Editorial: Holding out for a hero

Maria Tussing
Assistant Editor

It seems red meat has suddenly taken over center stage of the dietary discussion. The question that remains as the play continues, though, is whether it will be cast as the villain or the hero.

The recently-released Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends reducing consumption of red meat, for not only health reasons, but for purposes of environmental sustainability as well. The World Health Organization is investigating whether or not red meat actually causes cancer—lumping it together with processed meats for the purposes of the study.

Meanwhile, doctors and dietitians are backpedaling on their 40-year-long claims that red meat, eggs, butter and dairy products raise cholesterol levels. “We are really just uncovering a lot of myths about what causes high cholesterol and heart disease,” said Terri Johnson, a dietitian at Baton Rouge General Medical Center, in a news article in The Advocate.

In the last 40 years, since the introduction of the low-fat diet, cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure have all risen dramatically.

It seems like health organizations are making some pretty far-reaching assumptions, with the health of real people at stake, without being certain they know what they’re talking about.

It also seems like the one thing that all the dietary guidelines in the world can’t make up for is lack of exercise. Not just physical exercise, but exercise of willpower and sound judgment.

By now, everyone in the U.S. should know that a Big Mac, fries and Coke doesn’t make for a healthy meal. And it’s not because of the beef.

That doesn’t keep McDonald’s from selling more than a million Big Macs per day in the U.S.

Why? It’s cheap, it’s easy and it tastes good (according to some).

When healthy food is as cheap, easy and tastes as good as a Big Mac, food-related diseases like obesity will plummet.

Maybe the WHO needs to consider a campaign against fast food. If the FDA is looking for an explanation, they may want to consider how many meals are eaten in restaurants or start as “convenience” food now, versus 40 years ago.

Maybe they should look at populations of people who are not obese, suffering from heart disease or diabetes to see what they’re doing that works.

At the next branding you go to, do a quick visual survey to see how many are obese. Take special note of the food they eat, and how they exercise.

Draw your own conclusions.

As for me—I’ll take my steak medium rare, and my baked potato with butter and sour cream.