The new set of guidelines for lowering cholesterol, released in November by heart organizations and which could about double the number of people taking statins, already a $30 billion market, has touched off a barrage of criticisms and resulted in increased media attention on diet and health.
Medical and nutritional experts, including Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain: Your Brain’s Silent Killers, have not only said the new guidelines are too inclusive but question the advisability of statins for anyone except those with known heart conditions.
Among those also advocating a switch from grains to “healthy fats” is Dr. Frank Lipman of New York who told the NYT (http://tinyurl.com/phzxybc) Dec. 5 that “gluten and sugar are the devil” and that “junk food is modern-day cigarettse: they’re the same thing.”
He’s against any grains—even those that are “gluten-free.”
Some menus are sprouting the words “gluten-free” on certain foods and some restaurants are posting signs in the window promising “gluten-free” entries.
Heart Groups Have Credibility Problem
Referring to the barrage of stories about the new guidelines, heart specialist Dr. Peter Libby said, “We’re surrounded by a real disaster in terms of credibility.”
He is chair of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The Nov. 17 NYT article quoting Dr. Libby was headlined “Risk Calculator for Cholesterol Appears Flawed.” Reporter Gina Kolata said doctors told her that many people are “already leery of statins” and that the public would “lose trust in the guidelines of the heart associations.”
Dr. Perlmutter’s view of the heart groups is that they are funded by the companies selling statins and many other types of heart medicines. He likens it to rating services such as Fitch, S&P and Moody’s that gave high grades to investments that later proved to be flawed, plunging the U.S. into a steep economic decline in 2008. The funding of the rating services came from companies being rated.
Among critics of the guidelines are Dr. Paul Ridker and Dr. Nancy Cook of the Harvard Medical School who said the “risk calculator” used in the new study overpredicted risk by 75% to 150%. Many young adults would be taking statins and just about everyone over 65. Atorvastatin, the generic Lipitor, is $155 for thirty 20-mg capsules at Rite-Aid drugstores in New York or $1,860 a year. Simvastatin, a similar drug, is $53.99 or about $650 yearly.
Eggs & Bacon Get Boost
Egg producers and their PR firms are getting a healthy boost from nutritionists who say that eggs have been unfairly demonized for decades.
According to Dr. Perlmutter, the brain is 80% “fat” and needs cholesterol in order to function properly.
Edelman handles the American Egg Board and American Egg Farmers and Coyne PR has Eggland’s Best, which is called the “No. 1 branded egg in the U.S.” Coyne’s work in 2012 garnered 558 million impressions in national and local media.
“Eggs are quite possibly the world’s most perfect food,” says Grain Brain. They contain “all of the essential amino acids we need to survive—vitamins and minerals plus anti-oxidants known to protect our eyes.”
Grains Foundation Urges Balanced Dient
The Grains Foods Foundation, at the request of the O’Dwyer Co., examined the criticisms being made about grain consumption and said grain-based foods should be part of a “healthy, balanced diet.”
Christine Cochran, executive director of the Foundation, said the grains industry has been dealing with “anti-carb diets for decades beginning with the Atkins diet in 1972 and a revival of the diet in the late 1990s.”
“The study of what we eat and how it impacts our bodies is long and complicated. There is no shortage of books, diet products, diet programs, supplements, fads and trends all promising to help people lose weight, achieve wellness and avoid scary health conditions.”
Diet and weight-loss industry products such as books total some $20 billion in sales annually, she noted, quoting John LaRosa at Marketdata and the National Weight Control Registry.
About 108 million people try to follow some sort of diet, she said.
She added that grain has been “a vital part of the human diet for millennia” and that trying to associate one single food and especially a staple like grain with single diseases, conditions, and weight gain in general “should be viewed with a healthy dose of suspicion.”
Grain foods provide many of the essential vitamins, nutrients and compounds that everyone needs to be healthy and stay active for the long term, she added.
The Grain Foods Foundation “celebrates our products and the sound science that supports the inclusion of grain based foods in a healthy, balanced died, she said.
Consumers must make their own choices and the Foundation refrains from “disparaging others,” she concluded.
Genetically-Modified Foods an Issue
Dr. Perlmutter says “Modern food manufacturing, including bio-engineering and specifically hybridization, have allowed us to grow structurally-modified grains that contain gluten that’s less tolerable than the gluten that’s found in grains cultivated just a few decades ago…modern gluten-containing grains are more problematic than ever.”
Ogilvy PR won the Anvil of Anvils of PR Society of America this year, besting 846 other entries and 143 other finalists, for its campaign for “Food Security” which says genetically-modified foods are needed to support a population that will grow from the current seven billion to nine billion by 2050.