ABBOTSFORD, BC, Aug. 2, 2018 /CNW/ - Canadians deserve to live long and healthy lives, but our citizens are struggling under the burden of nutritional disease. This has exploded since the low-fat, high carbohydrate dietary guidelines were issued in the 1980s; guidelines we now understand were not based on good science. The Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition (CCTN) are advocating for dietary guidelines based on rigorous evidence. Unfortunately, we have found significant shortcomings in Health Canada's approach.
We agree with warning labels on foods high in sugar, and with advice to reduce processed food. Canadians should be concerned, however, that Health Canada wants to warn against some natural foods high in saturated fat and salt. Advising people away from nutritious whole foods like full fat cheese, meat and nuts may lead Canadians to choose refined, processed foods reformulated to avoid front of package labels.
Saturated fat, like that found in meat and full fat dairy, was vilified for decades without evidence, but worldwide experts (including our Heart and Stroke Foundation) agree there is insufficient evidence to continue vilifying saturated fat. Much research has been published recently showing that saturated fat is either neutral or beneficial to health, and that an optimal level of sodium intake for the general population is 3-6g/day.
Rather than conducting a primary review of the nutritional evidence, we learned Health Canada relied heavily upon the guidelines of other countries, such as the US Dietary Guidelines, recently deemed to 'lack scientific rigor'. We deserve more from a national food guide than a parroting of the much-criticized guidelines of our large neighbour to the south.
We acknowledge Health Canada is committed to improving the health of Canadians. However, every day we see the tragic, unintended consequences of advancing population-wide guidelines without scientific proof, and Health Canada is poised to repeat these same mistakes. The bottom line is that if the experts do not agree, we cannot advise an entire population to reduce either saturated fat or salt. Taking sides in an unanswered scientific question is both cavalier and potentially dangerous to Canadians.
Some people mistakenly think the guidelines don't matter, and that we don't follow them anyway. But Canadians have followed the guidelines. We ate less red meat, eggs and dairy over the last decades, but became sicker than ever. And while some can ignore the guidelines, other cannot ignore the Food Guide, such as school-aged children. We risk teaching another entire generation of children nutritional information that is out of date, and which will not improve their health.
Health Canada seems at odds with many world experts and the opinion of thousands of front line Canadian clinicians; therefore, we need an external, independent review of the evidence before moving forward with package warnings on saturated fat and salt, especially on whole food items.
Dr. Barbra Allen Bradshaw, Co-Founder CCTN:
"We have one opportunity to get this set of guidelines right. If we continue to perpetuate unscientific views, we have little chance to halt our epidemic of type 2 diabetes, obesity and other nutritional diseases."
Dr. Carol Loffelmann, Co-Founder CCTN:
"Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet, limit processed foods and sugar, avoid ultra processed foods, and eat the natural fats that come with whole foods."
Dr. Andrew Samis, Intensivist and General Surgeon:
"A proper scientific review is done by looking directly at the scientific studies involved. Health Canada looked at other group's reviews of those studies, especially the Americans. That's like the police investigating a crime scene in a house by asking the neighbours what they thought happened, rather than entering the house themselves."
Eliana Witchell, Registered Dietitian:
"Soon, some of the foods that help my patients achieve health will have warning labels, and I will be left explaining that our guidelines are once again not evidence based."
Dr. Anna Issakoff-Meller, Family Physician:
"My hope is that the Federal Government does not rush the new food guide and front of package labeling until they can get it right. No food guide and no labels is better than a bad food guide or bad labels, and I'm worried that's where we are headed."
Dr. Èvelyne Bourdua-Roy, Family Physician:
"I often tell my patients that metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and obesity are diseases caused by bad nutrition. Therefore, the first treatment should be good nutrition. I suggest to my patients that we rely on the most recent science, and that often means we must ignore Canada's Food Guide.
The CCTN is an independent health advocacy group, free of industry funding, consisting of physicians and health professionals using nutrition to reverse metabolic disease. More information can be found by visiting www.ccfortn.ca.
SOURCE Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition
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