Speak to help change dietary patterns
The Advisory Committee that will help shape the 2020 Diet Guidelines for Americans (DGA) needs your input. It is seeking public comment, and there are three key issues on which the low-carbohydrate community can add information.
The Advisory Committee has just announced that it plans to define a low-carbohydrate diet as diets in which carbohydrates provide up to 45% of energy. As you know, we would define low-carbohydrate diets at much lower levels. Less than 25% is a common standard and, of course, the percentages are much lower for very low-carbohydrate or ketogenic options. (100 grams per day is commonly used as the upper limit for low-carbohydrate content, which is 25% of the energy in a 1,600 kcal diet.) The maximum limit of 45% of energy proposed by the Advisory Committee is almost double that of this “low-carbohydrate liberal” standard. Including studies of diets with 45% carbohydrates in the mixture will dilute the data and possibly hide the effectiveness of truly low-carbohydrate diets.
The USDA may choose to eliminate all studies that do not reveal the foods and beverages consumed during the experiment. Because many low-carbohydrate studies focus on macro-nutrient percentages rather than precise meal descriptions, this decision is likely to eliminate many low-carbohydrate studies of high quality.
In addition, a few months ago the USDA considered that research conducted on populations with diabetes or other diagnosed diseases, arguing that the guidelines are for “healthy populations” and that it would therefore be inappropriate to include studies conducted on people with diseases. Unfortunately, this excludes studies that would show the power of low-carbohydrate content to reverse diabetes, which could shed light on how best to treat the burgeoning number of “healthy” Americans with pre-diabetes.
Dietary guidelines are really important:
- Dietary guidelines are important. While policy and regulatory issues may seem a bit boring, dietary guidelines affect everyone, even if intentionally ignored. They affect what students learn at school about healthy eating. They affect what elderly parents are fed in their elderly communities. They affect what doctors tell friends about what they should eat to lose weight. They affect obesity rates in the military. The list goes on and on.
So the guidelines need to be better defended. Let the Advisory Committee know that the three previous decisions will filter the research so that the truth about the power of low-carbohydrate diets to improve health is hidden. If thoughtful comments can be submitted and the committee encouraged to reconsider its definition of low-carbohydrate diets and the inclusion criteria for studies, it can help improve the DGA process and its outcomes.