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Nation's Health Groups Oppose Anti-Science Appropriations Riders Designed to Gut Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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More than 50 of the country’s leading medical, public health, and nutrition organizations are writing Congressional leaders to oppose any anti-science riders on the expected omnibus appropriations measures that would undermine the scientific basis and public health benefits of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Riders proposed in the House and Senate would prevent the Guidelines from advising children and adults about the well-founded relationships between sugar and cavities and between sedentary lifestyles and obesity, and exclude other common-sense policies, including recommendations related to physical activity. Similar riders may surface in negotiations for an appropriations bill to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2016.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a critical foundation for local, state, and federal efforts to improve the health of children and adults in our communities,” the letter states. “Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or have obesity, and one-half suffer from diet-related chronic disease. Alarmingly, nearly one in three school-age children and adolescents is overweight or has obesity, and more and more children are showing signs of chronic diseases that were once adult-onset only, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.”

The letter was signed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Dental Association, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, American Public Health Association, American Society for Nutrition, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National PTA, Public Health Institute, Trust for America’s Health, Union of Concerned Scientists, and many other organizations. The National Association of County and City Health Officials signed it, as did the health departments of Baltimore, Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, and New York City.

“Science, not politics, should drive the federal government’s efforts to revise the guidelines,” the letter states.

The Guidelines, jointly prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, forms the basis of the government’s basic nutrition advice to its citizens as well as government-funded nutrition programs, such as the school lunch program. The Guidelines’ advice is based on a thorough science review by a panel of non-government experts, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

“Almost 38 percent of American adults are obese, up from almost 35 percent two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and millions of Americans suffer from such diet-related health problems as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer,” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson. “The nation’s basic nutrition advice for Americans should be written by scientists and not by politicians doing the bidding of the food industry.” 

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).