Experts Recommend Low-Fat Diets for Children and a Reeducation Program to "Modify the Behavior of the Nation"
According to today's Science Daily, experts now recommend a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol for children beginning at seven months of age.
The three experts are Daniel Steinberg, a principal architect of the lipid hypothesis whose book, The Cholesterol Wars: The Skeptics Versus the Preponderance of the Evidence, I reviewed here; Christopher Glass, who is on the Merck Speakers' Bureau; and Joseph Witztum, who is on the Merck Speakers' Bureau and is a consultant to AtheroGenics Inc.
The Science Daily article summarizes a review these three authors wrote in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation. The review notes that despite the success of statins, they still fail to prevent 70 percent of heart attacks. How to prevent the other 70 percent? Well, since heart disease begins in childhood, the authors recommend an agressive low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet beginning as early as seven months of age to lower LDL to 50 mg/dL instead of the "canonical" benchmark of 100 mg/dL currently in place.
Steinberg and his co-authors cite one study showing that such a radical dietary change in children so young would be safe. This study, however, did nothing so radical.
Beginning at seven months, infants were randomized either to receive the usual dietary advice or to receive special dietary advice focusing on using skim milk rather than 2 percent low-fat milk and adding a few teaspoons of canola oil to their food each day. They were followed for fourteen years.
The intervention group did indeed report eating less fat and saturated fat, but the differences were paltry, amounting to no more than one or two percentage points. For example, at ten years of age boys in the control group were eating 32 percent of their calories as fat and 13 percent of their calories as saturated fat, while the boys in the intervention group were eating 31 percent of their calories as fat and 11 percent of their calories as saturated fat.
The intervention group also had lower LDL levels, but again, nowhere near as low as Steinberg and his fellow experts are recommending. Even at the lowest point, the intervention group's LDL levels were around 100 mg/dL and the control groups' LDL levels were not that much higher.
The kind of aggressive low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet they are advocating simply has not been tested. What it essentially means is raising children from the time they are young on a diet devoid of eggs, milkfat, and red meat. These are the main sources of arachidonic acid, which, as described in my PUFA Report, is essential for growth, development, and fertility. Eggs are the principal source of choline, essential to brain development, and red meat is the principal source of heme iron, making it the most efficient and convenient way to prevent anemia.
The way these authors intend to accomplish such an agressive reduction in the use of animal products is even more disturbing:
It would, of course, take generations to achieve and would require an all-out commitment of money and manpower to reeducate and modify the behavior of the nation. Is that impossible? No. We have already shown that even a frankly addictive behavior like cigarette smoking can be overcome (eventually) with the right combination of education, peer pressure, and legislation.
The first disturbing part of this paragraph is the appeal to the concept of a reeducation program. Searching Google for "reeducate" yields several definitions and then a news story about a Chinese man sentenced to a year of "reeducation through labour" for the crime of "destroying social order" by taking a pictures of collapsed schools. Searching Google for "reeducation" yields as a first result a Wikipedia article on the "reeducation camps" run by Communist Vietnam. The term is an appeal to the social management techniques that have typically been the province of Communist governments, not the land of the free.
The second and even more disturbing fact is the reference to legislation. Are we to see the advent of a butter tax? The thought is horrific. As you can imagine, a tax on saturated fat would destroy the nation's dairy farmers once and for all, turning the market for oils over entirely to the vegetable oil industry.
Moreover, what would such a mass reeducation and behavior modification campaign look like? If meat, eggs, and butter are taxed a la tobacco products, what will happen to people who live in poverty-stricken areas with limited food availability? What will happen to people who lack the knowledge or motivation to deal with all the nuances of a vegetarian diet, or who have trouble digesting the legumes they will need to obtain sufficient iron?
Consider the effects of childhood anemia in young children:
Infants with chronic, severe iron deficiency have been observed to display increased fearfulness, unhappiness, fatigue, low activity, wariness, solemnity, and proximity to the mother during free play, developmental testing, and at home. In a recent preventative trial in Chile, ratings after 30-45 minutes of developmental testing showed that, compared with infants who received iron supplementation, a greater percentage of unsupplemented infants never smiled, never interacted socially, and never showed social referencing.
A nation of anemic children will be a nation of zombies. Naturally, anemia can be prevented without meat by using careful selection of other iron-rich foods (principally legumes), but can we seriously doubt that a saturated fat tax would not greatly increase the prevalence of anemia?
The powerful people who fancy themselves social management technicians have been speculating for several decades whether the United States may one day have to force its population to reduce its intake of animal products. Consider the National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM)-200, a document prepared by Henry Kissinger on behalf of President Nixon. Right before asking the question, "Are mandatory population control measures appropriate for the U.S. and/or for others?", the document poses another question: "Should the U.S. seek to change its own food consumption patterns toward more efficient uses of protein?"
Efficient use of protein seems to mean a diet based on grains like corn, which of course may be "efficient" in terms of protein yielded per acre of land, but such a diet is not so efficient at preventing soil erosion or yielding high protein and nutrient density per calorie. Corn is, of course, highly subsidized, genetically engineered, and centrally controlled.
So now to add to corn subsidies that make this product artificially cheap, are we going to welcome legislation to rein in the butter and egg tax to make the prices of these products artificially high?
If so, how on earth will the government keep tabs on the massive underground market for these products? Oh, right, they intend to track all our animals by RFID.
Steinberg and his fellow experts say it will take generations to fully achieve the goals of the mass reeducation program, but that doesn't mean it won't be starting soon. While there is still time left, let's remember we need to build relationships with our local farmers, start planting gardens, and support groups like the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund so we have an organized presence to defend our right to eat real food when the Monsanto lawyers and the Feds come to take that right away from us.