An open letter signed by almost 200 Canadian physicians has been sent to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott urging the federal government to make substantial upgrades to the Canada Food Guide. They say the Canada Food Guide has serious problems.
The letter calls on the government to quit endorsing a “low-fat” diet, an approach which its detractors say has in fact contributed to more health problems, and instead that it promote the benefits of a low-carbohydrate, whole food diet involving the regular consumption of saturated fats.
“For the past 35+ years, Canadians have been urged to follow the Canadian Dietary Guidelines,” say the letter’s signatories. “During this time, there has been a sharp increase in nutrition-related diseases, particularly obesity and diabetes.”
In addition to an about-face on both fat and carbs, the physicians want the government to stop suggesting to Canadians that weight issues can be managed simply by cutting back on calories, that it acknowledge the dangers of high-salt foods and that there be a cap put on the amount of sugar added to food products, recommending that added sugar represent no more than five per cent of total calories.
The group calls for the Guide’s revisions be made “without the influence of the food industry” and that they be based on rigorous scientific evidence. “[This] will significantly reduce the burden of dietary diseases in coming years and vastly impact the amount of health care dollars spent on these diseases,” say the letter’s signatories.
The letter comes just as Health Canada closes its initial round of public consultations on revising Canada’s Food Guide. Last reviewed in 2007, the government conducted a preliminary review from 2013 to 2015 which determined that the Food Guide is in need of updating so as to make the language less confusing on topics like food serving sizes and to make the format more suitable to a range of uses. At the same time, the government denied that there is need for substantial changes to the guide, saying that “the scientific basis for the 2007 guide is largely consistent with the latest diet and health evidence.”
Not nearly the case, say the Guide’s detractors, who include a Senate committee on obesity which earlier this year produced a scathing critique. The Senate report declared an obesity crisis in Canada and directly implicated the Food Guide, calling it “no longer effective” in providing nutritional advice to Canadians.
Canada Food Guide problems include grain intake…
Another critic says that Canada’s national food guidelines, which currently tell Canadians to eat six to eight servings of grain products every day and that they limit their intake of saturated fat, are a prime force in causing drastic health problems. Science journalist Nina Teicholz, one of the witnesses who testified for the Senate committee on obesity, says, “Canadians have, on the whole, followed their food guidelines. Everything that’s supposed to be up is up and everything that’s supposed to be down is down. The evidence shows the public has complied and has got fatter and sicker,” said Teicholz in conversation with Postmedia.
The letter to the Honourable Jane Philpott was initiated by Drs. Barbra Allen Bradshaw and Carol Loffelmann and is accompanied by an online petition currently showing 315 supporters.
File under: Canada Food Guide problems