Over at Eathropology, Adele Hite has published part 1 of As the Calories Churn. In it, she gets “down and geeky … with some Dietary Guidelines backstory” since 2000 noting that some involved may have thought that “the advice to Americans to eat more carbohydrate and less fat wasn’t such a good idea.”
Interestingly, an Eathropology commenter notes that earlier efforts on our dietary guidelines had their own back stories too, linking to the story of the 1992 food pyramid. Luise Light, former USDA Director of Dietary Guidance and Nutrition Education Research and responsible for the 1992 food pyramid writes that the actual published guide was “vastly different” from what was drafted (emphasis mine):
When our version of the Food Guide came back to us revised, we were shocked to find that it was vastly different from the one we had developed. As I later discovered, the wholesale changes made to the guide by the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture were calculated to win the acceptance of the food industry. For instance, the Ag Secretary’s office altered wording to emphasize processed foods over fresh and whole foods, to downplay lean meats and low-fat dairy choices because the meat and milk lobbies believed it’d hurt sales of full-fat products; it also hugely increased the servings of wheat and other grains to make the wheat growers happy. The meat lobby got the final word on the color of the saturated fat/cholesterol guideline which was changed from red to purple because meat producers worried that using red to signify “bad” fat would be linked to red meat in consumers’ minds.
Adele would like to see a return of the Dietary Guidelines to being based on science, rather than policy, but Light seems skeptical. Writing about the development of the 2005 guidelines, she finds that:
nutrition for the government is primarily a marketing tool to fuel growth in consumer food expenditures and demand for major food commodities: meat, dairy, eggs, wheat. It’s an economics lesson that has very little to do with our health and nutrition and everything to do with making sure that food expenditures continue to rise for all interests involved in the food industry.
I remain concerned that things are going to have to get a lot worse before they get better. Remember, corporations are people.