Last month, the government released a report on new dietary guidelines. Oh boy, here we go. Recommendations made to the Obama Administration by a scientific panel say Americans should eat “only moderate” amounts of meat, poultry and eggs.
Considering the long list of foods much more deserving of a cautionary statement, the qualification on meat is misplaced. In fact, an executive summary of the report states that “animal sources of protein, including meat…are the highest quality proteins.”
So, what does the panel have against high quality protein?
Keep in mind that the advisory committee that helped craft the guidelines considers the nation’s obesity problem to be the single greatest threat to public health. The report implies that meat poses a threat to the fight against obesity.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to single out pizza, French fries or doughnuts to be consumed in “only moderate” amounts?
According to the report, poor diet and physical inactivity are the main contributing factors to obesity which may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death in the United States. What is unclear is why meat (and eggs) receive the cautionary statement.
Indeed the report states, “Existing research is sparse and finds little link between meat intake and body weight, and meat-containing diets work as well as calorie controlled vegetarian diets in enhancing weight loss in intervention studies.” Read the full report.
The statement “only moderate amounts” seems an appropriate caution for every food item in our diet. Clearly, consuming excessive or extreme amounts of any food would interfere with a balanced diet and likely result in undesirable health effects.
Meat industry groups were quick to protest the report. Organizations such as the National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute immediately voiced their concerns over the report,
“Lean meat is a vital source of high-quality protein and certainly should not be framed as a food to limit in the American diet,” Chelsie Redalen, director of government relations for the National Pork Producers Council told government officials.
Redalen also expressed concern over another recommendation that consumers shift to “a more plant-based diet,” featuring fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains.
“Urging Americans to shift to a more plant-based diet and consume only moderate amounts of lean meat implies they should decrease consumption of this vital, complete protein,” she said.
The report’s admonition on meat consumption carries negative consequences to young people and the poor. The vague terminology will be cited as a reason for offering less meat in school lunches and other federal nutrition programs.
Those espousing vegan or anti-meat agendas will use the report to further their campaign against meat and those who depend on the high-quality protein source will suffer the consequences.
A school administrator can now use the report to further reduce meat from school lunch programs. This will restrict meat in diets of many young Americans whose only chance to receive high quality meat protein occurs in school lunches.
An anti-meat bureaucrat can now point to the report as reason to cut back meat offerings in food assistance programs for the poor and further jeopardize the recipient’s opportunity to receive a balanced diet.
According to Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, “A balanced diet means getting the right types and amounts of foods and drinks to supply nutrition and energy for maintaining body cells, tissues, and organs, and for supporting normal growth and development.”
Unfortunately, statements made in the new dietary guidelines will reduce the chances of many people to receive a balanced diet.