How the U.S. Low-Fat Diet Recommendations of 1977 Contributed to the Declining Health of Americans
Date of Completion
Hedley Freake, PhD.
In 1977, the first edition of The Dietary Goals for the United States (“The Recommendations”) was published in attempts to reduce incidence of diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While numerous dietary adjustments were recommended in order to improve health, fat was identified as the most instrumental factor. However there exist many confounders of The Recommendations, including Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), fat from dairy products, eggs and the high-fat Mediterranean Diet. Nonetheless, the food industry made adjustments to acclimate to the anti-fat mentality The Recommendations initiated. Linoleic acid- (LA) rich soybean oil became heavily used, drastically altering the nationwide dietary n-6:n-3 ratio and increasing the need for hydrogenation of oils. Added sugar intake also increased exponentially to accommodate for the loss of flavor that occurred with fat reduction in processed products. Advertising and “low-fat” food labels further convinced people that “low-fat” was synonymous with “healthy,” increasing the intake of overly processed foods and decreasing health status. Moving forward, food label regulations must change to give the consumer a better understanding of a food’s impact on health. Overall dietary patterns must also improve. However the most recent edition of The Recommendations published in 2015 seem to be a step in the right direction.
Reedy, Julia, "How the U.S. Low-Fat Diet Recommendations of 1977 Contributed to the Declining Health of Americans" (2016). Honors Scholar Theses. 490.