Dr. Zoltan Ovary is a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which meets every five years to produce the Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Tallying a nonsensical 571 pages (the word Mediterranean appears 196 times), the 2015 version was published last week and will be used as a reference by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, which publish Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. When Dr. Ovary agreed to be interviewed by Bud Fox News‘ Silence Bellows, he suggested they meet at a rather strange place. When he sensed her skepticism, he explained to her:
“I don’t mean any funny business. McDonald’s is my favorite restaurant. And for all we know at the committee, their food is good for you!”
So the two had lunch at a fast-food restaurant that for years has drawn the ire of public health officials and nanny-staters everywhere. For the record, the strapping Dr. Ovary, who looked like a collegiate running back despite his 40 years, had a Bacon Clubhouse Burger, small fries, and a small Coke, topping it off with a McFlurry with M&Ms, a perfectly reasonable meal that, according to McDonald’s handy Meal Builder calculator, delivered the following:
- 1,730 calories
- 74 grams of fat
- 170 milligrams of cholesterol
- 1,780 milligrams of sodium
- 142 grams of sugar
- 54 grams of protein
As Dr. Ovary relished his meal, he provided a brief history lesson on the confusing, fat-inducing advice his panel has churned out in the past:
To tell you the truth, we’ve really got no idea what you should be eating to promote good health. Look at our track record, we’re like some gut-busted zombie binge-dieter who’s sleepwalking from the Cabbage Soup Diet to the Tapeworm Diet and then on to the Paleo Diet, all the while getting fatter and fatter. We used to tell people to eat a low-fat diet. That spawned the low-fat food industry, where food manufacturers loaded everything up with sugar to compensate. People just got fatter and their cardiovascular health got worse. We stigmatized eggs and said they’d increase your cholesterol and harden your arteries. Last, we scared the salt right out of people, told them it was a killer, that it gave them high blood pressure.
So just last week, we came out with our latest set of guidelines. I don’t know why we bother. We’ve got no credibility. We’re the fatties who cried dietary wolf burger. Now we say, “Lay off the sugar.”
In addition to suggesting drastic reductions in sugar intake (only 12 teaspoons a day for most people even though they get about 26 now), the panel, playing the food version of Red Light Green Light with Americans’ expanding waistlines, reversed itself from five years ago and now gives the green light to cholesterol and unsaturated fat, the latter which comes from fish, nuts, and olive and vegetable oils. So you’re free to belly up to the omelet bar but make sure that your beer nuts are unsalted because the panel still wants Americans to cut back on salt. To ensure confusion, the panel continues to preach the avoidance of saturated fat, the latter which occurs primarily in animal foods.
In the end, it’s important to remember that this is a governmental panel, so it has about as much chance of creating a coherent message as Barack Obama does when he talks about Islamic terrorism. The panel’s recommendation on salt, for example, is somewhat tough to defend, as this article from The Economist discusses. The group’s salt stance very well may be an example of bureaucratic cover-your-arse, ie, if the research is inconclusive, let’s keep saying it’s dangerous.
Some health experts were even more unhappy with the panel’s opposition to saturated fats. According to the New York Times:
The panel gets its harshest criticism for its advice against saturated fat, which has been challenged by several recent studies. Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, said that replacing saturated fat with the polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils could worsen blood cholesterol levels and raise cancer and heart disease risk.
“The recommendations on saturated fat are a farce,” he said.
If you followed the panel’s advice ten years ago and its update five years ago, then you’re probably so fat by now that you’re being measured for burial in a piano case. For those of you who have been smart enough thus far to ignore Dr. Ovary and his team of food wizards, congratulations; I’m sure you look great. And please do me a favor- don’t eat all the sausage pizza, I’d like a couple of slices myself.