Because no single way of eating works for everybody.
I was so intrigued by this article that I had to blog about it.
The article is a comparison between what two American authorities – the United States Department of Agriculture and the Harvard School of Public Health – say people should eat every day, in order to remain healthy.
The USDA eating guide, MyPlate, was meant to replace the outdated Food Pyramid that had everybody eating starch 6 to 11 times a day. MyPlate is undoubtedly better balanced than the old pyramid, with half the “plate” representing a person’s food intake being filled by fruits and vegetables. But if you look at the comparison between MyPlate and the Healthy Eating Plate, which is Harvard’s version, the differences tell a story.
For instance, MyPlate recommends a higher proportion of fruits in the diet than the Healthy Eating Plate does. MyPlate also goes heavier on the grains than the Healthy Eating Plate does. MyPlate includes potatoes in with the vegetables, and doesn’t explicitly rule out French fries, whereas the Healthy Eating Plate states that “potatoes and French fries don’t count” as vegetables. And what’s that beside the graphic of the MyPlate plate? It’s a glass of milk. MyPlate recommends that people consume dairy products at every meal – low- or no-fat dairy products. Beside the Healthy Eating Plate? It’s a glass of water. No dairy is on the plate; in fact, the Healthy Eating Plate infographic says to limit dairy to a maximum of 2 servings per day, if you eat it at all.
The USDA is a US government organization. The Harvard School of Public Health isn’t.
The US government is constantly being influenced by lobbyists. Harvard Medical School isn’t.
And the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate is publicized as being developed solely through medical and nutritional research… without the influence of lobbyists.
In that case, can we look at MyPlate and see who’s pressuring the US government? Could be. The grain lobby would be a strong and powerful voice. The fruit lobby, too – they’re probably already taking a beating because fructose, the sugar in fruit, is getting a bad reputation. The potato lobby – not to mention the interest groups for companies that process potatoes into billion of French fries – would be vocal. And you can bet the dairy industry would use their money and influence to keep their products on MyPlate – even though Harvard’s findings say that dairy is an inferior source of calcium, and that high dairy intakes are associated with the risks of certain cancers.
Please, do have a look at the article (here’s another link to it). Even if, like me, you don’t live in the US, you’ll find it fascinating evidence of the power of money over the publication of knowledge. You could say those lobbyists are just trying to keep their industries from collapsing; but their agenda isn’t necessarily the good of your health. And don’t think your government – and mine – isn’t being pressured, too.