What the new FDA director doesn’t know about dairy

I recently read some very jarring observations about the newly appointed director of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. And needless to say, they’re worth sharing with anyone whoʼs concerned about the future of healthcare in this country.

First off, we’re all aware by now that most of President Trumpʼs appointees have little to no translatable experience that lends to their current roles. But Gottlieb, it seems, has emerged as a uniquely uncontroversial pick among a questionable pool of candidates.

His platforms speak for themselves: The FDA has shared plans to cut tobacco use and bolster competition among generic drugs — both worthy causes. (Unfortunately, neither have actually happened after nearly two years into this administration. But only time will tell…)

Ultimately, I’ve come to notice that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And I’m sad to say that, despite all of Gottlieb’s apparent competence, there’s just one problem: He doesn’t know the first thing about proper nutrition.

Putting dogma ahead of data

You don’t have to take my word for it. As part of a recent speech at the National Food Policy Conference, Gottlieb delivered a speech called “Reducing the Burden of Chronic Disease.”

And the blatant misinformation he was spewing was a bit shocking, considering his distinguished reume: a clinical assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine (where he also practiced medicine as a hospitalist physician); a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and an internist at Tisch Hospital

For one thing, he decided that he had the power to deem which foods are “healthy.” And he wants to spread the word about what you should eat by using a consumer-friendly labeling system. (Though I hate to break it to him, if a food has a label in the first place, there’s a good chance it’s the opposite of healthy…)

Of course, if he wants to start doling out a “sugar kills” label, that’d be fine by me! But as it stands — with the influence and power of special interest groups — all I can say is good luck with that… And if you need an example of this unfortunate influence — not to mention Gottlieb’s questionable grasp of the facts — look no further than his stance on dairy.

More specifically, his puzzling endorsement of low-fat dairy — something I’ve advised against more times than I can count… Then again, maybe this faux pas isn’t so puzzling. After all, he’s just following dogma instead of data — hardly surprising coming from an administration that peddles fake news quicker than I can read it.

But if he actually believes he’s embracing science with this definition of “healthy,” then consider this his first of what will likely be many egregious errors.

The low-fat dairy myth is bunk

For one thing, there’s zero scientific evidence that low-fat dairy is healthier than pure, unprocessed, full-fat dairy. If anything, studies have suggested that full-fat dairy is undoubtedly the better option — especially when it comes to reducing belly fat, diabetes risk, and heart disease risk, to name a few.

Trouble is, because of the ongoing campaign to push skim products on the unsuspecting masses, it’s become harder to find high-quality, full-fat dairy products. (While store shelves are lined with low-fat, sugar-packed concoctions that are easily as unhealthy as a dish of ice cream.)

Scientists have thoroughly vetted the suggestion that dairy fat causes heart disease. And guess what? It doesn’t! So, why do the wrong recommendations keep surfacing?

Just a wild guess here, but it might have something to do with the fact that the dairy industry has no monetary incentive to push their full-fat products. Not when they can separate the fat from the dairy and ultimately still profit off of both.

Not only that, but saturated fat is still pegged as some kind of public enemy — despite the fact that it’s a neutral fat at best. And depending on the diet of the cow (as always, pasture-raised and grass-fed beef is best) that saturated fat can actually be actively beneficial to the heart.

So-called “experts” can’t even agree on what constitutes a healthy oil, so I suppose it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re somehow still having this discussion. (I would urge Gottlieb to read my latest book, The A-List Diet, for the full scoop — despite my doubt that he’d bother with any “science” that didn’t have a dollar sign attached to it one way or another.)

The bottom line? I applaud anyone’s efforts to make the public healthier. But those in power have an obligation to stay up to date on the actual nutritional science… and not cater to lobbyists for Big Agriculture.

There have been some disastrous public health experiments in previous decades, due to exactly this kind of divided loyalty. And we’d all be wise to keep that in mind moving forward.

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