[L-CAN\Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee]
L-CAN members can point to a large and rapidly growing body of strong scientific research and personal success stories showing carbohydrate restriction to be a safe and effective strategy to prevent and even reverse chronic, diet-related conditions such as pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
The Low-Carb Action Network (L-CAN), a coalition of doctors, academics, advocates, and Americans with personal success stories, is set to make a major push to urge U.S. nutrition leaders to add a true “low-carb” dietary pattern during the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee meeting at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas on January 23 and 24.
Several L-CAN members plan to provide oral comments to the committee on January 24.
L-CAN members can point to a large and rapidly growing body of strong scientific research and personal success stories showing carbohydrate restriction to be a safe and effective strategy to prevent and even reverse chronic, diet-related conditions such as pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) now includes a low-carb diet in its Standards of Medical Care – 2020 for improved blood pressure and glycemic control as well as weight loss.
However, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans do not include a low-carb diet as a viable dietary option, and L-CAN members believe USDA and HHS should include all significant scientific research including 70 clinical trials in the 2020 scientific report. These rigorous studies demonstrate that low-carb diets are effective in the prevention and reversal diet-related illnesses such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, among others.
L-CAN leadership is also concerned that the USDA, in its current scientific review, is using an inaccurate definition of the diet in its literature reviews, which will impact its accuracy. The organization is calling for the inclusion of a true “low-carb” diet, which is a carbohydrate intake below 25% of total calories or less.
Dr. Nadir Ali, Chairman, Department of Cardiology, Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, and Research Professor, Dept. of Nutrition and Applied Science, University of Houston, is a national leader in the use of low-carb diets to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease.
“As a cardiologist, I regularly prescribe a low-carb diet to treat patients with type 2 diabetes and other heart-related diseases to better their health and improve their quality of life,” said Ali. “Given the significant amount of scientific research and evidence supporting this diet, it’s time for U.S. nutrition policy leaders to prescribe a low-carb option for those who are tipping into obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.”
Dr. Eric Westman, Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University emphasized that the current dietary guidelines do not apply to most Americans and that a variety of dietary options should be presented to the American people, including a low-carbohydrate diet.
“One size does not fit all,” said Dr. Westman.”If there is anything we’ve learned over the last four years, it’s that the low-carb approach should be a viable option.”
Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, Professor of Family Medicine at West Virginia University said a majority of the patients he treats daily have obesity and “metabolic syndrome,” a combination of conditions driven by hyperinsulinemia that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
“If the government has any responsibility to give advice on nutrition it should be focused on those who have a medical condition which is impacted by nutrition and provide evidence-based nutrition solutions, one being a low-carb diet,” said Dr. Cucuzzella. “This diet is highly effective to prevent and treat diet-related illnesses and has decades of evidence to support it.”
A study conducted last year by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concluded that only 12 percent of American adults are considered metabolically healthy, while 88 percent are either at risk for or already have type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or another chronic, diet-related condition.
Dr. Jeffry Gerber, M.D., FAAFP, board-certified family physician and owner of South Suburban Family Medicine in Denver, CO, said it is unconscionable for nutrition leaders not to include a low-carb diet in our dietary guidelines.
“It is unacceptable for our nation’s nutrition leaders to exclude nearly nine out of ten adults from the guidelines, when low-carb diets provide a viable and proven solution for effectively combatting obesity and diabetes, among other conditions,” said Dr. Gerber. “Everyday people across the globe are improving their health by following low-carb diets. Their stories are emotional and real – from fighting obesity and heart disease to beating depression and even cancer.”
Dr. Charles Cavo, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Pounds Transformation in West Hartford, CT, stated that USDA and HHS officials have defined “low-carb” inaccurately for their scientific reviews. They’ve defined the diet as having a carbohydrate intake of less than 45 percent or less of overall daily calories, while leading experts in the field define a low-carb diet as less than 25 percent or less.
“If USDA and HHS continue to wrongfully define low-carb diets, they will skew the results of their analyses,” said Cavo. “Defining, low-carb, as 45% of calories will wash out any positive results, which are largely achieved only when people significantly reduce carbohydrates, down to 25% of calories or less. It’s not clear why USDA chose their definition of low-carb, since the agency provided no documentation or footnotes. But it’s clearly not consistent with leading research in the field or what we see working for weight loss and disease reversal in clinical practice.”
Antonio C. Martinez II was one of the principal lobbyists who advocated for the Dietary and Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). Martinez, who has also used a low-carb approach to reverse his own type 2 diabetes, lose weight, and recover from heart disease, added specifics to Cavo’s point.
“This proposed definition clearly does not reflect the standards set by research leaders in the field and practitioners with actual clinical and technical experience,” said Martinez. “The lack of a formal regulatory standard for ‘low-carb’ allows for this kind of abuse. It needs to stop because the public is not stupid, and the committee’s credibility is in question with such bad science.”
Dr. Georgia Ede, a Massachusetts-based psychiatrist and founder of diagnosisdiet.com, echoed Martinez and Cavo’s concerns that USDA-HHS have used incorrect definitions of a low-carb diet, which will lead to an inaccurate assessment of a real nutrition option that could make millions of Americans healthier.
“As a physician who prescribes low-carbohydrate diets in my psychiatric practice every day, who has personally followed a low-carbohydrate diet for many years, and has paid close attention to the scientific literature on this topic, I am concerned that the percentage of carbohydrates the government is using for its definition of ‘low-carb’ is far too high to be metabolically meaningful, and should be reconsidered,” stated Dr. Ede.
Doug Reynolds, the founder of Low Carb USA, a group that hosts scientific conferences on the subject and has worked with a team of doctors to publish “Clinical Guidelines for The Prescription of Carbohydrate Restriction as a Therapeutic Intervention”, says the low-carb diet is a proven solution to help Americans improve their health.
“It’s time for nutrition leaders to embrace a low carb diet as a viable option. More than 70 clinical trials have been conducted, and the results are clear: Low-carb diets are effective in combating obesity and improving cardiovascular risk factors,” said Reynolds. “The success stories I have personally witnessed are truly incredible, and I never would have believed them if I did not see them myself.”
L-CAN members plan to make public comments at the Houston meeting as well as continue their grassroots campaign to urge leaders at USDA and HHS to ensure that a properly defined low-carb diet is included in the systematic review, with the DGA providing this option if supported by the available evidence.
For more information on the Low-Carb Action Network (L-CAN), please visit www.lowcarbaction.org.