It may be surprising to hear that the first food pyramid was set up in Sweden  in the 1970s. The Swedish government set up a special committee to evaluate how they could create nutritionally balanced meals at a reasonable cost.

The USDA adapted and adopted the Food Pyramid guide in 1992 whereby the pyramid had four levels: the base that  recommended 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta; the second level that recommended  3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit; the third level included 2-3 servings each of dairy and protein sources  and finally the top level included using fats, oils, and sweets sparingly.

Due to the USDA food pyramid being influenced by economic and political factors, many health professionals did not take it seriously and it went through many revisions over the years. For example, during Richard Nixon’s presidency, there were policies implemented to boost grain production that eventually led to a surplus.

This surplus influenced recommendations for higher grain consumption… which some critics argued was more about economics than it was about public health.

It was further revised in 2005 in what they called MyPyramid and then again in 2011 and called MyPlate. The problem was that the USDA who shaped its evolution and adaptations revised it multiple times based, in part ,on pressure from food growers, manufacturers and distributors ( the Food Industry)

Like so many decisions made by government agencies, big business and lobbying efforts helped shape the food pyramid. As a result, decisions made about our health were highly influenced by big  food and big business whose main goal was higher profits.

1. Meat and Dairy Industries

  • Lobbying Efforts: The meat and dairy industries have a history of exering  undue influence over the USDA’s dietary guidelines. As an example, the USDA withdrew its “Eating Right Pyramid” due to pressure from these industries in 1991. The final guidelines  included recommendations that were favorable to meat and dairy consumption…. despite scientific evidence that suggested the need to limit these foods in our diet.

2. Sugar and Processed Food Industries (the big one)

  • Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Producers of sugar and high fructose corn syrup have also used their power to change the guidelines in order to boost their production . As a result, the guidelines did not recommend reducing consumption of sugary foods and beverages that has made Americans sugar addicts now over several decades, where we have seen a rise in obesity and diabetes
  • Back in the 1960’s, the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF):  funded research to downplay the risks of sugar and illuminate the dangers of fat as part of a strategic decision to protect the sugar industry’s interests
  • The SRF even paid Harvard scientists, including Dr. Mark Hegsted and Dr. Robert McGandy, to conduct a literary review that supported the idea that fat, not sugar, was the primary cause of coronary heart disease. The review was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 1967 without ever disclosing who funded the study. And who funded it? You guessed it! The Sugar industry!

3. Grain Industry

  • Emphasis on Carbohydrates: The original Food Pyramid’s emphasis on high carbohydrate intake from grains was heaviliy lobbied for by the grain industry.

4. The Food Industry

  • Broad Influence: The food industry in general  including but not limited to major food producers and manufacturers, has helped to shape dietary guidelines to favor their products for years! This includes lobbying efforts and behind-the-scenes influence to protect their production and profit.
  • Financial Relationships: The influence has been translated into  food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and weight loss industries actually becoming members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. In other words, we are being advised on what we should eat by industries that have financial relationships with those decisions!

5. Political and Economic Factors

  • Agricultural Interests: One of the USDA’s primary missions is  to support American agriculture. This often conflicts with nutritional advice as there is an inherent conflict of interest. For example, take a look at  Wheat Breeding and Gluten Content: Wheat breeding has aimed to increase yield and improve disease resistance over the past 100 years. During this period, the composition of gluten has changed dramtically. Modern wheat varieties show a decrease in gliadins and an increase in glutenins. This change in wheat composition affects the immune health potential of wheat. As a result, the incidence of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders has increased substantially  in recent decades.

Don’t Blame The Doctors- It Is Not Their Fault

According to a NCBI Report, the average total required  nutrition hours in U.S. medical schools is 21 hours.  In fact, more than half of the schools provide less than 20 hours of nutrition education.

A survey by the American Heart Association in 2013 survey found that 71% of medical schools had provided less than the recommended 25 hours of nutrition training and education. Plus the  average was an abismal 19 hours.

Stanford Medicine noted that during a four year stint at medical school,  students spent fewer than 20 hours on nutrition. Ask yourself how many times your doctor has advised you on your diet. probably not much right? Now you understand why Doctors would rather prescribe drugs for your symptoms rather than giving sound nutritional advice- in other words, they are practicing   sickcare, not healthcare.

Insiders Health Tip:

  1. Our number one recommendation for a healthy diet is get rid of the Sugar. We highly recommend a book written by Rich Holman called Killing You Softly – How Sugar Is Killing Us” that tells a story of a man who 14 years ago almost lost his life to sugar addiction and turned it around in just 2 weeks by eliminating sugar from his diet. Click the link below to order on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0CJLLLTCZ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_image?ie=UTF8&psc=1 

” “Killing You Softly – How Sugar Is Killing Us” delves deep into the dangers of sugar and processed foods, supported by staggering facts. For those having health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary issues, dementia, depression, Alzheimer’s, chronic kidney disease, obesity, low energy or a multitude of similar issues, then Killing You Softly is a must read.”

2. Speak with a qualified nutritionist- we recommend Sarah Brandow who has her Masters of Science in Nutrition

– you can find her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sarahbrandow/reels/?ref=lbbpost&hl=am-et

References

https://www.nutritiondiagnostics.com.au/blogs/news/the-food-pyramid-is-killing-you

“Death by Food Pyramid”: A review

Why the USDA Food Pyramid diet recommendations changed

Healthy Eating Pyramid

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rebuilding-the-food-pyramid/

https://www.tastingtable.com/1023664/how-the-food-pyramid-has-changed-over-time/

A visual history of food guides

https://wearechief.com/blogs/articles/the-corrupt-history-of-the-food-pyramid

Questions Remain about Big Food’s Influence on the New Dietary Guidelines

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/04/well/eat/dietary-guidelines-food-industry.html

https://www.nestacertified.com/how-lobbying-affects-dietary-guidelines/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8375951/

Why the USDA Food Pyramid diet recommendations changed

https://time.com/4130043/lobbying-politics-dietary-guidelines/

https://www.endtoendhealth.com/how-lobbyists-changed-the-food-pyramid/

https://www.sciencealert.com/the-sugar-industry-funded-one-of-the-biggest-misconceptions-in-modern-nutrition

https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2392

https://www.ecowatch.com/sugar-industry-2004899240.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html

https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/about-dietary-guidelines/history-dietary-guidelines

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573730/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200811120112.htm

9 Things to Know About the New U.S. Dietary Guidelines

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9777732/

https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/development-agriculture/

A Brief History of Grain Markets

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-gluten-bad

A brief history of wheat

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