The Biden administration is receiving pushback over one of its picks to serve on a panel tasked with determining new dietary guidelines for Americans. Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford has recently made some unusual comments about obesity, leading many to question her qualifications for the position.
Stanford is an obesity medicine physician at Mass General Health in Boston and was tabbed for a seat on the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. However, only weeks before being appointed to the panel, Stanford downplayed the importance of diet and exercise to weight loss during an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes.
Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford appointed to DGA committee, responsible to tell American’s how to eat… herself doesn’t even believe nutrition or sleep has anything to do with obesity pic.twitter.com/JHJ2fp3u8V
— Carl F. (@CarlF01708850) January 26, 2023
Every five years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) work together to develop updated dietary guidelines for Americans. Medical and dietary experts have blamed previous editions of the dietary guides for contributing to the nation’s obesity crisis.
Stanford told 60 Minutes that the “number one cause of obesity is genetics.” She said, “If you are born to parents that have obesity, you have a 50 to 85% likelihood of having the disease yourself, even with an optimal diet, exercise, sleep management, and stress management.”
Tulane University bariatric surgeon Dr. Shauna Levy responded to Stanford’s controversial comments by saying, “I think her comment was an oversimplification of the cause of disease.”
The panel working on the new dietary guidelines will be made up of 20 nationally recognized experts on nutrition, obesity, and weight loss.
If there was any doubt the process of generating the new guidelines will be politicized, the government has put that to rest. In a press release, the USDA said the committee “will examine the relationship between diet and health across all life stages, and will use a health equity lens across its evidence review to ensure factors such as socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and culture are described and considered to the greatest extent possible.”
The USDA went on to say that a significant factor considered in selecting members for the committee was the amount of “substantial expertise” prospective members have in “health equity.”
The new federal dietary guidelines are sure to be used by nutritionists and dieticians around America in making recommendations to adults and parents regarding the best nutritional choices.