In the wake of the “obesity epidemic,” more and more nutritional policies have been proposed and pushed through. Most of these policies are based on a set of guidelines called the National Dietary Guidelines for Americans. I thought it would be interesting to look a little bit more into the history of the National Dietary Guidelines and how they came to be.
The national dietary guidelines began in 1977 and were controlled by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In 1980, the first official Dietary Guidelines for Americans was published. As criticism continued to grow about the lack of scientific evidence to back the guidelines, a scientific advisory committee was formed. This committee, now called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), has the responsibility of analyzing all of the recent research in the field of nutrition and summarizing them into recommendations that they believe will be most relevant for the American public. These guidelines are then reviewed by the secretaries of health and human services (HHS) and the US department of agriculture (USDA), and then used for various official policy recommendations.
Today, the dietary guidelines are the foundation of all federal nutrition policies – this includes things such as the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).