Carbophobia: The Dieting Public's Obsession with Carbohydrates and the U.S. Government's Response

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Carbophobia: The Dieting Public's Obsession with Carbohydrates and the U.S. Government's Response

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Title: Carbophobia: The Dieting Public's Obsession with Carbohydrates and the U.S. Government's Response
Author: Berry, Jeremy
Citation: Carbophobia: The Dieting Public's Obsession with Carbohydrates and the U.S. Government's Response (2003 Third Year Paper)
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Abstract: This paper examines the recent low-carbohydrate diet craze, and analyzes the reaction of the United States government to new scientific evidence potentially indicating that the government’s current food recommendations may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic in America. After a brief introduction, the paper examines the history of food science, focusing on the government’s efforts to develop the food recommendations now in the Food Guide Pyramid, as well as recent studies indicating that other diets may be more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular health. The paper then discusses the generally-accepted science of what constitutes the various macronutrients, as well as how carbohydrates are processed by the human body. Next, four of the most popular diets in America today are analyzed, including their recommendations and the science, sometimes controversial, behind these diet recommendations. The four diets analyzed are a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet such as the Atkins Diet, a mixed diet such as the Zone Diet, and the SugarBusters Diet and other low-glycemic index diets. The science background concludes by noting where the science seems to be converging, despite vast differences of opinion amongst the various diet advocates. Next, the U.S. government’s recommendations and response to these studies are analyzed, particularly in three contexts: the recommendation that Americans consumer more “whole grains;†the problem the government has had in defining what constitutes a “complex carbohydrate;†and the choices the government faces in defining a “carbohydrate,†including why the government may have made the wrong choice. The paper concludes with several proposals the government should take to update its food recommendations and increase the health of the American public. Generally speaking, the recommendations are for the USDA to revise its Food Guide Pyramid to reflect current knowledge about carbohydrates, and for the FDA to allow food manufacturers to list the glycemic load on food labels. If the government makes these changes, the health of the American public should improve, or, at a minimum, American consumers will find it easier to improve their health.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9414570

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