The Trump administration is limiting the range of topics addressed by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). This could mean the exclusion of important research, data, and information.
The Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture oversee the committee responsible for making guideline recommendations. This committee has predetermined the topics that can be addressed, potentially leaving out key studies concerning sustainability, meat, and health.
“What will not be included are recommendations that address the sustainability of our food supply,” says the Union of Concerned Scientists — an American science advocacy group.
“The topic list for 2020 also leaves out red meat and processed meat,” says UCS. “Despite strong evidence linking consumption to colorectal cancer, heart disease, and other health conditions.”
The sidelining of unfettered scientific and expert input has raised concerns over industry influence on the federal government. Particularly because of the Department of Agriculture’s role in dictating what can — and can’t — be addressed.
“A wide range of experts say these are among the most critical questions as the nation faces an epidemic of lifestyle diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes,” says UCS.
“They also represent the issues that large food companies find most objectionable,” UCS adds. “Because they would probably cast high-sodium, high-sugar, high-saturated fat and highly processed foods in a poor light.”
Is Meat Healthy?
A study in April revealed that meat consumption may now be responsible for more deaths than tobacco. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the study looked at consumption trends in 195 countries between 1995 and 2017. It showed that poor diet can be associated with one-fifth of deaths globally.
Dr. Ashkan Afshin — an author of the study and an assistant professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington — said in a statement, “poor dietary habits, which is a combination of high intake of unhealthy foods, such as red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages and a low intake of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and seeds, overall causes more deaths than any other risk factors globally.”
Trump and Climate Change
“The 2015 DGAC noted that plant-based diets are good for both our health and our environment,” explains UCS. “The USDA and the HHS omitted this information from the final guidelines.”
The Trump administration has undone much of the legislation previously introduced to combat climate change. Trump’s government has dismantled eighty-four environmental rules and regulations since assuming office, according to the New York Times. In 2017, the U.S. also withdrew from the Paris Agreement.
“Veiled organizations representing the interests of beef, dairy, and Big Food are pretending to use science to argue against the actual science and to expunge key recommendations,” said David Katz, author and founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, in an email to The Washington Post. “Of course sustainability should be included. Of course, we need to eat less meat.”