American Society For Nutrition

Changing the Paradigm: A History of Dietary Guidance and Recommendations in the U.S.

Changing the Paradigm: A History of Dietary Guidance and Recommendations in the U.S.

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 12/07/2013 at 12:02:19 AM by Student Blogger
By Larry Istrail, blogger

Johanna Dwyer is a Senior Nutrition Scientist at the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements where she works under the Interagency Personnel Acquisition Program (IPA). She started the opening session by speaking about the history of dietary guidance, how recommendations have changed, and how some have stayed the same.

In early 1977, the first ever dietary goals for Americans were released in response to the fact "six of out ten of the leading causes of death have been linked to our diet." The Government, the report explains, "has an obligation to acknowledge this. The public wants some guidance, wants to know the truth, and hopefully we can lay the cornerstone for the building of better health for all Americans, through better nutrition." Some of the recommendations involve reducing fat and increasing carbohydrates:

·     Increase carbohydrate consumption to account for 55 to 60 percent of the energy intake.
·     Reduce overall fat consumption from approximately 40 to 30 percent energy intake
·     Reduce saturated fat consumption to account for about 10 percent of total energy intake

This happened under President Carter, and in 1980, the Reagan Administration adjusted the Dietary Guidelines further. According to the New York Times, the guidelines “urge Americans to avoid too much fat and cholesterol, sugar, sodium and alcohol and to eat foods with starch and fiber. They recommend eating a variety of foods and maintaining desirable weight.”

Since the guidelines have been released, Dr. Dwyer described what paradigms have stayed the same contrasted by which have evolved over the years:

What paradigms stayed the same:

·     Sound science goal but science evolves
·     Topics and trajectory of nutrition guidance have remained remarkably constant
Which paradigms have changed:

·     Shift in control over formulation from legislative to the executive branch
·     The committee has gotten bigger each year and become more gender equal. Most people only served once with a few who were “two timers”
·     From Eminence based to evidence based - Evidence library and evidence based now. Eminent experts review and synthesize information
·     Trend towards more transparency- Open committee meetings and online Evidence library
·     For the first time this cycle of Dietary Guidelines include will include goals for kids under 2 as well.
·     From adequacy to prevention of excess and chronic disease
·     From Don't to dos – people turned off by negativity

Dwyer then went on to discuss what she believes were some successes and misfires that the dietary guidelines have had over the years. She believes that eating as recommended by the dietary guidelines has changed risk factors for the better, and that the government's message has become more consistent with its nutritional recommendations. The dietary guidelines have also been successfully integrated into multiple government nutrition programs such as School meals and food stamps.

Among the misfires Dr. Dwyer discussed, many focused on difficulties in promoting and communicating a strong message. Probably the most egregious error was the food pyramid.

The high level of public confusion eventually led to MyPlate, a more user friendly easy to understand symbol.

Dr. Dwyer and her decades of insight and experience started Friday's talks off with a bang. Her engaging speaking style and excellent summary of the past 40 years in nutrition laid the foundation for the exciting two days of conference left to come.