By: Eric Mittenthal
This week North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter participated in the Washington Post “Changing the Menu” event to talk about the role of meat in our diet. Tamar Haspel, the panel’s moderator, focused quite a bit on a theme we hear often at these types of media hosted events: that it’s common knowledge that Americans eat too much meat. But if you look at the science, is this true? Haspel cited anonymous public health groups who were all in agreement on the topic as her evidence. We prefer to look at the evidence considered as part of the Dietary Guidelines.
Consider these findings:
- Protein foods were the highest scoring component of the American diet when examined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) meaning Americans are meeting the protein recommendations for a healthy diet
- According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data cited in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, average Americans eat 6.08 oz of protein a day. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend 5-7oz.
- Followers of the Mediterranean diet, hailed by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as an ideal pattern for positive dietary health outcomes, eat double the amount of red and processed meat as in the typical USDA food pattern.
- Red meat consumption has dropped significantly since the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were first introduced. Yearly consumption per capita was 143.5 pounds in 1977. Today it’s 104.3 pounds. Despite this, dietary health outcomes have not improved. In fact, obesity has increased substantially.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee seemed to ignore the science it included in its own deliberations in its final report. Maybe Haspel decided that anonymous public health groups were all the evidence she needed. If you dig deeper, though, the evidence is clear that meat and poultry products are nutrient dense options that are consumed in the recommended amounts by Americans and a key part of a healthy American diet. It’s time that this is something “everyone knows.”
If you agree, be sure to sign our Hands Off My Hot Dog petition on change.org to tell USDA Secretary Vilsack and HHS Secretary Burwell to inject common sense in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.