US/International Cholesterol Guidelines at Odds

Life Science Research Organization, Inc. (LSRO) has published a review article in the June 2010 issue of Nutrition Reviews that summarizes a December 2008 conference entitled Conference on Cholesterol: Where Science and Public Health Policy Intersect. Organized by LSRO and sponsored by the EggNutritionCenter, the conference elaborated the scientific data supporting the US nutrition policy recommendations to limit dietary cholesterol and analyzed the consequences of the policy on US government-sponsored food programs, eating patterns, and health of the US population.

US daily dietary recommendations for cholesterol are at odds with international guidelines that recommend reducing total fat intake and shifting to unsaturated fats from saturated and trans fats. In contrast, current US dietary policy is focused on cholesterol intake and its effect on coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. US policy recommends limiting intake of cholesterol to <300 mg/d for the general population and <200 mg/d for those with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Among the key findings in the report are:

  • The dynamics of cholesterol homeostasis and CHD are complex.
  • Trans fatty acid, omega-3, and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intakes, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and food sources of soluble dietary fiber all affect blood cholesterol and CHD risk.
  • Dietary recommendations stated in scientific language are potentially confusing to the general public
  • Numerical recommendations can cause undue focus on one food or nutrient over another with potentially adverse, unintended consequences.
  • It may be more effective for government agency recommendations to be expressed in vivid, concrete language.
    • i.e., For a greater variety of food suggest “eat a rainbow every day”
      • For increased fruits and vegetables suggest “5 a day”
      • Avoid saturated fats for cooking and food preparation
  • Improved access to healthy foods and more choices for those receiving food assistance (via SNAP and WIC) may improve the diets of program participants.
  • Better educated consumers may adopt healthier eating habits, resulting in improved health, greater energy, and weight control.

For nearly half a century, the Life Sciences Research Organization (LSRO) has provided expert, objective scientific opinions and evaluations to governmental agencies and leading corporations in the food, health and bioscience sectors. A non-profit organization originally established in 1962, LSRO provides independent science-based analysis and advice that has proven integral to the development of sound policies and regulations on the national and international level.

This study will be of interest to academic, government, and industry researchers, public health organizations; public health organizations and their staff. The report will also be of interest to the general public.

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