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Inmates Sentenced to a Dangerous Diet... Are WYO Schools Next?

July 28, 2009

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Serving up soy may be a way to save money and cut the fat, but it could also make you sick. Those are the claims from some Illinois prison inmates who have filed a lawsuit to stop the soy-based meals they say are causing serious health problems. It's a diet idea that's been floated for Wyoming prisons, and even schools, as the state has searched for ways to save money.

The Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit group which deals with nutrition education, got involved in the Illinois lawsuit, and the organization's president, Sally Fallon, says research has shown soy products contain toxins that interfere with digestion. They also have plant-based estrogens that are dangerous in large amounts - and both facts could explain prisoner health issues.

"They have had such effects as pain and vomiting, thyroid problems, low metabolism, weight gain; several of the inmates have had parts of their colons removed in an attempt to ease the pain."

She says unless soy-based diets can be stopped in the prison system, people can expect more soy-heavy foods to be served up for other institutional meals, in such places as Wyoming hospitals and schools.

"This means that these children will be getting this food that's extremely difficult to digest, and full of estrogen-like substances that can actually cause infertility later on."

The Food and Drug Administration ten years ago allowed a soy-prevents-heart-disease health claim for soy consumed in small amounts, although Fallon says the agency is looking at revoking the claim because of further research that shows no heart health benefits.

The case, "Harris et al. v. Brown, et al.," is pending in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY