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The History and Future of Dietary Guidance in America

Lisa Jahns, Wendy Davis-Shaw, Alice H Lichtenstein, Suzanne P Murphy, Zach Conrad, Forrest Nielsen
Advances in nutrition 2018 v.9 no.2 pp. 136-147
Department of Health and Human Services, Dietary Guidelines, USDA, beverage industry, beverages, children, chronic diseases, consumer education, day care centers, dietitians, disease prevention, education programs, food and nutrition programs, food groups, food policy, food safety, food service workers, food storage, food waste, guidelines, healthy diet, infants, minerals, obesity, pregnant women, schools, vitamins, United States
Evidence-based dietary guidance in the United States has progressed substantially since its inception >100 y ago. This review describes the historical development and significance of dietary guidance in the United States, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), and emphasizes the foundations upon which they were developed, the process in the formation of past and current guidelines, and present and future applications. Dietary guidance during the first half of the 20th century was focused primarily on food groups in a healthy diet, food safety, safe food storage, and the role of some minerals and vitamins in the prevention of disease. This was punctuated by World War II messaging to reduce food waste and increase food storage. In 1980, the first DGA report was released, and later, the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were given a mandate for reissuance and reassessment every 5 y. An ad hoc advisory committee made up of nongovernmental experts was established for each edition to review the scientific evidence and provide content recommendations to the Secretaries of the USDA and the HHS. Wording was changed from negative (avoid) to positive (choose) and emphasis was increasingly placed on reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity and prevention of chronic diseases. Today, the DGAs guide all federally funded feeding and educational programs, including food policies, food assistance programs, and consumer education programs, as well as these programs at the regional, state, and local levels. Additional users include dietitians and other health professionals, food service personnel, food and beverage manufacturers, schools, and day care facilities. Currently, the DGAs are intended for individuals aged ≥2 y. Future editions of the DGAs will include guidance for infants and children <2 y, as well as pregnant women.