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Sugar versus Fat: Dietary Guides Advisory Committee Ignoring Recent Studies…

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Minneapolis, MN – July 7, 2010 – Ignored by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a groundbreaking study, “Caloric Sweetener Consumption and Dyslipidemia among U.S. Adults,” published in the April 20, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), concluded that added sugars in processed foods and beverages are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. 

Miriam Vos, MD, Emory University School of Medicine led the study, which analyzed U.S. government nutritional data in more than 6,000 adult men and women between the years 1999 and 2006. Vos and her associates concluded that the more sugar people consumed, the greater their cardiovascular risk factors, including elevated triglycerides (TG), and depressed levels of protective HDL cholesterol.

Study participants who consumed 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar had more than triple the normal risk of low protective HDL compared to those who consumed less than five percent of their calories from sweeteners. Also, those whose sugar intake made up 17 percent or more of daily calories were 20 to 30 percent more likely to have elevated triglycerides – blood fats associated with carbohydrate consumption and increased risk of heart disease.

Yet, during the DGAC meetings, Dr. Joanne L. Slavin, Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, chairman of the Carbohydrate Committee, said it is healthy to consume up to 25 percent of our calories as sugar. Slavin also steadfastly defended the Corn Grower’s Association contention that high fructose corn syrup should not be singled out as a “bad carbohydrate.”   

“… Critical reviews in Food, Science and Nutrition state that calories are calories and high fructose corn sweeteners are no different than other calories, calorie per calorie…”

Emory University:  High Fructose Corn Syrup raises triglycerides

Another Emory University School of Medicine study, ignored by the DGAC, found that Americans are getting more than 10 percent of their daily calories from fructose, used mainly in sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods. Published in the July 9, 2008 issue of The Medscape Journal of Medicine, this study analyzed the amount and sources of dietary fructose consumption among U.S. children and adults from 1988 to 1994.

“Measurement of fructose consumption is important because growing evidence suggests that it may play a role in health outcomes,” says lead author Miriam Vos, MD. The study found that children and adults in the U.S. consumed about 54 grams of fructose per day, an almost 50 percent increase from 1977-1978.

“Short-term studies have shown that fructose can elevate plasma triglycerides,” says Vos. “Further surveillance and research are needed to assess trends in fructose consumption and to develop a better understanding of the health impact of this common additive in the food supply.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:  “Saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk” of coronary heart disease, stroke or coronary vascular disease.

The 2010 DGAC also disregarded a meta-analysis led by Dr. Ronald Krauss from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (January 13, 2010). Data from 21 studies and almost 350,000 subjects indicated that consumption of saturated fat was not associated with increases in the risk of either coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. According to study director Krauss:

“Our meta-analysis showed that there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease.”

Yet, the proposed anti-fat 2010 Dietary Guidelines state:  “Intakes of dietary fatty acids and cholesterol are major determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD)” – completely ignoring Krauss’s 21 study meta-analysis – continuing to emphasize “healthy carbohydrates” – up to 65 percent of calories, an amount associated with record levels of obesity and diabetes.

On October 31, 2008, during the first meeting of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Dr. Eric B. Rimm, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, questioned what he called the “artificial limit” on dietary fat in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.    

From the transcript, Dr Rimm stated: 

So my concern is that we, over the last 30 years, have created the dogma that all fat is bad, and I think that the high end of 35 percent of calories from fat is artificial. And, if you look at some new data that has come out from dietary patterns among people in Greece or European countries, in fact they don’t have higher rates of heart disease, yet they have healthy fats …”

Fat vs. Sugar:  Dr. Andrew Weil weighs in

In the July 7, 2010 online Huffington Post, Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, citing the Emory study and Krauss’s meta-analysis, defended saturated fat and pointed his finger at sugar and easily-digested carbohydrates as the primary cause of the growth in chronic disease during the last three decades:

“My purpose is to emphasize that we would be much healthier as a nation if we stopped worrying so much about fats, and instead made a concerted effort to avoid processed, quick-digesting carbohydrates — especially added sugars. The average American consumes almost 22 teaspoons of sugars that are added to foods each day. This obscene amount is the principal driver of the “diabesity” epidemic, sharply increases coronary risks and promises to make this generation of children the first in American history that will die sooner than their parents.”

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    Total 2 comments
    • Anonymous

      This report says it all; the “anti-fat” Dietary Guidelines committee is protecting the Big Food industry and the medical status quo – which can only mean more obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

    • Anonymous

      The USDA and the DGAC should be sued. Their healthy diet is killing us.

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