Very occasional thoughts concentrating on the useful.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The chairman of Harvard's nutrition department on the USDA's new food pyramid

In a previous post, I included some damming excerpts from Walter Willett's book concerning the old USDA food pyramid. I'm still waiting to see what his new July 2005 edition has to say, but the article

"Government Unveils New Food Pyramid: Critics Say Nutrition Tool Is Flawed" Journal of the American Medical Association 293: 2581-2582 (June 1, 2005).

contains the following:

This is a huge lost opportunity to convey information about healthy food choices that could benefit Americans enormously, complained Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, who said he was pretty disappointed by the USDA's 2.4-million effort. The pyramid tells nothing of healthy food choices.

Willett specifically criticized the pyramid's overemphasis of dairy product consumption (3 cups daily, regardless of sex, age, or physical activity). He also cited the pyramid's lack of detail about the risks and benefits of consuming various types of fat. It's a very important issue because replacing transfats and saturated fats (with unsaturated fats) is one of the most important things people can do to reduce heart disease, said Willett. Information on salt and alcohol intake is also lacking, he noted.

It's about time that the US Department of Agriculture finally restricts its advise to farming!


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