White House Promotes Consumption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Originally posted on: 05/29/2003

WASHINGTON–As part of the Bush Administration’s efforts to make America healthier, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting the departments promote the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. OMB requested HHS consider incorporating this advice in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scheduled for a 2005 release, and that USDA update its 1992 Food Guide Pyramid with this recommendation.

“As you know, there is a growing body of scientific evidence, both experimental and epidemiological, that suggests consumption of trans fatty acids increases the risk of coronary heart disease [CHD],” wrote OMB official John D. Graham in his letter to HHS and USDA. “Another important risk factor is the omega-3 fatty acid content of food. Both epidemiological and clinical studies find that an increase in consumption of omega-3 fatty acids results in reduced deaths to due to CHD….We would like to set up a meeting with your agencies in the next few weeks to discuss this issue.”

The letter, which comes from the executive office of the President, is considered a “prompt” letter that, while not forcing agency action, alerts agencies to issues OMB considers worthy of priority status.

In an OMB press release, Graham stated, “Health researchers have found that Americans can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease with a modest change in their diets. The government should make this life-saving information as widely available as possible.”

He added that recent articles in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report the current dietary guidelines only slightly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as CHD. This finding is particularly relevant to the future of the nation’s health, considering the government encourages Americans to “let the pyramid guide your food choices.”

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