December 2015 Issue

Editor's Spot: The 2015 DGA and the Red Meat Debate
By Judith Riddle
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 17 No. 12 P. 4

According to presenters at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo® in October, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) will soon be released.

As you know, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report practically came under fire in recent months from the USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS). In my opinion, the agencies unjustly criticized some of the report's recommendations despite the rigorous review of nutrition science by the best medical researchers in the country. Many RDs sent letters to Congress to defend the report's integrity and the evidence analysis process. I almost sent a letter to defend the report, but I didn't since I'm not a dietitian.

The USDA and HHS removed the DGAC's discussion on sustainability, stating that " … because this is a matter of scope, the dietary guidelines aren't the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation." To me, this statement was a slap in the face to all the environmentally savvy dietitians on the frontlines of the sustainability movement.

In addition, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) became defensive due to the DGAC's recommendation to eat more plant-based foods and less red meat and processed meat. According to a February 19, 2015, article on, NAMI said the recommendations were "flawed" and "nonsensical."

Strong language, considering the decades of research associating red meat and processed meat intake with higher risks of cancer. Not to mention the recent report from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that found positive associations between red meat (eg, beef, veal, pork, lamb) and cancers of the pancreas, prostate, and colon, and between processed meat (eg, bacon, ham, sausage, hot dogs) and stomach cancer. NAMI called the IARC report a "dramatic and alarmist overreach." NAMI would feel this way, since its purpose and mission is to support the meat industry. But as dietitians, you must consider what the entire body of evidence shows, and counsel clients accordingly. Soon, the 2015 DGA will be released, and we'll know exactly what recommendations will guide our nation for the next five years. Next month, Today's Dietitian (TD) will review the research on red meat and offer tips for counseling patients.

In this issue, you'll find articles on gluten-free living and emotional health, popular nutrition trends for 2016, and the top 10 tips for maintaining weight loss during the holidays. The staff of TD wishes you a happy holiday season. Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle