Government Nutrition Policy: A Big, Fat Failure

Authored by Jose Nino via The Mises Institute,

In her book The Big Fat SurpriseNina Teicholz controversially contends that United States nutritional guidelines have largely contributed to rising levels of heart disease and obesity in the American populace.

Since the American Heart Association (AHA) linked the consumption of saturated fat with heart disease in 1961,government bureaucrats and policymakers have embarked on a low-fat crusade.

Despite this zealous campaigning in favor of low-fat dieting, obesity is rising at alarming rates and heart disease remains one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States.

Teicholz's text is very relevant these days now that the Trump administration announced its continuation of Obama-era nutritional policy.

These new policies consist of mandatory calorie labeling on restaurant menus and new “Nutrition Facts” on foods products.

While this article won’t spend much time addressing the scientific merits of the low-fat diet’s impact on health, one crucial question remains: Why does the United States government insist on getting involved in dietary affairs?

From Scientific Findings to Official Food Policy

When nutritionist Ancel Keyes popularized the “diet-heart hypothesis” in the 1950s, governments around the world initiated the first steps in crafting low-fat nutritional guidelines. The watershed moment came in 1961 when the American Heart Association became the first influential and national organization to officiallyrecommend that the public cut back on its consumption of saturated fat in order to prevent cardiovascular disease. Moving forward, bureaucracies like the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) have acted as reliable vehicles for the promotion of low-fat guidelines.

The Bureaucratization of Food Policy: A Rent-Seeker’s Delight

With the on-going presence of government agencies like the FDA and USDA regulating the food industry, the temptation for major food companies to gravitate toward politics to solve its problems remains strong.

American food policy has not only created barriers to entry in certain sectors of the food economy and harmedconsumer welfare, but it has also incentivized entrenched business interests to capture regulatory agencies and push for policies that advance their ends.

This dynamic creates a scenario of institutional inertia. First, scientists publish findings supporting the entrenched interest group’s (Big Sugar in this case) agenda. Then, the government rewards producers who comply by granting them sweetheart subsidies and the government’s seal of approval.

Due to the public’s rational ignorance and the organizational advantages that lobbies like Big Sugar enjoy, this type of nutritional policy continues in effect without much organized resistance.

Public Choice theory in its rawest form.

Moreover, since the US became increasingly involved in diet policy in 1961, obesity rates in American men and women have increased substantially. This doesn’t prove a causal relationship, of course, but it does suggest that the government’s involvement has done nothing to keep obesity rates down.

Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The Government Still Doesn’t Listen

The Trump administration’s continuation of low-fat dietary policy is no surprise due to the aforementioned institutional inertia. The program features policies encouraging the reduction of salt intake and new government mandates requiring restaurants to implement calorie labeling.

Despite what many experts say, the science on low-fat dieting and salt intake is far from settled. Contrarian analysis from researchers like Nina Teicholz and James DiNicolantonio argue that low-fat and low-salt consumption may actually have detrimental effects on health.

In the same vein, nutritional labeling does very little to change people’s food choice behavior.

According to Julie Downs, the lead author of a 2016 American Journal of Public Health study, putting “calorie labels on menus really has little or no effect on people’s ordering behaviors at all.” Mandatory calorie labeling represents another regulatory cost that will ultimately be passed on to restaurants and consumers. More established food chains will welcome these measures with open arms, but their smaller rivals will greatly lament them.

Free Markets are the Solution

Even if scientific research demonstrates that current government dietary standards have deleterious health effects, the government should stay away from dietary affairs.

Critics will argue that the government must play a proactive role in policing food choices and keeping the public healthy because the private sector is simply incapable of doing so.

But this contention is laden with government conceit.

A cottage industry of dietary alternatives like the Atkins DietThe South Beach Diet Paleo Diet, and the Keto Diet has emerged in the past decade to address supposed failures in conventional nutritional strategies.

We can debate which of these diet strategies are likely to produce more healthy people, but given the federal government’s record on this matter, it’s hard to argue that the status quo offers better options.

Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Incentives matter in these cases. When the government is no longer dictating food policy, civic organizations and business ventures will fill in this nutritional vacuum to provide consumers with the necessary information and resources to make informed choices on nutritional matters.

Crowding out these initiatives through the government’s typical route of subsidizing vested food interests, promoting questionable studies, and erecting massive barriers to entry for potential competitors, hurts society at large.

Donald Trump came to Washington, DC, with the goal of draining the swamp and scrapping many Obama-era policies. However, Trump’s decision to continue Obama’s nutrition policies is a disappointment to say the least.

Trump can still make things right by re-examining these guidelines and bringing in dissenting points of views into these discussions.

At the end of the day, the healthiest nutritional policy the United States can pursue is one of government restraint.

*  *  *

Jose Nino is a Venezuelan-American political activist based in Fort Collins, Colorado.


dchang0 Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:06 Permalink

Cronyism. It's what's for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch.


Get your pizza classified as a vegetable on the public school system's food pyramid, get those wheat and sugar subsidies and get the contract for a school system, and you're made!

wadalt JimmyJones Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:19 Permalink

Why does the United States government insist on getting involved in dietary affairs?


Because they want you to get sick feeding you (pun intended) the wrong info. That way BIG PHARMA can get rich selling you drugs that will ultimately kill you.

Remember, the USG is a whore hired by special interests. It's always doing somebody's bidding.

After all, Satanyahoo of APARTHEID Israhell makes Trump jump like a puppy.


Artist's IMPRESSION of Satanyahoo RIDING Trump


In reply to by JimmyJones

JimmyJones sanctificado Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:25 Permalink

As is the FDA, look at what they did for a man that can, with high success, fully documented ironically by FDA approved studies treat inoperable brain cancer as well as others with 90% success and zero side effects. 

This is a really good watch, share it.

This story on a cancer cure is a classic case of how Big Pharma, the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, MD's, and even the USPTO (patent office) are corrupt when it comes to a cure. Dr. Burzynski's story continues in a second film and explores the current status of Antineoplastons' clinical testing—now (finally) sanctioned by the FDA.


In reply to by sanctificado

NidStyles ravolla Thu, 06/14/2018 - 06:02 Permalink

While I commend people for calling out the incorrect data being released by the government, I don’t think blaming the government for your lack of self control is a step in the right direct. The guy typing out reports in D.C. isn’t the one that shoved those tacos into your mouth.

In reply to by ravolla

raging-chihuahua NidStyles Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:53 Permalink

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Biblicism     AND    TodaysFox ("I made $7000 sucking cock on the Internet")  IT's ALL THE SAME SPAMMER!

THIS is an important week here in the SPAMMER's BUNKHOUSE (the leaking moldy single-wide in the trailer park).  This week I (we?) are celebrating SEVEN YEARS here on ZH, obsessively SPAMMING every thread we can with off-topic comments.  You see, there are dozens of "personalities" living in this one single sad SPAMMER's sick little mind, which he calls "Spammer's Bunkhouse."  How sick is that? 

Each of "us" (these innumerable fake log-on's) is represented by an ACTION FIGURE that Master Spammer ("DARWIN" is his name -- can you believe that?)  lines up on his kitchen counter and TALKS TO!!  WHACK JOB!!!


SAD BUT TRUE!!  I (we?) have wasted my (our) youth (or at least the last seven years) with at least one hand in my pants and the other hand SPAMMING ZH.  Yes, indeed.  DOZENS and DOZENS (maybe hundreds) of log-on's banned -- 
>>  "I made $7500 last week on the Internet sucking cock!": that's me.
>>  Biblicism: that's me.
>>  All the porn at Celebrity-leaks: that's me.
>>  Daily Westerner: that's me.

>>  "In the news....SPAMMER broomsticked by furious readers" -- registered in Nigeria) :: that's me TOO!! 

That's our life (all of us living in Master Spammer's Mind): mopping the floor at the Porn Cinema at 2am, working the French Frier at SONIC (demoted from the drive-thru window 'cuz my ZIT-covered face scared the customers), sucking cock on the Internet, and spamming ZH with an enormous Excel spreadsheet of the log-on's of dozens of "digital friends" who upvote one another and virtually suck my little micro penis..

MEET my current imaginary friends.  We all live in one SPAMMER's HEAD (and as ACTION FIGURES on his kitchen counter) but as for me, I have gone off the reservation.  These other "personalities" are pretty troubled.

ll951983  <<< NEWBIE  sucks cock on the Internet!
  <<<  NEWBIE
Cheoll   <<<  NEWBIE

Mr Hankey  [R.I.P]   <<<  total utter WHACK JOB  -- joined "The Fallen"
gzcekkyret     <<<  NEWBIE

You know SPAMMERS never die on ZH -- here's just a sampling of the banned log-on's ("The Fallen Spammers") ---

 beepbop, pier, lloll, loebster, ergatz, armada, Mtnrunnr, Anonymous, luky luke, Cjgipper, winged, moimeme, macki mack, tchubby, sincerely_yours, HillaryOdor, winged, lexxus, kavlar, lhomme, letsit, tazs, techies-r-us, stizazz, lock-stock, beauticelli, Mano-A-Mano, mofio, santafe, Aristotle of Greece, Gargoyle, bleu, oops, lance-a-lot, Loftie, toro, Yippee Kiyay, lonnng, Nekoti, SumTing Wong, King Tut, evoila, rp2016, alt right dude, altright-girl, alt-right girl, Blufin, Schlomo Scheklestein, BraveForce, Mr Hankey, sandraloopz0, enf83

In reply to by NidStyles

Synoia TGF Texas Wed, 06/13/2018 - 23:17 Permalink

War of Terror - Failed

New Aircraft Carriers - Failed

Iraq - Failed

Afghanistan - Failed

Syria - Failed

Libya - failed

Rule of Law - Failed

Common Welfare - Failed

Congress Declaring Wars - Failed

Representing the People - Failed

Police Protectors of the Peace - failed

In reply to by TGF Texas

PiratePiggy TGF Texas Wed, 06/13/2018 - 23:47 Permalink

What about OSHA? - MUCH BIGGER FAILURE than the others:


higher percentage of people on disability than before OSHA began DESPITE most of the factory jobs either automated out of existence or shipped overseas.

In reply to by TGF Texas

Throat-warbler… Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:14 Permalink

Too much grain ... feed it to the cattle, feed it to the chickens, feed it to the sheep(le) and most of all, feed it to the kids.  Profit must not suffer from small things like rampant obesity and diabetes.

InnVestuhrr Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:53 Permalink

The "expert" who started the whole anti-fat pseudo-medical propaganda jihad against fats, Francis Keys, who published the grotesquely fraudulent "7 Countries Study", foundation of the anti-fat jihad, has been exposed as a paid shill for the sugar industry.

His study data on countries with high levels of fat consumption actually showed that fats are NOT causative in coronary artery plaque formation, so he actually omitted from the published paper all the data from the countries with high fat consumption and low coronary artery plaques that refuted his claim that fats are the cause of coronary artery plaque formation. This was not discovered until after he died and independent researchers studied his data and journals.

Sugars are metabolic killers, and the sugar lobby is the most powerful lobby in the USA regime.

Throat-warbler… InnVestuhrr Wed, 06/13/2018 - 23:02 Permalink

My theory is that it is the animal fat structure itself that needs examining. 

When chickens, cows, sheep, pigs, and other food animals eat their natural diets, their fat contains mostly Omega-3 fatty acids from grass and other plants ...  The factory production of animals with grain as their primary feed causes a build-up of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are not good for you in the quantities that most people ingest.

Witness the difference in color of a chicken egg yolk that is from a chicken that eats bugs and grass, and one that is instead stuffed with grain-based feed.  Eggs are good -- eggs are bad -- eggs are good ... bad eggs are bad and good eggs are good.

That companies could make such a wholesale (no pun intended) change in our diets without verification of the effects is criminal.

In reply to by InnVestuhrr

TBT or not TBT Throat-warbler… Thu, 06/14/2018 - 00:38 Permalink

Doesn't work with beef .    The omega3 fat in your burger or steak is a tiny fraction no matter what the animal ate .    Similarly, their flesh stores little omega-6, regardless of their diet .    Eggs I haven't looked into, but take care that ALA, the plant omega3, does you only a little good and only up to small amounts .  Humans have a rate limitation for converting ALA into the much more useful 20 carbon eicosanoids like EPA and DHA.

In reply to by Throat-warbler…

francis scott … Wed, 06/13/2018 - 23:44 Permalink

"Why does the United States government insist on getting

involved in dietary affairs?"

It lets the cockroaches in Congress pretend they are concerned about

the American sheeple.

Mark777 Thu, 06/14/2018 - 00:41 Permalink

Carbs, not fats, are a major reason more are gaining weight.  Fats themselves do not make you fat.  When consuming both fats and carbs, the body will burn the fats first and store the leftover carbs as fat.

So when you shop in a supermarket and see all the No-Fat or Low-Fat containers, realize these can easily add weight, not reduce it.

Look at the food pyramid or food wheel.  See how much is allocated for whole grains.  Yes, who grains are better than partial grains but what is IN them?  Today's wheat is a hybrid developed in recent decades and contains 4 or more times as much gluten as before.  No wonder people who are gluten sensitive say they can't eat US breads (from hybrid wheat bred for yield) but can eat European breads (from original wheat stock).  There is a book entitled, "Wheat Belly".  Need anything more be said on the matter?

Many claim "Sugar is bad!"  Sure, but aren't most other sweet alternatives worse?  Isn't high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) now in just about every food even worse?  Some of the artificial sweeteners have their own negative side effects too.  For example, aspertame has been reported to aggravate joint pain.

The only alternate sweetener no one has ever claimed is bad is STEVIA.  (Its commercial downside is that big companies ignore it since it can't be patented.)  It's been around for centuries with NO reported negative side effects.  Well, except its super sweetness isn't "sugar sweet".  However it does remarkably well sweetening tart drinks such as lemonade or cranberry juice.  Try it.

Another contributing cause may be an imbalance in the ratio of bacteria in our digestive tracts.  There have been "stool" transplants where stool from a slim person's bowels have been introduced into fat people and they've lost weight much more easily than before.  Could it be that all the antibiotics we've consumed over the years has messed up the balance of helpful bacteria in our guts?

And this isn't even addressing what other chemical issues have been created over recent decades... sterilization, cleansing or containers with BPA or other dangerous chemicals... pesticides and herbicides that have unknown levels of impact on us consumers, "estrogen-like" compounds that have unintended consequences, etc.

Likely the sudden rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes can be attributed to a wide range of changes in our food choices, lifestyle and environment.

GardenWeasel Mark777 Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:52 Permalink

Yes, one more thing needs to be said on the matter of wheat.  All wheat in the US that is not "organic" is sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) right before harvest to kill the crop and promote even drying of the seed. It does not get washed off. Glyphosate is the leading cause of health problems in the US due to the havoc it wreaks in the digestive system, from killing necessary bacteria to destroying the membrane of the alimentary canal.  

BTW, for you beer drinkers, like moi,  barley is also grown the same way. So, in case you missed it, your beer is poisoned, unless you drink organic beer.  Cheers.

In reply to by Mark777

Emperor_Norton Thu, 06/14/2018 - 02:20 Permalink

I ain't looking for converts, IDGAF.

but I lost 97 lbs on keto in a year. I eat as much fuckin fat as I want. Bacon steaks and ribeye all fuckin day long. I wreck the vegetables now that my palate has been cleansed of sugar. Every diet I ever tried I felt nothing but hunger.  On keto I just eat. Weight just falls off. 

Food plate, suck my taint Michelle ya nasty silverback. 

Faeriedust Thu, 06/14/2018 - 06:19 Permalink

Why does the government meddle in nutrition policy?

You wouldn't need to ask that question if anyone alive actually studied WWI.  One of the key take-aways from WWI was that the free market DOESN'T WORK under situations of scarcity.  Basically, all over Europe, people died of starvation when their governments bid up the price of basic staples to feed the troops (and paid for it with money borrowed from the New York bankers).  Failure to evaluate the actual resources available, as opposed to the prices the highest bidder could pay, put basic nutrition beyond the means of the poor for the next twenty years.  It was only when WWII arose that governments determined to "do better this time" by carefully allocating the REAL RESOURCES and assuring that the population needed to feed and arm the troops itself remained fed.  This was the origin not only of wartime rationing, but of government agricultural supports and nutrition research. 

The Nazis led the way, with research into the reformulation and adulteration of foods to see how they could best feed their large industrial population without sufficient agricultural resources.  This led to the introduction of wartime ersatz, or "substitute" products such as ground chicory root for coffee, and careful admixture of sawdust and other cellulose-based fillers to baked products.  After the war, major American food corporations continued to produce these cheap wartime substitutes and sell them as highly-marketed products.  This was the beginning of the American post-war boom -- the engineered replacement of natural whole foods with industrial products packed with cheap fillers.  The unregulated, Free Market made a killing on selling poor and working-class Americans cheap crap as a substitute for real food.  And the cheap fillers, flavorings, and additives were often discovered and always approved and regulated through the many wartime departments charged with keeping the economy stable despite the demands of total war.

Virtually every bureaucracy in America or Europe, Japan or Russia today got its start during the drive to control, rationalize, and increase efficiency implemented to prevent WWII from leading to starvation, mass strikes, insurgencies, and revolutions.  Because nobody wanted more Bolshevik Revolutions, not even the Bolsheviks.

mvanzyl Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:12 Permalink

"When the government is no longer dictating food policy, civic organizations and business ventures will fill in this nutritional vacuum to provide consumers with the necessary information and resources to make informed choices on nutritional matters.", they wont, they will sell you the cheapest, highest margin poison because 80% of Americans are too retarded to even ask what they are shoveling into their faces....

ThorAss Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:58 Permalink

Imagine the sign at the super: BUG-FED CHICKEN .... yum! 


I remember in the old days (30 years ago) that I would wander into a grocers and find nothing I wanted, or more correctly, they had nothing I would eat. I didn't eat meat, but even if I did, I would have got that at the local butcher's. Fruit and veg from the greengrocers. Most of the dry produce I would get either from an Asian grocer or health food shop. Didn't leave much to get at the super. Even these days, I wander down entire aisles without touching a thing. Highly processed food containing added fat and sugar sugar sugar. And don't you just love all the food ads? My favourites are the ones that push a high energy low calorie message, without worrying that calorie is merely a unit of energy. Calorie=Energy but calorie bad, energy good. Plus you get to pay for these ads whenever you buy the product. It's a win-win. Not for you, of course, you're out hard-earned dough, and your body is turning to dough and not the kind of dough you will need for that liposuction or stomach stapling.


S.N.A.F.U. Thu, 06/14/2018 - 15:51 Permalink


In the same vein, nutritional labeling does very little to change people's food choice behavior.

This is a big fat lie.  It may be true for dumb-asses that don't care about their health, but fuck them.  I've always paid attention to the contents of the food I buy in the store, both nutrient wise and ingredient wise.  And I for the most part stopped eating out a long time ago because I don't have any fucking idea what they're actually serving - eating such "mystery food" might be OK once in a blue moon, but that's no way to run your diet.

Free Markets are the Solution

This is retardedly wrong.  Just calling something a "free market" doesn't magically alleviate the need for the preconditions of a free market.  In order for a free market or any trade to work properly, in order for good choices to be made that benefit both parties involved in an exchange, both parties need to be informed.

I used to be against labeling requirements (on the basis of free speech and free exchange).  However, if the end result of no labeling requirements is that there is no labeling (and an honest appraisal of what food producers want and don't want in terms of labeling tells you that this is exactly what would happen - there would still be some voluntary labeling but it would be mostly bullshit without any regulation saying what words like "organic" actually mean - everyone would suddenly be labeled "organic"), then that's no good.  Dropping labeling requirements would make the "free market" even sicker/more-disfunctional than it already is, not produce some kind of free market utopia.

A cottage industry of dietary alternatives like the Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet , Paleo Diet, and the Keto Diet has emerged in the past decade to address supposed failures in conventional nutritional strategies.

And how the fuck are we supposed to stay on a keto diet without the labeling?  Are we supposed to just be able to look at some sausages and know how many carbs are in it via psychic powers?

We can debate which of these diet strategies are likely to produce more healthy people

This whole fucking article is bullshit propaganda attempting to conflate two different things.  Labeling which says what is in the food in a purely objective/scientific fashion has fuck all to do with the government telling us which foods/ingredients/nutrients we should consume and in what quantities.

Jose Nino is a Venezuelan-American

Figures - not a true American.  True Americans don't hyphenate and stick some other country first.