Questioning Dietary Guidelines

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Warnings Regarding Dietary Goals

...the value of dietary change remains controversial [and] science cannot at this time ensure that an altered diet will provide improved protection from certain killer diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Charles H Percy, Member of the Senate Select Committee of Nutrition and Human Needs, Foreword to the Second Edition of Dietary Goals for the United States, 1977.


American Government Experiment

What right has the federal government to propose that the American people conduct a vast nutritional experiment, with themselves as subject, on the strength of so very little evidence?

Phillip Handles, President of the National Academy of Sciences, Congressional testimony in response to Dietary Goals for the United States, 1980.


USDA Food Group Recommendations (2005)

  • Fruits: 2 cups of a variety of fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits. Limit juice consumption.
  • Vegetables: More dark green and orange veggies. Eat more beans and peas.
  • Calcium rich foods: 3 cups of low or fat free milk or calcium rich foods.
  • Grains: At least 3 ounces of whole grains.
  • Protein foods: Choose lean meats and poultry. Vary choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.

USDA (2005) Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


Food Politics

The USDA Guidelines have always been influenced by political pressures shaped by interest groups representing the various food industries. Marion Nestle, PhD, explains:

Prior to 2005, the committee wrote the guidelines. I was on the 1995 committee and we drafted guidelines that the agencies hardly touched. The guidelines have always been subject to political pressures, but with the agencies writing them, expect even more.

Nestle M (2010). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines: some hints at what they might say. FoodPolitics.com.


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