Not Just Science: Nutrition & Politics

Now that food–along with religion and politics–has joined the list of things you don’t talk about with friends, I thought I’d do my post-Election day best to offend everyone equally by highlighting just how political food and nutrition is these days.

I like to try to pass myself off as generally apolitical (on principle, I refuse to vote straight-ticket anything—but it could be I’m just a control freak who likes filling in all the bubbles myself). If forced to confess, underneath it all I’m a bleeding-heart liberal who wants to save trees and whales and who tends to blame the world’s ills on old white dudes (even—or especially –the one I’m married to).

But there’s another subtlety (and don’t tell my bleeding-heart liberal friends or they won’t invite me to anymore parties): I’d vote for ANYONE who was serious about fixing our food-health system, but—politically-speaking—who is going to do that?

Restructure subsidies, agricultural insurance, and agricultural financing to support small farmers rather than giant agribusiness? Who would do this? Democrats like feeding the excess corn, wheat, and soy commodities to the hungry people in America who are getting fatter and sicker by the minute as a result (It’s healthy!). Republicans like the big businesses that control those commodities. Everyone says they care for small farmers but no one does anything about it.

Federal nutrition program foods: plenty of soybean oil, corn syrup, gluten, and sugar, with a little arsenic thrown in for good measure

Modify food safety regulations to take into account size and type of operation? Democrats are all about protecting the public and regulating industry, but they are also all about “protecting” the public from the raw milk that those stupid Americans are stupid enough to drink. Republicans are more likely to support the dairy industry–the folks with the vested interest in outlawing raw milk–but also more likely to say the government shouldn’t be telling stupid Americans what they should and shouldn’t drink.

Somebody needs to tell Michelle that “moving more” makes kids hungry more; nothing wrong with that, but they’re not gonna “eat less” as a result.

End the one-size-fits all dietary recommendations? Thank you Michelle Obama for giving renewed vigor to the physiology-defying “eat less, move more” concept. Thank you, giant mom-and-pop-squashing Walmart, for playing right along.

You don’t like Obamacare? You do like Obamacare? You’re both right. Health reform is a joke until we focus on preventive measures that begin with feeding everyone adequate essential nutrition, not preventing chronic disease with foods that don’t prevent chronic disease.

Republicans believe that obesity is a personal responsibility; food and lifestyle choices by the public should not be interfered with by the government. Except when it comes to whether or not the public can know what is actually in the food they choose, in which case, the right to free speech when it comes to putting “health” claims on cereal boxes becomes the right to abstain from speech when it comes to putting GMO information there.

Democrats believe that it is up to the government to intervene in the market when personal choices become a public concern. So Democrats are out to make the “healthy choice” (a phrase that is an embarrassment to true meaning of both words) the easy choice for those poor stupid fat people out there who are too lazy and gluttonous to take care of their own health, never mind that the Democrat’s idea of “healthy” and “choice”  is limited to the USDA/HHS definition of both.

Republicans support the soda industry’s desire not to be taxed. Democrats are hoping butter and meat will be taxed next.

Thank goodness for the Libertarians—who are hard at work legalizing pot so the nation can now get the collective munchies. Watch for the Democrats to insist on restricted access to McDonald’s for those with medical marijuana prescriptions, while the Republicans fight for Monsanto’s right to patent all cannabis seeds grown anywhere ever by anyone. That backyard plot of weed will only be legal for about ten minutes before the Democrats start regulating the fun out of it and the Republicans hand everyone’s right to get stupid over to ConAgra.

Meanwhile, the rich get richer, the poor get fatter and sicker, and we all—rich and poor and middle-class alike—waste precious time, money, and attention on nutrition recommendations that support ideology and industry and do little for our nation’s very real health crisis. Politicians like Nixon and Clinton have undermined the nation’s ability to believe that any politicians can be trusted;  advice from the USDA/HHS, Ornish, and Atkins have done the same for nutrition. It’s a wonder we don’t all turn on, give in, and pig out.

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42 thoughts on “Not Just Science: Nutrition & Politics

  1. Agreed, I wish I could get raw milk, and frankly anytime some one in gov/corp tries to tell me what is I am allowed to eat or not and they decide raw milk, or occassionaly soda pop is banned or heavily taxed they I know are not trustworthy and really have no place in telling anyone by force what they can or cannot eat. that is a violation of right to ones own life. not to mention all the flip flopping they do one deciding what rights we have or don’t have. creeps.

    1. We really have to start with actually knowing what we’re talking about before we start taxing and banning stuff! With cigarettes, the data were strong & the effects were large. We’re not there (and never will be) with the relationship between food and chronic disease.

      1. and we can’t rule out self interest by the corporations who don’t like competition, after all who really pulls the strings in gov? surly it is not us or common sense, but rather those with the money and connections. I read that most legislations including obama care was written by corporations and the gov only rubber stamps it. this can’t be good. naturally if your a owner of a corporation naturally you will write the laws to your best interest regardless of whether it is right, fair, true or false or hurts others or not. self interest can go to far.

        1. Excellent point. This is why part of what HNC is pushing for is increased transparency in the system. Sunshine can sanitize a lot of the process. A better system of checks and balances, as opposed to the current nada system of checks and balances, would help. An iterative creation-evaluation process based on actual health outcomes would be nice too. Right now only the American people are evaluated (as to whether or not they follow the Guidelines); there has never been any process for evaluating whether the Guidelines (followed or not) actually do what they say they’ll do (which they don’t).

  2. Again, I am convinced that you have broken into my hard-drive, stolen my drafts, and then of course, made them much more readable. One of the most amusing food-politics events recently was when the republicans all the sudden were against gardening because FLOTUS is doing it. I remember in the good old days, when both sides gardened side by side, and the only competition was for the height of the sunflowers or whether you could actually grow a tasty 20-pound beet.
    It will be nice to have a break from the constant monsanto commercials insisting that I have unfounded fears, don’t know anything, and that I don’t deserve to know anything about my food. Oh well, guess I won’t eat any of that stinkin’ food unless they will tell me what is in it.

    1. If I had the skill to break into hard drives, I might be able to actually find more of my own drafts! Glad you enjoyed it.
      I’m going to campaign for a labeling law that says you can only have health claims on the label if you have full disclosure of ingredients & processing chemicals there as well, including GMO status. Don’t want that? then no health claims.

  3. Ms. Hite, what a beautiful interweaving of both the personal and the political, which you present here with vivid and stark illustrations of some of the weakest (and most harmful) points of social unraveling.

    So many of us now feel, or have suspected for a long time: we have been systematically fooled, confused, distracted from relevant knowledge and research, and manipulated by both government sources and corporate powers so thoroughly, routinely, and smoothly that we no longer place much trust or locate much value in rhetoric (appearing in the form of ad sound bites, popular media stories, or supposedly objective and peer-reviewed research) about nutrition and/or health-related recommendations for individual “consumers.”

    It’s not that we fear any conspiracies (to deceive) are in action. However, (speaking for my own family) we see widespread evidence of self-interested bureaucratic agencies, profit-driven systems, health-care institutions and professionals held captive to dominant discourses, and shrinking diversity of news media sources, all just following the mandated work priorities they have been socialized and trained so efficiently to carry out—with so little knowledge of, practice in, or ability to perform critical social analysis—1) improve strategic access to recognized holders of status, authority and power (social, economic and political); 2) expand revenue sources and increase access to spending; 3) strengthen control of public opinion and credibility by carefully managing message content and polishing images (to appear more consumer oriented and family friendly); 4) predict reactions of both allies and foes to control and maintain the appearance of being scientifically and politically objective and unbiased, as well as essential and indispensable for the “public good.”

    Surface appearances of efficiency and ever-increasing productivity have surpassed, in value, efforts to improve the (authentic) health of human bodies (and the body politic.) Apparently, a fictional SNL character’s credo has proven prescient for our post modern forces of social control: for truly, nowadays, “it is better to look good than to feel good.”

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Along this journey, I’ve been relieved to have figured out what my own deal with food was, then shocked and furious as I met people in clinic who had suffered far worse than I did from misinformation and choices limited by political ideologies and undue industry influence (among other things), then demoralized and depressed as I realized that the system is rigged, not intentionally by powerful conspirators, but by entrenchment, bureaucracy, fiefdoms, and–sadly–plain ol’ lousy policy-making, along with all the things you mention.

      There are a number of things we’re working on at HNC and at other organization to address some of your numbered list. I know Voices for HOPE is working on systematic way to improve access and communication between policymakers and those who have been helped by alternative forms of healthcare, including nutrition. HNC is working on “nutrition literacy”–helping to deconstruct nutrition messages, sharing basic nutrition information that is absent scientific-political entrenched views not appropriate for all Americans. I’m hoping having NuSi around will be enough of a provocation to mainstream credibility that we’ll get either pushback (we can use in policymaking jujitsu) or maybe a little fear (ditto).

      My own work is shifting towards giving food and health back to the real experts–communities, families, individual–and using those voices to construct knowledge around nutrition in a way that reflects the actual humans living real lives who are affected most by nutrition policies. I’m making it up as I go along.

  4. Before we start thinking of federal policy changes, we first need to get our act together. I know that paleo helped my health a lot, but we still do not know well why, we still do not know which diet is good for whom, we still do not know how general these results are.

    Maybe it is a bit unfair because the same seems to be true for many USHA recommendations, but I guess our main priority at the time should be to build a stronger case. Then it will become much easier to argue for changes in the policy.

  5. How about a well crafter letter to Mrs. Obama to point out why the “Let’s Move” campaign, as well as any other effort to fight physiology with ideology or misguided pseudo-scientific evidence, is unlikely to work in the long run. It wouldn’t need to be a nasty communication but one based on facts, in a conciliatory but assertive style. Who knows… we might even get an appointment to discuss this issue in a more serious way! (By ‘we’ I mean the organization(s) we represent.

    1. I’ve done it on a personal level. I’m not sure if an organizational level campaign would make a difference or not. In general, I’m not sure she in the position to make the kinds of changes that are needed. Honestly, I’m not sure what the “ask” would be–if multiple organizations are involved–because the alternative nutrition movement is so fragmented, we can’t seem to agree on what it is we want to have happen. But I’m working on it.

    2. Judging by Michelle’s beautiful biceps, the recommendations seem to work for her. Thus it will probably be hard to change her opinion on a healthy life style. Probably we should focus on chronically ill or overweight politicians.

      1. I also remember a moment on, I think, The View, where Michelle admitted theirs was a “bacon family.” So there may be more to her biceps than just moving more.

      2. And she has her own vegetable garden. Thus Michelle seems to value fresh foods. Almost sounds like a paleo family. 🙂

        Still going against conventional wisdom is difficult, if you did not experience the benefits of ignoring some of the recommendations yourself.

        Especially in a two party system you have to be mainstream as a politician. The US now has its first openly lesbian Senator. The next step would be an openly atheist politician and then maybe one who openly eats a paleo diet and drags SUVs as sport. Alternatively, the winner-takes-all district system could be changed into a democratic system with proportional representation. Then minority voices can be heard.

        1. My husband and I were discussing last night how the 2-party system in American politics is not unlike the food tribe allocations of our current nutrition system. You have the vegetarianism of the USDA/HHS approach vs. the low carb/paleo/WAPF folks. Granted the nutrition landscape is pretty lopsided now, but it not impossible that it could be just as lopsided–in the other direction–in the future.

          What is most unlikely to happen is what I want to happen, which is for one-size-fits-all to disappear altogether; for the system to be built upon the needs and voices of communities; for their to be transparency throughout. In that regard, proportional representation is the model I’m going for, not a change of regimes.

      3. She might have beautiful biceps, but that doesn’t mean she’s the epitome of lean. Check out the pictures of her in Tom Naughton’s blog regarding calculating BMI in children:

        http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2011/03/24/more-bmi-bologna/

        “If Mrs. Obama is 1) convinced that BMI is a useful measurement, and 2) believes her task force knows enough about the biological mechanisms of weight gain and weight loss to justify making dietary recommendations and spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to implement them, then here’s what I want her to do:

        “I don’t know Mrs. Obama’s BMI, but based on pictures of her, I’d be surprised if it’s 25 or below.

        “Don’t get me wrong … I think she has an attractive figure. But she’s on the thicker, more muscular side of the curve, especially in the hips and legs, so it’s highly likely her BMI puts her in the overweight category. I’d prefer she look at herself in the mirror, compare what her eyes are telling her with her BMI score, and then declare BMI a useless measurement. But since she’s now extolling the virtues of BMI scores and supporting requiring schools to gather them, I want her to declare hers publicly. Then I want her to follow the USDA dietary guidelines and show us how those guidelines helped her achieve a BMI of 24. Prove the advice she’s handing out actually works.

        “If she does that, then she can worry about my kids’ BMI scores.”

        1. And here we get to my favorite Jon Stewart quote of all time (the truth is that I get most of my political insight from Mad Magazine–they offer the most balanced commentary by far–but every now & then my kids make me watch a Daily Show segment; this quote came from commentary on Bloomberg’s soda tax), the First Lady’s approach “combines the draconian government overreach we all love with the probable lack of results we expect.” If only it were a problem I could blame solely on the Democrats.

          The Democrats think that our “obesegenic” environment is the cause of the rise in obesity. Okay, so if we put sidewalks and farmers markets everywhere, who will we blame when people are still fat? With thinking like that, why don’t we exclude fat people from public transportation?

          The Republicans think it is “personal choice” that makes people fat. Okay, but the information that we give people to make “personal choices” is heavily skewed–with the help of the USDA/HHS–towards having immensely profitable low-nutrition foods promoted as “healthy.” Will the Republicans ever support the people having better information and the food-health system having more transparency over the interests of big business who would prefer things remain as they are?

          The entrenched liberal ivory-tower interests don’t want look stupid by having to admit that 3 decades of public health policy they created and enforced has failed miserably.

          The entrenched big-business-supporting conservative interests don’t want to look stupid by having to admit that the food industry now is behaving much like the cigarette industry did in the past.

          It is in the best interest of both parties to maintain the status quo and put the ultimate blame on the individuals (we gave you sidewalks and vegetable stands–and you’re still fat! cry the Democrats; we let the food industry have free reign so you could make your own food choices–and you’re still fat! cry the Republicans). It’s a powerful coalition, resistant to change no matter who is in control of the White House or Congress. But hey, I got nothing better to do.

      4. BawdyWench, it is fitting that your response is to a comment on Michelle and not one about BMI. The main message of the fathead link is: I am a great guy, because I am against the government. To the debate about BMI that post does not contribute anything.

        I have always been critical of using the BMI for individuals, because when I was young I was overweight, but had a fine BMI, simply no muscles and thin bones. Nowadays that is a commen opinion. Which fits to the fact that scientists have designed the BMI to be used for groups.

        Whether the BMI is useful depends on how it is used. You can use if for groups, thus you can use it to see whether serving more fruits and vegetables is useful. That is the part about the USDA recommendations, that is most likely good advice. Thus that part may work and it is good to monitor it. Then you can stop the program if it does not work.

        You can also use it as a wake up call. In many success stories on MDA, people write that they saw a photo of themselves or weight themselves and suddenly realised how heavy they had become and that something should be done. You can use the BMI in the same way. If your BMI is high, but you are just muscular, you can ignore the warning. I expect that the government did not forbid the use of your brain.

        Poor Adele, having to work with people, who need no arguments to judge whether something is bad, it just has to be proposed by the others.

        1. “BawdyWench, it is fitting that your response is to a comment on Michelle and not one about BMI.”

          Huh? I was responding to the “beautiful biceps” comment. How is it “fitting”? “Fitting” of what? The whole blog was about government and its idiotic notions of what is healthy. Michelle Obama (you refer to her as Michelle; is she a dear friend of yours?) advocates measuring the BMI of children. If she believes it’s an accurate measure, I’d like to know if that’s across the board. Tom Naughton was only pointing out that she does not appear to have a BMI of 24 or less, which would make her (in her own definition) lean and healthy. Rather, she appears to have a BMI of 25 or move, which would put her in the “overweight” category. I don’t believe she is overweight, and neither does Tom Naughton. That’s the point.

          “I expect that the government did not forbid the use of your brain.”

          Huh? Have I offended you in some way? That last comment, if directed at me, is totally out of line.

        2. I agree that BMI is not a good measure of health or even of bodyfat. I think this is the point.

          BW was–using Tom Naughton’s words–making a point that I think is well taken. When a public figure in a position of authority makes a statement about health and fitness, how do we judge them with regard the science we like, the authority they are wielding, and their own body size?

          So the questions at hand:
          –Is BMI is a useful measurement for health purposes?
          –Does the First Lady (or any other public figure representing our current dietary guidelines–let’s include Kelly Brownell, Marion Nestle, and–what the hell–Marie Osmond) know enough about the biological mechanisms of weight gain and weight loss to justify making dietary recommendations? (I’m afraid the “hundreds of millions of tax dollars to implement them” is a bit of a stretch. The First Lady doesn’t have access to that kind of budgetary influence–if she’d did, I’d have written her many more letters. But if you put together all the research, from industry to USDA ARS to HHS NIH, yeah, you’ll have hundreds of millions of dollars. That type of research began in the 1980s.)
          –What does body size have to do with authority about weight loss and health? (This is frequently part of the Jimmy Moore debate.) Has anyone seen Kelly Brownell from Yale? Dude looks rough.
          –Finally, is focus on BMI in children (or anyone) helpful in resolving our national health crisis?

          I don’t have answers for these things, but they are fine questions to ask.

          Michelle Obama looks great; she’s got a big mommybutt (me too); her BMI is probably not under 25. None of this says anything about how change IS going to happen, but Michelle Obama’s butt is a fine illustration of how quickly food-health politics can quickly turn into politics politics. Listen to Dean Ornish turn “eat healthy” into “save the planet” in the same breath (and I’m all for environmental stewardship, but these are two different things). I think criticizing Michelle Obama’s misguided health advocacy work is an easy way to criticize what is seen as Democrat-supported big government (BW, I’m not accusing you of doing that–but I do hear this in other circles). But let’s not forget that the obesity crisis began on Reagan’s watch.

          I appreciate divergent views. And I appreciate the sentiment, but nobody needs to feel sorry for me ever–I’m having the time of my life.

      5. No, BawdyWench that last sentence was not directed at you, but at the suggestion of Fathead, that giving people information on their BMI would lead to health problems, because they would respond to this number without thinking. I do not expect that a body builder with a too high BMI would start trying to loose weight.

        Adele, it is because Michelle Obama has no special training, that I expect nothing more from her as advocating the USDA guidelines. I am glad that she picked the ones which probably make sense (fruit, vegetables and movement).

        It is almost funny that Fathead is criticizing Michelle Obama and advocating Jimmy Moore (via his blogrole).

        1. “It is almost funny that Fathead is criticizing Michelle Obama and advocating Jimmy Moore (via his blogrole).” So, yeah, this is a bit ironic in many ways. If the issue is bodysize vs. expert status, that has certainly has been an issue that JM has had to address (although not our First Lady, which was sorta BW’s point). If the issue is “who gets to be the expert?” it is still a bit ironic–JM been around a long time, but his nutrition expertise is grounded in personal experience, research, and advice from chosen experts; I would rather expect that MO’s expertise is similarly based, although her chosen experts are from a different pool. If we’re talking about advocating for useless policy measures, well, I have to be honest that besides “not THESE Guidelines,” I don’t know what policy measures Tom Naughton or Jimmy Moore endorse. Other than the suggestion to get rid of commodity crop subsidies–specifically corn, wheat, soy, which is an issue that is not nearly as straightforward as it looks, but is worth revisiting for reasons that go far beyond nutrition recommendations–I’m not sure what policy recommendations the alternative nutrition movement as a whole supports.

  6. This was great, and unfortunately, so very true. We won’t have to worry about future elections at the rate we’re going regarding the “health” of our country because we’re going to be extinct. I know that sounds extreme, but I just don’t see much hope for our future with the way the government has dictacted nutrition policy in the past and how they continue to support agribusiness. Government should have never gotten involved in the business of farming.

    I have learned so much about nutrition only because I became very, very sick last year and started researching food and diet as a way to stay alive. What I learned shocked me–it’s now so discouraging to listen to mainstream media and so depressing trying to shop for food. I’m one of the people who knows grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, organic vegetables, etc. are the best things for me, but I can’t afford them because our government and agribusiness has supported feeding us crap. Do the people who make this junk actually feed it to their families and think it’s ok?

    I know I should have hope, but it’s really really hard to.

    1. One of the things I wish for when the opportunity arises (falling stars, birthday candles) is to find out what Monsanto lawyers eat.

      I got into this business because the folks I met in clinic were as shocked as you are & they kept telling me to get out there and do something about it. So that’s what I’m doing. And, yes, for everyone who says this is an elitist movement affordable only to well-off consumers, I say–yes, for now it is, because we created the system that way. Sadly, the folks with the time & money to make whatever food choices they want, to make those choice work for them in terms of quality of food and/or exercise to ameliorate its effects, and to get the best healthcare possible when whatever food path they’ve chosen doesn’t result in good health. Everyone else just gets what’s out there.

      1. Thank you for doing what you’re doing–I really do appreciate it. If I can help in ANY way, I’d be more than happy to. I

        1. Oh, that’s a dangerous statement to make to me. Now you’re on my list . . .

          As we move through the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process, we’ll need to rally any/all people interested in food & nutrition reform to respond to the process. I may call on you to help with this.

      2. I have to say that eating well, or at least better, is certainly possible on a budget. You do need a bit of self-education, a good cookbook, or if you’re lucky you’ll have had the right traditions handed down to you. But you’ll be eating the cheap fatty cuts, the offal, the plainer fruit and veges, and avoiding the expensive “superfoods” – just like your ancestors. All the processed foods are “value added” which means you are paying more for what little nutrition they supply. Margarine may be cheaper than butter but good butter is cheaper than a semi-acceptable olive oil spread. Potatoes are cheaper than bread. In any suburb with an immigrant population you should be able to find good, inexpensive ingredients outside the supermarket supply chain. When you start to care about these things and are willing to explore and experiment, you find your options aren’t as limited as you might think.

        1. This is an excellent point & explains why paying more for “healthy” food is a rip-off all around. We get charged more for lean meat shot full of chemical solutions to make it artificially “juicy”–fatty meat is cheaper & doesn’t need that stuff. Salt is bad for you so that we can pay more for low-sodium products (my dad went OFF on this last time we talked). Take the yolk out the egg, add soybean oil & you have a dozen eggs that are “cholesterol-free” and that cost just as much as the primo ones from the farmers’ market.

          I got nothing against grass-fed beef, buy it if you can find it and afford it. But if you can’t, find a butcher you trust & follow High Fat Hep C’s advice.

      3. Adele Hite, MPH RD says: “This is an excellent point & explains why paying more for “healthy” food is a rip-off all around.”

        Once we are mainstream, offal and fatty meat cuts will become the most expensive parts. Just as nowadays recycling toilet paper is more expensive.

        1. In some forms, they have already taken their rightful place as stars at the foodie table, with prices to match. My amazing brother-in-law, Erling Wu-Bower, is an expert on how offal doesn’t have to awful & other wonders of eating truly “whole” foods. (I love that he says “even gas station jerky fall(s) into the the category of charcuterie.” What a guy!) Most cultures have a long, proud tradition of taking the nasty bits and doing wonderful things to them to make them tasty, to preserve them for longer term storage, and (I would bet) to get the folks around the table past the “ick” factor.
          I’m not sure what the economics of the shift will truly be. Back when we ate fat & didn’t worry about it, fatty cuts weren’t more expensive, but the picky housewife had to make sure she had the right cut for the dish she was preparing (the number of non-professional cooks who have any idea how to even do this is diminishing rapidly). I remember my grandmother waving my skinny little arm at the butcher at the West Side Market in Cleveland, scolding him in Polish for his personal role in allowing me to waste away because he wasn’t picking out the choicest cut (with plenty of fat) so that she could save me from the brink of malnutrition–or something like that. (I don’t speak Polish, but the guy handed her meat to inspect until she was, grumbling, willing to buy.) Fat–not chemical solutions–should keep meat juicy. Parts should be eaten–straight up or in “charcuterie”–not made into pet food. The better we treat our cows/pigs/chickens (in terms of animal health, not little chicken sweaters), the less we have to worry about all the weird crap that ends up in those parts. This isn’t rocket science.

    1. You folks in NZ are kicking US butt all over the place in food & nutrition these days. Got room for some Yankees down there?

  7. Good job. I myself have only been able to alienate one or two groups or people at a time. Possibly of interest is an editorial in Erie newspaper. Dr. Knapp is superintendent of schools and the father of Dr. Wendy Pogozelski one of the educational leaders in integrating metabolism and carbohydrate restriction. Overall, we probably have different politics but you’re both right about Michelle. However, unlike Kelly Brownell, she probably is not under the illusion that she’s a biochemist. The problem is that she has advisors who are undoubtedly the USDA and AHA hierarchy, in other words, the guys who already lost the war on fat. It is as if her husband took advice on his current wars from Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer. If we meet, I’ll point that out to her.

    1. I did my best when I was in DC to get one of the First Lady’s advisers to consider a different perspective, but I was told–and it was good, if depressing, point–that the First Lady is not in the position to rewrite agency policy. Her circle of advisers seems less USDA/AHA and more Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in that they are perky little women and not grumpy old men. I guess the main difference is that instead of a shouting match, I just got a toss of the hair and then she was right back on message.

      Richard, I find it hard to believe that you can only alienate one or two groups of people at a time. You’re just being modest.

      1. Too bad… She wouldn’t need to rewrite policy, though, only to open the door so you can sit down at the same table as the ‘advisors’ and let the evidence speak for itself.

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