Thursday, February 08, 2007

Who Won the Food Guide Sweepstakes?

Since clearly this Food Guide didn't bother to utilize science as its only underpinning, the question arises, who were the winners? Who managed to best advocate for their industry and get the biggest bang out of this "revision" process?

Which "stakeholders" won?

It's an easy question, this Food Guide had two clear winners and both sat on the Food Guide's 12 member Advisory Board.

In second place, wearing the slightly oily yellow trunks, representing over 95,000 Canadian oilseed growers, oilseed producers and makers of oilseed-based food products, stands Mr. Sean McPhee!

If you remember back from my post on Big Food and it's invited entrenchment in the Food Guide's revision, Mr. McPhee's organization, the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada, put out a press release celebrating his appointment to the Food Guide Revision's Advisory Board.

After all the congratulations, the press release stated,

"VOIC is calling on Health Canada to acknowledge and place a greater emphasis in Canada’s Food Guide on promoting consumption of healthy plant-based fats which include liquid vegetable oils such as canola, soy, sunflower, corn, olive and peanut"
Well Mr. McPhee, Monday was your lucky day! Of the two most explicit directive statements of this Food Guide, the first was,
"Include a small amount - 30 - 45 mL (2-3 Tbsp) - of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oil used for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise. Use vegetable oils such as canola, olive and soybean. Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats."
While there is indeed science that suggests we include healthy oils in our diets, this completely ignorant of Calories and obesity directive, encourages over consumption and weight gain.

Remember that this Food Guide doesn't have a "Fat Group" therefore the consumption of edible oils would add Calories above and beyond those accounted for in the Food Guide. Adding 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil per day would add over 35lbs of Calories per year to an individual's diet.

It is important also to note that in the wording of this directive, use soft margarines low in trans fats, Health Canada has contradicted its own trans-fat task force which calls for the elimination of trans-fat from our food supply.

Why it didn't read, "Choose soft margarines that are free of trans fats" is likely not beyond Mr. McPhee as he well knows that it costs more money to make margarines trans-fat free.

In first place, wearing smooth, white, bubbly trunks, representing the BC Dairy Foundation, blanket denier of the possibility that the consumption of her product could lead to any harm, a woman who seems to think the International Journal of Cancer is written by a bunch of hacks, stands Ms. Sydney Massey!

You remember Ms. Massey, she's the nutritional manager for the BC Dairy Federation who when asked by the CBC about the study in the International Journal of Cancer that analyzed 21 separate studies and concluded that increased dairy consumption was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, flippantly remarked,
"Well, you can show an association between wearing skirts and breast cancer, but it doesn't mean that wearing skirts causes breast cancer. It just means that there's something here we have to take a look at."
Don't you think it's great that Health Canada requested her clearly conflicted of interest point of view for the Food Guide's advisory board?

What conflict of interest?

If you remember, Ms. Massey's employer, the BC Dairy Foundation's stated mandate is,
"increasing consumption of milk in British Columbia"
while their homepage has a section entitled,
"Don't tell Mom, but chocolate milk is good for you"
Well way to aim high Ms. Massey, because this new Food Guide not only agrees that chocolate milk is good for you, but so too is 2% milk, whole milk, buttermilk, pudding made with milk, powdered milk, goat milk, etc. Basically if it has the word "milk" in it, the Food Guide says it's good!

But wait there's more.

This Food Guide has an astoundingly straight shooting directive with regards to milk. The Guide states,
"Drink skim, 1% or 2% milk each day (you only get the Chocolate Milk in the fantabulous online only My Food Guide). Have 500mls (2 cups) of milk every day for adequate vitamin D"
Um, but wait a second, doesn't the Guide also say that children between the ages of 2-9 and adults between the ages of 19-50 should only have 2 servings of dairy per day, and that a serving is 250mL of milk.

I guess that means that the only dairy Canadians between the ages of 2-9 and 19-50 are allowed to have is milk!

I can only imagine the party over at the BC Dairy Foundation.

Good thing the Guide lets me give myself and my children Chocolate Milk, 'cause like the BC Dairy Foundation says, "it's good for you" - 38lbs per year worth of Calories and gobs of sugar good for you!

In a country where it is now abnormal to have a healthy body weight and where children younger than 10 are developing type II diabetes, why bother recommending a Calorie free vitamin D supplement when instead you can recommend ice cold, "good for you", chocolate milk?

I bet she wins employee of the year!

Those folks both deserve a raise.

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3 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:24 pm

    Yoni,

    I'm glad you've got the guts to expose this collusion between industry and the government who is supposed to be on our side.

    Something needs to be done, so is there an alternative food guide that you know that works? Or do we just follow that recent NY Times article that states (and I'm paraphrasing, 'Eat food. Not too much. Eat plants'???

    ReplyDelete
  2. What I follow is Dr. Walter C. Willett's (Chairman of Nutrition at Harvard since 1991)evidence-based, no industry or politics influenced, Healthy Eating Pyramid which he details in his fantastic book, Eat Drink and Be Healthy as well as on his website.

    For more information you can visit the Harvard School of Public Health's website or do a search on this blog for "Healthy Eating Pyramid".

    Michael Pollan's message, "Eat Food, Not too much, Mostly plants" is a fine message to start with.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous6:52 am

    Ms. Massey
    Can stick her canadain food and milk and all the other money hunger industry where the sun dont shine. The food guide is totally for the big guy and money is all they want not health. The food guide what they say to eat and how much will evenually kill us.
    Lol

    ReplyDelete