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View Full Version : The new food pyramid, hmmm



erp7e
04-21-2005, 09:56 PM
http://mypyramid.gov/

They say it's 'customizable.' So I entered my age and activity level, and it says I need 7 ounces of meat and beans per day. 7 ounces? That's like half the animal protein I get at breakfast.

redhead
04-21-2005, 10:07 PM
The new pyramid doesn't seem to cater to the athlete in any respect. I thought I was having problems with MY diet. If I ate according to there standards, I would wilt away. :eek:

elissalowe
04-21-2005, 11:04 PM
http://mypyramid.gov/

They say it's 'customizable.' So I entered my age and activity level, and it says I need 7 ounces of meat and beans per day. 7 ounces? That's like half the animal protein I get at breakfast.
Hey - you get an ounce more than me! No fair! :D

erp7e
04-22-2005, 07:32 PM
It said I should get 2600 calories a day. To which I replied, what, by lunch? This is what they call 'personalized?'

csternhagen
04-22-2005, 09:41 PM
It's a very small step in the right direction. Unfortunately this area is still controlled by food industry lobbyists.....

torelli
04-23-2005, 01:00 AM
Okay I have to back up the food pyramid people a little bit here (my advisor is on the commitee and helped put it together, he is the reason they stress exercise more now).

While it may not be optimal for athletes in the opinion of many of the people on this board think for a second what the commitee is up against. The "average American" that sits on their ass all day eating chips and the closest thing they have to an exercise induced cramp is from pushing the remote control buttons to much.

Another example is a friend of mine here in the Public Health department graduate program. He has been trying to get the UC Berkeley cafeterias to change their cooking oils to a trans fat free oil for over 2 years now and finally succeded.

While he was doing this he did a lot of polling of people at the school eateries. He would ask people if they knew what trans fats were and most of them had a very limited idea. He would then take 10 minutes and explain to them what trans fats were and explain which foods in the eatery they were about to head into had trans fats in them. He would then watch as they went inside and less than 60 seconds after finishing talking with him pick up the trans fat laden pizza!

While the pyramid is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination I can't think of anything that would be more successful with the American population at large. If you told them everything processed that they eat is bad for them most wouldn't listen. Plus the exercise factor here is HUGE!

erp7e
04-23-2005, 01:23 AM
All good points, torelli. I will give them credit for 1) advocating exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, 2) including the new 'healthy oils' recommendation, and 3) cracking down on trans fats.

But the overall ratios between food groups is essentially the same.

So my question is this: why do they continue to ignore the good research supporting higher protein and fat intakes? I mean, the protein intake is still miniscule on this diet. I'm not saying a low-carb diet per se, but based on the new slices of the pyramid, the grain intake is 2-3 times that of lean animal protein. In my mind, I just don't understand how they can continue to justify this enormous grain intake and so little animal protein (7 ounces a day for me, for example). I feel the danger of telling all these sedentary people to eat tons of high-glycemic index grains is high enough to warrant a different recommendation. One could speculate that the grain lobby is pushing more bribes through the USDA than the beef and poultry lobbies, but I hope this isn't the whole story.

torelli
04-23-2005, 02:24 AM
From what I can take from the people I know on the committee is the following.

-Everyperson on the committee I know is a very "hard science" type. Meaning that while they may have worked with people or groups of people before to help them lose weight or fight CVD, but they choose to go by the research that has been done well and repeated over and over again.

To give you an idea a professor from Australia came and spoke to a group of us about a fat loss study they did with low glycemic loads vs. higher glycemic load vs. low carb diets on fat loss. While her results showed that the low GI, and low Carb dieters lost more fat the professor was ripped apart because her study design had a lot of holes in it. For example not controlling for fiber intake, fatty acid make-up, etc... These people like bullet-proof studies which is hard to come by in the high fat and high protein studies these days.

-They stand by the large epidemical studies that show a positive correlation between fatty acid intake and cardiovascular disease. My professor loves to put up a slide at every talk he gives and show the rates of CVD and fatty acid intakes.

-Finally for protein the thought is still that their are protein "needs" for nitrogen. Which from a mechanistic point of view makes sense. Also, it is really hard to do nitrogen studies on humans and nobody has come up with a great way to show that more is better(to do these right you have to collect everything and I mean everything!!). To further that point there is a good sized body of evidence that higher protein intakes prolong the life of animals that have renal failure. While we can sit here all day and say it ain't so for a healthy adult there aren't any long term controlled studies that show it.

-In the end I feel that the committee also runs into the problem that people want a quick fix with everything. How many people read only the beginning of an article and not the rest where all the details are. Take what the new MyPyramid people say about proportions "Proportionality
Proportionality is shown by the different widths of the food group bands. The widths suggest how much food a person should choose from each group. The widths are just a general guide, not exact proportions. "

If you pull up the professional series information you will find that the committee has only given basic "needs" which include:
-RDA for protein of 0.8 g/kg
-Lower limit of 120 grams of carbs a day
-Keep saturated fat to 1/3 of total fat intake
-Keep trans fat intake as low as possible while eating a balanced diet.
-30 grams of fiber/day for women 38 for men

These recommendations I can say are more accurate since you can't give a person a direct diet without sitting down and working with them one on one.

erp7e
04-23-2005, 03:55 AM
Don't get me wrong...it could be MUCH worse and I think the committee made some great strides forward. But I think I may disagree with some of their conclusions.

For example, here are some studies showing the detrimental effects on health of an agriculture/grain-based diet.:

Cassidy CM. Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers: a case study of two prehistoric populations. In: Jerome NW, Kandel RF, Pelto GH, eds. Nutritional Anthropology: Contemporary Approaches to Diet & Culture. Pleasantville, NY: Redgrave Publishing Co; 1980:117-145.

Daniel M, Rowley KG, McDermott R, Mylvaganam A, O’Dea K. Diabetes incidence in an Australian aboriginal population: an 8-year follow-up study. Diabetes Care. 1999;22:1993-1998.

Ebbesson SO, Schraer CD, Risica PM, et al. Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in three Alaskan Eskimo populations: the Alaska-Siberia Project. Diabetes Care. 1998;21:563-569.

Also, in regards to a JAMA review paper (Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease, Hu FB, Willett WC 2002), I will quote Dr. Loren Cordain as he puts it better than I do:

"In truth, the ideal diet is neither of these extremes nor what many medical professionals now promote. In a recently published large review of approximately 150 studies on the link between diet and cardiovascular health, the authors concluded that 3 major dietary approaches have emerged as the most effective in preventing cardiovascular events: (1) replacing saturated and trans-fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; (2) increasing consumption of omega-3 (ω-3) fats from either fish or plant sources such as nuts; and (3) eating a diet high in various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and avoiding foods with a high glycemic load (a large amount of quickly digestible carbohydrates). Despite common misperceptions, this report found no strong evidence for a link between risk of cardiovascular disease and intake of meat, cholesterol, or total fat.

I could go on but it would take a lot of digging. No doubt you read more of this stuff than I do these days. I'd be interested to know what your prof thinks of Dr. Cordain. Here is a review paper published by him regarding the 'paleo diet:'

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/inside.asp?AID=651&UID=

I'm sure Will could come a lot stronger than me here on the research end, maybe he'll chime in here at some point.

erp7e
04-23-2005, 03:58 AM
Interesting further discussion on said review...the letter writer is in agreement with Cordain but advocates MORE saturated fat:

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/inside.asp?AID=560&UID=

Boxer
04-23-2005, 09:54 AM
Interesting further discussion on said review...the letter writer is in agreement with Cordain but advocates MORE saturated fat:

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/inside.asp?AID=560&UID=
Interesting discussion guys. I tend to agree with the guy that advocates more saturated fat. Loren Cordain ( although I admire his work ) gives the arguement that saturated fat increases LDL cholesterol. The truth is there is different kinds of saturated fat. Some saturated fat lowers cholesterol, some has a neutral effect and at worse along with raising LDL cholesterol it raises HDL cholesterol too.

Here's what the Weston A price foundation say about fat in the paleo diet...

Everyone who has described the diets of primitive peoples—Stefansson, Samuel Hearne, Cabeza de Vaca, Weston Price—has detailed the great emphasis these groups put on animal fat. Animal foods rich in fat were the basis of these diets. Animals were hunted selectively to procure those richest in fat. In good times, only the fattest parts were eaten, the lean meat was thrown away. In fact, the one thing Paleolithic Peter would never have eaten was a skinless chicken breast. He wanted the fat, the entrails, the bones, the contents of the stomach. . . the lean meat went to his dogs
Taken from http://www.westonaprice.org/bookreviews/paleodiet.html

Loren Cordain then even goes on to say on his website that the hunter gatherer fat intakes would have been up to 57% ( surely more than 10% of this would have been saturated fat?).

From our analyses of 229 hunter-gatherer diets and the nutrient content of wild plants and animals, our research team has demonstrated the most representative fat intake would have varied from 28 to 57% of total calories.
Taken from http://www.thepaleodiet.com/faq.htm

How about the Inuit who got more than 20% saturated fat in their diets? These people were relatively heart disease free I believe.

Boxer
04-23-2005, 10:15 AM
I've just had a look at the new food pyramid and that is not a healthy diet. I have to hand it to them that it is aimed at the general public though where compliance is also a problem and following the pyramid would be an improvement for most people.

I think they assume everyone is a moron though. What about the educated people who are willing to make large dietary changes so they can be healthy? I think the pyramid should include more information.

I remember in my late teens and early 20's following the food pyramid exactly for a couple of years. We were told all fat was bad so I was on an EXTREME low fat diet for these years. During that time I felt like crap constantly. I had a low sex drive, felt depressed often etc. Luckily a fatty acid deficiency is reversible once fat is introduced into the diet otherwise I would now be permanetly damaged thanks to the pyramid. I was just ill during the time I was following the diet.

Boxer
04-23-2005, 10:36 AM
Here's some of my main issues...

Dried fruit is encouraged yet dried fruit is high in sugar and is very sticky hence it is bad for tooth decay.

Canned fruits are encouraged. Most canned fruits are in syrup ( ie sugar ) these are the ones that are most likely to be picked up.

In the calcium rich foods section dairy are the only products listed? There are fruits and vegetables that are high in calcium. It's a myth that we need dairy for calcium. Humans survived millions of years wihout dairy products. Not to mention all the negative research with regards to dairy.

People are told to grill their meat. Are they not aware of the production of HCA's and the cholesterol oxidising at high temperatures? Ok, grilling occasionally should be ok but I don't belive that grilling meat should be encouraged.

These oils are encouraged...

canola oil
corn oil
cottonseed oil
olive oil
safflower oil
soybean oil
sunflower oil
...yet we are told to limit butter and lard. The truth is that butter and lard are healthier than all these oils unless the oil is made correctly ( why didn't they include more information on choosing an oil with health in mind? ).

They are also likely to end up with a major imbalance in the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.

These are some of my major issues plus the ones that have been mentioned already.

elissalowe
04-23-2005, 01:56 PM
My gripe with the Food Pyramid is less with the fine details - I largely agree with Torelli here...given the way most people eat, if they followed the pyramid it would be an improvement. No - my complaint is that it fails as a teaching tool. The old pyramid - for all its faults - was easy to understand and could be taken in at a glance. However flawed the message was, it was communicated simply and clearly. The new pyramid, however, with its emphasis on proportionality and individuality, is just going to confuse the people who would benefit the most from its message.

Furthermore - just like the old pyramid - it fails to educate people on how to deal with the reality of how food is prepared and presented. The focus is on basic commodities: a glass of milk, a serving of meat, an egg, or a piece of fruit. So where does pizza fit in here? Hot Pockets? Pop Tarts? Fruit Roll-ups? Velveeta? Take out Chinese food? There's very little guidance here to help people evaluate the choices they're confronted with in the supermarket or restaurant. It's no wonder that people tune out and go with what tastes good.

We can argue the merits of the nutritional recommendations 'till the cows come home, but until the academic and governmental powers-that-be are ready to confront reality and take on the food industry, efforts like the food pyramid are doomed to irrelevancy.

WillBrink
04-23-2005, 02:18 PM
From what I can take from the people I know on the committee is the following.

-Everyperson on the committee I know is a very "hard science" type. Meaning that while they may have worked with people or groups of people before to help them lose weight or fight CVD, but they choose to go by the research that has been done well and repeated over and over again.

To give you an idea a professor from Australia came and spoke to a group of us about a fat loss study they did with low glycemic loads vs. higher glycemic load vs. low carb diets on fat loss. While her results showed that the low GI, and low Carb dieters lost more fat the professor was ripped apart because her study design had a lot of holes in it. For example not controlling for fiber intake, fatty acid make-up, etc... These people like bullet-proof studies which is hard to come by in the high fat and high protein studies these days.

-They stand by the large epidemical studies that show a positive correlation between fatty acid intake and cardiovascular disease. My professor loves to put up a slide at every talk he gives and show the rates of CVD and fatty acid intakes.

-Finally for protein the thought is still that their are protein "needs" for nitrogen. Which from a mechanistic point of view makes sense. Also, it is really hard to do nitrogen studies on humans and nobody has come up with a great way to show that more is better(to do these right you have to collect everything and I mean everything!!). To further that point there is a good sized body of evidence that higher protein intakes prolong the life of animals that have renal failure. While we can sit here all day and say it ain't so for a healthy adult there aren't any long term controlled studies that show it.

-In the end I feel that the committee also runs into the problem that people want a quick fix with everything. How many people read only the beginning of an article and not the rest where all the details are. Take what the new MyPyramid people say about proportions "Proportionality
Proportionality is shown by the different widths of the food group bands. The widths suggest how much food a person should choose from each group. The widths are just a general guide, not exact proportions. "

If you pull up the professional series information you will find that the committee has only given basic "needs" which include:
-RDA for protein of 0.8 g/kg
-Lower limit of 120 grams of carbs a day
-Keep saturated fat to 1/3 of total fat intake
-Keep trans fat intake as low as possible while eating a balanced diet.
-30 grams of fiber/day for women 38 for men

These recommendations I can say are more accurate since you can't give a person a direct diet without sitting down and working with them one on one.


Torreli, great input. One thing however I do think you are forgetting here is their own personal bias they bring, which they think they are immune from. A perfect example, they are incredibly hard on the reams of controlled direct intervention studies showing clear differences in macro nutrients (e.g. the study you mention for example) and want “bullet proof” studies, then go onto rely on outdated epidemiological studies showing correlations between fat intakes and CVD! It screams of a double standard brought on by personal bias. Which I have seen so many times before. It’s a rare person, regardless of educational level, that can truly take an unbiased approach to a topic. It’s similar of course to the MDs and professors who can still look you in the face and tell you we lack enough data to recommend vitamin C intakes above the RDA and other total nonsense we know to be flatly untrue and unscientific on their part. In my experience, most of the time they are “hard science types” where it supports their personal bias. Anyway, the new pyramid is clearly a step in the right direction, though I think my pyramid in the ebook is far better…though I may be bias! :eek:

torelli
04-23-2005, 03:59 PM
This is a good discussion. erp7e I have read those studies and agree with you on all fronts (although my environmental side says to eat lower on the food chain, but that is another discussion).

Will you hit it on the head again with the biased opinions, in fact I see the biased come to play a lot when it comes to real world recommendations from these very smart people. One of the things the people I know that are on the committee is that they try to get past their biased as much as possible with their recommendations but as Ellisa points out it is very hard to show that in a food guide pyramid to the mass public that lives in the middle of nowhere and has a choice between "wonder bread" or "new wonder bread," and lets not forget that you have to write at a 6th grade level for the average American adult to understand what we are saying :eek:

Attached is a word document that hopefully gives you guys some input on what my advisor uses to give his talks and what the committee itself came up with. You can then see how different it looks when it comes out on the food guide pyramid. There are huge ranges of macronutrients allowed and they use the RDA's, UL, Lower Limit, definitions much more exactly and scientifically.

Also another study that my prof. likes is the China-Cornell project http://www.nutrition.cornell.edu/ChinaProject/results.html

Hope that helps explain their thinking. As Will points out there are always biased opinions from us all, and I also think there is a HUGE difference between what these people really want to show and what they are somewhat forced to show in the documents for laypeople. Hence the large difference between the document I uploaded and what you get at Mypyramid.com

csternhagen
04-23-2005, 05:20 PM
I'd really like to know the committee's entire report and recommendations as they submitted them. I'd bet that most if not all of their recommendations where altered and/or withheld due to the efforts of food industry lobbyists. The Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), estimated that in 2004, food industry players spent more than $48 million in lobbying politicians. One of the highest industry averages ever. Specifically, Kraft Foods (Altria Group) spent nearly $1.5 million alone. Remember that the committee doesn't write the published guidelines, they simply make recommendations based on science. IMO, the problem lies not in the committee or the science as much as it does our gov't. The science is there, our elected officials just tend to ignore it.

erp7e
04-23-2005, 06:28 PM
torelli: I see that side of it, practicality, etc. Unfortunately Will's pyramid will probably not be adopted until 2050, but at least we all were following it ahead of its time!

Boxer: I agree with you about the saturated fat intake. This is one point where I disagree with Cordain as well. Mauro Di Pasquale has advocated higher saturated fat and meat intake as well, with plenty of data to back him up. My point is that both Cordain and his saturated fat detractors would *agree* on at least one thing: the high-grain diet is a fast track to poor health and disease.

csternhagen: Yes, this is the part of it that bothers me the most. Policy decisions, especially in medicine and health care, made by lawyers/suits/accountants who have no clue about how to make such decisions and just go for who has the lobby $$$.