American Heart Association: Trustworthy?
Did you know that the American Heart Association pulls in huge sums of money each year from food manufacturers like Kellogg's and General Mills?
In return, the AHA provides an endorsement for the food industry products made by these corporations.
For each of the approximately 630 "heart healthy" logos on cereal boxes or other food products, the AHA gets a cool $7500 a year.
Well actually, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports that the AHA charges companies on a per product basis: $7,500 for 1-9 products, $6,750 for 10-24 products and $5,940 for 25-99 products in their first year.
To renew in subsequent years, the prices are $4,500, $4,050, and $3,570 respectively.
CSPI estimates that in 2002, with over 630 products certified, the AHA received over $2 million dollars from its food certification program.
The foods the AHA "recommends" include chocolate milk, high sugar breakfast cereals, processed meat products full of chemicals, and other unhealthy products.
In fact, the AHA is endorsing foods which are making people sick. We have solid evidence showing that a high carbohydrate, low fat diet, such as the one the AHA recommends, has the effect of elevating blood glucose, blood insulin levels and increasing arterial inflammation. All of these conditions contribute to heart disease.
The high carb, low fat diet is a bust. Obesity is on the rise, as is diabetes, and cancer. Heart disease has not declined as it should have if the low fat diet worked.
And yet the AHA continues to endorse low fat, sugary foods, and push a low fat diet. Why would they do such an ignorant thing? Money, perhaps?
The Cost of Belief in The Low Fat Diet..
For fiscal year 2006-7, the American Heart Association total income was almost $800 million dollars.
Consider this: what would happen if the American Heart Association suddenly started telling doctors and the public that the highly processed, low fat, sugary foods it currently recommends are not healthy, and that in fact, the evidence shows that eating these foods along with a low fat diet actually increases your risk of heart disease?
The loss of revenue and prestige would be severe and crippling. Support from the drug and food companies would fall off dramatically, I’d bet, and the billion dollars in assets the AHA holds would go right down the drain.
That’s a lot of money to throw away by reversing positions on the low fat hypothesis.
So, it's clear why they look the other way. The American Heart Association, an organization which was created to help us actually puts money and image before the health of the American people. I'd call that a scam operation.
So should you trust what the AHA tells you about nutrition and health? In my opinion, no. Why?
Because they ignore the volumes of evidence which show that eating less fat and cholesterol has absolutely no effect on blood cholesterol levels, and in turn, no effect on the risk of heart disease. The AHA ignores the overwhelming evidence for their own gain, and without care for the health of the American people.
Sylvan Lee Weinberg, MD, MACC puts it best. Dr. Weinberg was a past president of the American College of Cardiology and in a paper titled: The Diet-Heart Hypothesis: A Critique he writes:
The low-fat "diet–heart hypothesis" has been controversial for nearly 100 years. The low-fat–high-carbohydrate diet, promulgated vigorously by the National Cholesterol Education Program, National Institutes of Health, and American Heart Association since the Lipid Research Clinics-Primary Prevention Program in 1984, and earlier by the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid, may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, lipid abnormalities, type II diabetes, and metabolic syndromes.
I believe the AHA is aware of its role in these epidemics, but refuses to back down on its defense of the low fat diet, primarily because it would lose funding.
You can read up on the ties that the AHA has to food and drug companies here.
Mouse on A Wheel
The AHA has a mission statement on their website:
Mission of the American Heart Association
Irony at its Best
This mission statement is ironic to me because it is totally unreachable, given the strategy that the AHA has devised to reach these goals.
Their strategy is to tell all Americans over the age of 2 (2!! Ridiculous!) to eat the following way:
This is a low fat, high carbohydrate diet recommendation, based on the old "saturated fat causes heart disease" hypothesis.
Scientific research has shown that the low fat, high carbohydrate diet the AHA endorses is MORE LIKELY TO INCREASE the death rate from coronary heart disease and stroke. A low fat, high carb diet has also been implicated in the rising rates of diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and cancer.
I picture the AHA as a mouse, running on a wheel, trying to get to a piece of cheese on the outside of the wheel. They’ll never get there, because the wheel they're on doesn’t go anywhere, and that's the way they like it.
If they continue to raise funds and spend money toward unattainable goals, they'll always have a reason to stay in business, won't they?
I recently sent an email to the American Heart Association asking how businesses get that little "heart healthy" logo on their products.
I got a very nice, very vague, very self congratulatory email from them telling my how angelic they were to have such a program.
I wrote the woman back and said:
Ms. Rupp, thank you for the information below. I understand what factors are involved in a product qualifying for Food Certification from the AHA.. However, I still would like to know what each product certification costs the food product manufacturer.
I would also like to know what drives the setting of the criteria used in the Food certification program. What are the criteria/recommendations based on? In other words, how does the AHA determine a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low/no fat dairy and lean meats is the right one to push?
I have yet to get an answer.
Recommended Resources which Negate the "Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease" Lie