Dietary Guidelines

Kathryn M. Kolasa and Katherine Rickett

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Dietary Guidelines

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Dietary guidelines or recommendations are suggestions to help adults and children consume foods and beverages that support growth and development and reduce risks for chronic diseases. Dietary guidelines, first introduced in the United States in the late 1800s, focused on protective foods. As the science of nutrition evolved and nutrients were discovered, the guidelines focused on the consumption of foods to provide adequate nutrients. Since the late 1970s, known human nutritional requirements, both deficiencies and excesses, became the common foundation for the United States and other countries developing food-based dietary guidelines for their populations. Guidelines appear both in scientific language (e.g., limit consumption of saturated fat) and as food-based recommendations, sometimes including graphics and icons of food groupings. Guidelines serve multiple purposes from educating consumers to guiding policy makers and regulators. Since 1980, Dietary Guidelines for Americans has referred to a specific set of guidelines issued jointly by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services, and recognized as federal nutrition policy. Current Dietary Guidelines for Americans can be found at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website. Current consumer education about the guidelines can be found at the USDA’s Choose My Plate. Agencies of the United Nations (the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization) and other countries also provide guidance. Access to guidelines from countries around the world is at the Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Guidelines by Country. Many health organizations (e.g., American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research) also review the role of diet and disease prevention and publish dietary guidelines or recommendations for both the general public and specific audiences. The focus of this article will be on the events leading to the current “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” and a description of those guidelines. Some information about international dietary guidance is also provided.

Article.  13819 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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