Friday, December 07, 2007

'Mindless Eating' Author Appointed USDA's New Director Of Nutrition Policy And Promotion

Dr. Brian Wansink will set the new U.S. dietary guidelines for 2010

It's not too often I am able to share with you some GOOD NEWS as it relates to something happening behind-the-scenes in the world of diet and health. Most of the time, we must lament that yet again all those so-called "experts" continue to bamboozle the public with their same old low-fat mantra over and over again. But this bit of encouraging news should be welcomed and cheered today because it could very well be an awesome thing for those of us who are in favor of livin' la vida low-carb.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the government arm in charge of setting nationalized dietary recommendations through among other things, has decided to name Cornell University psychology professor and Mindless Eating author Brian Wansink, PhD the new executive director of the Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) through January 20, 2009 when the Bush administration is set to leave office. This is quite a prestigious nomination for Wansink with potentially long-term ramifications as it relates to the future of diet and health in America.

This is one of the most important public policy positions related to health in Washington, DC because it is responsible for creating, planning, developing and reviewing the upcoming new dietary guidelines to be promoted by the government in 2010. was introduced in 2005 to replace the old Food Pyramid and it wasn't much better than its low-fat loving predecessor (and neither was the kid's version of MyPyramid either). So Wansink wields a lot of power over the next couple of years to speak with various voices within the realm of nutrition about what is best for sharing with the general public about a healthy diet.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Nancy Johner said the chance to bring Wansink on board at the USDA is a golden opportunity.

"We feel quite fortunate in having Dr. Wansink join our team here at the USDA, and look forward to working with him," she said. "Dr. Wansink is nationally recognized in his field of nutrition research which focuses on how to encourage consumers to eat more nutritiously and better control how much they eat."

So what should people who support a controlled-carbohydrate dietary approach think about Dr. Brian Wansink? Well, although I was initially critical of his research into the psychology of eating he studied during his tenure at Cornell University, I was impressed overall by his book and what all that research has led him to believe about why people overeat.

In my interview with Dr. Wansink last year, he seemed quite open to the low-carb lifestyle for people who need to "lose a lot of weight a serious diet" which he says can be "very useful for a disciplined person." It should be thrilling to know that there will now be someone within the USDA who isn't antagonistic against livin' la vida low-carb. Hopefully this open line of communication between Dr. Wansink and the low-carb message will remain that way while discussing the 2010 dietary guidelines.

As major government health-related news goes, this is BIG NEWS! Their purpose is to take the existing scientific research and apply it to the nutritional needs of the American people. Now that we have amazing studies like this one showing a genetic connection between diet and obesity where low-carb works for some and low-fat works for others, it's time to see that reflected in dietary recommendations by offering a variety of options for people to choose from. Or, as I have been pushing for, why not recommend them BOTH?

Can Dr. Wansink make that happen at the USDA? I don't know, but I'm optimistic. I'm very hopeful that he will do everything he can to stay updated on the latest information that will help him make the best decisions about what those 2010 dietary recommendations will look like. It would be incredible if he continued to communicate with people like me and others within the low-carb community to get our input about how to word those guidelines for people who would do well on a low-carb approach. Cross your fingers on that one!

Other areas that Dr. Wansink will have a watchful eye over include the Healthy Eating Index (on which the 2005 MyPyramid updates were based), the USDA Food Plans, the Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply and the cost of raising a child. And he is excited to get started making a difference in this new and extremely important role at the USDA.

"The Center is involved in many crucial projects that have an immense potential to help the American public particularly in combating overweight and obesity," Dr. Wansink stated. "I look forward to leading these endeavors to the best of my abilities."

The thing I like best about Dr. Wansink is he's such a real person. I was privileged enough to speak with him by telephone about a year ago prior to my blog interview and he's as down to Earth as anyone you'd ever meet. His accessibility even after the enormous success of his bestselling Mindless Eating book (now available in paperback, by the way) has remained the same and I respect that in anyone who purports to be an expert at anything. I have every confidence this same trend will remain.

Dr. Wansink will continue to conduct his own research in the Food Psychology department at Cornell University while serving in this government capacity. You can e-mail Dr. Brian Wansink to congratulate and encourage him in this new position by writing to

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

As far as I am concerned this is one of the best things happening in 2007. This person will be at a key position and this may indeed be the turn for the better that was do desperately needed in that organization and the US in general.

Great news Jimmy... and I am sure that once installed, you can interview him again... just to make sure he remains aware of what is really important!

Keep up the good work!

12/07/2007 10:27 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

I am an optimist, but when dealing with the government...NOT SO MUCH!!!

It would be nice if he could make head way. But he is up against a big lobbying group, USDA. And the myriad of medical associations that are hard bent on not changing any train of thought.

All we can do is keep showing people how low carb works for us. Results can't lie.

And for the the good doctor, I pray that he keeps an open mind and doesn't let the demons of the beltway get him! Let's just say...not holding my breath for this change to happen!

12/08/2007 4:15 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I agree, Tracey, but I'm still hopeful. :)

12/08/2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger greentree said...

I wonder if has read Good Calories Bad Calories. If not we should encourage him to do so.

12/08/2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I don't know for sure if he's read it, but I know he's heard of GCBC.

12/08/2007 8:53 PM  

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