Physicians Group Calls New Gov't. Dietary Guidelines Unhealthy

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - The federal government Tuesday began its first national summit on nutrition in 31 years, with the emphasis on obesity - how to reverse Americans' expanding waistlines.

As part of the effort to improve Americans' diets, President Clinton devoted his weekly radio address to the subject. On Saturday, President Clinton said it's time for the federal government to require labels on meat and poultry. "Providing citizens with accurate information that affects their lives is one of government's most vital responsibilities," Clinton said in his weekly radio address.

Since 1994, the government has required nutrition labels for processed foods, giving consumers information on fat, calories, and other ingredients. But this would be the first time mandatory labels were required on fresh meat and poultry packages.

The Agriculture Department must gather comments about Clinton's before the proposed labeling becomes mandatory.

Clinton also released updated nutritional guidelines that advise Americans to get more exercise, moderate their sugar consumption, and handle food safely.

The new dietary guidelines are not acceptable to everyone. In fact, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine calls the guidelines "unhealthy."

Doctor Neal Barnard, PCRM president, said in a statement, "It's clear the government lacks the will to confront America's poor dietary habits head on."

He said the government's new guidelines didn't cut back on recommended servings of meat, cheese and other "fatty foods." "Rather than encourage Americans to eat right, our public officials cater to the meat and dairy lobbies," Barnard said.

PCRM, according to Barnard, convened a panel of experts to help Americans make "more educated choices about their diets."

PCRM thinks Americans should choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes to meet their nutritional needs. The group urges consumers to avoid animal fats and hydrogenated oils (solid shortenings).

This time around, the administration reportedly yielded to pressure from the food and soft drink industry by weakening recommendations that urged consumers "limit" consumption of sugary foods and beverages.

The final version says consumers should "moderate" sugar intake. The final version also deletes the panel's conclusion that Americans have been increasing their consumption of sugar.

The federal government updates its dietary guidelines every five years. The latest guidelines stem from the recommendations of an advisory panel of 11 nutrition experts.