by Marion Nestle
Jan 11 2018

Dietary Reference Intakes are now political???

Is nothing in nutrition safe from congressional intervention?

The American Society for Nutrition has a useful policy newsletter that ran an item that caught my attention: 

DRI Committee Becomes Political: Many Republican members of the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture and Labor and Human Services two House Appropriations Committee subcommittees sent a letter December 5, 2017 to the President of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine raising concerns about the composition of the ad hoc Committee to review the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for Sodium and Potassium, which was announced October 31, 2017. The letter shares concerns including “At least six of the 12 proposed members have published multiple papers or have been quoted in the press expressing their unequivocal view that current sodium intake is excessive, or publicly dismissed science that runs counter to this view….”

The DRIs are standards for daily intake of nutrients.  The ones for sodium and potassium were last updated in 2005.

I don’t think anyone thinks that potassium intake is debatable, but sodium is hugely controversial.  Doctors generally advise reductions in sodium intake as a means to prevent high blood pressure.  Some think sodium reduction unnecessary or potentially harmful.

I cannot imagine that anyone appointed to this committee lacks an opinion.  The point of the deliberations is, or ought to be, to review the research and try to come to some consensus about what the issues are and what to do about them.

Its best if Congress stays out of this.  I wonder which lobbying group or groups got to these members.