How useful are dietary guidelines in enabling people to eat better
There was “Look after you heart campaign,” launched jointly by the Health Education Authority and the Department of Health and Social Security in April, which was a long-term project to reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease in England (McKenzie, 1987:136). Also many other projects for dietary guidelines like, ‘eat-well plate’ and ‘Five-a-Day’ by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for instance, was deliberated to increase the awareness of heart disease and to promote lifestyle changes in individuals, particularly, those from the lower social economic groups who were seen as being most at risk from coronary heart disease.
Although, the aim of the dietary guidelines is to provide relevant, practical and scientifically valid information and as a governments/international agencies policies about how to promote and maintain health and wellbeing through healthy, enjoyable eating, it is disputable whether dietary guidelines are actually useful for people to eat better. Generally speaking, the recommendations and dietary guidelines derive from a positivist model of science by the panels of the experts. The scientific ‘facts’ can guide knowledge and drive policy, and the role of scientists is simply to sift, evaluate and summarize key, reliable information and facts.
However, there are several discordances to dietary guidelines that are presented. For example, “physiologist Reginald Passmore of Edinburgh University and co-author of the standard nutrition textbook in Britain, were also skeptical about the claims of NACNE and COMA. Passmore referred many of those involved as the “New Puritans” and stated that they would need much more “hard scientific evidence” before their claims should be heard (Bufton, 2000:475). These are majorly due the lacking number of panels to get guidelines in the food and nutrition studies fields.
Nowadays, a lot of people are interested and concerned about their nutrition knowledge. Yet decades ago, there were not enough of food scientists. Thus it was difficult to obtain general dietary guidelines. Alongside with the lacking number of panels, research funding and guideline selection is not objective. The ‘facts’ given as dietary guidelines by the experts solely depend on peer-reviewed evidences by the scientist, whose research is funded, published, cited (Dowler, 2008: Lecture Note).
Yet, the dietary guidelines are not purely objective and trustworthy as it can be seen from the following cases; In the United States, despite the warning of dental and healthcare professionals, the average American consumes massive amount of sugar, which is 150 pounds of sugar per year. This is mainly due to the influence of the sugar industry, in other words, “Big Sugar,” has in nutrition guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In general, sugar companies’ stronghold on U.
S. import taxes, which puts more than $1 billion profits into the pockets of American sugar barons. Therefore, the two industries employ similar political and research tactics to keep the dangers of their products out of the minds of the public. “Big Sugar, not only hides the amount of sugars in foods, but they also use their influence to mask the health dangers of sugar in dietary guidelines. Marion Nestle in Food Politics describes how vulnerable dietary guidelines are to the sugar industry’s political maneuverings. The U. S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2005 Guidelines were recently rephrased from “limit your intake of added sugars” — a guideline that has been in place for the past five years – to “moderate your intake of sugars. ” While this change appears harmless at first, a closer look at the definitions of the words “limit” and “moderate” explains why Big Sugar invested so much money into the USDA amendment” (Veracity, 2005). Therefore it can be argued that dietary guidelines are not always useful since it is sometimes used as a tool for food industries benefits.
On the other hand, it can be discussed that the dietary guidelines are useful as it guides nutrition information and advice. For instance, nutrient labeling on food products and gives a broader knowledge of food in wide-ranges. People can have better knowledge about not only basic nutrients, but also other dietary supplements such as micro-nutrients like Vitamin A, B and Cs and how those elements have effects to our health. Moreover, very importantly, the dietary guidelines are a tool intended to help people eat well.
For instance, “The USDA, Agriculture Departments’ proposal, is the first phase of the government’s effort to make a new graphic or update the food pyramid, along with nutritional brochures and other educational materials… Therefore; the schools rely on it, along with the federal dietary guidelines, for planning lunches” (AP, 2003). Besides, dietary guidelines are useful in order to make rational decisions for individuals depending on its own health conditions. In other words, dietary guidelines are effective since it can help and give and advice to avoid or prevent from diseases.
For example, people now by and large have basic common sense that a person who has high cholesterol rate has to avoid eating shrimps, bacons or sausages, while it is at least allowable to eat chicken and fish amongst the meat. Moreover, dietary guidelines are useful for pregnancy as it helps to maintain a successful pregnancy maternal health. Nutrient needs are increased in pregnancy. For the mother to be solely dependent upon her dietary intake to meet these demands, would represent a very high risk strategy. Hence adequate balanced diet knowledge through dietary guidelines is important for a successful outcome.
Likewise, the use of the guidelines encourages healthy lifestyles that will minimize the risk of the development of diet-related diseases. To conclude, although it is difficult to define whether dietary guidelines are useful since it is not easy to determine the status of being healthy. Also, the several flaws of dietary guidelines and continuously changing policies based on the development of scientific researches and changes in generations, the Dietary Guidelines are designed to help people to feel confident and comfortable with implementing the guidelines in their daily lives.
Even with the most recent shift in nutrition policy, balance, moderation, and flexibility carry the day when it comes to a healthy perspective on food and eating. Thus, it can be argued that keeping and following the tips of dietary guidelines are useful for people to eat better in daily lives.
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The Politics of sugar: why your government lies to you about this disease-promoting ingredient, (NaturalNews. com) obtainable from http://www. naturalnews. com/009797. html Beardsworth, A. and Keil, T. , (1997) Sociology on the Menu: an invitation to the study of food and society, London: Routledge.
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