As the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) wraps up its deliberations in advance of their recommendations to USDA and HHS for developing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, their expected recommendations continue to come to light. Throughout the process AMI has anticipated that the DGAC will recommend lowering consumption of red and processed meat, without a strong science foundation or detail to back that recommendation up.

Some of the most interesting analysis from the most recent DGAC meeting was shared in the slides comparing different diets the committee views as ideal patterns for positive dietary health outcomes. One of those patterns is the Mediterranean diet, long hailed by experts like Harvard’s Walter Willett, MD, as one of the healthiest eating patterns. The committee broke down the typical eating pattern for followers of the Mediterranean diet and found that the median intake of red and processed meats is double the amount of USDA food patterns. And yet, when the DGAC moves to its recommendations based on the Mediterranean dietary pattern, they seem to ignore the significant role that red and processed meats play in the diet.

Dietary Guidelines 1

Similarly, the committee looked at data scoring the American diet. Based on their scoring, the average diet score of the U.S. population is 57 of 100 with some segments of the diet better scoring than others. The highest scoring component of the diet: protein foods which received an average of 100 percent. This means that Americans are meeting the protein recommendations for a healthy diet, which was previously confirmed by NHANES data cited in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Dietary Guidelines 2

The committee has repeatedly stated that a variety of dietary patterns can have positive health outcomes and the research they present back this idea up particularly as it relates to meat. Yet, despite the evidence presented in the DGAC meeting, the committee continues to generally refer to diets lower in red and processed meat as a dietary pattern associated with positive health outcomes. This is a significant disconnect that the committee should reevaluate. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is meant to bring together some of the top nutrition and health experts in the country to review the scientific and medical knowledge to prepare evidence based recommendations for the next Dietary Guidelines. When they ignore the evidence presented at their own meeting, it begs the question—are they fulfilling their mission?

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  • This Old Housewife

    As a low-carb dieter, please let your meat industry members that there will ALWAYS be a place on low-carb dieters’ tables for meat, but not just any meat: we are paying top dollar for top-quality meat. That means NO CHEMICALS–we eat grass-fed, pastured meats that aren’t fed grains, shot full of hormones, or crammed full of chemical-laden food to the point of physical harm. We are trying to keep our blood sugar down, and we can’t do that if the animal flesh we eat is diabetic, and/or swimming in soy (a known hormone disruptor, and insulin IS a hormone).

    We hear the arguments that raising livestock on grass and pasture land is more expensive than the chemical shortcuts that are taken now. Grass is FREE, so how could it cost more than conventional feed? Just raise them right, raise less of them, and charge more per pound–we’ll gladly pay it.

    As long as the conventional practices that exist today are still maintained, we will continue to avoid this meat in favor of the grass-fed, pastured variety. The animal’s health is OUR health, and we want to maintain our health as long as possible. If this means switching to mushrooms, fish, or supplements for our B-12 just to avoid chemicalized animals, we are prepared to do this.

    The low-carb diet is experiencing a second revolution, and now it’s going world-wide, in spite of the National Dietary Guidelines, or what any other country’s nutritional head is preaching. We’re rebels of the dietary persuasion, and we need to be fed! We just want you livestock producers to raise clean animals so we can buy and eat them, and continue on our healthy, merry way, birth and raise healthy, clean meat-eating kids, and they can birth and raise clean meat-eating kids of their own.

    This is a generational movement in the making…are you going to be WITH us, or are you going to hang around the stable waiting for that dead-on-arrival horse called POLITICS to come to your defense (at bottom dollar)?

    • americanmeat

      Glad to hear meat remains on your table! I don’t know exactly what you mean when you refer to some meat as chemical laden. Grass vs. grain fed is a choice we have which does impact the flavor of the meat some, but shouldn’t impact the overall health of the animal. I’d encourage you to check out our Meat Mythcrushers videos at which address some of the issues you raise.

      -Eric Mittenthal
      VP, Public Affairs
      North American Meat Institute