There is nothing new here as the USDA has pushed high-carbohydrate, low-fat dietary guidelines since the beginning of the metabolic syndrome epidemic. Americans exercise more, eat more carbs, eat less fat, and now metabolic syndrome is beginning to crush our health care system. Yet the messages keep coming from the MyPlate Facebook page: “Eat carbs and restrict fat”. This MyPlate post, showing a stack of pancakes, is just one example.
The USDA’s SuperTracker website goes further and suggests, of the fats we do eat, to include margarine and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. This is just outrageous enough that I am guessing these recommendations will disappear after the guidelines are revised. The recommendation to avoid saturated fats will probably stick through another revision cycle, although there is not valid science that supports this guideline.
The shortened link in the Facebook post takes you to the USDA page Whole Grain Strawberry Pancakes, where they provide a recipe for a serving of two pancakes. I learned some things from this page. First, based on the nutrition information, two of these pancakes provide 36 grams of carbohydrates. This represents 12 percent of the USDA recommended daily value. From that, I calculated the USDA daily value suggestion for carbohydrates: 300 grams. Wow! Eight of these pancakes per day would satisfy the recommended daily value. Considering that carbohydrates are not an essential class of nutrient, this makes no sense to me. However, I think the note at the bottom of the recipe page sheds some light on this. It states that MyPlate has strategic partners known as the “Grain Chain”. The Grain Chain include American Bakers Association, Wheat Food Council, Grains Food Foundation, National Pasta Association, USA Rice Federation, General Mills, and Kellogg’s.
It is too late to formally contribute evidence and suggestions to the USDA as part of the 2015 dietary recommendations process. However, people can “like” the MyPlate Facebook page and make respectful comments there. We can all influence some change this way. For instance, I commented on one of the MyPlate posts that showed a bowl of processed cereal. My comment pointed out that the glycemic load exceeded that of a Snickers bar and later the entire post disappeared. I cannot be sure that is why the post disappeared but, if it was, having it go away was still a good outcome. I made a point to not comment on the post referenced here since I am using it as an example and I want to avoid a broken link.
In my opinion, governments should get out of the dietary recommendation business. It would also be better if they did not form strategic alliances with special interests. However, as long as they are doing this, we can comment when possible and help make sure their influences are positive and do more good than harm.