Two of Cornell’s leading nutrition experts appeared in Washington, D.C., March 18 to discuss an extensive proposed rewrite of the federal government’s official Dietary Guidelines for Americans…
They appeared in the nation’s capital as part of Inside Cornell, a series of public policy roundtables. The pair spoke before an audience consisting largely of journalists who closely follow these issues. National Public Radio correspondent Allison Aubrey moderated the panel.
Tom Brenna said the most fundamental change proposed for the new dietary guidelines, which are updated every five years, “is a focus on overall healthy eating patterns, rather than individual foods…”
Brenna also lauded what he called an emerging emphasis on “nutrition above the neck,” a reference to the role diet plays in neurocognitive health. His Cornell lab, for example, conducts extensive research on nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, which are proving to be effective in treating depression.
David Just focuses on how consumers make their decisions about what foods to purchase and eat.
He said the government’s new nutritional guidance “will probably generate no response at all at the consumer level, at least initially. The primary effect will come from the millions of meals directly influenced by the government, including public school lunches, hospital food and military meals.”
Over time, however, as the new advice takes hold, it will start to be felt as “consumers make their shopping lists or decide which groceries to display prominently in their kitchens, as opposed to buried in cabinets.”
Just also stressed the positive role the food industry can play by adjusting how it markets and advertises its products. Touting the good taste and benefits of healthier foods on packaging, he noted, is far more effective than any government warning about the risks of a poor diet.
They also discussed the never-publicized lobbying over dietary guideline recommendations. The meat industry – of course – wants to water down recommendations that Americans eat less red meat, less processed meat. The last thing they want is linking an animal-based diet to environmental problems like greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.
Sugar giants don’t want nutrition labels to include added sugar. There’s a surprise!
Once Congress gets quickly past the parts about science, no doubt they will return to rules and regulations directly proportional to the influence of lobbyist/industry dollar$.
BTW, that 2nd link up top is a fine article on the details of new recommendations.