65 Food & Drug L.J. 285 (2010)
Saving U.S. Dietary Advice from Conflicts of Interest

handle is hein.journals/foodlj65 and id is 297 raw text is: Saving U.S. Dietary Advice From Conflicts of Interest
JEFF HERMAN*
Chronic diseases are the greatest threat to global health in the 2 1st century. They
cause 70 percent of deaths in the United States' and 60 percent of deaths worldwide
(expected to rise to 73 percent by 2020).1 Heart disease is easily the world's deadliest
disease.' In 2005, it killed 864,480 Americans, more than cancer, accidents, chronic
lower respiratory disease, and diabetes, combined4 and the costs of treating heart
disease are a global financial burden.' In 2004, cancer caused 13 percent of all
deaths globally, killing 7.4 million people, and it is the second leading cause of
death in the United States.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines)' are designed to tell the
public how to prevent chronic diseases through diet and lifestyle. Unfortunately,
they are largely unsuccessful at promoting a healthy diet. Studies show that the
Guidelines either cannot reduce a person's risks for chronic diseases, or they are not
as effective as other diets. To improve, the Guidelines need to be more consistent
with current scientific knowledge.
The Guidelines may be difficult to improve due to conflicts of interest. Conflicts
exist at two levels: 1) at the USDA, one of the agencies responsible for creating the
Guidelines; and 2) with members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
(Advisory Committee or Committee), the scientific experts advising the govern-
ment. As a result of these conflicts, the Guidelines sometimes favor the interests
of the food and drug industries over the public's interest in accurate and impartial
dietary advice.
Current laws do not protect dietary advice from these conflicts, and thus Con-
gress should consider making two changes. First, the USDA should not have any
role in dietary advice, as its duty to promote and support the agricultural indus-
try is fundamentally inconsistent with promoting health and preventing chronic
diseases. Second, Congress should make it more difficult for those with ties to the
Mr. Herman is a Student at the Saint Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri.
CDC-Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, http:I/www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/
index.htm (last visited Dec. 22, 2009).
2 WHO-Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, http://www.who.int/chp/about/
integratedscd/enl (last visited Dec. 22, 2009).
'World Health Organization (WHO): Cardiovascular Diseases Factsheet, http://www.who.
intlmediacentre/factsheets/fs3l17/enlindex.html (last visited Feb. 24. 2009).
4Donald Lloyd-Jones et al., Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Update: A Report From the
American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee, 119 CIRCULATION
e21, e32 (2009).
1See id. at e172 (in 2009, cardiovascular diseases are expected to cost the United States $473.3
billion); EUbusiness.com, Europe Pays Heavy Price for Heart Disease: Study, http://www.eubusiness.
corn/news-eu/I 204036321.87/ (last visited Feb. 24, 2009) (in 2006, heart disease cost the European Union
$285 billion).
I World Health Organization: Cancer Factsheet, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/
fs297/enlindex.html (last visited Feb. 24, 2009).
'The following shorthand terms and acronyms are used throughout (they are also defined in the
main text where first used): Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee or Committee);
Alternate Healthy Eating Index (Alternate Index); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
cardiovascular disease (CVD); US. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health
& Human Services (HHS) (Departments); Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines); Ethics in
Government Act of 1978 (EIGA); Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); Freedom of Information
Act (FOJA); Healthy Eating Index (Index); National Institutes of Health (NIH); Office of Government
Ethics (OGE); Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM); Recommended Food Score
(RFS); the Secretaries of USDA and HHS (Secretaries); and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

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