We are now in 2020, and nothing has changed on the official level, not yet.
Dr. Sarah Hallberg makes a strong case for reform of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in her compelling op-ed just published in The Hill, a popular newspaper and website covering public policy and politics from Washington, D.C.
Hallberg takes issue with the dietary guidelines’ failure to keep up with current nutrition research, in spite of their promise to be based on a review of current, high-quality scientific evidence. She writes:
The guidelines’ core message has always been that fats are bad and carbohydrates are good… The latest edition — released in 2015 — continues this theme. It recommends people eat relatively large servings of grains, including three to five servings of refined grains daily. And it lumps fats in with sugars as “empty calories.” It advises Americans to limit their saturated fat intake to just 10 percent of daily calories — without presenting evidence to support this figure.
This guideline advice contradicts modern nutrition science which shows that fats, including saturated fats, aren’t unhealthy. A dozen major literature reviews demonstrate that fat intake has little to no effect on death from cardiovascular disease.
Indeed, people who eat diets heavy in full-fat dairy products, including whole milk, experience lower rates of heart disease than people on low-fat diets, according to several reports, including a recent study published in the Lancet. Additionally, full-fat dairy has been associated with lower rates of obesity in children, teens, and adults.
Meanwhile, research shows carbohydrates are much worse than originally assumed. Excessive carb intake is linked to diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. One meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition comparing low-fat diets to low-carb ones concluded that weight loss is greater with a low-carb diet.
Hallberg, a medical director of Virta Health (a venture capital-funded medtech startup dedicated to reversing type 2 diabetes) and board member of The Nutrition Coalition, testified before Congress last month, drawing attention to the large clinical trial she leads where she is reporting 60% reversal of type 2 diabetes. She is an important voice in the fight to spread the word about the efficacy of low-carb diets for treating type 2 diabetes. Her popular TEDx talk on this subject has been viewed by over four million people.
The raging obesity and diabetes epidemics make high-caliber, science-based guidelines all the more critical. In Dr. Hallberg’s words:
The guidelines are harming Americans, who have followed the government’s anti-fat, pro-carb message… We should have seen a drop in the rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure if the guidelines were scientifically sound — or at least rates should have stayed stable. Instead, they have skyrocketed.
Hallberg’s advocacy — her testimony before Congress, this powerful op-ed and other behind-the-scenes work — sends the message, loud and clear, to policymakers in DC. Let’s hope they are listening.