This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its 2020 to 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which continue to promote the consumption of three servings of dairy products—which the Physicians for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) classifies as a form of dietary racism. The 1,200-doctor member group points to a 2018 resolution passed by the American Medical Association that recognized that lactose intolerance is common among many Americans, especially Black Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Furthermore, PCRM cites a number of studies that link the consumption of dairy at the level recommended by the Dietary Guidelines to increased breast cancer risk by up to 80 percent and risk of death from prostate cancer by 141 percent. PCRM notes that studies have shown that breast cancer death rates are 40 percent higher among Black women, compared with white women, and Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men and twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than other men—all figures that point to the racially bias dairy recommendations that continue to be included in the Dietary Guidelines. 

“Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released the Guidelines too hastily. They need to be pulled back and redrafted,” PCRM Director of Nutrition Education Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD, said. “The Guidelines maintain a racially tinged promotion of dairy products, which are far less healthful than other calcium sources and have been shown to increase the risk of prostate and breast cancer, both of which are particularly deadly in the Black community, as well as an inappropriate emphasis on meat, rather than healthier foods.”

Promoting animal products to Americans
In addition to dairy, PCRM points out that the Dietary Guidelines continue to classify protein as a food group when, in fact, it is a nutrient—one that Americans consume plentifully. In that “food group,” the guidelines elevate meat as the preferred protein source despite the abundant presence of the nutrient in plant-based foods such as legumes, beans, and nuts. PCRM is calling upon the USDA to stop equating meat with protein and shift focus to plant-based sources of protein which are devoid of the cholesterol contained in meat. 

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