The Latest FDA News

I read some disturbing articles this week.

They were all aimed at obesity. Not surprising at all!

America has been fighting obesity for decades. The agencies in charge of solving this dilemma are missing their mark. There have been numerous attempts to get Americans to “eat more healthy” by designing food pyramids, developing food products which tout “healthy choices”, research and development of diet pills and supplements by drug companies, and of course, the multitude of fail proof fad diets to help you lose weight and keep it off (until of course you end the diet and slip back into your old habits).

This week I read where the government has urged most Americans to eat fewer calories and exercise 30 to 90 minutes per day. These guidelines are part of a revised Food Pyramid which the government plans to launch within the next few months. The guidelines also stress eating more whole vegetables and whole fruit rather than juices, and more whole grain products instead of refined. They were toying with the idea of making the pyramid into a whole new shape and revising the amounts to reflect household measurements like cups instead of “serving sizes or portions”. (I can’t wait).

The guidelines were based on recommendations from a 13-member panel of scientists and doctors who spent nearly a year reviewing American’s diets and health issues.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was quoted as saying, “You lower your calorie intake, you lower your carbs, your fat. You eat more fruits and vegetables, and you exercise. That’s as simple as it can be. That is not too hard.”

What Secretary Thomson failed to realize is that it goes beyond merely fruits, vegetables, and grains. It has everything to do with the glycemic index and load, and the interaction of proteins and fats on how the meal is digested and broken down into the nutrients your body needs. Too many calories at one meal and too high a glycemic load can lead to excess insulin production, which can lead to fat storage and dips in blood sugar levels. It was stated that the American public spends $42 billion annually on diet books and products in an effort to get healthier.

One quote I found interesting was by Dr. David Katz, “It’s time to recognize we need a tool kit that’s all about how. Exactly what do I buy when I go shopping, exactly what do I order when I go out, how do I make good choices, how do I satisfy my kids?”

My response: “Umm, exactly where do I get my lobotomy?”

Kraft Foods has launched a campaign to curb advertising of Oreo Cookies, regular Kool-Aid and other popular snack foods to children under the age of 12. My comment: Just exactly how are they going to do THAT! Why don’t they just make a better product to begin with, if they are so concerned about junk food and the effect it has on children under 12. And for that matter, why only to children under the age of 12? What about the rest of us?

Were you aware that major food companies produce different versions of their products for different countries to comply with the country’s food guidelines? An Oreo cookie might look a whole lot different in France than it does in the U.S.

The Vending Machine Trade Association has also gotten into the mix. They apparently have launched an anti-obesity campaign of their own, which encourages healthy choices. Part of their new “Balanced for Life” program will include a color-coded rating system for food sold in vending machines which indicates healthy choices. This is part of an effort to help retain vending machines in schools. Do you really think a color-coded system will prevent or even dissuade the average middle schooler from choosing the chips or candy bar over the health bar? This is at best, a poor attempt to pass the blame. “Gosh, we color-coded the choices, but the kids chose not to select the healthier choices.” It would seem more logical, and a lot less costly to just stock the machines with healthier choices. But, no, that would cut profits! Another article pointed out that the government is, well actually has been for some time, trying to tighten up the standards for supplements. The FDA has approved a multitude of drugs to counteract high cholesterol levels, inflammation, acid reflux, high blood sugar, and a myriad of other Western diet-induced maladies. These drugs are now known to be causing an equal multitude of side effects including death.

It’s interesting that indigenous tribes have been using natural herbs and supplements for centuries. Of course they don’t eat trans fats or prepared foods with additives, or consume 5000 calories a day, or sit in front of the TV 4 hours a night. Their kids probably don’t play very many video games as their recreation of choice either, and most likely have physical chores and responsibilities as well.

And lastly, WATER, no one mentioned the importance of water in your diet. The body is 70% water, with the brain being even more, at 85% water. It should be considered one of the most important nutrients.

Bottom line: No matter what studies, proposals, guidelines, recommendations, advice, whatever is handed to us, it is ultimately up to YOU to make that important decision to lead a healthy lifestyle. No one makes you put that chip in your mouth. No one makes you buy those cookies off the shelf. And if you are led to believe that you can’t make those decisions on your own without some “Guidebook to Shop and Eat”, then what hope do you have of possessing the self-esteem and self-assuredness to realize that you are a competent human being capable of free thought, who can think outside the box and make intelligent choices to lead a healthy lifestyle.

It shocked me recently while counseling a client who ate the same breakfast every day, not because she liked it necessarily, but because she couldn’t figure out what to substitute because it wasn’t in the book.

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