The US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services recently held an open commenting period for the public to provide feedback and make suggestions for the upcoming edition of the Dietary Guidelines of Americans program. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service agency collected and published the comments, availablehere.
The call for comments waspresented as follows:
“The Departments plan to include new approaches to provide the public with more transparency and opportunities to participate, leading up to the release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines.
The first opportunity for public input is a new step in the Dietary Guidelines development process. The Departments are seeking public comments on topics and scientific questions to be examined in the review of evidence supporting the development of the upcoming 2020-2025 edition of the Dietary Guidelines.”
The topics and questions were based on four criteria:
“Relevance – Topic is within scope of the Dietary Guidelines and its focus on food-based recommendations, not clinical guidelines for medical treatment;
Importance – Topic for which there is new, relevant data and represents an area of substantial public health concern, uncertainty, and/or knowledge gap;
Potential Federal Impact – Probability that guidance on the topic would inform Federal food and nutrition policies and programs; and
Avoiding Duplication – Topic is not currently addressed through existing evidence-based Federal guidance (other than the Dietary Guidelines).”
While the suggestions for comments focused mainly on dietary guidelines specific to various stages of life (i.e. infancy, ages 2-18, 19-65, 65+, and during pregnancy/lactation), the questions regarding dietary patterns and their relation to good health or disease prevention mentioned saturated fats and low carbohydrate diets. An impressive number of the public comments suggest revising the dietary guidelines to reflect the benefits of low-carb diets, and revise the assessment of the dangers (or benefits) of saturated fats. 1,390 of the comments mention “low-carb”, and 1,167 mention “low-carbohydrate” (though some of these comments may overlap). 108 comments mention “keto”, and 539 mention “ketogenic.” 1,185 comments mention saturated fats, with a substantial number encouraging of the revision of guidelines discouraging saturated fats.
A selection of quotes from comments regarding low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets are below.
Comment – “Personally, I have shifted to a low carbohydrate, healthy fat (no seed or corn oils) diet and have experienced 1. very even energy as my body has adapted to using fat for energy, 2. very infrequent hunger despite eating far less frequently and rarely snacking, and 3. sustainable weight loss and now steady weight maintenance In short, my personal experience leads me to believe strongly that eating a low carbohydrate, higher fat diet is more aligned to the way our biology has evolved over millennia and that our current guidelines are really a historically misguided aberration. If there is uncertainty, then i would beg you to reflect that uncertainty in our guidelines rather than continue to promote firm guidelines which, however well-intentioned, have led to a tragically unhealthy population.”
Comment – “The most consistent dietary change that produces results with my patients is a low carbohydrate diet — weight loss, glucose metabolism, inflammation, brain focus and mental endurance, improvements in cardiometabolic markers — just to name a few.
Low-carbohydrate diets have now been tested in at least 70 clinical trials on nearly 7,000 people, including a wide variety of sick and well populations, mainly in the U.S. Thirty-two of these studies have lasted at least six months and six trials went on for two years, enough time to demonstrate the lack of any negative side effects. In virtually every case, the lower-carb, higher-fat diets did as well or better than competing regimens. The cumulative evidence shows that low-carb diets are safe and effective for combating obesity, highly promising for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, and they improve most cardiovascular risk factors.” [This comment included numerous references, available by following the link to the comment.]
Comment – “I have found more energy, better cognitive function, and overall health since starting a low carb, high fat diet. I no longer have to deal with the ups and downs of the insulin roller coaster. I know each person responds differently, but this is why we shouldn’t have a one size fits all guideline.”
Comment – “I have been on a Ketogenic diet now for almost a year and have lost a substantial amount of weight as a result of eating this way. My diet has been very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat. My markers have all improved as a result of eating this way.”
These comments, and the many hundreds like them, show a growing understanding in society of the benefits of ketogenic diets, and a growing awareness of the limitations of the dietary guidelines currently promoted by the USDA.