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History of the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, developed jointly by the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA), provide recommendations based on current scientific knowledge about how dietary intake may reduce risk for major chronic diseases and how a healthful diet may improve nutrition. The guidelines form the basis of Federal food, nutrition education, and information programs. First published in 1980, Dietary Guidelines were revised in 1985, 1990, and 1995. Public Law 101-445, Section 3, requires publication of the Dietary Guidelines at least every five years [1]. This legislation also requires review by the Secretaries of USDA and HHS of all Federal dietary guidance-related publications for the general public. The fifth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is scheduled for release in 2000.

Development of the Guidelines--- a Chronology

1977. Dietary Goals for the United States (the McGovern Report) was issued by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs [2]. These goals were the focus of controversy among some nutritionists and others concerned with food, nutrition, and health.

1979. American Society for Clinical Nutrition (ASCN) formed a panel to study the relation between dietary practices and health outcomes [3]. The findings, presented in 1979, were reflected in Healthy People: the Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention [4].

1980. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, first edition, was issued jointly by HHS and USDA in response to the public's desire for authoritative, consistent guidelines on diet and health [5]. The Guidelines were based on the most up-to-date information available at the time and were directed to healthy Americans. These Guidelines generated considerable discussion by nutrition scientists, consumer groups, the food industry and others.

1980. A U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations report directed that a committee be established to review scientific evidence and recommend revisions to the Dietary Guidelines [6].

1983-84. A Federal Advisory Committee of nine nutrition scientists selected from outside the Federal Government was convened to review and make recommendations to HHS and USDA about the first edition of the Dietary Guidelines [7].

1985. HHS and USDA jointly issued a second edition of the Dietary Guidelines [8]. This revised edition was nearly identical to the first. Some changes were made for clarity while others reflected advances in scientific knowledge of the associations between diet and a range of chronic diseases. The second edition received wide acceptance and was used as a framework for consumer education messages.

1987. Language in Conference Report of the House Committee on Appropriations indicated that USDA, in conjunction with HHS, "shall reestablish a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Group on a periodic basis. This Advisory Group will review the scientific data relevant to nutritional guidance and make recommendations on appropriate changes to the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services." [9]

1989. USDA and HHS established a second advisory committee that considered whether revision to the 1985 Dietary Guidelines was needed, and then proceeded to make recommendations for revision in a report to the Secretaries. The 1988 Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health [10] and 1989 National Research Council's report, Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk, were key resources used by the Committee [11].

1990. The National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (P.L. 101-445) was passed which requires publication of Dietary Guidelines every 5 years [1]. This legislation also requires review by the Secretaries of USDA and HHS of all Federal publications containing dietary advice for the general public.

1990. HHS and USDA jointly released the third edition of the Dietary Guidelines [12]. The basic tenets of the Dietary Guidelines were reaffirmed, with additional refinements made to reflect increased understanding of the science of nutrition and how best to communicate the science to consumers. The language of the new Guidelines was more positive, oriented toward the total diet, and provided more specific information regarding food selection. For the first time, numerical recommendations were made for intakes of dietary fat and saturated fat.

1993. Charter established the 1995 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

1994. The 11-member Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was appointed by the Secretaries of HHS and USDA to review the third edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to determine if changes were needed, and if so, to recommend suggestions for revision along with the rationale for any revisions.

1995. The report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA was published [13]. This report served as the basis for the fourth edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

1995. USDA and HHS jointly released the fourth edition of the Dietary Guidelines [14]. This edition continued to support the concepts from earlier editions. New information included the Food Guide Pyramid, Nutrition Facts Labels, and boxes highlighting good food sources of key nutrients. The weight table was replaced with a chart that illustrated three weight ranges. Additional changes were intended to clarify and emphasize key points.

1997. Charter established the 2000 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

1998. The 11-member Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was appointed by the Secretaries of HHS and USDA to review the fourth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to determine if changes are needed, and if so, to recommend suggestions for revision.

2000. The Committee submitted its report to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA. This report will serve as the basis for the fifth edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

2000. USDA and HHS jointly issue the fifth edition of the Dietary Guidelines [15]. This publication will continue to serve as the basis of Federal nutrition policy and provide advice to consumers about food choices that promote health and decrease the risk of chronic disease.

References

  1. National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, Public Law 445, 101st Cong., 2nd session. (October 22, 1990), section 301.
  2. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Dietary Goals for the United States, 2nd edition. Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
  3. Task force sponsored by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. The evidence relating six dietary factors to the nation's health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Supplement) 32:2621-2748, 1979.
  4. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service. Healthy People: The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. DHEW (PHS) Publication No. 7955071, 1979.
  5. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Home and Garden Bulletin No. 232, 1980.
  6. Senate Agricultural Appropriations Committee, 96th Congress, 1st session, Rep. 1030.
  7. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Information Service, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1985.
  8. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guideline for Americans, 2nd edition. Home and Garden Bulletin No. 232, 1985.
  9. House of Representatives Conference Committee, 100th Cong., 1st sess., 1987, H. Rep. 498.
  10. Department of Health and Human Service, Public Health Service. The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health. DHES (PHS) Publication No. 88-50215, 1988.
  11. National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Food and Nutrition Board. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1989.
  12. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guideline for Americans, 3rd edition. Home and Garden Bulletin No. 232, 1990.
  13. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1995.
  14. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guideline for Americans, 4th edition. Home and Garden Bulletin No. 232, 1995.
  15. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 5th edition. Home and Garden Bulletin No. 232, 2000.

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This page was revised on June 26, 2000.