Monday, September 7, 2020

Why the Federal Government Has Given Us Harmful Dietary Guidelines - Lessons from Thomas Jefferson to Today

Whether your name was Keys in nutrition or Keynes in economics, your contribution to 20th century education and science has left us with more than five decades of horrendous consequences.  This is from Terence Kealey writing at Cato:  
Although by 1955, within two years of originally proposing it, Keys had abandoned the dietary cholesterol hypothesis, for another 60 years the federal government continued to warn against consuming cholesterol-rich foods. It was only in 2015 that its Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee classified high-cholesterol foods such as eggs, shrimp, and lobster as safe to eat: “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” 
This 60-year delay shows how asymmetrical the official science of nutrition can be: a federal agency can label a foodstuff dangerous based on a suggestion, yet demand the most rigorous proof before reversing its advice. The Harvard professor of epidemiology and nutrition Walter Willett, commenting on the asymmetry in a related area of government nutrition advice, described it as “Scandalous. They say ‘You really need a high level of proof to change the recommendations,’ which is ironic, because they never had a high level of proof to set them.” ... 
Governments may be institutionally incapable of providing disinterested advice for at least four reasons. First, the scientists themselves may be divided, and by choosing one argument over another, the government may be making a mistake. Second, by abusing the precautionary principle, the government may be biasing its advice away from objectivity to risk‐​avoidance long before all the actual risks have been calculated. Third, because of public pressure, it may offer premature advice. And fourth, its advice will be distorted by lobbying.
Full article