Federal Dietary Guidelines Are (Gasp!) Political


Pizza Hut? Really?

People (read: fat Americans) are always on the lookout for new sets of food rules to follow. No carbs, only grapefruit and boiled eggs, raw food, no eating after 7 p.m. Pick your diet.

The federal government has been cheerfully stepping up to offer its own set of (ever-changing) rules for decades, of course, with the newest iteration out this week

A article on the reaction to the new guidelines in Politico offers a handy potted history outlining the politicization of the process for creating guidelines that will later be treated as if they are written in stone:

The politics of the guidelines go back to the first Dietary Goals for the United States, a document conceived by the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), and the precursor to the guidelines. When the goals were released in January 1977, they contained the advice to "eat less meat."

As one contemporary observer noted, the cattle industry went "ballistic" because "Congress was telling people that animal products were bad for health!" 

By December of that year, there was a second edition of the goals, and "Eat less meat" had become "Eat lean meat," the same wording in use today.

In fact, two little letters in the dietary guidelines cost Big Beef a pretty penny every time the standards are revised:

A former Agriculture Department official and close observer of the food industry, who requested anonymity, said the industry works differently today, in part because people are more aware of the high level of obesity in the United States. For example, the person said, the beef industry today goes to an influential congressman on the Agriculture Committee to whom it has given campaign contributions and asks that person to make sure "lean" doesn't get changed back to "less."

More Reason on federal food recommendations here.

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  1. Why Is there Viagra in the food chart? Is it for men
    libertarians only?

    1. I would rather kick myself in the balls, I would rather slice my skin off with an Agave thorn, I would rather sleep in a bedbug infested bed than answer your question, Rather.

      1. What a coincidence: I would Rather kick OM in the balls than lick them. I would Rather scratch my lover’s back than his-why waste foreplay? I would Rather sleep with Rather because she would last longer than a bedbug bite.
        Rather, rescue me from Mr. Your begging the question

        1. I would rather sleep with OM because he would last longer than Rather does!

          1. And that’s saying much.

    2. Why do you know what a Viagra tablet looks like?

  2. Not enough beer.

    1. While I’m sure we could debate the details, I’m sure you’ll appreciate MY food pyramid which I’m currently lobbying for the FDA to adopt.

      1. You were hittin the top o the pyramid when you drew that, werent you?

        I hooked up a mystery keg in my kegerator the other night. Its been sitting 1/2 full since summer, I had no clue what was in it (I thought it was a dunkelweizen). It poured…yellow. Hefe? Surely not, that got killed. Tastes … oh, ESB! And there was much rejoicing, I have much ESB!!!!! Wooo!!!!!

        1. Nice! It’s been a while since I brewed an ESB… might have to revisit it soon.

          1. I use british hops (duh) so it has a nice earthy hop flavor totally different from west coast hops. Its why it took my a second to figure out what I was drinking.

            Speaking of west coast hops, this weekend Im brewing me 2nd edition of the beer that made you cringe at the description — a doppelbock with about 80 IBUS of C hops (Citra and Columbus is what I think Im going with). Pitching on the yeast cake from a Schwarzbier that will go into secondary.

            Its lagering weather.

      2. OK…not much to quibble with here, CMS. I might switch Belgians with Barleywines/Impys, but I can work with this.

        1. Top of the pyramid doesn’t mean best, just what you should consume the least of. There are enough lower-ABV Belgians that I figured they should be in the middle.

          1. Works for me.

          2. So, you should drink lots of wheat beers? No thanks.

      3. Sheesh dude, I could have loaned you a pen so you didn’t have to use a crayon.

      4. Nicely done, but where do porters and stouts figure in? Gotta have the load-bearing beers…

        1. Porters and stouts are always welcome. Always.

      5. Need another section for Nut Browns and Irish Reds!

  3. Pick your diet.

    An acquaintance of mine, a food fadist, ordered six pounds of “gourmet” bacon last Christmas by mistake. Instead of sending it back, he figured out a “healthy” way of cooking it (the microwave oven) and assured me that it was “healthy” because he was not frying it. So he ate six pounds of bacon in five weeks and, in doing so, improved his health, according to his own internet research. The end.

    1. Human beings are goddamned funny creatures. They never fail to amuse.

  4. Hey, has anyone else noted the correlation between the first publishing of the Federal Dietary Guidelines and the onset of the National Obesity Epidemic and increasing incidences of Diabetes?

    1. Gary Taubes has.

    2. No, because real people pay little attention to it. We’re far wealthier, so we can afford to eat more, and we exercise less. Our government has little to do with it. I blame us.

      1. I think you’re right that people pay little attention to the detailed food pyramid but that you are wrong to say people’s eating habits aren’t influenced by it.

        Gary Taubes is all over this (I was being facetious, have read his books) in which he details on how beginning in the 70’s the government identified dietary fat as the greatest villan, recommending that those calories be replaced in the diet with carbs. Increasing obesity and rates of diabetes correlate directly.

        Many people still think dietary fat is the enemy of good health and maintenance of a healthy weight. The evidence increasingly supports the notion that they are terribly wrong.

        1. Equally important is the debunking of the eat-less/move-more method of weight loss. Eating less and moving more just makes one more hungry.

          1. Which doesnt mean it doesnt work, you just cant eat more when you are hungry.

            1. If you do that, you’ll just be tired and feel like shit. Your body really doesn’t like it when you starve it.

              1. The only way to lose weight is for Joules out to exceed Joules in.

                If sedentary, cutting the number of joules in a little does this.

                If you start exercising, you can eat more, but still have to eat less than total joules expended. Of course, exercising will probably also increase metabolism, which increases the burn rate.

                But regardless, its a joules inequation.

                /MKS for the win.

                1. Of course thermodynamics says that, but it’s not so simple in the context of the body. Calories in and calories out aren’t independent variables, since there’s a shit-ton of regulatory mechanisms controlling what goes on.

                  I like this little dialogue.

                  The experts: Obesity is caused by over-eating, by consuming more calories than are expended. There’s no getting around the first law of thermodynamics.

                  Us: But all that law says is that if somebody gets fat, they have to consume more calories then they expend. So why do they do that?

                  The experts: Because they do.

                  Us: That’s not a good enough answer.

                  The experts: Well, maybe they can’t help themselves.

                  Us: Why can’t they help themselves?

                  The experts: Because they can’t.

                  Us: That’s not a good enough answer either.

                  The experts: Because the food industry makes them do it. There’s so much good food around and it’s so tasty, they can’t help but eat it.

                  Us: But obviously some of us can, because we don’t all get fat. Why is it only some people can’t help themselves?

                  The experts: Because they can’t.

                  Us: Try again.

                  The experts: Well, it’s complicated.

                  Us: What do you mean complicated? We thought it was easy. Just this eating-too-much, exercising-too-little, calories-in-calories-out, thermodynamics thing.

                  The experts: Okay, how about this? [Now quoting from an NIH report published in 2000.] “Obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease that develops from an interaction of genotype and the environment. Our understanding of how and why obesity develops is incomplete, but involves the integration of social, behavioral, cultural, physiological, metabolic and genetic factors.”

                  Us: So what do all those have to do with eating too much and the laws of thermodynamics?

                  Experts: They contribute to making fat people overeat.

                  Us: How do they do that?

                  The experts: We don’t know. It’s complicated.

                  Us: Then maybe there’s another way to look at it. Maybe when we get fat it’s because those physiological, metabolic and genetic factors you mentioned are dysregulating our fat tissue, driving it to accumulate too much fat, and that’s why we eat so much and appear ? to you anyway ? to be kind of lazy. We’re compensating for the loss of calories into our fat.

                  The experts: Yeah, well, maybe. Your guess is as good as ours.

                  1. You know, I don’t want to be that guy who whinges about why Reason does this or that, but I was seriously disappointed circa 2007 that Taubes presented a serious, turn-key takedown of McGovern and federal diet guidelines, a nuked-from-orbit lipid hypothesis of heart disease and obesity, and I saw squat about it in Reason. I see a lot of jokey shit from Ivy-educated Krackup HeeHaw-McYuckerson about banning pop in school, and then calling fatasses a bunch of weak-willed fat asses, just stop eating fat ’cause it’s right there in the name, fat, haw.

                    And really, I don’t know why one would have to be a libertarian-qua-libertarian to care about this stuff. But instead, we get monthly temperature updates, and dispatches from conferences on fucking implantable iPhones, or whatever, who care(s)(d). I don’t get it – well, I have charitable and uncharitable explanations for it, anyway.

                  2. Of course thermodynamics says that, but it’s not so simple in the context of the body. Calories in and calories out aren’t independent variables, since there’s a shit-ton of regulatory mechanisms controlling what goes on.

                    But the physiological mechanisms of hunger and satiety don’t negate the laws of thermodynamics, so the caloric foundation of obesity still remains. Because one has factors that predispose them to overeat or crave calorically dense foods, doesn’t counter the fact that fat storage requires a caloric excess. If one finds a diet that allows them to control their hunger better and lose weight, thermodynamics is still the reason for weight loss.

                    Taubes and his followers try to claim that the calories don’t matter, just macronutrients, which has been disproven numerous times. The above “dialogue” demonstrates the contortions that they must go through to cover the holes in such theories.

                    1. What breakfast would you rather have? Two eggs and two slices of bacon fried in a tablespoon of butter–or a cup of Special K, a cup of fat-free milk, and a banana? One of these keeps me fuller and more satisfied longer than the other. The first weighs in at 350 calories, the second at 330.

                      This is where the beautifully satiating macronutrient “fat” comes into play.

                    2. They don’t say calories don’t matter. Just that in consuming or not consuming carbohydrate affects hormones and other metabolic processes that make your body want more calories. For example, high inslulin levels and adipose tissue can “steal” energy and nutrients. So in order for vital cells to get the nutrients and energy they need, you have to eat more so they get what they need after the fat tissue takes what it doesn’t need but does anyway because your body is all fucked up with all that insulin and fructose around.

                    3. They don’t say calories don’t matter.

                      Taubes tries to make this claim. His blog argues against the “nonsensical notion that we get fat because of overeating and sedentary behavior”. Taubes confuses physiological responses with the well supported ideas of thermodynamics. Because diet affects our hunger and satiety drives doesn’t negate the fact that the fat accrual is due to an excess of calories. He would be more credible if he simply focused on the interactions of diet and environment to hunger and stay away from calories.

                    4. For example, there was a study Taubes talks about where men were given a diet of primarily carbs, at 1700 (I believe) calories. They went insane and were starving. A typical person on a low carb diet eating mostly protein and fat (mostly fat) usually drops their caloric intake to around the same amount. But they’re getting the nutrition they need, so the body doesn’t starve, while also being in a caloric deficit.

                  3. To paraphrase Lawrence j Peter (who actually was referring to Economists), an expert is someone who will tell you tomorrow why what he predicted yesterday did not happen today.

  5. You guys should check out this little documentary that went into this idiocy by McGovern. And then go eat a big old steak with plenty of butter.

    1. You can watch the whole thing on hulu for FREE!

  6. Clip here, presentation here.

    Eat shit comment filter.

    1. Eat shit comment filter.

      Now there’s a dietary guideline we can all agree on!

      1. Eat shit anonypussy.

        1. Looks like its manic cycle is starting…there will be much shit eating.

        2. Aw, did we hurt Bingo’s widdle feelings? We’re sorry, Bingo. We’re still not clicking on your links, but cheer up. Episiarch is here to defend you!

          1. You may be on to something, Epi. It’s certainly more energetic than usual.

            1. Just watch the cycle, dude. It’s very, very obvious.

              1. I don’t get it.

  7. Coffee should form the base of any food pyramid.

  8. The only things this country is still #1 in is (1) making bombs and (2) obesity.

    USA! USA! USA!

    1. We’re killing all the furiners and ourselves! We’re evil!

  9. Anyone who follows “dietary guidelines” and not what their body seems to prefer is, well, an idiot. If you’re eating bacon and eggs, and someone tells you to eat more grains, and you change to pancakes and get fat, and you don’t get it…you’re an idiot.

    1. There’s a PG Wodehouse story where one of the characters wasn’t able to fit into his dinner jacket (or tuxedo or favorite golfing outfit). His aged aunt forced him to eat less carbohydrates so he could fit into his snappy clothes again, and (as in all Wodehouse stories) impress the waifish flapper that was smitten with the oafish Big Game Hunter. He spent the rest of the story suffering the life of the idle rich and yearning for a big bowl of pasta.

      Even flippant characters in British novels from the early 1900s were better at nutrition than the fucking McGovern Commission.

    2. Carbs don’t turn off my hunger cravings while on the other hand just a small steak or piece of chicken will satisfy my hunger cravings. Salads are just an appetizer to me and I am hungrier after I eat a salad then before.

      So if I followed the governments advice I would put on weight.

  10. My lunch today is a big bag full of pulled pork with a vinegar-butter sauce. My health is spectacular. Fuck you, food guide pyramid.

    1. The vinegar based BBQ is so much better on the pulled pork. So much better.

      1. Sugary tomato-based sauce is an abomination on pork. Because I don’t loathe you very much, here’s the recipe.

        2 cups cider vinegar
        1/2 lb butter
        2 tbs salt
        2 tbs lemon juice
        2 tbs crushed red pepper
        1 tbs black pepper
        1 tbs Tabasco

        Heat the vinegar to boiling, add everything but the pepper, and stir while it simmers for 10-15 minutes. After it cools, add the black pepper.

        1. Sweet. I also have some vinegar based BBQ recipes from NutraSweet, so I will try all of these and see which I prefer.

          You lose some points for using Tabasco, though. Try to not be so gauche and maybe use Tapatio or even–to be interesting–use sriracha.

          1. Usually I throw in some pickled habaneros to simmer in the vinegar instead. Tabasco is a last resort.

          2. Sriracha in BBQ sauce — interesting.

            I can’t get into the whole vinegar sauce thing, probably because I hate living in North Carolina and everyone here calls that stuff “Carolina BBQ.”

          3. Sriracha is an absolute must on fish tacos, and even some kinds of pizza (how’s that for “diversity” Dems – Asian, Latino and Mediterranean all in a discussion on Amerkin BBQ?).

        2. The redneck beurre blanc. That almost has enough butter in it.

        3. Definitely going to try that recipe.

  11. Eat me.

  12. That’s deep dish pizza on the pyramid, right? Because the ketchup-on-paper crap has to be bad for you.

    1. V-8 Juice on Wonder Bread with a Kraft American slice on top. There’s yer Pizza Hut on the cheap(er).

  13. Here’s an hour and a half about how sugar makes you fat. Unfortunately, the guy thinks the solution is to require kids to present an ID to buy pop.

  14. In addition to what everyone else has said, isn’t “fat Americans” redundant? Yeah, I realize the occasional individual isn’t a chunk, but overall, we’re fat.

    1. “Chunk” is a criminally underused insult.


      2. “Insult”? I’ve never thought of it as anything besides a porn search query.

  15. I only eat beef raised in red states, non-subsidized veggies, and fruit picked by illegal immigrants.

    It may not be consistant, but at least it’s an ethos…

  16. People spend so much time and effort trying to make sure they have an extra six months at the end of their lives, they spend the other eight decades failing to actually LIVE.

    1. Seems all the 110 year olds drink a beer or two every day.

      1. and subsist on bacon sandwiches. yeah, I could put up with 100 years of that.

      2. oh, and are there any centenarians that don’t smoke?

  17. When the goals were released in January 1977, they contained the advice to “eat less meat.”

    Among the other really stupid things the tax-fed leeches have ‘recommended’ throughout the US’s sordid history…

  18. 25 years ago, the Left ridiculed the Reagan administration for declaring ketchup a vegetable for school lunch purposes.

    A decade later, the Left in the form of the Clinton administration, tried to declare yoghurt to count toward the meat requirements.

    And yet people still look at me strangely when I suggest that the problem is giving Big Government the power to set dietary guidelines in the first place.

    1. giving Big Government the power to set dietary guidelines in the first place

      The “power” to set guidelines is not the same as the “power” to enforce them. Again, “libertarians” blame “Big Government” for choices that free individuals make.

      1. You are such a trusting soul, Me Myself. Where did you get your lobotomy, and how much did it cost?

      2. Try buying real whole milk.

        Yeah, the guidelines are voluntary, but the sheep have been brainwashed, so they “voluntarily” consume the flavor of the day when it comes to health fads.

        Voluntary quickly becomes de facto law due to the economics.

      3. But any institution which receives federal funding is supposed to follow the “food pyramid.” So anyone in the military, anyone in a public school, anyone in a federal detention facility, or a state or local detention facility which received federal funding, is being fed according to these guidelines.

        1. I couldn’t help it! Big Government? made me do it!

  19. This is all a bee-ess waste of money! Everyone knows that to eat healthy, you simply eat a good mix of the four basic food groups (*) each day, and leave it at that!

    *Starch, salt, grease and sugar.

    1. The minimalist way to get these four major groups: Cheetos, Slim Jims, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, and beer (free choice).

  20. You’d be surprised how many people still say “don’t eat at night”, as if your caloric intake magically changes at 9 p.m.

    1. i think that’s more a matter of not eating prior to sleeping. And since most people tend to sleep at night….

      1. No, it’s the Oprah mentality that eating at night means you won’t digest your food as fast and somehow that will magically make you fatter.

  21. What is so good about “lean?” The healthier French don’t choose lean meat. The fat in properly raised meat, eggs, and milk (full fat)helps our bodies utilize the protein. Without fat, protein would be sloughed off. George Washington did as well as he did because he ate fatty pork, lard, and meat and butter from pastured animals. Lean, low fat, and nonfat explain obesit and diabetes – both epidemic since low fat beame the law of the land in 1980!

    1. I think more and more people are realizing that this fat phobia is BS (at least in regard to saturated fats–polyunsaturated fats, esp. high omega 6s, really aren’t that good for you). Eating less fat = eating more carbs, because most protein foods also have fat, and you have to eat something. More carbs = higher insulin levels = greater tendency to store fat. It also = less stable blood sugar so people who eat low fat, high carb are usually hungry much of the time.

      1. I used to do the high carb thing. I was also a long-distance runner. Talk about endless cycles of hunger (and the lovely smell of ammonia–my body breaking down my muscles for fuel–after a long run).

  22. No one has mentioned the milk industry yet? They have their own fracking section in the “food pyramid scheme” or whatever they are calling it these days. Why? It should be collapsed into another section at the very least.

    They seem to be very successful at convincing/bribing gullible stooges at the FDA that their unhealthy product is a sort of bovine ambrosia.

    1. The new school lunch program provides nonfat flavored milk (chocolate or strawberry) with 30 grams of sugar per cup – the same as a Mountain Dew! And they call this progress?

  23. Time for a tirade! I’m sick of low fat! I’m sick of “healthy”! I’m sick of processed, pasteurized, homogenized DRECK!

    Whole milk was *by law* at least 4% butterfat until the 1990’s… and it tasted good!

    The swill that people call cider in the US is nothing but unfiltered, pasteurized apple juice and bears NO resemblance to the wonderful drink that is raw cider.

    Pork is so lean that it has no taste.

    Unsaturated fats cause acid reflux.

    Etc. etc. etc.


    1. Stop whining and make your own.

      1. When you make your own milk and sell it, the FBI raids your farm.

        1. Well, the state police, maybe, but close enough.

          1. Not close enough, exactly right.

            State police are involved too, though.

  24. The trees are going in this spring, and the “no livestock” covenant for the neighborhood expires in a couple of years. I’m on it!

  25. To those of you knocking investigative science journalist Gary Taubes, he lays out piles of evidence that it is carbohydrates — sugar, flour, starchy vegetables like potatoes, apple juice — that cause the insulin secretion that puts on fat.

    I have been blogging his work and that of Dr. Michael Eades and others who base their advice on diet on scientific evidence rather than hearsay, and I get about three or four e-mails like this a week. This one came last night.

    SUBJECT: You freakin’ rock

    The reason for the subject line is that I doubt I would have either found or paid attention to Gary Taubes’s work absent your mention of it. I’m simultaneously reading both books (as GC, BC has been slow going for me as I keep putting it aside for other things) and I am unutterably convinced of the truth of it all.
    As of today, I have lost 14% of my body weight in the last two months plus another week to 10 days prior. I am eating steak, hamburgers (recently went to lunch with friends and ordered the cheeseburger with no ketchup and substituting Brussels sprouts [which I love] for the fries, took one bite of the lower bun because it soaked with hamburgery goodness and was able to not touch the bread basket which is *very* good at the place we went – perfectly satisfying, filling meal), veg and the very rare serving of, say rice. I’m dropping weight as fast as I ever have (and with bad hips it’s not like I’m moving as much as I used to) and *I’m not hungry!*
    It’s almost shocking. I am now thinking that I might make my goal weight by the end of the year, And if I don’t make that, I’m going to be damned close to it. And then new hips and a return to *life.*

    Thank you.

    Want to drop weight like rocks falling off a truck and remain pretty effortlessly thin…whether you exercise or not? Take a month and eat only bacon, eggs, butter, steak, hamburgers and fatty chicken with the skin on. Only spring water and coffee, no dairy, no alcohol. And drink chicken broth (something Taubes advises to those starting this way of eating to combat the initial lethargy of going off carbs).

    Check out Dr. Michael Eades, Taubes, Stephan Guyenet, Chris Masterjohn, and Dr. William Davis for the science instead of the “science” the government and most doctors have been giving the public.

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