FDA TIME MACHINE IS TAKING US BACK TO THE FUTURE
“Dr. Scott Gottlieb is by far the most conflicted person nominated to run the 111-year-old Food and Drug Administration. He’s received payments from or invested in dozens of companies with business before the agency, earning millions of dollars in the process. Yet he will undoubtedly be confirmed as the FDA’s next commissioner after promising to recuse himself from matters involving those firms. He also promised to adhere to any recommendations from the Office of Government Ethics. That’s a joke.
If the ethics office was doing its job, it wouldn’t let him near the commissioner’s chair for at least a year—the minimum time frame for letting a financial conflict of interest lapse—since any broad policy he approves during that time would affect some if not all those firms.” The opening of Merrill Goozner’s editorial for Modern Healthcare (Editorial: Which Scott Gottlieb Will Run the FDA?)
“When President Trump nominated Scott Gottlieb for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, you could almost hear the sigh of relief that rippled through the health care community. Gottlieb is an internal medicine physician and a drug company insider, who presumably knows you need at least some scientific evidence for efficacy. The trouble with feeling relieved by Gottlieb’s nomination? He may not be much better… when it comes to protecting the public from the health and financial risks of harmful or useless drugs and devices.” From STAT’s Gottlieb as FDA Commissioner Would be Music to Pharma’s Ears by Judith Garber and Shannon Brownlee
Although there must be a million songs about wanting to go back in time (HERE’S A GREAT ONE), President Trump’s new FDA Director, Dr. Scott Gottlieb is actually doing it. That’s right folks, except for the great music (HERE), the 1980’s are on their way back. We are almost halfway through 2018; is there anyone still around who really believes a whole-hearted return to the “Fat Free” way of eating would be a good thing? This is exactly what Gottlieb recently promoted in his speech at the National Food Policy Conference (Reducing the Burden of Chronic Disease). The website of the NFPC’s parent organization, the Consumer Federation of America, says this of the NFPC……
“The National Food Policy Conference is a key national gathering for those interested in agriculture, food and nutrition policy. The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) was established in 1968 by national, state, and local pro-consumer groups to advocate the consumer interest before the U.S. Congress and federal regulatory agencies. CFA was organized by reform-minded advocates during a period of change and social protest.
Many of these advocates came from organizations established earlier in the century—Consumers Union, industrial labor unions, and rural electric cooperatives, among others—who viewed the late 1960s as a time when political conditions permitted the establishment of new consumer protections and agencies. CFA is a research, advocacy, education, and service organization.”
Although the NFPC is only one small part of the CFA, the point here is that they are a consumer watchdog organization who is supposed to be advocating for your best interests and educating the public on what constitutes healthy food choices. In other words, they are supposed to be looking out for those of us who at least on occasion, must make trips to the grocery store.
Dr. G started his speech by talking about the 1.2 million Americans who annually die of HEART DISEASE and CANCER, stating that, “these maladies often result from a lifetime of accumulated risk“. What are the risk factors he’s most concerned about? Gottlieb kept it simple, saying, “we can’t lose sight of the public health basics – better diet, more exercise, and smoking prevention and cessation.” So far I find it hard to argue. However……
Pertaining to smoking, Gottlieb discussed government goals of, “rendering combustible cigarettes minimally or non-addictive. At the same time, we’re also taking new steps to try and more rapidly transition adults who can’t quit tobacco altogether, and still want to get access to satisfying levels of nicotine, onto products that may pose far less risk to individuals compared to continued smoking.”
Sounds noble until you read between the lines. It seems that Dr. G is an investor in a company called Kure (Kure Vapes dot com). Kure is an upscale full-service chain of vape shops whose website urges customers to, “Belly up to our Juice Bar and test any one of our KURE On Tap vape juice blends.”
While $15,000 worth of stock is probably not a deal-breaker, it’s clearly a CONFLICT OF INTEREST, leading me to wonder about the rest of his agenda. Wonder no more. As is the mandate of his organization, he is rightly concerned about what America’s food supply. Before talking about our nation’s outrageous OBESITY STATS, he said…..
“Improvements in diet and nutrition offer us one of our greatest opportunities to have a profound and generational impact on human health. And FDA has a critical role to play to help make this happen. Improving the nutrition and diet of Americans would be another transformative effort toward reducing the burden of many chronic diseases, ranging from diabetes to cancer to heart disease. The public health gains of such efforts would almost certainly dwarf any single medical innovation or intervention we could discover.”
Although I couldn’t have said it better (except for the part about government’s role in making this happen), the question now becomes how. How in the world does Dr. Gottlieb plan on accomplishing this feat, and what sort of dietary advice is he dishing? For starters he stated that, “Clear, science-based information is a central pillar to the work we do at the agency. It’s also a driving factor in better consumer choices.”
While this would certainly be true under normal circumstances, in the same way that Big Pharma cannot be trusted, neither can Big Food / Big Ag. In other words, the term “EVIDENCE-BASED” frequently anything but — particularly once you see how much of the so-called (ahem) ‘evidence’ is bought and paid for (and jimmied) in an array of unique and interesting methods (HERE are some examples).
After saying that “there shouldn’t be one set of food opportunities for the affluent, and another for lower-income and working class families,” he went on to talk about the miracle that is American agriculture. Unfortunately, this idea of everyone having “one set of food opportunities” is part of what has put our nation in the health conundrum it’s currently in (HERE).
We have 1 in 7 citizens on SNAP (the program formerly known as ‘Food Stamps’); a program with zero stipulations put on what recipients can put in their collective shopping carts (HERE). SODA? Sure? Chips and other SNACK FOODS? No problem. CANDY? Check. Heat-and-serve HIGHLY PROCESSED JUNK? You get the drift. But it doesn’t end here.
Dr. G went on to discuss ways that the FDA is going to step in and save the day. One was by creating better “Nutrition Facts Labels.” Another had to do with the claims made by companies, his pet peeve obviously being use of the word “healthy.” And this, folks, is where he started revving up the engines of his time machine. Gottleib stated that, “we’re also interested in exploring claims for [healthy] products that offer food groups for which American diets typically fall short of recommendations. Examples include whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables and healthy oils.”
Firstly, whether processed or not (see failed food pyramid or the currently promoted DASH DIET), Americans are consuming WAY TOO MANY GRAINS. Secondly, are we to believe that “low fat” anything is healthy? Thirdly, the day I trust government bureaucrats to tell me which oils and fats are safe and healthy (HERE or HERE) is the day I…… And lastly, suggesting that we increase our vegetable consumption is fantastic; but what this tends to mean to the average target of FDA recommendations is MORE CORN (a grain, not a vegetable). Just remember, in far too many cases, doctors and nutritional advice are like oil and water (HERE).
The reality is that these ideas will be hijacked by industry just as previous year’s recommendations were hijacked. It’s a big reason our nation’s healthcare trajectory is TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY UNSUSTAINABLE. If you are looking to get healthy and stay that way, my best advice is to take anything the government says WITH A GRAIN OF SALT (literally). In fact; there are far better ways to eat than the fore-mentioned DASH diet. Want to get an idea of what I typically recommend? HERE is my clinic’s E-checklist (the top two rows contain the nutritional information). As I’ve shown you in the past (HERE), trust the FDA at your own peril.