How the Egg Industry is Shaping Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is calling on the House Agricultural Committee to revisit its recommendations about eggs in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
PCRM is pushing Agriculture Committee chairman Rep. K. Michael Conaway to rethink this change to the guidelines with a #CholesterolKills campaign, including a billboard near Conaway’s home offices in Texas:
Until now, the Dietary Guidelines limited daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg per day. Just one egg contains 186 mg, more than half of the current daily recommendation. You can see why the American Egg Board might want to change those guidelines.
PCRM argues that eggs and dietary cholesterol are in fact harmful and accuse the American Egg Board and other egg industry groups of using industry-funded research to mislead the public
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines coming out in December are set to remove long-standing cholesterol warnings. The House Agricultural Committee points to new research showing that cholesterol is actually not a threat to human health..
The idea that an industry group could have this much power might sound paranoid, but it’s only paranoia when your suspicions are unwarranted. This isn’t the first time the Egg Board has used its clout with the U.S. government to protect the industry’s bottom line in a shady way. Just last month, American Egg Board CEO Joanne Ivy resigned because of an investigation into how the group used its government influence to hurt Hampton Creek, a company producing a successful egg-free mayo and threatening egg industry profits.
Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Marion Nestle, took a look at the PCRM campaign and the studies the Agricultural Committee used and asked, “Were these references based largely on studies funded by the egg industry? If so, PCRM is correct in arguing that the question of egg consumption and blood cholesterol levels merits much closer scrutiny and analysis than it is currently receiving.”
According to PCRM, a 2013 review that looked at 12 studies suggested that high-cholesterol foods were relatively harmless. Out of those 12 studies, 11 were funded by the egg industry. However, the one study not funded by industry also suggested that eggs are not harmful, despite finding that, “compared with those who never consume eggs, those who eat 1 egg per day or more are 42 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Among diabetic patients, frequent egg consumers (ie, > 1 egg/d) are 69 percent more likely to have [cardiovascular disease] comorbidity.”
Dr. Michael Greger has an interesting take on why dietary studies on cholesterol like the one above have this outcome. It’s called the “sick population” concept. The idea is that if everyone is unhealthy, the baseline for health is skewed.
You can’t look at the current rates of chronic disease in the U.S. and say that everything is fine. The CDC projects that by 2050, one in three Americans will have diabetes and about half of Americans show risk factors for heart disease right now. Dr. Greger explains “we need to realize that
Is this the time to loosen health recommendations based on industry-funded research? If anything, these numbers imply that it’s time for us to take a hard look at how our diets are impacting public health. If you agree that taking cholesterol warnings out of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the wrong move, let your representative know!
By: Becky Striepe
November 20, 2015