Dietary Recommendations and How They Have Changed Over Time

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from this article: The first published dietary guidance by the USDA was a Farmers’ Bulletin written in 1894 by W.O. Atwater, the first director of the Office of Experiment Stations in USDA. He suggested diets for American males based on content of protein, carbohydrate, fat, and “mineral matter” (ash) (Atwater, 1894).

Specific minerals and vitamins had not been identified at that time. Atwater initiated the scientific basis for connecting food composition, dietary intake, and health, and emphasized the importance of variety, proportionality, and moderation in healthful eating:

“Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced, that is, one in which either protein or fuel ingredients (carbohydrate and fat) are provided in excess…. The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear, perhaps in an excessive amount of fatty tissue, perhaps in general debility, perhaps in actual disease.” (Atwater, 1902)

full-text of article

Source: America’s Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences by Elizabeth Frazao. Agriculture Information Bulletin No. (AIB-750) 494 pp, May 1999.

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