about dieting is wrong?"

I browsed her site a bit, and read about the history of dietary recommendations. Since she is in the UK, much of her obesity research involves UK recommendations, but they followed our suit after the USDA's 1977 revision. It was controversial and the medical community at large did not support it. From a history of the USDA's recommendations:

"The issuance of the Dietary Goals was met with considerable debate and controversy, as industry groups and the scientific community expressed doubt that the science available at the time supported the specificity of the numbers provided in the Dietary Goals. To support the credibility of the science used by the Committee, the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services (then called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) selected scientists from the two Departments and obtained additional expertise from the scientific community throughout the country to address the public’s need for authoritative and consistent guidance on diet and health." (

That says to me that the scientists were hand-picked specifically to "prove" that the recommendations were sound. Take it as you will.

Continuing on, if the previous recommendation was that carbs and sugar made us fat, but we didn't skyrocket into obesity and diabetes until AFTER they changed their minds and said that fat made us fat, then why are we still pretending that our national waistline isn't the fault of this terrible, deadly advice? Well, here's a theory for you:

Of our ag subsidies here in the US, 59.2% of the money goes toward grain crops, seed oil crops, and vegetable oil products. If we go by wikipedia's references (which I usually check and find to be sound, even though it's not technically peer-reviewed), then corn is the top subsidized crop and we've been subsidizing since 1922. (
) Big Agra gets LOTS of money.

Corn is massively produced to make HFCS and all kinds of other exciting things that go into those packaged monstrosities people think are edible. Maltodextrin, for example, is in pretty much every artificially flavored product you can think of, and it's corn-derived. I feel bad for popcorn, having to stand in a lineup with the other garbage called "corn products." I personally can't eat it because it tears up my stomach (family history of diverticulitis anyone?), but it's an angel compared to some of the other stuff. Wheat and soy are the other public enemies being mass produced on subsidy.

So where does the grain go to be made into food? Companies like General Mills own manufacturers of hundreds of brands. For example, HFCS goes into Coca Cola and Pepsi, candy bars, and Grok only knows what else. Wheat flour, corn flour, and rice flour go into all the cereals, breads, cakes, cookies, and crackers. This stuff fills the center aisles of our grocery stores, leaving the evolutionarily health-conscious to circle around the outside, darting in to find olive oil and vinegar among the dressings and coconut milk surrounded by chemically-modified seasoning mixes. Practically everything available to eat is packed with grain products, and we're told over and over again that to be healthy, lean, and fit, we must consume these foods in fairly large amounts while struggling vainly to stick to calorie counts and avoid the animal at all costs.

But we're hungry. We're hungry, unsatisfied, oatmeal and whole-wheat pasta taste gross by themselves, and we've either gotten fatter or plateaued with plenty of pounds still left before reaching our goals. Clearly this isn't working. No other animal wanders around hungry to keep its svelte figure, and humans are animals. Why are we hungry AND obese, even while we're avoiding fats like leprosy? The AHA and ADA are telling us that this is the way to eat for a long life and vibrant health, so why isn't it working?! Are we doing it wrong? Are they? If they're wrong, then why haven't they retracted this disastrous advice?

Enter the Current Corporate Sponsors of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association (

Abbott Nutrition, makers of nutritional supplements.

Aramark, a commercial foodservice company.

Coca-Cola. www.thebeveragein


The National Dairy Council. www.nationaldairy

CoroWise, a manufacturer of plant sterols that are incorporated into many food products.

General Mills, which we should be familiar with from the cereal aisle but which owns hundreds of other nationally recognized brands. www.generalmills.
, www.bellinstitute

Kellogg, best known for corn-ering the market for cornflakes (bad pun intended). www.kelloggnutrit

Mars, Incorporated, another major food producer. www.marshealthyli


SoyJoy, a manufacturer of soybean snack foods.

Truvia, makers of a stevia-based sweetener (I read on a forum that stevia is apparently banned in the UK, just FYI).

Unilever, another company known for personal care products but which also owns food brands. www.unileverusa.c

You tell me why we're still being told by our dieticians that whole grains and soy are health foods.

You tell me why we still insist on consuming milk long after childhood.

You tell me why we insist on stripping the fat from everything we can.

You tell me why butter is demonized in favor of the chemically synthesized, nickel-catalyzed mass that's artificially dyed and flavored and sold as heart-healthy.

You tell me why our diet food is soaked in high-fructose corn syrup.

And finally, you tell me why our nurses, doctors, and allied health professionals are still being taught, despite all biological, chemical, and physiological evidence to the contrary, that these things are true.

Follow the money.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Its all scary~ how people put on blinders and refuse to see the actual truth instead of what they feel like seeing. Continue to feed that obsession and addiction and it will all go away....

    2470 days ago
    What can be said, the market and media are controlled by the purse strings - sad but true. I've read somewhere that when shopping, it's best to keep to the outer edges of the grocery sections - healthier stuff lies there! Great post, I'm also a big fan of Mark Sisson, as well as Gary Taubes.
    2472 days ago
  • GINAV2
    Yes yes yes!!! GREAT info - scary to see it all laid out in one place like that, but YES! It's ALL about money. And I believe it goes even further, if you widen your net to include the medical corporations. Not doctors and nurses and the people actually on the front lines trying to make a difference (though they are led astray by the ADA you so thoroughly cut down above), but the big pharma companies? The ones who don't want to spend money developing new antibiotics because you don't make big bucks by curing people, but who have a definite vested interest in doling out medication for chronic, diet-induced illnesses for years and years and years on end?

    It makes me so mad I could spit! But at least it's motivation to cut out the crap and eat well just to spite The Man, right?

    Follow the money indeed!
    2472 days ago
    You are absolutely right!

    The government and the corporations are to blame for's really a shame...........and it is sooooo about the $$$$$$ money..........

    I watched that documentary on HBO about the nations obesity truly was an eye opener for me...............america is so caught up in the all mighty dollar.......and processed foods..........that are endorsed by the FDA and the ADA among others.......

    When will we wake up and do something about this?
    2472 days ago
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