Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Demand Accountability from the AHA

Over the last few days, since posting my challenge, to anyone out in cyber-space, to create a menu within the new 2006 American Heart Association (AHA) Diet & Lifestyle Guidelines and meet all essential nutrients as established by the Institute of Medicine, I've received more than a dozen menus. All within the calorie level (1956-calories for a female, age 30, BMI 24.99, light active) and also within the limit of less than 7% saturated fat. Those submitting a menu are finding however, their attempt to meet all essential nutrients is impossible within the restriction of saturated fat.

The AHA remains silent on an individuals ability to follow their guideline. They have not provided the public with a sample menu as a guide, have not detailed what types of foods are required to meet their guideline and have not even offered a single-day menu as proof it can even be done.

For the American public - the target of this new guideline - this should be a wake-up call to demand accountability from the AHA. When an organization, held in high esteem as the AHA is, recommends a particular dietary approach, the public deserves to know what it takes to follow the guideline, what is the scientific basis of the guideline, and what is the real risk, the real potential consequence to health, if one doesn't follow the guideline.

Without this vital information, the public is left with no real help to modify their diet for the better and is set up for failure.

Without this important information, the public is left helpless to help themselves.

Which begs the question, is that the point?

The AHA has a responsibility to each and every person in the United States when it issues a population-wide dietary recommendation; it has an obligation to detail how to follow the guideline and meet nutritional requirements; it has a duty to provide the public with access to the scientific evidence it analyzed to reach its guideline; and it holds the burden of proof to show the public that their recommendation not only reduces health risks when followed, but leads to improved long-term health outcomes.

At present, the AHA is not providing the public with any useful information to follow their guideline and has not established there is a scientific basis for limit on saturated fat that supports its recommendation on a population-wide basis.

You know what I call that? A population-wide experiement without consent.

The public must start to demand evidence, demand accountability and demand workable solutions to our national health crisis. Don't leave the AHA the option, in years to come, to opine "if only the public would follow the guidelines..."

It's time to demand they show us how to follow the guideline, provide a real example of how to eat according to the guideline and meet all nutrient requirements, and provide quality evidence that following it for the rest of our life will reduce risk and improve long-term health outcomes!

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