To solve the nutrition crisis, Biden must first look inward – New York Daily News
Last week, President Biden announced he would convene a White House Hunger, Health and Nutrition Conference, the first in more than 50 years, to address epidemics of hunger and hunger-related disease. food that afflict America.
A starting point is to look at the government’s flawed food policy.
The last conference under the Nixon administration paved the way for the establishment of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines shifted the American diet to a carbohydrate-weighted diet.
In the late 1960s, carbohydrate intake accounted for 39% of the American diet. The guidelines, which are considered the gold standard of nutrition, recommend a diet of 45% to 65% carbohydrates and up to 10% calories as sugar. This guidance is reflected in everything from the advice doctors give to patients, to the foods prescribed through federal nutrition programs, to meals in pre-K-12 schools, nursing homes, military messes, and more.
Since the guidelines came into force, diet-related illnesses have exploded. For example, this year an additional 1.4 million Americans are expected to join the 37.3 million, or 11% of us, already struggling with diabetes, a physically and financially devastating disease that is increasingly manifesting itself. for young people. In 2021, diabetes rates in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island were above the national average at 15.7%, 13.2% and 13%, respectively.
With an annual cost of $327 billion in direct costs and lost productivity, diabetes is also the nation’s most expensive chronic disease. People with diabetes incur medical costs about 2.3 times higher than those without.
While much attention has been paid to the damage caused by refined sugar, the problem with an overload of carbohydrates is that, whether whole or refined, they turn into sugar during digestion. This means that even whole grains will reliably raise blood glucose levels. Over time, a diet high in carbohydrates, “healthy” or not, depletes the body’s ability to process sugars, leading to a condition called insulin resistance, a precursor to prediabetes, weight gain, and most other diet-related illnesses.
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In announcing the conference, Biden noted that diet-related illnesses increase the risk of severe COVID-19, but he did not note that high blood sugar, which causes diabetes, was one of the most important factors. closely linked to an increased risk of hospitalization and death. .
A large number of scientific publications now exist to show that a low-carb diet can lower blood sugar and even reverse a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes – within weeks. For example, a 2021 issue of Nutrients cites dozens of clinical trials demonstrating how carbohydrate restriction helps people fight diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and inflammation, among other cardiovascular risk factors. .
The evidence has become so compelling that major health groups have endorsed this nutritional therapy. In recent years, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have both recognized that low-carb diets are unprecedented for blood sugar control, and the ADA has called it a standard of care.
If the White House wants to reduce the prevalence of diet-related disease, it should follow the lead of the AHA and ADA and re-evaluate the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to provide an alternative for the 50% of Americans with diabetes or prediabetes, not to mention other diet-related illnesses.
This sensible approach seems unlikely. Last month, the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (USDA-HHS) began the process of revising the 2025 guidelines by releasing a list of scientific questions that an as-yet-unknown committee will consider. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a single question about low carb diets on the list. When last reviewed, for the 2020 guidelines, USDA experts also ignored the evidence, saying they could only find one clinical trial on low-carb diets – despite the existence of at least 75 such trials at the time.
President Biden’s concern for the nutritional health of Americans presents a new opportunity for the White House to begin reversing deteriorating health trends that began decades ago and show no signs of slowing. Failure to do so will cost all Americans dearly and be unfair to the millions of vulnerable individuals who trust and live by government nutrition policy.
Teicholz is the author of “The Big Fat Surprise” and founder and chairman of the board of The Nutrition Coalition, a nonprofit that supports evidence-based food policy. Friedlin is president of the Nutrition Coalition.