Someone, somewhere, owes us eggs. "The nation's top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption," the Washington Post reports.
For four decades, we've been misled. The government is directly responsible for the abomination that is the egg-white omelet.
"The group's finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a ‘nutrient of concern' stands in contrast to the committee's findings five years ago, the last time it convened," the newspaper explains. "During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern. The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease."
Actually, "may not significantly" might read "won't at all." Better, more recent evidence says that high cholesterol in the blood has more to do with genetics than diet.
While the new guidelines haven't been released yet, there's already a big fight over the recommendations. And that fight is taking a very odd turn; it's gotten political. The report will discuss the "carbon footprints" of various diets — recommending against red meat, for example, based on climate change, rather than actual, direct health impacts.
That has gotten the attention of some senators.
"U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is one of 29 senators who are objecting to a report on food guidelines that advises Americans to decrease consumption of red meat," The Grand IslandIndependent reports. "Fischer and her colleagues have sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the report, which the senators say ignores relevant scientific evidence on nutrition."
"Any changes to our nation's food policies must be based on sound science and outside experts," Fischer said.
For his part, Vilsack says he'll try to keep the focus on health.
"Our job ultimately is to formulate dietary and nutrition guidelines," he told the Wall Street Journal last week. "And I emphasize dietary and nutrition because that's what the law says."
But you know, it's not climate change or sustainability or any such matter that's at the heart of what's wrong with those dietary guidelines.
It's the certainty.
"Where nutrition has some trouble," one researcher told the Post, "is all the confidence and vitriol and moralism that goes along with our recommendations."
Exactly, As Michael Guillen wrote in U.S. News & World Report last week, "This isn't the first time science recants what it believes to be true, nor will it be the last."
He makes a great point about the role science plays in our lives these days.
"We place our faith in science blindly at our great peril," he contends.
Blind faith is hubris. Hubris robbed us of eggs for 40 years. Which office do we go to, to get our omelets back?