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Food, Our Diet And Politics: KCBS In Depth With Dr. Marion Nestle

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— One of the most important questions when it comes to our health is what or whom influences what we eat. Last week the committee advising the government on new dietary guidelines released its recommendations for 2015.

In a nutshell, the committee advised eating fewer animal products, more vegetable and plant-based foods, along with much less added sugar and saturated fats, and getting more vitamin D. But the good news is we can decriminalize eggs and non-processed foods in the fight against cholesterol. The guidelines say water should be our primary beverage, but we may now also enjoy more cups of coffee, guilt free than previously thought.

If adopted, these guidelines will become part of new government policy influencing health care, nutrition in public facilities, like schools and of course, the food industry.

Dr. Marion Nestle, a nutrition scientist, professor, advocate and author chaired the department of nutrition food studies and public health at New York University for more than 15 years. She was also a nutrition senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Health.

"Everybody likes to think that we make our own choices about what we eat, but what's available and what's marketed has a great deal to do with American's food choices. I think we all underestimate the effect of the $17 billion dollars that the food industry spends on trying to convince us to spend on their products," she said partly in explanation of the confluence of health policy, lobbying and what we eat.

The people who make up the dietary guidelines committee are usually academics who are nutrition scientists who are brought in because of their expertise. Nestle said the scientists are respected, but that much of the issue of conflict lies within the food industry.

"The food industry's interest is in selling more food. That's their job. They're not social service agencies. They really have no economic interest in public health in any direct way."

Nestle claims the meat, sugar and other processed food industries have all weighed in on the guideline recommendations have all weighed in on the advisory committee report to say that it's not scientifically substantiated, but their reaction was anticipated.

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