What do cabbage soup, cavemen, and calorie restriction have in common? They are all names of fad diets that severely limit the variety of foods allowed in the participant’s diet. Doctors caution against these restrictive regimens, which almost inevitably lead to overeating, because they set dieters up for failure. But that didn’t stop the Institute of Medicine (IOM) from taking its cue from crash diets — like the New Year’s resolution to give up all "bad" food (this time for real) — when its committee members proposed extremely prohibitive guidelines for food in schools last week.
The Center for Consumer Freedom alerted people about these misguided attempts by providing the counterpoint in several articles (click here, here, here, here, and here), television interviews (click here and here), and — most recently — an op-ed in this morning’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The IOM committee slipped fruit juice into the "approved food" category with nuts, veggies, and whole grains, even though the sugar and calorie content of juices — often more than a soda — should relegate them to the outlawed "sugary drinks" group if weight loss is really the goal. Conversely, diet sodas, with no sugar or calories, landed on the blacklist for their carbonation and caffeine.
The irony in all this is that almost every piece of research on in-school nutrition indicates that food bans don’t help fight obesity. According to the American Heart Association, kids are becoming overweight well before they are old enough to go to school. Inactivity is the real documented cause of childhood obesity.