Atkins' Influences Dietary Guidelines
A leading problem in healthcare decision-making is communication. Conversations are either so littered with medical / scientific jargon that restrict the audience or so obtuse that the concepts are meaningless. Case in point is how atkins’ influences dietary guidelines. Long an opponent of “carbs”, Atkins Nutritionals has its own line of food and advice. Of course, if the US Dietary Guidelines supported fewer “carbs” then Atkins’ would have more market momentum. Putting motivation aside for a moment, let’s consider “carbs”.
Are “carbs” inherently bad and something humans need to avoid? Perhaps the billion or more Chinese didn’t get the memo before eating rice, vegetables and fruit today and for the last several thousand years. Perhaps it is less about “carbs” and more about the processed foods that contain those “carbs” as well as so many empty calories and questionable additives. There may be no patent-pending way to corner the market on fresh product and whole grains but that formula has produced results for millennia around the world as well as in clinical studies like those by Dean Ornish. We need better Dietary Guidelines that work holistically, not corporate strategy.
Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. shouldn’t be able to sway federal food policy that influences what Americans eat. But that’s exactly what the multimillion dollar company is trying to do in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Atkins published a letter in the New York Times and Washington Post on July 9 that calls for the Dietary Guidelines to recommend a “controlled carbohydrate eating approach.” In a news release promoting the ad, the company wrongly claims, “The Dietary Guidelines have unfortunately taken America down the path of overconsumption of carbohydrates and sugar, resulting in less healthy citizens.”
But Americans are actually consuming too few carbs in the forms of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Only one in 10 adults eats enough fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, a study in JAMA attributed 52,547 deaths from heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes in 2012 to consuming too few fruits and 53,410 deaths to consuming too few vegetables. Consuming too few whole grains was associated with 11,639 deaths from type 2 diabetes.
The company also makes the reckless recommendation for “the U.S. government to overhaul the U.S. Dietary Guidelines … recognizing a low-carbohydrate eating approach … can improve our nation’s health and reduce medical costs.”