I’ve been working with Dr. Richard Feinman on a petition to change the process for creating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans so they reflect modern advances in scientific research. The original guidelines were based on weak, population studies from the 1950s and subsequent versions have just recycled the same basic message every five years.
The right to petition the government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. We now have a special tool for doing this, called We the People, and a website where any citizen can file a White House Petition to ask the Administration to take action on an important issue. (It’s been in the news a lot lately, thanks to the antics of Justin Bieber, who has inspired multiple petitions asking that his driver’s license be revoked, that he be deported, etc.)
When a petition gets 150 signatures, it becomes searchable on the website and if it reaches 100,000 signatures within 30 days, the White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response. We are seeking common ground with our plea and these numbers are certainly within our reach.
Our petition asks that the government select an impartial, fact-finding panel of experts who have no stake in nutrition policy to hold public hearings to evaluate all sides of the issue. This would at least serve to open up the process, invite media attention, and expose the lack of consensus behind the current guidelines. A large response to this petition would show that there is a groundswell of public opposition to the current guidelines and the way they are created.
Here’s how it works:
Go to: http://wh.gov/lUu8B. Register for an account with your e-mail address, answer the security question to prove you are human, and sign the petition. It’s very easy. Your name will not appear on the petition, only your initials and city. We need every one of you to help us reach the goal. Please support the petition, share it, Tweet it, Pin it, and pass it on to your contacts!
Below is the original version of the petition. The final petition was limited to 800 characters including some of the the spaces! (Cutting it down to fit on the White House Petition site was like turning War and Peace into a haiku.)
Thank you in advance for your help.
REPLACE THE DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), published jointly by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, are intended to tell us how to eat to promote health and prevent obesity and disease. We believe that the DGA process has not been useful in fulfilling this mission and needs to be reconsidered.
The first set of dietary recommendations was issued in 1977 and subsequent DGAs have changed little in the following decades. They have not prevented and may have contributed to our twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The financial burden of obesity has reached $1 billion dollars per day and, for the first time in modern history, a generation is predicted to die at a younger age than their parents.
The DGA implies consensus in a field that is highly controversial, even adversarial. The recommendations, whatever their support, have been strongly criticized by knowledgeable scientists, physicians, and lay people with impressive credentials, who claim that they are inconsistent with modern research and even with the government’s own database.
The DGA is not subject to any system of checks and balances and there is no provision for evaluation or revision based on health outcomes. While the DGA Committee issues a pro forma request for comments, there is no evidence that these are acted upon and the HHS and USDA have been notably resistant to change.
The DGA is an influential document that shapes all government dietary policy. It forms the basis for what is served to school children, prisoners, and military personnel and is the foundation of Federal education programs; it determines agricultural practices, and the health claims food manufacturers use to target consumers. These decisions should not be left to an organization that does not have a good record of success.
There are many qualified professionals who would be willing to analyze the scientific evidence and summarize the different positions and their strengths and limitations. In view of the current wide-spread confusion about what constitutes a healthful diet, we propose that the government select an impartial, fact-finding panel of scientists with no stake in nutrition policy to hold public hearings to evaluate all sides of the issue. It is our belief that this would lead to dietary advice that would better serve the needs of the American people.
Go here to sign the petition: http://wh.gov/lUu8B
Special thanks to Adele Hite, Laurence Chalem, and Bill Murrin for helping with this effort.
Thanks to all of you for your support for this project. Hopefully we at least succeeded in raising awareness that a large number of Americans think that the DGAs have not helped and may have actually contributed to our epidemics of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and related conditions. JBB
Image above from Wikipedia.
(C) 2014, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com